Lojong without Guru Yoga

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Lojong without Guru Yoga

Postby Motova » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:14 pm

I have this book called, "The Great Path of Awakening: The Classic Guide to Lojong, a Tibetan Buddhist Practice For Cultivating the Heart of Compassion" by Jamgon Kongtrul, translated by Ken McLeod.

Under "The Groundwork: Instruction on What Supports Dharma", the first instruction is to start a session of Guru Yoga. I don't have a guru, thus I cannot do guru yoga. So will this impede any of the practices described within this book?
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Re: Lojong without Guru Yoga

Postby MattyNottwo » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:23 pm

Read Pema Chodron's "Start where you are." She is a wonderful Lojong teacher. I think that not having a guru is better than a bad guru, and by bad guru, not only in the literal sense, but in our view of the guru. I think a real feeling and devotion to the practice are more important. Also, starting with mindfulness practice, and being very kind to yourself. I could be wrong, this definitely isn't "gospel."

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Re: Lojong without Guru Yoga

Postby Motova » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:35 pm

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Re: Lojong without Guru Yoga

Postby Dorje Shedrub » Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:55 pm

In Vajrayana it is very important to have a guru.
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Re: Lojong without Guru Yoga

Postby Motova » Sat Jul 20, 2013 3:50 am

Dorje Shedrub wrote:In Vajrayana it is very important to have a guru.

I'm only 6 months into Buddhism, so I am still working through the basics. Also I've only been to this temple twice for a Green Tara Puja, so I don't really feel comfortable approaching the lama in that context. I just want a method to help cultivate compassion, and I feel a connection to tonglen.

I think I'll just recite A Bodhisattva's Aspiration from my book, "A Book of Common Tibetan Buddhist Prayers - New and Expanded Second Edition". Any thoughts on that choice?
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Re: Lojong without Guru Yoga

Postby Ramon1920 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:08 am

Guru Yoga is generally generic.

You can do some of the guru yoga recitations without a specific guru you have received teachings from.
You should not do the daily six session guru yoga until you have received a HYT empowerment.

You can supplement guru yoga with regular triple gem refuge prayers. Buddha Shakyamuni is your guru.

With that said, lojong is a very wide range of teachings, so I don't know specifically what is in that book. Some lojong is very applicable to everyone and isn't harmful without special preparation, others invoke tantric deities to smash our self cherishing.
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Re: Lojong without Guru Yoga

Postby kirtu » Sat Jul 20, 2013 5:44 am

Motova wrote:I have this book called, "The Great Path of Awakening: The Classic Guide to Lojong, a Tibetan Buddhist Practice For Cultivating the Heart of Compassion" by Jamgon Kongtrul, translated by Ken McLeod.


"The Great Path of Awakening" is one of the greatest books ever written. However Kongtrul is writing for people who are beginning serious practice in that book. The lojong teachings themselves are separate from that background and are in fact a common Mahayana teaching.

Under "The Groundwork: Instruction on What Supports Dharma", the first instruction is to start a session of Guru Yoga. I don't have a guru, thus I cannot do guru yoga. So will this impede any of the practices described within this book?


No. The root verses and root teachings are common Mahayana. My impression of the book is that he wrote it as an elaboration for monks beginning his retreat program but I cannot prove that. I haven't had Ken McLeod's excellent translation in my hand for years, but he may state the circumstances under which Kongtrul wrote it.

An example is one of the very first statements in the book in Kongtrul's commentary is "Begin with the preliminaries" - by which he means ngondro - the 400,000 (or 500,000 or 600,000 depending on lineage) accumulations of refuge and Bodhicitta meditation with prostrations, mandala offering, Vajrasattva meditation and Guru Yoga. But lojong does not have to be engaged at that level. This is an example of common Mahayana teaching in Tibetan Buddhism without necessarily being Vajrayana teaching. In fact, usually when Gelug and Sakya teachers present Geshe Chekawa's teaching, they often do not mention Vajrayana practice at all. The teaching is beyond golden and you do not need to practice Vajrayana itself to practice the slogans.

I reviewed the slogans just now and "train in the preliminaries" is in fact Geshe Chekawa's first slogan. Kongtrul's commentary focuses on ngondro but you can apply the common Mahayana preliminaries: precious human birth, impermanence and the inevitability of death for all beings, cause and effect (karma) and the faults of samsara (it's all suffering although it appears to be a mixture of happiness and suffering).

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