Validity of recorded empowerments

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Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:23 pm

Discussion split from this thread.

Protectors are for those who have entered secret mantra in the proper way. If you do not have samaya, you do not need any sort of protector apart from the Three Jewels. I am really not certain at all that recorded empowerments have the necessary qualities to confer the stream of blessings. In fact, I am sure that they don't.

M
Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Adding link to original thread.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:29 pm

In general, your "protector" is likely associated with the lineage you are affiliating yourself with....

For example, Gelukpas will rely on the Protectors of the Three Scopes--Mahakala, Vaishravana, and Kalarupa/Damchen Chogyal/Dharmaraja.

For someone who is not practicing Highest Yoga Tantra, does not have empowerments, etc., Dharmaraja is the best choice, I think.

In order to rely on most protectors, you must have the Jenang, or Permission ritual, and usually a HYT empowerment of some yidam practice as well.

For Nyingmapas, Vajrakilaya is often the yidam connected with protector practice, while there are the main three Dzogchen protectors: Rahula, Ekadzati, and Damchen Dorje Legpa, as well as specific Vajrakilaya protectors, etc.

For Sakyapas, it's often the Panjaranatha Mahakala, with Hevajra as yidam. For Karma Kagyupas, Bernakchen and Palden Lhamo, or the Four Armed Mahakala, and Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara....Drikungs practice Achi Chokyi Drolma, Shangpa rely on the Six Armed Mahakala....

But for someone without empowerments, it's okay to respect the protectors and make offerings--but they will have limited value.

And I'm in agreement with Malcolm, IMO recorded empowerments are not sufficient to engage in such practices. In fact, I've come to feel that recorded empowerments are not sufficient to practice a yidam practice, either, in any real sense.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:09 pm

The issue of recorded empowerments is not what is being discussed here, but since we are on the subject...

If a teacher the caliber of Garchen Rinpoche believes that empowerments can be received via recording then, really, who are we to doubt him?

It was not long ago that teachings and empowerments being given "live" over the interent were considered invalid. Yet the Dzogchen Community is now flourishing as a consequence of ChNN's insistence that they are valid.

For some people the probability of coming into contact with a live teacher in order to receive an empowerment is almost zero. Yet they have the karma to benefit from internet teachings and empowerments. Should we be denying them the possibility of receiving the precious Dharma? Should we be sowing distrust in the decisions and opinions of extraordinary teachers?

I personally have benefited immensly from access to teachings and empowerments via the internet (recorded and live). Having attended live empowerments too I feel that there is no real qualitative difference as long as one's mind is focused on receiving the empowerment. When Garchen Rinpoche (for example) gives the empowerments he is intent in passing on the blessing of the lineage knowing that the teaching may also be viewed at a later date. Realistically even a live session has a time lag between the transmission and reception so essentially it is not "live" anyway, but (realistically) since when have the blessings of the lineage been limited by time and space? :shrug:
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby Norwegian » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:15 pm

I don't have a problem with webcasts.

I follow Chogyal Namkhai Norbu's instructions on that issue. What he says is that in order to receive transmission and empowerment, it must be live. It cannot be from a recording, it doesn't work. So according to him, there are two alternatives: 1) Meet up to the retreat place in person, or 2) Attend the live webcast. His Holiness the Dalai Lama also shares this opinion, that empowerments are valid via webcast, but it must be live. He has done this for quite some time now, not as often as ChNN though, but from at least 2002.

And then there's Garchen Rinpoche, who has a different opinion, that according to him, there are those two aforementioned alternatives, but that there's also a third: Listen to recordings.

So it's up to you, I suppose.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:37 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
If a teacher the caliber of Garchen Rinpoche believes that empowerments can be received via recording then, really, who are we to doubt him?



Since when did we leave our minds at the temple door? I am not criticizing Garchen Rinpoche's motivations, for he is a bodhisattva, but I don't think a recording is a valid way for someone to receive an empowerment for all kinds of reasons, not merely one.

Not only am I entitled to my opinion, I am allowed to express it.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:42 pm

Greg, When you say the likelihood of some people coming into contact with a live teacher is practically zero, I am reminded of Marpa, and his three journeys to India...and the fact that he had to acclimatize in Nepal....as well as the many Tibetans who journeyed to India and endured hardships for the Dharma.

