A closer look into empowerments

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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Tue May 06, 2014 10:55 pm

Let us abandon Tibetan for the moment.

There are basically four kinds of initiations:

abhiṣekas [dbang skur, empowerment] = this is your full empowerment, generally takes two days.
adhiṣṭhānas [byin brlabs, blessing] = this a way of conferring the four empowerments in a short hand, called "don dbang" in Nyingma.
anujñāta [rjes gnang, permission] = this is a type of ritual derived from end of an abhiṣeka where various kinds of permissions are granted, such as permission to recite a mantra, visualize oneself as the deity, and understand the deity's wisdom and one's mind are the same. In general, the more strict schools like Sakya consider that properly speaking, one must have received an abhiṣeka before receiving an adhiṣṭhānas or an anujñāta
Then there is a final rite known as a "rig gtad", a kind of rite for entrusting someone with a vidyāmantra from Kriya tantra, i.e. it permits you to recite the mantra.

There is also a srog gtad, an entrustment rite for worldly protectors.

There is what is called a gtor dbang in Nyingma, where the torma is blessed as the basis of the empowerment, not a mandala.

Also in Dzogchen there is the so called "rig pa'i rtsal dbang", the empowerment of the power of the vidyā, more or less an expansion of the word empowerment. There are a number of other empowerments in Dzogchen as well such as the rgyal ba spyi blugs, and so on, more or less variations on the theme of the rig pa'u rtsal dbang.

There is finally, the empowerment of the descent of the wisdom vajra described in Indrabhuti's Jñānasiddhi, an influential text on Mahāmudra.

And that's about it, and in all of this there is no pre-recorded video abhiṣeka, etc., at least, not until this century.
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue May 06, 2014 10:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby pensum » Tue May 06, 2014 10:57 pm

conebeckham wrote: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."


Thanks for the addition Cone. And yes a permission ritual typically includes simple consecrations for body, speech and mind.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby conebeckham » Tue May 06, 2014 11:21 pm

Malcolm wrote:
There is also a srog gtad, an entrustment rite for worldly protectors.

There is what is called a gtor dbang in Nyingma, where the torma is blessed as the basis of the empowerment, not a mandala.


Srog gtad are not only for "worldly protectors," I think....perhaps mainly so.

And Sarma traditions have gtor dbangs as well.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby pensum » Tue May 06, 2014 11:24 pm

Malcolm wrote:And that's about it, and in all of this there is no pre-recorded video abhiṣeka, etc., at least, not until this century.


Wonderful stuff, thanks Malcolm.
In regard to recorded empowerments, it might be fruitful to remember my earlier post at the beginning of this thread describing how empowerments were often improvised within the strict guidelines provided by the required criteria as outlined in the tantras, and then these empowerments were then "recorded" in the form of manuals which described the preparations, required substances, arrangements, teachings etc. After which the subsequent lineage holders would follow the accepted empowerment text when giving the empowerment. But, though the empowerment was recorded in written form, it has never been said that one can receive an empowerment simply by means of its record, i.e. by reading the empowerment manual, rather such an empowerment must be re-enacted by an authentic lineage master who himself had received it and achieved accomplishment in the related practice. In addition, it is traditional that the empowerment alone does not suffice, one must still receive the reading transmission for the related practice text itself, as well as any necessary instructions and explanations in order to do the practice properly. So there are several safeguards ensuring that the living lineage is passed on in person so that not only the recipient may then be confident that they hold a direct and personal connection to the authentic unbroken lineage going all the way back to its source. This also provides credentials to the recipient if they approach someone else for teachings or to join a group ritual or when in future they find themselves teaching or answering questions about the practice.

(Nowadays no doubt it would be beneficial if in addition to the manual the empowerment ritual were recorded on video as a study aid for future lineage holders so that the arrangement, creation of the mandala, mudras, pronunciation of mantras etc. can all be more easily learnt and accurately copied.)
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 07, 2014 1:02 am

conebeckham wrote:
Srog gtad are not only for "worldly protectors," I think....perhaps mainly so.


They are strictly for worldly protectors. There is no need for such entrustments when it comes to wisdom protectors.

And Sarma traditions have gtor dbangs as well.


Actually, gtor dbangs are strictly a Nyingma thing, their presence in Kagyu and Sakya is derived from Nyingma.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Norwegian » Wed May 07, 2014 1:26 am

Is there a difference between a srog gtad and a srog dbang, and if so, what?
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 07, 2014 1:26 pm

Malcolm wrote:
conebeckham wrote:
Srog gtad are not only for "worldly protectors," I think....perhaps mainly so.


They are strictly for worldly protectors. There is no need for such entrustments when it comes to wisdom protectors.

And Sarma traditions have gtor dbangs as well.


Actually, gtor dbangs are strictly a Nyingma thing, their presence in Kagyu and Sakya is derived from Nyingma.


No, they are synonyms for the most part. Sometimes you see the term applied to rites for wisdom protectors, but it not perfectly correct.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Norwegian » Wed May 07, 2014 1:30 pm

Thanks.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby smcj » Wed May 07, 2014 2:23 pm

I didn't know any of that stuff.

Thanks guys. :thanks:
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby conebeckham » Wed May 07, 2014 3:56 pm

Malcolm-
Are you familiar with nyur dze Yeshe Gonpo nyingshuk? I suppose that's not a true srog gtad, though it's called srog gi rgya can?

