Authentic practice in the modern age

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Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby Gyaltsen Tashi » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:38 am

Hi,

This is sort of a continuation of my other thread "Lost and hesitant to find teacher". But instead of reviving that thread, I think I'll start a new one with a different slant.

In this age of the internet and travelling Rinpoches, is it possible to do authentic practice without face-to-face (one-to-one) contact? Just relying on Dharma events, books and the internet, how far can one go in this way without running into difficulties?

Regards,
Gyaltsen Tashi
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:11 am

It is quite easy to find an excellent teacher in North America and in Europe.
In fact, compared with what you would have had to do
only seventy-five years ago... maybe even just 50 years ago,
it is almost effortless, especially in finding a qualified lama.
back then
You would have had to have gone to where the teachers were, in remote places.
No electricity, or plumbing. Maybe no roads, but lots of bandits and cut-throats.
You would have had to learn their spoken and written language.
You would have had to be lucky enough to meet them,
hoping that they were available,
and not busy running a monastery or meditating in a cave somewhere.
You probably would have had to drop everything you were doing
and devote yourself totally to their instruction
and you would have to be fortunate enough that they would agree to take you on as a student
And that would be the easy part.
After that, the training.

These days, people complain because they have to drive two hours to a meditation center!

I think, if you are in Singapore, you ought to be able to find a teacher.

If you want suggestions about a reputable tradition or lineage, i thing people here will offer advice
even if they don't tell you who their own teacher is.

I don't mention my teacher(s) names here for two reasons:
1. in our minds, we feel very familiar to people in forums and chat rooms. After a few conversations back and forth, we can almost picture other people in our imaginations...almost like we know them, but we don't.
The internet gives a false sense of intimacy that way. This is different from meeting other dharma people face to face, and discussing who your teachers are.

2. I don't want anything negative, incorrect or foolish that I might say to reflect back on my teacher. It is out of respect that I don't 'name-drop". I am not a very good student or practicer. I don't want to toss the names of my teachers around because people might think, from things i might say, they are not good teachers.
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby ngodrup » Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:22 am

Depends on where you are, of course.

Many really qualified Lamas are traveling, many of those are
giving complete teachings from beginning to end-- maybe not
detailed, but all the necessary components.

It seems to me *the* question about authenticity for the so called
"Modern Age" is really, "Are we willing to do it?"

How long does it take a lineage-holder to give lung for ngondro,
for example? How long does it take to explain the visualizations
involved?

How many have completed one or even two of them?

OK, maybe. But then who many empowerments are given, even for
Highest Yoga Tantra? How many take the time to complete the required
bums?

So there you have it. Lamas teach, but what do practitioners do?
Demons of distraction are everywhere, That's the meaning of "Modern Age."
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby kirtu » Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:37 am

ngodrup wrote:Depends on where you are, of course.

Many really qualified Lamas are traveling, many of those are
giving complete teachings from beginning to end-- maybe not
detailed, but all the necessary components.

It seems to me *the* question about authenticity for the so called
"Modern Age" is really, "Are we willing to do it?"
....
So there you have it. Lamas teach, but what do practitioners do?
Demons of distraction are everywhere, That's the meaning of "Modern Age."


That's really it, for the most part. Most people can accomplish authentic practice if they are determined to.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby tatpurusa » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:38 pm

kirtu wrote:
That's really it, for the most part. Most people can accomplish authentic practice if they are determined to.

Kirt


It is the same anywhere, anytime, be it the West, Asia, now, or 75-100 years ago, whenever:

What it depends on is: are you determined to question yourself, your ideas, your culture, your religion, everything you have ever heard, thought, felt, till its ultimate consequence?

If yes, your practice will turn any teaching into an authentic experience.
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby muni » Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:53 pm

tatpurusa wrote:
What it depends on is: are you determined to question yourself, your ideas, your culture, your religion, everything you have ever heard, thought, felt, till its ultimate consequence?


A key question to see all subtle bondage-traps we hold on and with which there is identification.

Naked nature. Thank you! :smile:
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby Gyaltsen Tashi » Fri Dec 20, 2013 8:22 pm

Gyaltsen Tashi wrote:
face-to-face (one-to-one) contact


So this is not necessarily required?

Regards,
Gyaltsen Tashi
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby tatpurusa » Fri Dec 20, 2013 8:27 pm

Gyaltsen Tashi wrote:
Gyaltsen Tashi wrote:
face-to-face (one-to-one) contact


So this is not necessarily required?