I'm not going to say that anyone can meet a teacher, if they have the force of will to do so....but I have to say that for most of us, it's possible and actually not all that difficult. It's more a matter of priority. I do recognize some people can't--whether due to disability, or due to the politics of their nations, etc. But really, for most of us.....it's far from impossible.

I'm not "against" the recorded or live streamed empowerments, teachings, and practices, either...and I'm sure they've brought benefit to sentient beings. But I really feel that HHDL and CNNR's position, that a recording doesn't truly carry the "blessing" as does a live stream, is true. I suppose this means I disagree with Garchen Rinpoche, in which case, so be it. I have no problem disagreeing with Garchen Rinpoche on this issue. I have great respect for him, just to be clear.

It's also largely question of degree. The best situation for a sincere and committed practitioner is to have a live, one-on-one session with one's teacher. In descending order, in my experience, you'd then have small group teachings and empowerments, with committed practitioners, followed by larger, more "public" events, followed by live streamed events.....then recordings, and books, and the stuff you find on the net. I am speaking from my own personal experience, and I suppose others may differ....but given the recent experiences I've had with large public groups and with webcasts, I really do feel that the quality and "energy" or blessing differs. Frankly, a teacher is not going to give the detailed, line-by-line teaching of some Tri in a webcast, for the most part, and there's always some confusion and lack of clarity, I've seen.....(Before I get jumped on, however, I will say that my experience is limited with regard to webcasts). But this doesn't mean there is no value in these things, and I think it's probable that the value outweighs the confusion. Still, for someone who REALLY wants to practice......take Marpa as your example.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:56 pm

Malcolm wrote:...but I don't think a recording is a valid way for someone to receive an empowerment for all kinds of reasons, not merely one.
So give a couple of them then.
Not only am I entitled to my opinion, I am allowed to express it.
Nobody said you weren't. At the same time I don't think I heard you say that I am not allowed to disagree with you. ;)

"As for leaving one's "mind at the temple door", I don't see your point. In this specific instance it is your opinion against that of Garchen Rinpoche, does trusting in Garchen Rinpoche mean leaving ones "mind at the temple door" whereas agreeing with you...? Somehow I don't think so.

Like I said earlier, initially there was a lot of resistance to the validity of teachings being given over the internet per se, seems that many teachers are starting to see the value of internet teachings. How long will it be before they see the value of recorded teachings too?

In closing: why would I not trust Garchen Rinpoches opinion? You reckon he is trying to scam me? :tongue:

Again I repeat the question: can the lineage blessings be limited by time and space?
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:03 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:Again I repeat the question: can the lineage blessings be limited by time and space?


Yes. In fact, there are many lineage transmissions that no longer exist, because they were not passed on.....so, for example, there is the text for Transmisison of consciousness in Marpa's lineage, but the actual blessing transmission no longer is extant.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:11 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:In closing: why would I not trust Garchen Rinpoches opinion? You reckon he is trying to scam me? :tongue:


I think he is benefitting beings, and making connections....but this does not change my opinion that, relatively speaking, there is limited value in getting an "empowerment" from a video recording, as compared to a live interaction. This is just my opinion, based on my own experience.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:12 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Malcolm wrote:...but I don't think a recording is a valid way for someone to receive an empowerment for all kinds of reasons, not merely one.
So give a couple of them then.


There is little point. Suffice it say that a properly granted empowerment concerns the arrangement of profound dependent origination. That cannot occur if the student is not physically present with the teacher in the same room at the same time in some way.

Next, we will have people becoming Buddhist monks on the basis of recorded ordinations.

Hopefully, people who attend such recorded empowerments will make effort to see Garchen Rinpoche in person at a later time. Otherwise, I think there is absolutely no blessing, and in fact, I think there are real problems created in terms of samaya.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:38 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:
Malcolm wrote:...but I don't think a recording is a valid way for someone to receive an empowerment for all kinds of reasons, not merely one.
So give a couple of them then.
There is little point. Suffice it say that a properly granted empowerment concerns the arrangement of profound dependent origination. That cannot occur if the student is not physically present with the teacher in the same room at the same time in some way.

Well, I would like to hear about it. I've never really understood what exactly is supposed to be going on during an empowerment.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:46 pm

Personally, I will take Garchen Rinpoche's statements above anyone else's here, no offense.

IIRC What he said in essence was that while the online empowerment is not a substitute for "going to the temple" when one can, that it counts as valid empowerment...here, i'll dredge up the thread:

viewtopic.php?f=50&t=14135


On the one hand, I get where people are coming from, I have a hard time accepting that someone can engage in Dharma practice without personal relationships and real-world experiences..on the other, if Garchen Rinpoche says some kind of authentic blessing involved for those with the requisite faith, personally i'm just gonna take him at his word.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby pensum » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:49 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:In closing: why would I not trust Garchen Rinpoches opinion? You reckon he is trying to scam me? :tongue:


It is not a question of trusting Garchen Rinpoche, but rather not trusting hearsay. Just because somebody claims that this is what Garchen Rinpoche said does not mean that he actually said it or that if he did say it that his intended meaning was accurately conveyed. Having witnessed time and time again people misinterpreting what a lama said or taking what was said out of context (for example, taking the advice given to a specific individual and then assuming that it applies to all in a general manner) i remain skeptical. Perhaps he meant merely a live webcast for a simple empowerment that did not require extensive physical blessings, or perhaps he said this in regard to a specific individual who already had received equivalent empowerments, or perhaps he only meant the reading transmission and someone didn't understand the difference between a lung and a empowerment… there are so many possibilities other than a sweeping generalization that all empowerments can be received by anybody simply by listening/watching a recording of it. If this is the case then by extension simply reading the empowerment text will suffice as what is a text other than a recording of the empowerment in a different form? So if Garchen Rinpoche did say and intend what is being claimed, then did he actually think through all the ramifications of what he was saying? So all considered skepticism seems more than justified.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:50 pm

pensum wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:In closing: why would I not trust Garchen Rinpoches opinion? You reckon he is trying to scam me? :tongue:


It is not a question of trusting Garchen Rinpoche, but rather not trusting hearsay. Just because somebody claims that this is what Garchen Rinpoche said does not mean that he actually said it or that if he did say it that his intended meaning was accurately conveyed. Having witnessed time and time again people misinterpreting what a lama said or taking what was said out of context (for example, taking the advice given to a specific individual and then assuming that it applies to all in a general manner) i remain skeptical. Perhaps he meant merely a live webcast for a simple empowerment that did not require extensive physical blessings, or perhaps he said this in regard to a specific individual who already had received equivalent empowerments, or perhaps he only meant the reading transmission and someone didn't understand the difference between a lung and a empowerment… there are so many possibilities other than a sweeping generalization that all empowerments can be received by anybody simply by listening/watching a recording of it. If this is the case then by extension simply reading the empowerment text will suffice as what is a text other than a recording of the empowerment in a different form? So if Garchen Rinpoche did say and intend what is being claimed, then did he actually think through all the ramifications of what he was saying? So all considered skepticism seems more than justified.



Read the link I posted, this is, in fact, what he said..someone from DW asked, and his team actually replied - no ambiguity.
Here it is again:

viewtopic.php?f=50&t=14135

there are so many possibilities other than a sweeping generalization that all empowerments can be received by anybody simply by listening/watching a recording of i


Indeed, this is not what the thread seems to say, but since we already have an actual statement on the matter, let's not make hearsay...about hearsay.

Personally I would be fine with the answer either way, I do my best to attend empowerments in person, but I would think we should go by our best interpretation of what was actually said - which seems pretty unambiguous to me -, rather than trying to second guess it, unless we receive information to the contrary.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby KonchokZoepa » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:53 pm

for us westerners it is rather easy to meet a teacher.

but for example those who live in Myanmar or other developing country where your monthly income is like 40 dollars it requires great efforts to be able to make it to one trip to meet a Lama or an buddhist event or festival. In some countries in europe the situation is similar, they just can't afford to travel out of countries and should be noted that even though buddhism probably has established itself in all european countries there are no teachers in every country and people can't afford to travel. Empowerment events or weekend or weekly teachings are not the cheapest thing in the world. and not all Dharma centers accept situation based donations. its pay or don't come. of course this is not the situation in all of the centers.