It, and many of the Shangpa jenangs, include tor-wangs. Are you saying this is Kongtrul being influenced by Nyingma?
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 07, 2014 4:21 pm

conebeckham wrote:Malcolm-
Are you familiar with nyur dze Yeshe Gonpo nyingshuk? I suppose that's not a true srog gtad, though it's called srog gi rgya can?

It, and many of the Shangpa jenangs, include tor-wangs. Are you saying this is Kongtrul being influenced by Nyingma?


I would say that Shangpa empowerments in general are heavily colored by Khyungpo Naljor's Nyingma past.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby conebeckham » Wed May 07, 2014 4:26 pm

Malcolm wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Malcolm-
Are you familiar with nyur dze Yeshe Gonpo nyingshuk? I suppose that's not a true srog gtad, though it's called srog gi rgya can?

It, and many of the Shangpa jenangs, include tor-wangs. Are you saying this is Kongtrul being influenced by Nyingma?


I would say that Shangpa empowerments in general are heavily colored by Khyungpo Naljor's Nyingma past.



Not Kongtrul's, eh? :shrug:
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 07, 2014 4:30 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Malcolm-
Are you familiar with nyur dze Yeshe Gonpo nyingshuk? I suppose that's not a true srog gtad, though it's called srog gi rgya can?

It, and many of the Shangpa jenangs, include tor-wangs. Are you saying this is Kongtrul being influenced by Nyingma?


I would say that Shangpa empowerments in general are heavily colored by Khyungpo Naljor's Nyingma past.



Not Kongtrul's, eh? :shrug:



No, since Shangpa transmissions exist in other schools than Kagyu. Then there is the fact that they all, for the most part, pass through another Nyingmapa, Thangthon Gyalpo.

Don't get me wrong, I am not dissing Shangpa, it is just that gtor ma empowerments do not exist in the New Tantras at all.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby conebeckham » Wed May 07, 2014 4:41 pm

Malcolm wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Not Kongtrul's, eh? :shrug:



No, since Shangpa transmissions exist in other schools than Kagyu. Then there is the fact that they all, for the most part, pass through another Nyingmapa, Thangthon Gyalpo.

Don't get me wrong, I am not dissing Shangpa, it is just that gtor ma empowerments do not exist in the New Tantras at all.


Oh, no worries--I know you wouldn't disrespect the Shangpa! :smile:
Actually, ThangGyal's lineage is in some sense separate from the "Ring Luk"" of the Jonang/Taranatha transmission, though I seem to recall there was some blending of the two, as well. I know the Sakya uphold Shangpa practices, as well, and Jamyang Khyentse is a very important figure in the Shangpa, but I assumed that the Sakyas practiced according to the transmissions and texts that we Kagyupas use, and that are found in the Dam Ngak Dzo, and other places.

And ThangGyal was Sakya, too, was he not?

I believe you when you say there are no gtor ma empowerments in the new Sarma transmissions...but are the Tentors of the Sarma practices found in those Tantras, or are they a later, Tibetan, addition? I know there's "baling" offerings in the Sarma transmissions....but not sure about Tentors, Phuktors, etc.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby dakini_boi » Thu May 08, 2014 6:10 pm

Malcolm wrote:
There is what is called a gtor dbang in Nyingma, where the torma is blessed as the basis of the empowerment, not a mandala.




Could you say more about the Tor Wang, Malcolm? What is the significance of using a torma instead of a mandala?
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby conebeckham » Thu May 08, 2014 7:09 pm

I'm not Malcolm, but I will hazard a relatively uninformed guess.

I think torma as representation of deity is more of a Tibetan thing--torma offerings (Baling---or "cake offering") are found in Indian texts, of course, but I'm not sure if "tentors" are found there. Hopefully Malcolm can reply.

But in general "TorWangs" are actually JeNangs, and Jenangs can stand alone, as shorter rituals. (As Malcolm alluded to earlier, many/most full "Wangkurs" also have Jenangs at the end...they're often included as a discrete part of the full Wangkur). Anyway, It's a lot easier to make a torma, even an elaborate one, than it is to make a Sand Mandala, or a painted mandala. So, for a short "empowerment" (A Jenang, usually, or Jinlab) a torma as deity representation makes sense.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Konchog1 » Thu May 08, 2014 11:32 pm

Malcolm wrote:There is also a srog gtad, an entrustment rite for worldly protectors.
I can't find anything in English on srog gtad. Can you explain it briefly please? What's the difference between worshiping a protector with and without a srog gtad? Thank you.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Fri May 09, 2014 1:19 pm

dakini_boi wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
There is what is called a gtor dbang in Nyingma, where the torma is blessed as the basis of the empowerment, not a mandala.




Could you say more about the Tor Wang, Malcolm? What is the significance of using a torma instead of a mandala?


The way it is presented in the Sakya tradition of Vajrakilaya, the torwang comes from the empowerment of the lower activities. Usually, the torma empowerment includes the body, speech, mind, qualities and activities of a the deity.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Malcolm » Fri May 09, 2014 1:21 pm

Konchog1 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:There is also a srog gtad, an entrustment rite for worldly protectors.
I can't find anything in English on srog gtad. Can you explain it briefly please? What's the difference between worshiping a protector with and without a srog gtad? Thank you.


Wisdom protectors, for example, Mahakala, generally speaking have everything from full empowerments down to permissions.

A srog gtad on the other hand represents making a contract with a worldly protector to perform services for you in exchange for offerings. It is a deal, basically. It is a practice that does not come from Indian tantras.
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Re: A closer look into empowerments

Postby Sherlock » Sat May 10, 2014 10:59 am

Essentially like a a pact with a spirit like that found in the grimoires?
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