A closer look into empowerments

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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue May 06, 2014 8:31 pm

Malcolm wrote:What we are discussing now is the fact that "answer" (which was a non answer) basically confirms our opinion that there is no validity to the idea that one can receive an empowerment from a recording (but we already knew that...).
And for others it confirms the opinion of the validity to the idea that one can receive an empowerment from a recording, ie we are back to the point that lead to the other thread getting locked.

What a surprise!
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Norwegian » Tue May 06, 2014 8:37 pm

Sherab Dorje,

Since it is not clear how it confirms that you can receive an empowerment from a recording from the email given, could you please elaborate as to how you see it does confirm it, point by point?
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue May 06, 2014 8:45 pm

Norwegian wrote:Sherab Dorje,

Since it is not clear how it confirms that you can receive an empowerment from a recording from the email given, could you please elaborate as to how you see it does confirm it, point by point?
Just to be difficult: Since it is not clear how it contradicts that you can receive an empowerment from a recording from the email given, could you please elaborate as to how you see it does contradict it, point by point? :tongue:
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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: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Jikan » Tue May 06, 2014 8:45 pm

Norwegian wrote:The entire email as a whole is a non-answer I think, because nowhere was the question of a recorded empowerment answered. .


Yes, that's the point: the polite evasion of the question is the answer. At the risk of overgeneralizing, this is often considered more polite than just saying "no" to a question in many Asian cultures. If I'm in the wrong here in the specific case of Tibetan manners, I look forward to being corrected.

Note that the email has an "anything is possible..." kind of quality to it. As if to say, "wouldn't rule it out absolutely, but..." quality to it. The example given of HHDL's Kalachakra instructions regarded a practice to be engaged in in real time, but not in the same space.

And to be clear, the topic of speculation on receiving empowerment from a recording after the event is not a banned topic at DharmaWheel. Users are free to speculate on this all day long if they want to. We closed the previous thread because we wanted to direct discussions about empowerment generally to a thread dedicated to that topic. We thought it appropriate that Khenpo's email should basically have the last word.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Tue May 06, 2014 8:51 pm

Jikan wrote:We thought it appropriate that Khenpo's email should basically have the last word.


In this case it was an evasion, and I can understand why, since the correct answer is actually no, one cannot receive an empowerment from a recording.

Privileging someone's answer because of their title, in absence of any clear scriptural precedent or reasoning is pretty lame.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Adi » Tue May 06, 2014 8:55 pm

Jikan wrote:
Norwegian wrote:The entire email as a whole is a non-answer I think, because nowhere was the question of a recorded empowerment answered. .


Yes, that's the point: the polite evasion of the question is the answer….


I've been around just enough Dharma centers to have seen this frequently, where a person wants to concretize something, asks a question, and appears to receive an answer not directly related to the question. It seems a part of skillful means.

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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby pensum » Tue May 06, 2014 8:57 pm

Thanks for the clarification Adamantine, and i am sure everyone wishes to move the discussion forward rather than just spin our wheels defending preconceived opinions.

So in an effort to keep things on track, perhaps we should carefully define the terms of the discussion, so that everyone can express themselves clearly without mixing up ideas or misunderstanding based on assumptions. To this end i propose the following, please correct or clarify anything you disagree with or are unclear about, also add any i might have missed:

Empowerment (dbang), a general term for recognizing the realization of past lineage masters, this can occur either in a ritual environment or outside of a ritual. There are different types and styles of empowerment, and different approaches depending on the level of tantra, or Sarma vs Nyingma, etc. But in all cases it is premised on receiving the empowerment from a guru or buddha whether in the flesh or a vision.

Full empowerment (dbang skur, abhisheka), a ritual empowerment performed in accordance with the tantras, typically involving the four empowerments of vase, secret, wisdom-knowledge and precious word.

Self-initiation (bdag 'jug) typically done as part of a sadhana or ritual that one practices after having received the full empowerment.

Entrustment (bka' gtad) short empowerment ritual, usually for receiving the blessings of the body, speech and mind of the deity. Also requires samaya and primarily given after one has received a full empowerment of the same level of tantra.

