Tulkus who have rejected their role

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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Simon E. » Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:26 pm

I am sure that you realise smcj, that there is a much more simple explanation as to why in the absence of the whole culture which surrounds the entire Tulku machinery, the thing falls apart...? 8-)
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby ClearblueSky » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:06 pm

Tom wrote:
Simon E. wrote:But I didn't say that the world has changed and the result is that we dont need Tulkus.
I said that the Tulku arose largely due to socio/political reasons which no longer prevail because the world has changed..there is a difference.


but I'm asking why don't you also apply this criticism to Tertons as well as Tulkus? I can't see why and it seems to due to of some bias. Do you accept Tertons but not the possibility of Tulkus?



There is a big difference, because the concept of a tulku revolves around a reincarnation, and a terton revolves around discovering a teaching. One is basically revering a person's existence in itself, the other is revering the value of a Dharma teaching. And just like I'm not sure it's beneficial at this point to have a system revering tulkus, I would say the same about holding a terton in a special light, if it is based only on the claim they found a terma. Just like a lot of people can be called a tulku, a lot of people can claim to have discovered a terma.
If someone is a great Dharma teacher, and also happens to be tulku, hold them in high regard for their dharma teachings. If someone is a great Dharma teacher, and their new teaching comes by regard of terma discovery, also celebrate them for that dharma teaching, not because they are now technically labled a Terton.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Malcolm » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:26 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Jikan wrote:I'd thought all tertons are by definition tulkus in the sense that they are emanations or re-embodiments (the precise term escapes me, apologies) of one of Guru Padmasambhava's 25 main disciples. Am I mistaken?

Most Tulkus are not Tertons.
To be blunt, the Tulku system arose from a socio/political need. The world has changed.


The terton system also arises from socio/political needs.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby hop.pala » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:05 pm

Jikan wrote:
hop.pala wrote:No step backward.


Hi hop-pala, I am struggling to understand your posts in this thread. Perhaps there is a language gap. It may be that I am a poor reader. In any case, the only reason this matters is that I can't see how it relates to Buddhism generally or this topic specifically.

:shrug:

It is related not only to buddhism ,but to the topic that this can be an reason for rejecting the role.When the tulku will not enlightened again as young,while away to much time without the" control" of the bodhicitta.The physically mind know nothing about the bodhisattva's pledge.So understand?
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby smcj » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:26 pm

Simon E. wrote:I am sure that you realise smcj, that there is a much more simple explanation as to why in the absence of the whole culture which surrounds the entire Tulku machinery, the thing falls apart...? 8-)

I've met a good number of tulkus. Some were awful people. Some were uninspiring but nice. A few were remarkable, as in extra-ordinary in ways that are never found non-Dharma practitioners. So that says to me that the tulku "system" although not 100% reliable, is capable of producing evolved people. Now admittedly I've also met two Dharma practitioners that did not have the tulku designation that demonstrated qualities and capabilities not found in normal people, so it is not as if tulkus have a monopoly on that type of thing.

Think of it this way; if there were an acting school that churned out lots of students, but among them the school consistently produced Academy Award nominees, wouldn't you say that school apparently had value?
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:49 pm

smcj wrote:Think of it this way; if there were an acting school that churned out lots of students, but among them the school consistently produced Academy Award nominees, wouldn't you say that school apparently had value?


Could be that the school simply has graduates representative of the population at large, such that the Aacademy Award folk were bound to make up a percentage. Correlation and causation aren't related the way you seem to think they are.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby smcj » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:55 pm

daverupa wrote:
smcj wrote:Think of it this way; if there were an acting school that churned out lots of students, but among them the school consistently produced Academy Award nominees, wouldn't you say that school apparently had value?


Could be that the school simply has graduates representative of the population at large, such that the Aacademy Award folk were bound to make up a percentage. Correlation and causation aren't related the way you seem to think they are.

