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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:17 pm 
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Hi.

Somone has told me that all the teachers he know advice people with psychiatric disorders to not practice Vajrayana. As I am currently affected by depression and social phobia, and have started ngondro and other Vajrayana practice (all of which I struggle very badly with), I wonder what others view on this issue is? Is it correct that practice of Vajrayana can cause psychological disorders to worsen? Is it a general rule?

If it is in fact dangerous for the mentally ill to practice Vajrayana, why is that so? What can happen?

If you are afflicted by mental illness, and are practicing Vajrayana, what to do?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:30 pm 
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Inge wrote:
Hi.

Somone has told me that all the teachers he know advice people with psychiatric disorders to not practice Vajrayana. As I am currently affected by depression and social phobia, and have started ngondro and other Vajrayana practice (all of which I struggle very badly with), I wonder what others view on this issue is? Is it correct that practice of Vajrayana can cause psychological disorders to worsen? Is it a general rule?

If it is in fact dangerous for the mentally ill to practice Vajrayana, why is that so? What can happen?

If you are afflicted by mental illness, and are practicing Vajrayana, what to do?


For the first question, I will say it is important to have a teacher to guide you through because things can easily go wrong when you experience different visions and don't know what to do. The same goes for meditation.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:32 pm 
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Inge wrote:
Hi.

Somone has told me that all the teachers he know advice people with psychiatric disorders to not practice Vajrayana. As I am currently affected by depression and social phobia, and have started ngondro and other Vajrayana practice (all of which I struggle very badly with), I wonder what others view on this issue is? Is it correct that practice of Vajrayana can cause psychological disorders to worsen? Is it a general rule?

If it is in fact dangerous for the mentally ill to practice Vajrayana, why is that so? What can happen?

If you are afflicted by mental illness, and are practicing Vajrayana, what to do?



You should speak directly to your guru about this.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:41 pm 
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LastLegend wrote:
For the first question, I will say it is important to have a teacher to guide you through because things can easily go wrong when you experience different visions and don't know what to do. The same goes for meditation.


Isn't that the case whether you have psychological disorders or not?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:42 pm 
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Huseng wrote:
You should speak directly to your guru about this.


For the time being that is not an option.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:18 pm 
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Inge wrote:
Huseng wrote:
You should speak directly to your guru about this.


For the time being that is not an option.
Then (unfortunately) Vajrayana practice is not an option: no teacher, no Vajrayana.
Talk to anybody that has tried to practice Vajrayana without guidance and you will see what I mean!
:namaste:

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:32 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
Inge wrote:
Huseng wrote:
You should speak directly to your guru about this.


For the time being that is not an option.
Then (unfortunately) Vajrayana practice is not an option: no teacher, no Vajrayana.
Talk to anybody that has tried to practice Vajrayana without guidance and you will see what I mean!
:namaste:


It is an option in the way that I can practice in accordance with the instructions already received. At the moment I can't afford traveling to meet the teachers, but in the future this might change, and the teachers might also return.

Apparently it is not uncommon among western students of Vajrayana to only see their teachers once every year or so. And then maybe be granted only a short private interview.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:48 pm 
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Inge wrote:

It is an option in the way that I can practice in accordance with the instructions already received. At the moment I can't afford traveling to meet the teachers, but in the future this might change, and the teachers might also return.

Apparently it is not uncommon among western students of Vajrayana to only see their teachers once every year or so. And then maybe be granted only a short private interview.


Very common I would say, it is my own situation. Email might be a possibility, most lamas answer these days.