Reading transmission (lung) sometimes referred to simply as "transmission". Having a text audibly read to one. According to the Rangjung Yeshe wiki: "In Tibetan Buddhism, it is regarded as essential that a transmission of both the text and its oral commentary is formally received from an authoritative lineage-holder, if any significant spiritual experience is to be cultivated, since a mere theoretical understanding of these topics is not regarded as sufficient."

Instructions (tri) accompanying explanation of the practice. Typically, in order to do a practice one is required to receive the three—dbang, lung & tri, namely a full empowerment or entrustment, reading transmission and an explanation of how to do the practice.

Blessings (byin rlabs) According to Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche there are two types of blessings: 1) superficial blessings such as when people request to obtain or get rid of something, for example to be free of sickness, pain or an attack of evil spirits, or to be successful in business. A ritual may be performed, sacred substances, a blessing cord, or a mandala wrapped in thread etc. provided, (2) "True blessings on the other hand are the oral instructions on how to become enlightened in a single lifetime, which you can receive from a qualified master.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Pero » Tue May 06, 2014 9:07 pm

pensum wrote:Empowerment (dbang), a general term for recognizing the realization of past lineage masters, this can occur either in a ritual environment or outside of a ritual. There are different types and styles of empowerment, and different approaches depending on the level of tantra, or Sarma vs Nyingma, etc. But in all cases it is premised on receiving the empowerment from a guru or buddha whether in the flesh or a vision.

Full empowerment (dbang skur, abhisheka), a ritual empowerment performed in accordance with the tantras, typically involving the four empowerments of vase, secret, wisdom-knowledge and precious word.

But is that correct? As far as I can see with my dictionaries dbang is power, dbang bskur is empowerment but dbang is often short for dbang bskur and not a separate kind of empowerment.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby pensum » Tue May 06, 2014 9:08 pm

Jikan wrote:
Norwegian wrote:The entire email as a whole is a non-answer I think, because nowhere was the question of a recorded empowerment answered. .


Yes, that's the point: the polite evasion of the question is the answer. At the risk of overgeneralizing, this is often considered more polite than just saying "no" to a question in many Asian cultures. If I'm in the wrong here in the specific case of Tibetan manners, I look forward to being corrected.

Note that the email has an "anything is possible..." kind of quality to it. As if to say, "wouldn't rule it out absolutely, but..." quality to it. The example given of HHDL's Kalachakra instructions regarded a practice to be engaged in in real time, but not in the same space.

And to be clear, the topic of speculation on receiving empowerment from a recording after the event is not a banned topic at DharmaWheel. Users are free to speculate on this all day long if they want to. We closed the previous thread because we wanted to direct discussions about empowerment generally to a thread dedicated to that topic. We thought it appropriate that Khenpo's email should basically have the last word.


Having spent a lot of time with Tibetan lamas i am certain that Khenpo's response is a subtle and polite "no", allowing for the abstract but highly remote possibility that someone can become realized even without any interaction, while demonstrating this with an examplethat is based on a conflicting premise, namely that the recipient had a close relationship with HHDL (so that he could include her during the descent of the wisdom beings), was given specific instructions as to what to do and precisely when (so that the mandala was established and HHDL's intent and visualization were focused, and perhaps she was also given substances to be ingested, though that is not mentioned)—none of which supports the validity of the use of a recording as a proper authentic full empowerment or entrustment.
Last edited by pensum on Tue May 06, 2014 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Jikan » Tue May 06, 2014 9:13 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Jikan wrote:We thought it appropriate that Khenpo's email should basically have the last word.


In this case it was an evasion, and I can understand why, since the correct answer is actually no, one cannot receive an empowerment from a recording.

Privileging someone's answer because of their title, in absence of any clear scriptural precedent or reasoning is pretty lame.


We didn't privilege this khenpo because of his title, but because his comments are about as close to a comment from Garchen Rinpoche as we can expect to get. Since the topic in question had to do with comments made by Garchen Rinpoche, his comments seem well warranted in context. I referred to him by his title because I couldn't remember his name and I'm on a slow internet connection, which means I don't feel like looking it up.

I hope this meets the rigorous standards for not-lameness the discriminating participants at DharmaWheel have come to expect.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby pensum » Tue May 06, 2014 9:14 pm

Pero wrote:
pensum wrote:Empowerment (dbang), a general term for recognizing the realization of past lineage masters, this can occur either in a ritual environment or outside of a ritual. There are different types and styles of empowerment, and different approaches depending on the level of tantra, or Sarma vs Nyingma, etc. But in all cases it is premised on receiving the empowerment from a guru or buddha whether in the flesh or a vision.

Full empowerment (dbang skur, abhisheka), a ritual empowerment performed in accordance with the tantras, typically involving the four empowerments of vase, secret, wisdom-knowledge and precious word.

But is that correct? As far as I can see with my dictionaries dbang is power, dbang bskur is empowerment but dbang is often short for dbang bskur and not a separate kind of empowerment.


Though technically you are correct. Pero, that dbang is typically just the abbreviation of dbang skur, for the sake of this discussion i thought it important to provide a clear distinction so that everyone can be clear as to what one is referring to with some degree of preciseness. Otherwise, people never specify exactly what type of empowerment they are referring to glossing everything—including any epiphany as to the true nature of mind or phenomena—as an "empowerment". Which brings up the differentiation between empowerment and realization. For realization is solely within the sphere of the individual, whereas empowerment by its very definition is social, in that it is a conferral of power from one person or group upon another.
Last edited by pensum on Tue May 06, 2014 9:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby pensum » Tue May 06, 2014 9:17 pm

Jikan wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Jikan wrote:We thought it appropriate that Khenpo's email should basically have the last word.


In this case it was an evasion, and I can understand why, since the correct answer is actually no, one cannot receive an empowerment from a recording.

Privileging someone's answer because of their title, in absence of any clear scriptural precedent or reasoning is pretty lame.


We didn't privilege this khenpo because of his title, but because his comments are about as close to a comment from Garchen Rinpoche as we can expect to get. Since the topic in question had to do with comments made by Garchen Rinpoche, his comments seem well warranted in context.


Just to clarify, i started this thread not to debate Garchen Rinpoche's views, but to have a general discussion about the ins and outs of empowerment. The khenpo's remarks are just a welcome addition to further the dialogue and stimulate deeper questioning.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Jikan » Tue May 06, 2014 9:20 pm

pensum wrote:Just to clarify, i started this thread not to debate Garchen Rinpoche's views, but to have a general discussion about the ins and outs of empowerment. The khenpo's remarks are just a welcome addition to further the dialogue and stimulate deeper questioning.


Yes, that's so, and I hope your reminder gets the discussion back on topic.

I was merely mopping up some lingering questions on why the DW staff has made the decisions we've made for the sake of clarity.

Empowerments are an important topic. Let's talk.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby supermaxv » Tue May 06, 2014 9:24 pm

pensum wrote:Entrustment (bka' gtad) short empowerment ritual, usually for receiving the blessings of the body, speech and mind of the deity. Also requires samaya and primarily given after one has received a full empowerment of the same level of tantra.


Is this the same as what's referred to as a "jenang" or is that something different entirely?
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby pensum » Tue May 06, 2014 9:44 pm

supermaxv wrote:
pensum wrote:Entrustment (bka' gtad) short empowerment ritual, usually for receiving the blessings of the body, speech and mind of the deity. Also requires samaya and primarily given after one has received a full empowerment of the same level of tantra.


Is this the same as what's referred to as a "jenang" or is that something different entirely?


Yes, this is also referred to as a "permission ritual". And to repeat, to receive a permission or entrustment one must have already received a full empowerment in either the same or higher class of tantra. And as mentioned in the Tsele Natsok Rangdrol quotation in an earlier post they also include samayas.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby pensum » Tue May 06, 2014 9:53 pm

pensum wrote:
supermaxv wrote:
pensum wrote:Entrustment (bka' gtad) short empowerment ritual, usually for receiving the blessings of the body, speech and mind of the deity. Also requires samaya and primarily given after one has received a full empowerment of the same level of tantra.


