Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby pemachophel » Sat Mar 19, 2011 2:28 am

Great clarification. :thanks: Of course you can read up on the theory and practice of Vajrayana Buddhism on your own. No problem. There're loads of books and all sorts of sources on-line. I think it's very intelligent to first suss out the system intellectually before jumping into practice. It's the practice that you need a live Teacher for. :namaste:
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby heart » Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:35 am

Padme wrote:I don't know.... People told me the same thing with the violin. No teachers nearby; I had never played a musical instrument, and didn't even know how to read music. People said "You can't do this without a teacher, you should have started this as a child, it's a fretless instrument, it's very difficult", etc., and you know what? I taught myself how to read music, and I taught myself the violin and learned the notes by ear. It took me YEARS, but now I can play both classical pieces and celtic fiddle, and quite well, all without a teacher or lessons. So I have a hard time when someone I "can't" do something on my own.... It's not like I want to be Lama; claiming to be an expert and showing others. I just want to learn more about the practice for enrichment and study. Of course it's much more difficult without a teacher, but I never asked if it was okay if I do this, that's between me and my heart. I was just asking for learning resources. I don't see anything wrong with earnest home study & practice, as long as I'm not out there teaching others or claiming to be an expert based on what I learn from home. And I certainly do intend to travel to occasional retreats, etc.; I just don't have a nearby teacher. I don't even know if this is the tradition for me yet, I am simply trying to learn more about it, the reasons for the rituals, etc.

Incidentally, I recently wrote to Robert Thurman and told him of my isolated situation and my desire to learn more about the Tibetan tradition and he didn't make any attempt to dissuade me. He wrote back with some suggested readings and gave me some very sincere advice, none of which was "don't attempt this". I hold him in high esteem, so while I appreciate and respect the opinions of a couple of you that suggested against this, I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to learn more about this practice on my own, with the assistance of reading, reputable websites and input from others about practice.

Also, to be clear: I'm not asking for references on the rituals, etc so I can arbitrarily mimic them, I'm asking about what the rituals are so I can study WHY they perform them. That's all to understand the principals of the fundamentals to determine IF it's even something I want to pursue as personal practice.

Thanks to all for the book references and home study course links so far!
:smile:


If you want to give this a serious try I would like to recommend this http://www.dharmasun.org/index.php?dharmasun=cms&id=3

/magnus
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Adamantine » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:32 am

heart wrote:
If you want to give this a serious try I would like to recommend this http://www.dharmasun.org/index.php?dharmasun=cms&id=3

/magnus


:twothumbsup: Looks great!
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Silent Bob » Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:21 pm

I'll enthusiastically second Magnus's recommendation of the Dharmasun online courses. Another I'm familiar with that's also well-presented is the practice-oriented Rigpa distance learning program:
http://usa.rigpa.org/rigpaus.net/AboutDLP.htm

At some point, though, you'll need to come down from the mountain and check your understanding with a flesh-and-blood teacher. No getting around it.

Someone recommended "The "Beginner's Guide to Tibetan Buddhism" by Bruce Newman. Bruce is a Dharma brother of mine who wrote the book at the insistence of our teacher, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, and I've given away several copies since it first came out.

Chris
"All the sublime teachings, so profound--to throw away one and then grab yet another will not bear even a single fruit. Persevere, therefore, in simply one."
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Paul » Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:22 pm

I want to also recommend Dharma Sun. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is an excellent teacher and very keen on his students becoming both scholars AND yogis.

Padme wrote:So I'm kind of on my own in this venture. There really is no "community involvement", I wish there were! I'm trying not to let that fact get me down. Some (on another forum) said I can't do this without a teacher, or at least a Sangha, but others have said that's silly and that of course I can. I do know that I am really relying a lot from books and the internet for most of my knowledge.


How about going on a residential retreat?
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Padme » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:47 am

Hayagriva wrote:I want to also recommend Dharma Sun. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is an excellent teacher and very keen on his students becoming both scholars AND yogis.

Padme wrote:So I'm kind of on my own in this venture. There really is no "community involvement", I wish there were! I'm trying not to let that fact get me down. Some (on another forum) said I can't do this without a teacher, or at least a Sangha, but others have said that's silly and that of course I can. I do know that I am really relying a lot from books and the internet for most of my knowledge.


How about going on a residential retreat?


