Johnny Dangerous wrote:Something that eludes me though is the larger concepts of how things are structured in terms of student progression, with the huge number of practices out there, is there some sort of 'standardized' approach, or is this really down to your teacher and/or lineage?
Also are certain things viewed as "only for beginners", where then you graduate to more advanced practice and get initiations, or is it different than this?
My only comparison to something like tantric practice is martial arts (yeah I know, controversy of and within itself i'm sure), where what is "advanced" is really just refinement, internalizing and eventually transcendence of fundamentals. Do people end up dropping stuff like Chenrezig practice for something more "advanced" down the line, or is this really more about individual preferences?
Well, Vajrayana is a huge system. So my answers will be yes and no. Most deity practices and meditation techniques have levels. You complete one and move to the next. But some practices don't or not as much.
There is only one way to master certain practices, but it doesn't have to be strictly exact. So Gurus can add or summarize things.
As for "only for beginners", there are practices done upon entry to Vajrayana, but even the great masters like Lord Tsongkhapa and Lord Drikungpa did these entry level practices through out their lives. So yes there are beginner practices, but they're never abandoned (or rather shouldn't be). Even upon mastering higher practices. Sometimes daily practice of some previous levels will be reduced once mastery is gained.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.
-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra
"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."
-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats