Validity of recorded empowerments

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby heart » Sun May 04, 2014 2:07 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
heart wrote:I just want to remind you that we are not discussing Garchen Rinpoche's statement, since there is no statement saying recordings are valid empowerment's. Rather we are discussing what the good people of GarDrolma think Garchen Rinpoche means. It might not be much of a distinction for you but it is for me. If someone can produce a valid quote by Garchen Rinpoche I will promise to shut up, no matter what he says and no matter if I agree or not.

/magnus
I think you missed the point. I could just as easily have replaced Garchen Rinpoche's name with ChNN's or Tenzin Wangyals, or HHDL, or ... as these are all accomplished teachers that utilise the medium of the internet to teach and give empowerments. The "who" is not the point, the point is that I imagine you would be hard pressed to find an accomplished yogi that would be willing to call into doubt a teacher of the caliber of... in order to engage in experiment to test the validity of their online empowerments and teachings.


I don't think I missed the point. After all this thread is about the "validity of recorded empowerment's", no?

/magnus
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun May 04, 2014 2:19 pm

Now you are splitting hairs.

Obviously you ignored the point.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby heart » Sun May 04, 2014 2:24 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:Now you are splitting hairs.

Obviously you ignored the point.


Feel free to produce a statement by any of the masters mentioned above that say that recorded empowerment's are valid, which is what we are discussing here.

/magnus
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun May 04, 2014 2:29 pm

Feel free to read this post and stop trying to rehash old arguments.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Adamantine » Sun May 04, 2014 7:42 pm

I just read through this whole thread. I am sympathetic to all sides of this discussion. So far, it seems crystal clear that Garchen Rinpoche has stated that one can receive empowerment through the live stream, and one can be physically present and not receive the empowerment. This implies that the capacity and motivation of the disciple is extremely important. Let us not underestimate the import of what he is saying here. I don't want to speculate, but he did imply it is preferable to be physically present, so live stream would be second-best, even if you are of highest capacity. If he really did intend some recordings also to function as empowerments then we can presume that would be the third-best method to receive the wang.

Speaking of highest capacity though, of course we know that Jigme Lingpa received the body speech and mind blessings of Longchenpa in visionary form. So this may be an example of a yogi truly with the highest capacity. He came to see Longchenpa as his true root Guru, even though he never met him in the flesh. If a great bodhisattva can communicate through time and space in this way with a disciple of highest capacity, then if we revere Garchen Rinpoche as a bodhisattva that can see the interdependent connections proceeding into the future and can emanate illusory forms to benefit beings (as the scriptures say is possible) then we can imagine that even in the case of what we label "recordings"-- the seemingly ordinary electric-generated colored light of the laptop sitting in front of us is indeed a conscious emanation of Garchen Rinpoche's wisdom mind blessing us.

And again, from the other side, it is also not a bad idea to seek clarification if there is any doubt. My own root Lama refused to use any translators in his last years because --even though he had highly trained translators mediating his teachings and Q & A over the years-- he felt there were continually errors, misunderstandings and mistranslations that led to serious samaya issues as a result. So I also take anything translated with a grain of salt, but I also take it with two grains when it is a mediated message relayed through some Sangha staff member paraphrasing what a translator said the Lama said. I have had too many experiences with misunderstandings arising through translation as have many of my Dharma brothers and sisters within various sanghas. This is an entirely different issue than streaming or recorded empowerments.. but it is related, because they are all forms of mediation. It is best to check directly with the Lama, and if there is any potential for misunderstanding via translation, try to check again with a different translator. We all like to believe that translators are infallible -but believe me, that is sadly far from the truth. In the case where the translator is translating from Tibetan to a language that is not even their first language, there may be even more reason for caution. Just another thought to add to the mix.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Sun May 04, 2014 7:54 pm

Adamantine wrote:Speaking of highest capacity though, of course we know that Jigme Lingpa received the body speech and mind blessings of Longchenpa in visionary form. So this may be an example of a yogi truly with the highest capacity. He came to see Longchenpa as his true root Guru, even though he never met him in the flesh.


Jigme Lingpa is hardly an ordinary shmoe, a beginner, trying to gain a proper introduction to Vajrayāna. He was a highly experienced practitioner who had been in retreat for years. He also had a real guru, a human being.

It is really irresponsible to encourage people to think it is a even a remote possibility that one could receive an qualified empowerment from a recording.

Of course, in matters of religion people are free to believe whatever fantasies they want...
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Adamantine » Sun May 04, 2014 8:17 pm

Malcolm wrote:Jigme Lingpa is hardly an ordinary shmoe, a beginner, trying to gain a proper introduction to Vajrayāna. He was a highly experienced practitioner who had been in retreat for years. He also had a real guru, a human being.