/magnus

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:01 pm 
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Yes, as Greg said. No guru, no Vajrayana. Still you can start practicing lojong, shamatha and so on, meaning you can start reading a few introductory texts from the Tibetan schools and start giving baby steps. As far as I know the case is serious when one suffers from psychosis. Then one shouldn't practice Vajrayana without very close supervision from a highly qualified teacher. Moreover, one only starts practicing Vajrayana properly, or should I say, the practices that may bring about problems to those suffering from psychotic tendencies, when one receives empowerment, samaya and detailed instructions from one's guru and goes to the creation/completion phases. So there's a lot you can do by yourself until you find a competent Lama. Ngondro seems fine. How do you deal with the purification part? All OK?
If it's only a depression and social phobia, when you meditate, just be watchful about a heavy feeling installing in the chest, over your heart (like having a rock there) and an installed dark mood that doesn't go away. If you feel that way, stop practicing and talk to a teacher.
I think that for the moment contemplation (thinking about the teachings) is perhaps what you need (especially because some of the teachings help coping with depression and overcoming social phobia), more than formal meditation. You can try small sessions, focusing mainly in loving kindness and empathetic joy. Do small versions of Ngondro and perhaps skipping Chöd would be wise for now. Are you making all the accumulations at once or going about them sequentially? Of course it would be better if you could see a teacher more often, or at least having a supportive Sangha. Don't fear. There's a lot that you can do. I think your psychological condition won't be a problem and you will overcome it.

Your feedback would be appreciated. :-)

edit: I see you have a Lama already, but can't be with him as much as you'd like. As magnus said, try e-mail. You can also try to learn from other lamas. One doesn't have to rely only on single teacher if our circumstances require more than that. At the beginning we need our teacher around often. Then we need him less and less. Each knows his case, so see if there are also other lamas your can learn from. :smile:


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:24 pm 
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Dechen Norbu wrote:
Yes, as Greg said. No guru, no Vajrayana. Still you can start practicing lojong, shamatha and so on, meaning you can start reading a few introductory texts from the Tibetan schools and start giving baby steps. As far as I know the case is serious when one suffers from psychosis. Then one shouldn't practice Vajrayana without very close supervision from a highly qualified teacher. Moreover, one only starts practicing Vajrayana properly, or should I say, the practices that may bring about problems to those suffering from psychotic tendencies, when one receives empowerment, samaya and detailed instructions from one's guru and goes to the creation/completion phases. So there's a lot you can do by yourself until you find a competent Lama. Ngondro seems fine. How do you deal with the purification part? All OK?
If it's only a depression and social phobia, when you meditate, just be watchful about a heavy feeling installing in the chest, over your heart (like having a rock there) and an installed dark mood that doesn't go away. If you feel that way, stop practicing and talk to a teacher.
I think that for the moment contemplation (thinking about the teachings) is perhaps what you need (especially because some of the teachings help coping with depression and overcoming social phobia), more than formal meditation. You can try small sessions, focusing mainly in loving kindness and empathetic joy. Do small versions of Ngondro and perhaps skipping Chöd would be wise for now. Are you making all the accumulations at once or going about them sequentially? Of course it would be better if you could see a teacher more often, or at least having a supportive Sangha. Don't fear. There's a lot that you can do. I think your psychological condition won't be a problem and you will overcome it.

Your feedback would be appreciated. :-)


The ngondro I have started is one from Karma Kagyu. I did the refuge and bodhicitta part for a little while, but have not been able to continue due to lack of faith. Thank you for the tip of the chest feeling and dark moon, I haven't encountered such phenomena.

I also do a daily sadhana practice. Do you think that is a problem?

Generally I experience a lot of resistance to practice, except for reading, and going to teachings and retreats.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:53 pm 
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In my opinion, the first thing you have to deal with is that "lack of faith". I see faith in the Dharma as informed confidence. Perhaps reading about these subjects, the rationale behind Refuge and Bodhicitta and then contemplating these teachings could be good. Somehow I suspect your social phobia and the difficulties you are having with these practices are related. I'll recommend you a book that although is not about this, may help. Here: http://www.amazon.com/Four-Immeasurable ... 1559392096
Doing a sadhana without some degree of meditative stabilization is like pushing a cart with no wheels. If you lack faith in refuge and bodhicitta, fix this and then go for the sadhana. Surely it starts with refuge and bodhicitta, right? It's not something you should skip or simply recite. Dharma must go from the head to the heart. Otherwise it's intellectual amusement. :smile:
I can't say your sadhana is a problem. I doubt it, but I think you should cover some basics first. You know, sometimes I think we plunge too soon in the practice of sadhanas. We lack study and meditative stabilization. Our lifestyle is a wreck. Our relations a caos... Then, 10 years later we've accomplished nothing. It's like pushing a cart without wheels. It'll move, but only a little, and if we are on a slope (nasty karma), it may even slip back and crush us (meaning we leave Dharma practice disappointed, thinking it doesn't work, when in fact we hadn't the skills to make it work).
Well, it's what I have to say to you friend. If I were in your shoes, I'd go back to the basics. The foundation is very, very important. Without it, practice is pretty much useless, IN MY OPINION (capital letters because that's the opinion of an ignorant).