If you were looking for a proof, you'd be right. If I were looking for an acting school, I'd enroll. Harvard and Yale produce a good number of our (USA) presidents, but they also produce a good number of screw-ups and criminals. You could of course say the same thing about them.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby ClearblueSky » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:40 am

smcj wrote:
Simon E. wrote:Think of it this way; if there were an acting school that churned out lots of students, but among them the school consistently produced Academy Award nominees, wouldn't you say that school apparently had value?

If anything that's more comparing it to the monasteries themselves, than the Tulku system. And I think the monasteries and schools are still very useful. But I would argue against the usefulness of an acting school that currently has actors in training deemed "future academy award winners", no matter how good their acting was in their previous life.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby smcj » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:51 am

But I would argue against the usefulness of an acting school that currently has actors in training deemed "future academy award winners", no matter how good their acting was in their previous life.

Both HHDL and HH Karmapa (Orgyen Thinley brand) were children taken from seemingly random nomad families in eastern Tibet. Both were raised under very restrictive conditions that would have made Michael Jackson's upbringing seem normal. You could say that the credit goes to the tibetan educational system, and that was certainly a contributing factor, but they do seem to have some admirable qualities beyond what reasonably could be thought of as random chance selections.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby ClearblueSky » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:15 am

smcj wrote:
But I would argue against the usefulness of an acting school that currently has actors in training deemed "future academy award winners", no matter how good their acting was in their previous life.

Both HHDL and HH Karmapa (Orgyen Thinley brand) were children taken from seemingly random nomad families in eastern Tibet. Both were raised under very restrictive conditions that would have made Michael Jackson's upbringing seem normal. You could say that the credit goes to the tibetan educational system, and that was certainly a contributing factor, but they do seem to have some admirable qualities beyond what reasonably could be thought of as random chance selections.

As I was saying in an earlier post, I've seen them both, and I do absolutely believe they are the real deal. I've never felt such a presence as I have with HHDL. But at the same time, there's nothing "beyond reasonable" that they could be great monks because they started training as basically babies.
But my point you're quoting wasn't about the legitimacy of most tulkus anyway, even if they're all legitimate, I'm not sure it's a useful system in this day and age is all I meant.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:06 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Simon E. wrote:
Jikan wrote:I'd thought all tertons are by definition tulkus in the sense that they are emanations or re-embodiments (the precise term escapes me, apologies) of one of Guru Padmasambhava's 25 main disciples. Am I mistaken?

Most Tulkus are not Tertons.
To be blunt, the Tulku system arose from a socio/political need. The world has changed.


The terton system also arises from socio/political needs.

Undeniably.
The question becomes whether both or either continue to be viable in terms of those needs...
What's your view Malcolm ?
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:42 pm

Simon E. wrote:What's your view Malcolm ?



My view on the subject is that the terma system and the tulku system both will continue to meet the needs of the client population for these phenomena, mainly Tibetans.

The terma system offers Nyingmapas the assurance that the blessings of their system of teachings never declines and the tulku system in general offers the Tibetan population as a whole, as well as some westerners, the assurance that they will always be guided by buddhas. These are powerful motivations propelling the furtherance of both traditions.

Whether they will be very relevant to us is another question.

We do not have a cultural identity wrapped up in a mythos of a golden imperial era with emanated bodhisattvas benevolently carrying out the duties of an enlightened monarch, working in concert with a foreign wizard and aiding the spread of the dharma, concealing teachings for such times when there are threats to the nation. In general, these are the terms under which termas are concealed and revealed in the Padmasambhava tradition. As a westerner, one has to be educated into these concepts, concepts which are the running background of Tibetan society in general.

As for the tulku system, the tulku system will continue, but I predict that in the West, most tulku recognitions of practitioners will be post-mortem, as it was before the Karmapas.
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:56 pm

As you say it has little impact on the vast majority of we westerners apart from any emotional investment we might have made. But if post -mortem recognition becomes the norm that carries implications for the education of such tulkus...doesn't it ?
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Knotty Veneer » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:03 pm

Malcolm wrote:As for the tulku system, the tulku system will continue, but I predict that in the West, most tulku recognitions of practitioners will be post-mortem, as it was before the Karmapas.