Hi Hayagriva,

By that I assume you mean leaving here and going to a residential retreat, right? I would LOVE to do that, but would have to put a lot of thought into how. I have a small "hobby farm" here on my property, chickens, bunnies, etc. And I don't have friends or family in the area so I would have to figure out how they would be cared for in my absence. Hiring someone, etc. Otherwise I'd be totally up for it. I've looked into some and have daydreamed about it, but would really need to figure out how my home and pets would be looked after.... needs some more thought. :thinking:
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Adamantine » Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:48 am

Padme wrote: Of course it's much more difficult without a teacher, but I never asked if it was okay if I do this, that's between me and my heart. I was just asking for learning resources. I don't see anything wrong with earnest home study & practice, as long as I'm not out there teaching others or claiming to be an expert based on what I learn from home. And I certainly do intend to travel to occasional retreats, etc.; I just don't have a nearby teacher. I don't even know if this is the tradition for me yet, I am simply trying to learn more about it, the reasons for the rituals, etc.

Incidentally, I recently wrote to Robert Thurman and told him of my isolated situation and my desire to learn more about the Tibetan tradition and he didn't make any attempt to dissuade me. He wrote back with some suggested readings and gave me some very sincere advice, none of which was "don't attempt this". I hold him in high esteem, so while I appreciate and respect the opinions of a couple of you that suggested against this, I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to learn more about this practice on my own, with the assistance of reading, reputable websites and input from others about practice.

Also, to be clear: I'm not asking for references on the rituals, etc so I can arbitrarily mimic them, I'm asking about what the rituals are so I can study WHY they perform them. That's all to understand the principals of the fundamentals to determine IF it's even something I want to pursue as personal practice.


Hi Padme, that makes sense, and I never meant to discourage you from sincerely studying books and study courses, etc. from your own home to develop an overview. That sounds great. I was just pointing out that from a Vajrayana point of view-- what the tradition itself says-- is that until one receives the wang, lung, and tri = the empowerment, oral transmission, and individually-catered instructions, from a qualified Lama then the Vajrayana sadhanas themselves will generally not bear any fruit. At the very least, one needs the permission from a Lama to begin a practice, and the oral transmission. But these restrictions mainly are around Vajrayana level practice, and even so there are still some mantras and activities that are considered beneficial to everyone regardless of transmission simply through the vastness of their power. However, receiving lung for these will still bring a much more powerful effect. Among these would be the mantra of Chenrezi "Om Mani Padme Hung", which is considered the essence of compassion for instance.

As for studying sincerely about the Vajrayana lineage, it's practices, how it functions according to and within the framework of the Buddha's own teachings on dependent arising, sunyata, etc. this is a good idea. . . and studying things like the text by Rob Preece I recommended would be good. As long as it doesn't just crystallize as intellectual knowledge alone, and as long as you realize that it is surely possible to find and connect with a proper lineage-holder if your intention, motivation, and diligence all line up properly...In that case, what may seem like obstacles now won't hinder you in the least. But it is good to take one's time with these things-- it is said in some texts to study a teacher for up to 12 years before one makes the commitment to them and takes empowerment with them, securing them as a Guru. So even now from a distance you can begin learning about different teachers, lineages, etc. Some are controversial and I would say to be wary of those, there is usually good reason to avoid them, and their teachings may actually lead one away from the essence of Dharma. Because of the weight of these decisions it is actually the best thing to do what you're doing to study the traditions so you can make educated choices when the time comes. But for now, doing sutra-level meditation practices such as shamatha and vipassana is not something to trivialize! These are the foundation for all other practices, and the depth and understanding of them continue all the way up into and through Vajrayana and Dzogchen/Mahamudra-- you are just relating to them slightly differently as the vehicles shift. Also, meditations on cultivating Bodhicitta and compassion meditations on the Four Immeasurables or Tonglen meditation can all be practiced from reading instructions alone, and they are most profound!
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Padme » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:40 am

That reminds me, I meant to say this earlier. I keep seeing the word Vajrayana being used, but I never used that word. From what I understand Vajrayana is a form, the core perhaps, of Tibetan Buddhism, but not all Tibetan Buddhism is to the Vajrayana degree. Is that not correct? My understanding was that Vajrayana is a much more intense form, using tantric practices, etc., that not all Tibetan Buddhism practices. Maybe I am wrong on this. If anyone has any links, references, etc on the differences I would like to read them. I have been speaking this whole time on "general Tibetan buddhism", if there is such a thing, and not even referring to Vajrayana. :shrug:
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Adamantine » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:50 am

