Safe to practice Buddhist Yoga on our own?

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Safe to practice Buddhist Yoga on our own?

Postby Tiger » Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:05 pm

I am beginning to read a book called "Buddhist Yoga" by Thomas Cleary, which essentially contains a translation of Sandhinirmocana Sutra. Now my question is about how safe this practice is without a Guru/teacher? Do all Buddhist Yoga practices require direct teaching from a Guru (like Tantra)? Or there are things that we can read on our own. According to my understanding the problem could arise if my ethical conduct /vinaya is not in accordance with that taught by the Buddha? And in case it is dangerous, in what way exactly could I encounter its harmful effects?

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Re: Safe to practice Buddhist Yoga on our own?

Postby viniketa » Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:06 pm

That's a broad question. In general, the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra can be utilized in sūtrayāna practice and needs no type of 'transmission'. 'Buddhist Yoga' is Cleary's title for it; the more widely used translations are 'Sūtra on Understanding Profound and Esoteric Doctrine', 'Sūtra of the Explanation of the Profound Secrets', or 'Sūtra Unraveling the Secrets'. As the first translation implies, it is more of a doctrinal work than a practical manual of yoga. Since the Sūtra attempts to integrate both philosophy and general practices from the less to more complex, Cleary used the term 'yoga' as a double entendre to refer to: 1) bringing together various doctrines, and 2) proceeding from less to more complex 'objects' of yoga-style meditation leading to samādhi (the 'highest' form of meditation in Patañjali's Yoga Sūtra).

Hope this helps answer your question.

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Safe to practice Buddhist Yoga on our own?

Postby viniketa » Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:37 pm

I'm not sure why this was moved to the 'Lounge'... I think it started in 'Mahayana Buddhism', but should at least be in 'Dharma-free-for-all', I would think.

Just in case the move had to do with my statement, I should clarify that it does not imply that the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra is not Buddhavācana (word of the Buddha), nor that it makes statements that are not consistent with the Buddhist use of meditational yogā. I am simply indicating that it is not a step-by-step guide to meditational yogā, even though it can be seen as highly relevant to stages of meditational practice.

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Safe to practice Buddhist Yoga on our own?

Postby Tiger » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:21 pm

You are right. So far I haven't come across instructions about practices the way I found them in Amitayur Dhyana Sutra, but I guess I will have to read them further to understand. I would like to extend my questions to broader domain of all the Sutras. If there are any practices mentioned in any Sutras that we practice on our own, how safe would that be? Is the warning about dangers only valid if we attempt to practice Yogas and Tantras on our own or they exist for Sutras as well?

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Re: Safe to practice Buddhist Yoga on our own?

Postby viniketa » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:32 pm

Tiger wrote:You are right. So far I haven't come across instructions about practices the way I found them in Amitayur Dhyana Sutra, but I guess I will have to read them further to understand. I would like to extend my questions to broader domain of all the Sutras. If there are any practices mentioned in any Sutras that we practice on our own, how safe would that be? Is the warning about dangers only valid if we attempt to practice Yogas and Tantras on our own or they exist for Sutras as well?


If I am understanding your question, I will answer to the best of my understanding, as I am not a trantric teacher. :smile:

In general, yoga meditational practices are 'safe'. That said, note that any meditation practice can hold psychological 'traps' for some persons, depending on their individual psyche. Practices based in Tantrayāna/Vajrayāna, however, usually involve a specific type of 'Guru-yoga', which must be practiced with a teacher. These are often called 'secret' teachings, as they must be transmitted and empowered by the teacher to the student, so they are not revealed to the 'uninitiated'.

Sutrāyāna practice, however, has no such restrictions. Anyone may perform sutrā recitations, chant mantras, or engage in general yoga-style meditation. Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra is beautiful sūtra, with many profound teachings of Buddha. Cleary's translation into English may not be entirely precise, but it is one of the more beautiful to read and contemplate. Too bad Shambala tried to promote it as a 'yoga manual'. :D

Hope this helps.

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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