I pointed out he was of the highest capacity-- I understand his background, however it is still an example of receiving transmission outside of a concrete physical presence. We are also discussing capacity when it comes to empowerment.. since some people physically present don't actually get the empowerment even then.

It is really irresponsible to encourage people to think it is a even a remote possibility that one could receive an qualified empowerment from a recording.

Of course, in matters of religion people are free to believe whatever fantasies they want...


I don't think it is irresponsible to give the benefit of the doubt to Garchen Rinpoche-- that this was his intent and what he communicated, and that he may indeed have the capacity to benefit beings in this way.

Note that I also pointed out there may have indeed been errors in the pathways of communication.

My personal opinion is quite traditional-- having taken many empowerments in person, received the substances, etc.. and even helped prepare empowerments and set up the mandalas, etc.. I understand the details that are required and I would not have the confidence- or faith- to believe I received an empowerment through a recording, or even through livestream for that matter. I also don't believe most people couldn't find a way to get to an empowerment if it was truly their top priority (which it should be, if they want to sincerely receive an empowerment and understand what it means to do so). But maybe I am just lucky-- I have been able to attend a vast abundance of wangs from some of the greatest masters of our time, including Garchen Rinpoche, so maybe I have a skewed perspective.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Sun May 04, 2014 8:31 pm

Adamantine wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Jigme Lingpa is hardly an ordinary shmoe, a beginner, trying to gain a proper introduction to Vajrayāna. He was a highly experienced practitioner who had been in retreat for years. He also had a real guru, a human being.


I pointed out he was of the highest capacity-- I understand his background, however it is still an example of receiving transmission outside of a concrete physical presence.


That was an example of a siddha receiving transmission from a Sambhogakāya manifestation. Even the Buddha cannot manifest his sambhogakāya to any ordinary sentient being to give them a single word of teaching, much less an empowerment. In order to even see a Sambhogakāya one must be an eighth stage bodhisattva.

I don't think it is irresponsible to give the benefit of the doubt to Garchen Rinpoche-- that this was his intent and what he communicated, and that he may indeed have the capacity to benefit beings in this way.


Not even Buddha Vajradhara can benefit beings in that way.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Adamantine » Sun May 04, 2014 8:54 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Jigme Lingpa is hardly an ordinary shmoe, a beginner, trying to gain a proper introduction to Vajrayāna. He was a highly experienced practitioner who had been in retreat for years. He also had a real guru, a human being.


I pointed out he was of the highest capacity-- I understand his background, however it is still an example of receiving transmission outside of a concrete physical presence.


That was an example of a siddha receiving transmission from a Sambhogakāya manifestation. Even the Buddha cannot manifest his sambhogakāya to any ordinary sentient being to give them a single word of teaching, much less an empowerment. In order to even see a Sambhogakāya one must be an eighth stage bodhisattva.

I don't think it is irresponsible to give the benefit of the doubt to Garchen Rinpoche-- that this was his intent and what he communicated, and that he may indeed have the capacity to benefit beings in this way.


Not even Buddha Vajradhara can benefit beings in that way.




I was not equating the two as if they were identical. Jigme Lingpa may have been a siddha, but he was receiving transmission entirely without a physical support, -- as you say, from sambhogakaya. But in this case --of a live video or recorded video-- there is a physical support, a support of visual and audible phenomenon. So it is different.

Garchen Rinpoche is quite erudite and well studied, and clearly realized. If this was indeed what he had in mind and not a misunderstanding, what do you reckon his intent is? I am 100% confident he is not trying to degenerate the Vajrayana Dharma. And he is not someone to make sophomoric mistakes in matters of such crucial significance.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Sun May 04, 2014 9:26 pm

Adamantine wrote:But in this case --of a live video or recorded video-- there is a physical support, a support of visual and audible phenomenon. So it is different.


As I have explained, in the case of the former, the mandala is active, the guru is present, the disciples are present. In the case of the latter, the mandala has been dissolved and the rite is already finished, the guru is not present. Case closed.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby smcj » Sun May 04, 2014 9:46 pm

I gotta say that the whole "a bodhisattva can emanate Xmillion times" teaching seems to be lurking in this discussion. :stirthepot:

But my opinion is more or less in line with Malcolm's on this, just in case that isn't clear--at least for the time being.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby pensum » Sun May 04, 2014 10:13 pm

Perhaps it is that Garchen Rp. did not actually say that one can receive the empowerment by watching a recording, but simply that this suffices to begin practicing the sadhana, in that even by just watching a recording one would still receive a basic explanation of the practice. There is a far cry between "receiving the empowerment" and being told you can now start doing a practice, but this is the very sort of distinction that often gets lost in translation and when repeated by others.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Adamantine » Sun May 04, 2014 10:24 pm

pensum wrote:Perhaps it is that Garchen Rp. did not actually say that one can receive the empowerment by watching a recording, but simply that this suffices to begin practicing the sadhana, in that even by just watching a recording one would still receive a basic explanation of the practice. There is a far cry between "receiving the empowerment" and being told you can now start doing a practice, but this is the very sort of distinction that often gets lost in translation and when repeated by others.