Padme wrote:That reminds me, I meant to say this earlier. I keep seeing the word Vajrayana being used, but I never used that word. From what I understand Vajrayana is a form, the core perhaps, of Tibetan Buddhism, but not all Tibetan Buddhism is to the Vajrayana degree. Is that not correct? My understanding was that Vajrayana is a much more intense form, using tantric practices, etc., that not all Tibetan Buddhism practices. Maybe I am wrong on this. If anyone has any links, references, etc on the differences I would like to read them. I have been speaking this whole time on "general Tibetan buddhism", if there is such a thing, and not even referring to Vajrayana. :shrug:


Tibetan Buddhism generally is Mahayana Buddhism, which includes sutra level teachings and practices of the Mahayana, as well as the Vinaya codes of outward conduct for monastics.. but a predominant aspect of Tibetan Buddhism is that it specializes in the 'skillful means' path of transformation known as Vajrayana, or Buddhist Tantra, which is said to be the natural progression of the Mahayana. When you say "Tibetan Rituals", in your title, most people will interpret this to be Vajrayana, because most of what from the outside appears to be "ritual" in Tibetan Buddhism are actually practices of the most profound Vajrayana.
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Padme » Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:09 am

Adamantine wrote:
Padme wrote:That reminds me, I meant to say this earlier. I keep seeing the word Vajrayana being used, but I never used that word. From what I understand Vajrayana is a form, the core perhaps, of Tibetan Buddhism, but not all Tibetan Buddhism is to the Vajrayana degree. Is that not correct? My understanding was that Vajrayana is a much more intense form, using tantric practices, etc., that not all Tibetan Buddhism practices. Maybe I am wrong on this. If anyone has any links, references, etc on the differences I would like to read them. I have been speaking this whole time on "general Tibetan buddhism", if there is such a thing, and not even referring to Vajrayana. :shrug:


Tibetan Buddhism generally is Mahayana Buddhism, which includes sutra level teachings and practices of the Mahayana, as well as the Vinaya codes of outward conduct for monastics.. but a predominant aspect of Tibetan Buddhism is that it specializes in the 'skillful means' path of transformation known as Vajrayana, or Buddhist Tantra, which is said to be the natural progression of the Mahayana. When you say "Tibetan Rituals", in your title, most people will interpret this to be Vajrayana, because most of what from the outside appears to be "ritual" in Tibetan Buddhism are actually practices of the most profound Vajrayana.


Well, that explains it. My mistake for using improper or misleading terminology. I just assumed that there were some general "rituals" (my interpretation of that word) in Tibetan Buddhism (non Vajrayana) such as prayers for the dying, celebrating special holidays, etc. For example, when I think of Catholic communion, with the wafers and wine, I think of that as a ritual, although I certainly don't associate it with Vajrayana! So I guess I'm using the word improperly, or maybe just too literally.

My intention was to ask about general Tibetan Buddhist practice. I'm a little confused now though. Why is there a Mahayana section and a Tibetan section? Why not just call the Tibetan section Vajrayana if it's so predominant? I guess I need to do a little more reading to figure out if I'm trying to learn about Tibetan Buddhism or Mahayana Buddhism. Darnit, just when I think I'm learning something, I get thrown a curve ball! :tongue:
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Adamantine » Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:49 am

There's a meditation introduction here at this site, which seems quite good at first glance: it is in three parts: the first describes refuge and refuge vows, the second describes shamatha meditation and the third section goes into a vipassana through mindfullness practice.

http://www.dharmafellowship.org/library ... -part1.htm
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby heart » Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:44 pm

Tibetan Buddhism is mainly the same as Indian Buddhism. That is it contain Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings and practices that are maintained and practiced with very small changes to adjust to climate and culture. Now Buddhism was almost destroyed in India and many original texts and knowledge can only be found among Tibetan Buddhists. Vajrayana was not invented in Tibet it was imported from India together with the Theravada and Mahayana teachings.

/magnus
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:49 pm

Just attend a webcast by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. Then you will have plenty to practice.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Josef » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:38 pm

Namdrol wrote:Just attend a webcast by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. Then you will have plenty to practice.