Regards,
Gyaltsen Tashi


It is absolutely essential, but not enough.
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby muni » Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:11 am

Gyaltsen Tashi wrote:Hi,

This is sort of a continuation of my other thread "Lost and hesitant to find teacher". But instead of reviving that thread, I think I'll start a new one with a different slant.

In this age of the internet and travelling Rinpoches, is it possible to do authentic practice without face-to-face (one-to-one) contact? Just relying on Dharma events, books and the internet, how far can one go in this way without running into difficulties?

Regards,
Gyaltsen Tashi


Hi Gyaltsen Tashi,

For me the one-to-one is connection with Wisdom, Awaken Nature. One can contact some centers, look around, meet a Rinpoche and so on, as these things together with study, contemplation, eventually meditation if one already got some guidance how to meditate, these can pave a way for recieving a helping wisdom-hand. Furthermore I leave this option open: to pray from the core of ones' being for guidance. I think all depends on own mind.

With respect. :namaste:
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby Gyaltsen Tashi » Sat Dec 21, 2013 1:26 pm

tatpurusa wrote:
What it depends on is: are you determined to question yourself, your ideas, your culture, your religion, everything you have ever heard, thought, felt, till its ultimate consequence?


I don't understand. If I want to deconstruct everything, why would I need Buddhism to do it?

I understand you need to contemplate the teachings in order to understand it. But then....In simple terms, if I am taking refuge, if I start questioning what I am doing, why I am doing this instead of something else, the whole thing will just fall apart.

I am really good at this sort of thing, ruminating and all, and I see it as an obstacle to practice, not practice itself. When I start questioning myself, I can't practice at all! :tantrum:

I think I have done this kind of thinking before, questioning everything and the ultimate consequence is that there really is no use continuing living, and that I'm better off dead.

Regards,
Gyaltsen Tashi
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby kirtu » Sat Dec 21, 2013 7:50 pm

Gyaltsen Tashi wrote:
tatpurusa wrote:
What it depends on is: are you determined to question yourself, your ideas, your culture, your religion, everything you have ever heard, thought, felt, till its ultimate consequence?


I don't understand. If I want to deconstruct everything, why would I need Buddhism to do it?


For some people, esp. coming from a Zen perspective, Buddhism seems to be primarily deconstruction.

It is true that we have to go beyond forms but we use forms as skillful means and as methods of guidance until we can go beyond the forms.

I understand you need to contemplate the teachings in order to understand it. But then....In simple terms, if I am taking refuge, if I start questioning what I am doing, why I am doing this instead of something else, the whole thing will just fall apart.


We should take refuge with full understanding and not just as a ritual. Why are we taking refuge? Refuge from what? What are we taking refuge in? Why? But this is not the same thing as questioning taking refuge itself.

I think I have done this kind of thinking before, questioning everything and the ultimate consequence is that there really is no use continuing living, and that I'm better off dead.


The ultimate consequence is that you could become a Buddha in this lifetime and save all beings.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby tatpurusa » Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:19 pm

Gyaltsen Tashi wrote:
tatpurusa wrote:
What it depends on is: are you determined to question yourself, your ideas, your culture, your religion, everything you have ever heard, thought, felt, till its ultimate consequence?


I don't understand. If I want to deconstruct everything, why would I need Buddhism to do it?

No, you don't have to deconstruct everything, it would be much too much work anyway ... ;)
In fact, you don't have to deconstruct anything at all. Deconstructing is a work of samsara, a result of dualistic thinking, just as constructing is.
The point is much more about transgressing. Transgreding their all-mightiness. Instead of following or rejecting either construction or deconstruction, seeing what they are in reality, seeing them as they are, leaving them as they are and passing beyond.
Letting them be what they are without any trace of manipulation, they become irrelevant. Or, as the tradition says, they spontaneously auto-liberate.
The clue is manipulation. Constructing and deconstructing are manipulations. Who is it manipulating? Questioning means not-following things that normally are taken for granted.
Rejecting means following them in a negative way. Manipulating is following ..... Manipulating is being the slave of both the object and the subject (will, desire) of manipulation.

I understand you need to contemplate the teachings in order to understand it. But then....In simple terms, if I am taking refuge, if I start questioning what I am doing, why I am doing this instead of something else, the whole thing will just fall apart.

You don't have to question why you are doing it, nor what you are doing, but rather who is doing it. The rest follows that "who".
If you find that who, you should neither follow nor reject it. Just leave it as it is ... And this is something radically new.