For these people the blessings of the online empowerment is the highest gift and i believe it works. but for example last autumn when Garchen Rinpoche gave vajrayoginis empowerment online, he didnt even give the mantra so i think he did not give the complete empowerment, maybe jenang.

pensum, i think i trust the Garchen communities members who work with Garchen Rinpoche rather than your suspicious thoughts.
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Re: Protectors How do I choose one?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:56 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:Well, I would like to hear about it. I've never really understood what exactly is supposed to be going on during an empowerment.



you should read Kongtrul's "Systems of Buddhist Tantra" for starters.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Adi » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:01 pm

Malcolm wrote:Protectors are for those who have entered secret mantra in the proper way. If you do not have samaya, you do not need any sort of protector apart from the Three Jewels. I am really not certain at all that recorded empowerments have the necessary qualities to confer the stream of blessings. In fact, I am sure that they don't.

M


That's the way I heard it, too.

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby pensum » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:35 pm

KonchokZoepa wrote:pensum, i think i trust the Garchen communities members who work with Garchen Rinpoche rather than your suspicious thoughts.


My apologies i meant no offense, i'm simply investigating the issue at hand, to seek clarity and remove doubts, the goal being to increase confidence and trust.

So, let's assume your trust is well-placed and what was said by Garchen's people is accurate (i did read what was said in the other thread), then it still only applies to the empowerments given by Garchen Rinpoche that are streamed live and their official archived recordings. For I read nothing there about him saying that this can be generally applied to empowerments given by other lamas, or even all the empowerments that he himself gives. For example, what if someone surreptitiously records a restricted empowerment and then shares it with others without Garchen Rinpoche's permission? Or perhaps Garchen Rinpoche never restricts empowerments, never turns any request whatsoever down and gives all empwerments that he is requested to openly no matter who asks or who attends—which i must say would be a very refreshing approach.

Anyway, I am merely thinking out loud, presenting logical points to be considered in regard to empowerments, as it is an interesting topic and a necessary dialogue which raises many issues unique to the technological advances we now have at our disposal. Besides, the fact is that many lineages come from someone receiving an empowerment in a dream, which seems far more tenuous than a live stream or recording, so if someone simply claiming to have received an empowerment in such a manner is acceptable within the tradition, as is giving empowerments to those who do not understand the language, symbolism or anything that is going on during such a ritual, then certainly listening to or watching a recording shouldn't be a problem.

Also i just realized that the statements provided only refer to the empowerments, not the accompanying lungs. If these must still be received live then there is a built in check and balance. Or did Garchen Rinpoche state that lungs can also be received by listening to recordings? and if so then why isn't just acquiring and reading the text oneself sufficient. And once again i'm left pondering the issue of whether, for one with the necessary faith, simply reading the empowerment text itself suffices for both empowerment and lung, and if so then why do people believe that one must receive a lung at all before reading a text or doing a practice?
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:48 pm

pensum wrote:why do people believe that one must receive a lung at all before reading a text or doing a practice?

Lung is another thing I've never really understood either.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:49 pm

pensum wrote:
My apologies i meant no offense, i'm simply investigating the issue at hand, to seek clarity and remove doubts, the goal being to increase confidence and trust.

So, let's assume your trust is well-placed and what was said by Garchen's people is accurate (i did read what was said in the other thread), then it still only applies to the empowerments given by Garchen Rinpoche that are streamed live and their official archived recordings. For I read nothing there about him saying that this can be generally applied to empowerments given by other lamas, or even all the empowerments that he himself gives. For example, what if someone surreptitiously records a restricted empowerment and then shares it with others without Garchen Rinpoche's permission? Or perhaps Garchen Rinpoche never restricts empowerments, never turns any request whatsoever down and gives all empwerments that he is requested to openly no matter who asks or who attends—which i must say would be a very refreshing approach.


I think what I take away is, you should listen to the teacher in question, if you feel enough of a connection with a teacher, you listen to their instruction and opinions on validity, you can certainly reject them ultimately, but if it is a teacher you trust, I would think this is more meaningful than a formulaic or catch-all answer - in either direction.
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