Right, that's certainly a possibility. Again, I'm not the
most trusting of translators and I am even more skeptical
of A) an organization's staff member paraphrasing what a translator
says the Lama said and B)a translator translating into a language that's not
their first language.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby pensum » Sun May 04, 2014 11:54 pm

According to Jamgon Kongtrul (Treasury of Knowledge, Book 6 Part 4, pp. 204-207),
"an empowerment conferred according to an authentic procedure is what makes the student's mind fully ripened by planting the seeds of the resultant four dimensions of awakening in the aggregates, elements, and sense fields of the recipients."
(my highlights)
He further states,
when an empowerment is being given, it is essential that it be conferred according to authentic ritual as taught in tantra, and not be one's own invention. If such details as the drawing of lines, the colors, and placement of symbols [of the mandala] are not carried out as prescribed in tantra, the consequences are said to be extremely serious. […] Hence the authenticity of the procedure is of utmost importance.


So according to this criteria, a recording or even a live webcast must satisfy the condition of it being "according to an authentic procedure." This of course first requires defining precisely what "an authentic procedure" entails, then proving that all the necessary conditions and aspects of the procedure are included for one watching the webcast online or a recording of it.

Furthermore, how could "the seeds" be planted in the aggregates and elements merely by watching any feed over the internet? As Kongtrul's statement implies that empowerments of the highest yoga tantra work on more than just an intellectual/psychological level, but on the physical and energetic level as well, does this not require being physically within the mandala, seeing, smelling, tasting, ingesting and sensing the various elements of the ritual?
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon May 05, 2014 8:50 am

Okay people, since this thread continues to recycle the same old discussions over and over, it will be locked until we receive a definitive reply/statement from Garchen Rinpoche or one of his representatives.

If people want to continue discussing empowerments in general, then they can do so in this thread started by the member "pensum".

Thank you.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue May 06, 2014 12:55 pm

We have received the following reply :

Subject: Re: Question Concerning Empowerment to President or Board of Directors Members
Date: 5/5/2014 4:13:44 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: sangha@gardrolma.org

Here is what Khenpo said in our conversation about Empowerment:

So he said that no one can say for sure at anytime that another person has received the empowerment. It entirely depends on the student, the teacher and the "relationship" that they have. By relationship he said that devotion, motivation and intention is critical. He told me of a story where there was a woman who really wanted to come to the Dalai Lama's Kalachakra Empowerment in India but she was unable to get her visa. She contacted him and because of her incredible motivation and dedication he gave her specific instructions including times and activities to do and she would receive the empowerment. This woman didn't hear or see any of the actual empowerment. I thought this was really interesting.

Lastly, Khenpo said everything Dharma depends on the individual. We understand this more as we go from the relative teachings to the ultimate.

I hope this has been helpful.

You are more than welcome to share anything that I have said. The information Garchen Rinpoche gave me was intended to be put out there for the public and Khenpo understood that his opinion would be shared.

Much love and blessings your way,
Mel
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Adamantine » Tue May 06, 2014 4:08 pm

If people would like to comment on the content of this reply concerning empowerments in general, or other issues concerning empowerment, for now please continue the discussion in the thread "A closer look into empowerments" found here: http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=16385&start=0

If anyone receives any further clarification from Garchen Rinpoche directly regarding recorded empowerments, please let the staff know and we will update this thread accordingly.
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Additional thoughts on recorded empowerments

Postby qwerty13 » Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:06 am

Hello everyone
I dont know if you guys are still interested in the issue of recorded empowerments, but since I still find the matter disturbing (one reason being that I have watched them in order to get initiation) i tried ones more to get some unambigious information. Well I got "something", but i already say that it may not completly settle this thing.

