Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:52 pm

Wasn't sure where this should go.

In The Myth of Freedom Trungpa Rinpoche talks about four ways that Tantra deals with negative projections:

pacifying

enriching

magnetizing

destroying


I cannot quite understand this bit of the book, it's quite abstract, and doesn't seem to give examples. Does anyone have some insight into this?
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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:12 am

These are traditionally known as the "four activities" and are actually fairly advanced bits of tantric practice. Usually one engages in these activities only after the completion of a given approximation and accomplishment, at least according to Kagyu lineage. In Nyingma, you''ll find rituals relating to these practices at the end of Drupchens. Most often, they take the form of "Fire Pujas"--"Jinsek" in Tibetan, or "Homa" in Sanskrit...activity rituals that serve to enact the given activity. Most often, especially for beginners, one engages in "pacifying" activity.

"Negative Projections" would be a way of discussing obstructors, particular to Trungpa's approach, I think, or of obstructions in environment and sentient beings, in general.

The Four activities, or "Lay Shi," as they're known, are: Pacifying, Increasing, Magnetizing, and Destroying. Increasing can be called "Enriching," and is concerned with growth, and also with things like spreading the Dharma, causing the Dharma to flourish. Magnetizing can be called "Attracting," and is traditionally used to magnetize good qualities to oneself, including life force, wisdom, etc. Also useful for gathering students. Destroying is sometimes called "wrathful."

Some yidam practices focus on one or another of these activities, even prior to engaging in the actual "post-accomplishment activity." Other yidam practices are manifold, and address more than one of the four activities. For example, Kurukulle is a magnetizing practice, as is Vajrayogini to some degree. Green Tara is often said to be an "enriching" practice. Chenrezig is the king of Pacification deities, in all his forms. Mahakala, and Vajrakilaya, Etc., are known by their "destroying activities" attributes, primarily. Hevajra, Chakrasamvara, are more multivalent, it is said.
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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:29 am

Thanks, that's very enlightening..so to speak;)

As an example, and within the bounds of what can be discussed obviously, what would make something like Chenrezig practice pacifying, or Tara enriching? Or is that a fairly abstract question?

I ask on those as those are the only two I have experience of. In particular, I found the definitions somewhat hard to relate to..for instance, what exactly is pacifying?
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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:53 am

Well, let's first say that "activity" is a traditional "step" in tantric practice. First, one gets empowerment, then guards and keeps samayas, practicing the stages of "approach" or "approximation," in retreat, followed by "accomplishment." Only then would one enter into "activity."

That is the traditional path, and "activity" as a stage of practice, or a "yoga," had carefully prescribed instructions and guidelines.

"Pacifying" means "making peaceful, " eh? So, directed toward any turbulent phenomena, one quiets and calms them. "Destroying" is the last resort..also the most dangerous. Purely wrathful action is rare, and one needs qualifications to attempt
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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:18 am

conebeckham wrote:Well, let's first say that "activity" is a traditional "step" in tantric practice. First, one gets empowerment, then guards and keeps samayas, practicing the stages of "approach" or "approximation," in retreat, followed by "accomplishment." Only then would one enter into "activity."

That is the traditional path, and "activity" as a stage of practice, or a "yoga," had carefully prescribed instructions and guidelines.

"Pacifying" means "making peaceful, " eh? So, directed toward any turbulent phenomena, one quiets and calms them. "Destroying" is the last resort..also the most dangerous. Purely wrathful action is rare, and one needs qualifications to attempt


Thanks, that was very helpful!