Is this the same as what's referred to as a "jenang" or is that something different entirely?


Yes, this is also referred to as a "permission ritual". And to repeat, to receive a permission or entrustment one must have already received a full empowerment in either the same or higher class of tantra. And as mentioned in the Tsele Natsok Rangdrol quotation in an earlier post they also include samayas.


Note that there is also simply making a connection (pa'i dbang gis), such as when a lama touches a text or statue to one's crown, sometimes they will do this when giving a particular student permission to read and study that particular text before the student has had the opportunity to receive the empowerment or reading transmission.
Last edited by pensum on Tue May 06, 2014 10:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby pensum » Tue May 06, 2014 9:58 pm

For those interested, there is a good overview of the elements and procedure of a full empowerment starting at the bottom of page 30 and ending on pg. 42 of Tantra: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought by Tashi Tsering, which can be read it at http://books.google.ca/books?id=ngXXt78JibwC&lpg=PA32&ots=PITmOAbMrX&dq=jenang%20tibetan&pg=PA30#v=onepage&q&f=false
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Pero » Tue May 06, 2014 10:14 pm

pensum wrote:
Pero wrote:
pensum wrote:Empowerment (dbang), a general term for recognizing the realization of past lineage masters, this can occur either in a ritual environment or outside of a ritual. There are different types and styles of empowerment, and different approaches depending on the level of tantra, or Sarma vs Nyingma, etc. But in all cases it is premised on receiving the empowerment from a guru or buddha whether in the flesh or a vision.

Full empowerment (dbang skur, abhisheka), a ritual empowerment performed in accordance with the tantras, typically involving the four empowerments of vase, secret, wisdom-knowledge and precious word.

But is that correct? As far as I can see with my dictionaries dbang is power, dbang bskur is empowerment but dbang is often short for dbang bskur and not a separate kind of empowerment.


Though technically you are correct. Pero, that dbang is typically just the abbreviation of dbang skur, for the sake of this discussion i thought it important to provide a clear distinction so that everyone can be clear as to what one is referring to with some degree of preciseness. Otherwise, people never specify exactly what type of empowerment they are referring to glossing everything—including any epiphany as to the true nature of mind or phenomena—as an "empowerment". Which brings up the differentiation between empowerment and realization. For realization is solely within the sphere of the individual, whereas empowerment by its very definition is social, in that it is a conferral of power from one person or group upon another.

I see what you mean. I just always assumed anyone saying dbang meant dbang skur.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby pensum » Tue May 06, 2014 10:29 pm

The important thing to remember in all of these is that an authority grants a permission, a right or power, knowledge or teachings, a connection, or whatever to someone else. Abhisheka was originally the ceremony for empowering a king or minister, when a priest would act as intermediary to the god(s) to anoint the selected individual and by so doing bestow the divine right to rule or perform certain duties. This basic premise really being no different within the religious context of Vajrayana, for example when the vajra master who is now the deity bestows a full empowerment so that a student can now assume their rightful place upon the central throne of the mandala themselves. In both cases it is essentially a formal recognition or transmission of authority requiring two or more individuals. After receiving which a self-initiation is simply reminding yourself or reasserting that you are indeed the lord of the mandala.

This passing from one person to the next is the very essence of lineage, and is meant to ensure that the authentic teachings and understanding of the Buddha are maintained in a pure manner without distortion.
Last edited by pensum on Tue May 06, 2014 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby conebeckham » Tue May 06, 2014 10:45 pm

Agree that dbang("Wang") is shorthand for any sort of "empowerment ritual," in the same way most of us call all of these procedures "Empowerments" in English.

In addition to Pensum's list, we should add Srog gtad ("Sog Tay") or Life Entrustment, which is a sort of empowerment with serious lifetime practice commitments, though usually not a complex or elaborate ritual procedure.

And "Jenang" has been commented on already...as "permission ritual" --in my experience, it's often the case that Jenangs resemble unelaborate "Vase Empowerments."
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