I have been emailing lately with Gar drolma sanghas Mel, who has been very kindly and patiently answering my questions regarding the recorded empowerments. First of all, I asked two questions: In which occasion Garchen has said that recorded intiations are valid for receiving initiation?
Second: Why Garchen believs that recordings are acceptable way of receiving initiation (whats the “mechanism” behind receiving empowerment from recording)?
I got following answer. Its going to be bit long but I have highlighted most important things

"The conversation first started before Garchen Rinpoche's retreat at Gar Drolma in the spring of 2013. This is the retreat in which he gave the 13 Empowerments one weekend and Chakrasamvara on another weekend. It was the first time we had ever planned on streaming so we had to discuss with Rinpoche if it was even okay to do so. It was a two part question: 1. Is it okay to live stream Empowerments and do students receive the Empowerment if they aren’t physically present? 2. Is it okay to keep the Empowerment recordings out there and will students who watch them in the future be able to receive the Empowerment? Garchen Rinpoche said yes to both questions. He also went on to say that if there is some sort of disruption in the video or sound that as long as you maintain mindfulness and the visualization there is no problem. Also, he stated to think of the samaya and that all deities are bodichitta and receive the Empowerment. After receiving the Empowerment an individual does not have the permission to give an Empowerment or transmission.

Rinpoche never said why he believes this is possible. He has stated that he meditates so much because his students always need him. He tried to explain to me that when he meditates it’s like he is part of endless ocean of beings and he can feel student’s needs like ripples or turbulence in the water. When he is in mediation is able to open his mind to those who need him. I don’t know for sure but it may be something related to that since it involved sharing his mind-stream.


My overall take from nearly two years of addressing these questions to Rinpoche and Khenpo is that it is possible to receive an Empowerment from both live stream and/or recordings but that every person may not be able to do so. It might be safe to say that if you don’t think you can you certainly won’t. It seems that having a strong connection to the teacher giving the Empowerment is important. I also think that it’s worth stating that Garchen Rinpoche doesn’t offer these without any consideration. There are practices he won’t record or stream. When he was here this year he did practice that wasn’t to be recorded or streamed. I know at the Garchen Institute there is no recording or streaming of Yamantaka. I believe after being one of Garchen Rinpoche’s students for many years that I could receive a recorded Empowerment from him. I’m not so sure I could from a teacher I didn’t know or wasn’t familiar with. (Not that you were looking for my personal
opinion) :)

I hope this is of some benefit. I have read some forums on this topic and I’m not so sure the debate will ever end. Different Lamas have varying instructions for their students and I think that is okay and really a good thing because of our different capacities. I’m not sure there is a right and wrong answer because what works for one may not work for another. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
Many blessings & may all beings benefit,
Mel Carmichael
Gar Drolma
Dayton, OH "


I do think that its safe to say that garchen has indeed stated that recordings are “legit”.

So I made my own conclusion from all this. The recordings can work, but not in the way we (or at least I) first thought.
What I believe is happening is that recording itself cannot bestow anything to you, but you can still get initiation anyway. If you are familiar with Garchen Rinpoche and have very strong devotion to him (and possibly some prior dharma connection to him due to previous initiations and transmissions) you make connection to his mind stream by thinking of him. Because garchen is able to sense the needs of student in meditation, he at that moment knows that some sentient being in somewhere wants initiation from him, so he opens his mind to that individual. So there is the connection to lama and student. Then, because you are doing the visualizations and prayers along the recorded video, Garchen is able to do he’s Vajrayana thing from his side and so you get initiation.
So notice that the video itself does not give anything to you, but tells you what to visualize, what to pray and so on.
This probably sounds too incredible, but that’s really only explanation that I can come up with. And even this has its own problems: Because this is internet, anyone can watch those videos anywhere and anytime. In order to ensure that everybody gets initiation, Garchen should stay in meditation 24/7. And surely even he has to do things that are not related to dharma, for example sleeping and eating. How does one know that right now Garchen is able to open his mind?
I also asked if Garchen intended these reocrdings to everyone, not just he’s students. According to Mel, Garchen intended them for everyone:

"I had an additional conversation with Khenpo Samdup this past Sunday about it. He stated that you really can't say who can or should watch it or who cannot or should not. He said it is like the story of Shantideva when the monks wanted him kicked out of Nalanda University because they didn't think he was worthy of being there. A person can't perceive another's level of realization by any sort of outward analysis. So he said that Rinpoche puts them out there for everyone because there are still blessings to be gained even if a person is not able to receive the empowerment itself. Like if a young child or an infant would sit in on an empowerment there would be much benefit but I wouldn't actually receive the empowerment because of his or her current level of understanding. Rinpoche certainly wouldn't agree to put anything out there that could be harmful to one's practice."

This message kind of message, however, seems to imply that you have to have some sort of siddhis to get initiation form Garchen recording.
So my conclusion is that maybe its possible to get initiation from Garchens recordings if 1:he happens to be in meditation at the time you are wathing recording 2: He is able to sense you and your needs.
But certainly nothing is quaranteed unless there is strong devotion.
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