I am really good at this sort of thing, ruminating and all, and I see it as an obstacle to practice, not practice itself. When I start questioning myself, I can't practice at all! :tantrum:

It is an obstacle to practice. This is self-castigation. As said above, questioning should neither be deconstructing, nor destroying, or rejecting. These all are just negative ways of following.
Questioning is rather understanding them as they are, understanding their real nature. Questioning them is an attitude of compassion with oneself, rather than self castigation. Feeling guilty is the most negative and most destructive thing one can do to oneself. One of the biggest obstacles at all.

I think I have done this kind of thinking before, questioning everything and the ultimate consequence is that there really is no use continuing living, and that I'm better off dead.

As said, questioning is not doubting. Questioning is finding the real significance of things. Questioning is the liberation from their overwhelming presence ... on the basis of compassionate understanding.

And yes, just as Kirt said:
The ultimate consequence is that you could become a Buddha in this lifetime and save all beings.


all the best
tp
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby lobster » Sun Dec 22, 2013 8:27 am

It is absolutely essential, but not enough.


It is enough to start with where you are and what you can do. The distractions, diversions and 'can I do it this way' insistence is irrelevant.
You either practice or you practice practicing. :popcorn:
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby Simon E. » Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:20 pm

Gyaltsen Tashi wrote:Hi,

This is sort of a continuation of my other thread "Lost and hesitant to find teacher". But instead of reviving that thread, I think I'll start a new one with a different slant.

In this age of the internet and travelling Rinpoches, is it possible to do authentic practice without face-to-face (one-to-one) contact? Just relying on Dharma events, books and the internet, how far can one go in this way without running into difficulties?

Regards,
Gyaltsen Tashi

No its not possible.
The more sincere you are the quicker you will run into difficulties.
And like many without teachers you might well be the last one to realise it.
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby pemachophel » Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:02 pm

Personally, I agree with Simon E that face-2-face contact with a living Teacher is essential for successful practice.

:namaste:
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby Ivo » Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:02 pm

Simon is generally right. Authentic practice without a teacher is possible, if we define it as just establishing connection to the Buddadharma - such practice is always personal. However, if you want to know if you can reach the final result of Dharma practice in this lifetime without a strong and serious one-to-one interaction with an authentic teacher - this is really not possible. But this is a very radical and difficult path very few are actually taking.
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby Ivo » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:09 pm

I wanted to edit the above post but ran out of time. It is in reply to the original question.

There are many nuances in Dharma practice and it means different things for different people. For most people it is mostly a church, and even when they do have personal interactions with teachers, it is very superficial. In some Dharma communities, both East and West, this borders 90% of the sangha.
The more serious practitioner would need a lama who knows him by name and who gives him personal guidance and teachings occasionally - at least several times a year. This is probably the 9.8% (optimistically). And, the most serious practitioner would need to do something else entirely - either to live with his/her teacher at least on a semi-permanent basis, or to practice in retreat setting, or both. This will be much less than 1% of practitioners.

The first category may generally hope for establishing a good connection, creating the conditions of a rebirth more favorable for future practice etc. Practitioners from the second group may have a chance to achieve some serious result, but this will largely depend on personal circumstances, past karma, etc. Practitioners in the third group are in a true gain-or-lose situation, with the most chance to do something amazing, and with the less space to make mistakes. One has to be ready to get there, otherwise it usually ends in disaster.

The wisest decision one can make is to weight very carefully one's own situation and capacity and to decide what kind of teacher-student interaction he/she can handle comfortably, and this actually changes with the passage of time (both ways) . All options are good options if they are in tune with one's personal condition and if the karmic connection to the teacher is appropriate for what you are trying to achieve.
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby Gyaltsen Tashi » Mon Dec 23, 2013 6:43 am

Aren't there simple practices like Chenrezig (mani recitation) and Guru Rinpoche (7-line prayer and Vajra Guru mantra) that can bring the practitioner to Buddhahood in one lifetime?

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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby Ivo » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:40 am

Aren't there simple practices like Chenrezig (mani recitation) and Guru Rinpoche (7-line prayer and Vajra Guru mantra) that can bring the practitioner to Buddhahood in one lifetime?

Not really. You need to practice at least on the level of Anuttaratantra to do that, and even then it is extremely rare. For serious Anuttara practice you need a very serious teacher-student relationship.

The practices you mention can be very helpful - they will create the merit needed to bring you further on the path and may create the conditions for you to meet the right teacher, etc., but attaining realization in this life is a totally different ball game.
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Re: Authentic practice in the modern age

Postby Sherlock » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:33 pm

Depends on your teacher and what he says.

ChNN teaches his students to aspire for awakening in the bardo.
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