Alot of the stuff I have read about Mahamudra, talks alot about self-liberation of thoughts, calming of elaboration and similar..there are similar things in the Chenrezig sadhana I do also.. does this fit into one of these categories - pacifying by this example, or is it a different thing altogether? Is it only a term that is really used in the context of the progression you are talking about?
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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby Adamantine » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:07 am

I always think about it in this metaphor, --and it could be from a teaching I received once upon a time but I can't say for sure:

Let's say there's a really unruly person that just comes right up to you on the street and starts harassing you. As a bodhisattva in training our first reaction ideally would be to diffuse the confrontation with kindness. Talk to them softly, avoid looking at them with a hard stare or intense gaze, but instead smile warmly, send them love, practice tonglen, etc. If they are not satisfied with this, then to diffuse the situation you may need to resort to giving them something: whether it's food, money, or the clothes off your back. And if this also fails and they continue harassing you, you could try telling them a joke, complimenting them, or saying something clever that may please them and draw them under your influence, or you could use a very commanding tone from your inner reservoir that clearly communicates that you are not messing around. And if they are still a problem after that, and are not letting you go your way, -and may even have a violent intent- then the last resort would be to use physical force to subdue them.


So it is this logical progression of activities that you apply to variable obstacles from the Tantric point of view.
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:12 am

The Four Activities are taught the same way in Gelug. Also, the way you know which Activity a deity focuses on is their color. White, yellow, red, and black. Pacifying, enriching, magnetizing, and destroying.

Thus, in some practices, a deity be visualized in whatever color corresponds to the Activity wanted.
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."

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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:34 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Thanks, that was very helpful!

Alot of the stuff I have read about Mahamudra, talks alot about self-liberation of thoughts, calming of elaboration and similar..there are similar things in the Chenrezig sadhana I do also.. does this fit into one of these categories - pacifying by this example, or is it a different thing altogether? Is it only a term that is really used in the context of the progression you are talking about?


In a sense, I think that "calming of elaboration" is related to pacification for oneself...ones' own mindstream. Deity yogas, in general, are about one's own condition, initially--transformation of one's own state. But these "Activity Yogas" are about "joining with the action" so to speak, or engaging with the world, AFTER one has transformed one's own state. This is also from the POV of subtle HYT, but subtle dualism nonetheless. At a certain point, however,the "Joining with the action" is nondual--in other words, there's no difference between self and other, so no transformation to be done--that's the Mahamudra state, I think.....that's Virupa stopping the sun, you know? Milarepa, sheltering in a conch shell, while neither shrinking nor causing the Conch shell to get larger????
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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:46 am

Thanks all, some great answers.
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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby Vasana » Wed May 06, 2015 10:02 pm

Would it be fair to say that these four activities can be applied in the context of what people refer to as "Engaged Buddhism" or even any activities which are deemed 'pro-social' and for the benefit of the planet and it's inhabitants ?

Even if the activities aren't involving tantric-visualization or even coming from a Buddhist standpoint, it seems they can still be universally applied to the various situations within the world and our daily lives.

I'm trying to explore the various ways in which 'skillfull-means' could manifest in the context of this modern world in which many of the problems many beings face, requires a combination of these four activities , outside of the traditional context of dharmic-practice, in order to help establish the fundamental conditions required to even have the possibility of approaching Dharma.
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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby ClearblueSky » Thu May 07, 2015 5:14 am

Vasana wrote:Would it be fair to say that these four activities can be applied in the context of what people refer to as "Engaged Buddhism" or even any activities which are deemed 'pro-social' and for the benefit of the planet and it's inhabitants ?

Of course, I'm sure if you look around you can see positive examples of any of these.... the only problem is we don't all always know/agree on what's the best way to use them.
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Re: Trungpa - four Karma Yogas?

Postby Konchok Namgyal » Thu May 07, 2015 4:05 pm

Perhaps the words subdue and subjugate, magnetize and multiply may work here as well....
Recognize that your mind is the unity of being empty and cognizant, suffused with knowing. When your attention is extroverted, you fall under the sway of thoughts. Let your attention recognize itself. Recognize that it is empty. That which recognizes is the cognizance. You can trust at that moment that these two – emptiness and cognizance – are an original unity. Seeing this is called self-knowing wakefulness. ~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
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