Seconded.
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Adamantine » Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:16 pm

Nangwa wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Just attend a webcast by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. Then you will have plenty to practice.

Seconded.


Yeah that's a great resource for anyone in the isolated conditions you've described: these webcasts are live teachings so despite distance you are essentially getting transmission, thought it's of course preferable to be with a teacher in person-- this is in any case far better than pre-recorded teachings because you are synchronized in time, if not in place.

Here's a couple links http://www.tsegyalgar.org/
http://www.shangshunginstitute.net/webcast/index.php
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Paul » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:04 pm

Padme wrote:Why is there a Mahayana section and a Tibetan section? Why not just call the Tibetan section Vajrayana if it's so predominant? I guess I need to do a little more reading to figure out if I'm trying to learn about Tibetan Buddhism or Mahayana Buddhism. Darnit, just when I think I'm learning something, I get thrown a curve ball! :tongue:


Not all Vajrayana is Tibetan - there is the Shingon school in Japan, for instance.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Padme » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:13 pm

Hayagriva wrote:
Padme wrote:Why is there a Mahayana section and a Tibetan section? Why not just call the Tibetan section Vajrayana if it's so predominant? I guess I need to do a little more reading to figure out if I'm trying to learn about Tibetan Buddhism or Mahayana Buddhism. Darnit, just when I think I'm learning something, I get thrown a curve ball! :tongue:


Not all Vajrayana is Tibetan - there is the Shingon school in Japan, for instance.


Right, but isn't is also true that not all Tibetan is Vajrayana? That's what I'm trying to understand. I thought I was trying to find out about Tibetan Buddhism in general, not necessarily Vajrayana. There are Tibetan Buddhists who do not practice Vajrayana, aren't there? :thinking:
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby heart » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:15 pm

Padme wrote:
Hayagriva wrote:
Padme wrote:Why is there a Mahayana section and a Tibetan section? Why not just call the Tibetan section Vajrayana if it's so predominant? I guess I need to do a little more reading to figure out if I'm trying to learn about Tibetan Buddhism or Mahayana Buddhism. Darnit, just when I think I'm learning something, I get thrown a curve ball! :tongue:


Not all Vajrayana is Tibetan - there is the Shingon school in Japan, for instance.


Right, but isn't is also true that not all Tibetan is Vajrayana? That's what I'm trying to understand. I thought I was trying to find out about Tibetan Buddhism in general, not necessarily Vajrayana. There are Tibetan Buddhists who do not practice Vajrayana, aren't there? :thinking:


No.

/magnus
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby Paul » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:24 pm

Padme wrote:
Hayagriva wrote:
Padme wrote:Why is there a Mahayana section and a Tibetan section? Why not just call the Tibetan section Vajrayana if it's so predominant? I guess I need to do a little more reading to figure out if I'm trying to learn about Tibetan Buddhism or Mahayana Buddhism. Darnit, just when I think I'm learning something, I get thrown a curve ball! :tongue:


Not all Vajrayana is Tibetan - there is the Shingon school in Japan, for instance.


Right, but isn't is also true that not all Tibetan is Vajrayana? That's what I'm trying to understand. I thought I was trying to find out about Tibetan Buddhism in general, not necessarily Vajrayana. There are Tibetan Buddhists who do not practice Vajrayana, aren't there? :thinking:


Yes. Vajrayana is not practised by all Tibetan Buddhists, but sections of all three levels of teaching are practised in the Tibetan lineages. For example the Vinaya followed by Tibetan monastics is actually a hinayana one - Mulasarvastivada.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

-Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Tibetan Rituals, Practice for Beginners?

Postby heart » Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:02 pm

Hayagriva wrote:
Padme wrote:
Right, but isn't is also true that not all Tibetan is Vajrayana? That's what I'm trying to understand. I thought I was trying to find out about Tibetan Buddhism in general, not necessarily Vajrayana. There are Tibetan Buddhists who do not practice Vajrayana, aren't there? :thinking:


Yes. Vajrayana is not practised by all Tibetan Buddhists, but sections of all three levels of teaching are practised in the Tibetan lineages. For example the Vinaya followed by Tibetan monastics is actually a hinayana one - Mulasarvastivada.


Like I said, Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana is and was studied and practiced in Tibet. But I never heard of anyone not practicing Vajrayana in Tibet.

/magnus
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