I wonder too in world where Tibet/Tibetans are not so cut off from outside influences whether the tulku system will continue to be a useful way to produce and train a new generation of religious leaders.

Westerners don't seem to take to it and I see a number of exiled Tibetan tulkus giving up on it.

I don't see the institution disappearing anytime soon but I wonder if it will wane in significance as it proves to be an unreliable source of good teachers. Could a system based on merit where ordinary monks/lay lamas come to the fore based on their abilities be more efficient than picking a child and hoping he sticks at it?
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:07 pm

Simon E. wrote:As you say it has little impact on the vast majority of we westerners apart from any emotional investment we might have made. But if post -mortem recognition becomes the norm that carries implications for the education of such tulkus...doesn't it ?


It means that people, westerners, who invest their time and energy into study and practice will be recognized as incarnations after they demonstrated results of practice.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:14 pm

Having not considered the point until now, my first response is to see that a positive possibility.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby smcj » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:46 pm

It means that people, westerners, who invest their time and energy into study and practice will be recognized as incarnations after they demonstrated results of practice.

There is currently in place a system for upgrading a lama's status to "rinpoche" that is, at least in theory, based on merit, without the designation of tulku being attached. The fact that there has been extreme inflationary pressure for various titles (how many "His Holinesses" are there now?), which cheapens the credibility of the entire system of titles, is a sad and seemingly unavoidable comment on our times.

In terms of tulkus there is the functional consideration of choosing which person to put on the fast-track of practice, including possible material support and access to teachers, so some choice should be made early on. Actual public recognition should wait until if and when the results of the practices are stabilized, probably no earlier than the candidate's mid-30s. That should cut down on the percentage of embarrassing train wrecks.

But that's not going to happen. Nobody is in charge to make those types of decisions. The situation will evolve however it will.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:40 pm

smcj wrote:
But I would argue against the usefulness of an acting school that currently has actors in training deemed "future academy award winners", no matter how good their acting was in their previous life.

Both HHDL and HH Karmapa (Orgyen Thinley brand) were children taken from seemingly random nomad families in eastern Tibet.


HHDL was the child of a wealthy land-owning family from Amdo (which had a Kumbum tulku in it already) about a days' horse ride from Kumbum Monastery. I have personally been to his birth home, seen it with my own eyes. His family was not nomadic.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:44 pm

smcj wrote:
It means that people, westerners, who invest their time and energy into study and practice will be recognized as incarnations after they demonstrated results of practice.

There is currently in place a system for upgrading a lama's status to "rinpoche" that is, at least in theory, based on merit, without the designation of tulku being attached. The fact that there has been extreme inflationary pressure for various titles (how many "His Holinesses" are there now?), which cheapens the credibility of the entire system of titles, is a sad and seemingly unavoidable comment on our times.

In terms of tulkus there is the functional consideration of choosing which person to put on the fast-track of practice, including possible material support and access to teachers, so some choice should be made early on. Actual public recognition should wait until if and when the results of the practices are stabilized, probably no earlier than the candidate's mid-30s. That should cut down on the percentage of embarrassing train wrecks.

But that's not going to happen. Nobody is in charge to make those types of decisions. The situation will evolve however it will.


That system of titles comes from UN protocol for the Vatican. It should be abandoned.

The politics of the tulku system revolves around power first, and money second.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
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-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby smcj » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:30 pm

The politics of the tulku system revolves around power first, and money second.

The 8 worldly dharmas are corrupting influences on dharma organizations and personalities, to be sure. However if one believes in reincarnation, and believes that advanced practitioners actually do return, then it seems like throwing the baby out with the bath water to dismiss the phenomena as simply corrupt or even invalid. Better perhaps to find a way to minimize the economic, political, and social benefits so that the level of b.s. is reduced as much as is possible.
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