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:22 pm 
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:good:
:namaste:

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:24 pm 
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Inge wrote:

The ngondro I have started is one from Karma Kagyu. I did the refuge and bodhicitta part for a little while, but have not been able to continue due to lack of faith. Thank you for the tip of the chest feeling and dark moon, I haven't encountered such phenomena.

I also do a daily sadhana practice. Do you think that is a problem?

Generally I experience a lot of resistance to practice, except for reading, and going to teachings and retreats.


Inge,

Since you are struggling with resistance and lack of faith, here's my advice - don't pressure yourself to do the whole ngondro or your sadhana. Start with the 4 thoughts. Really meditate and contemplate on the four thoughts, morning and night. Read commentaries on them. They're in the beginning for a reason, and it's easy to overlook them and think the ngondro is about all the other practices. If you really contemplate these, and continue to study and read, refuge and bodhicitta will develop naturally.

If you're feeling inspired, add some other practices from ngondro or your other sadhana. But don't beat yourself up if you lack the will or motivation to apply yourself to these. . . you're doing good work. It's better to proceed slowly and thoroughly. You can expect that when you do the ngondro, often your negativities and doubt will seem to increase. Be willing to take on your resistances not just for yourself, but for all beings.

Another thing I want to add is - while it's important to always do our best in these practices, sometimes all we can manage is "going through the motions." I think that's normal. Go through the motions, and celebrate your efforts - no matter how pathetic they seem! Pray and dedicate - "whatever small, faithless effort I have generated, no matter how pathetic, may it somehow serve to bring happiness and benefit to beings." Something like that.

How does this sound?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:28 pm 
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Sounds good advice to me. Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but sound advice for most.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:30 pm 
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Inge wrote:

The ngondro I have started is one from Karma Kagyu. I did the refuge and bodhicitta part for a little while, but have not been able to continue due to lack of faith. Thank you for the tip of the chest feeling and dark moon, I haven't encountered such phenomena.

I also do a daily sadhana practice. Do you think that is a problem?

Generally I experience a lot of resistance to practice, except for reading, and going to teachings and retreats.



You cannot force faith. But you can grow it.

Faith is just a positive mental factor that brings clarity to your mind. Faith here does not mean blind devotion. It means having confidence in the personal transformation that Dharma practice engenders. Reading is part of that Dharma practice.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:43 am 
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Inge wrote:
Hi.

Somone has told me that all the teachers he know advice people with psychiatric disorders to not practice Vajrayana.



first off to my mind, any teacher that says that, is not worth the bother.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:28 am 
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Dear Inge,
Practice is difficult for many of us so don't be discouraged.
Many of us also suffer from various degrees of social phobia and depression as well.
As I am not a Psychiatrist I make no attempt to advise you on mental health concerns.
I beleive the potential problem for people with strong psychological disorders is the possibility of inflation or the belief that one is a higher level being through the practice of Vajrayana. This problem of inflation of course may be a potential problem for anyone.
It is important to be able to maintain perspective with a deep sense of compassion and some level of understanding of emptiness during the practice.
I find a very good text to be "How to Practice, The Way to a Meaningful Life" by HH the 14th Dalai Lama.
:namaste:

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:44 am 
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Heruka wrote:
first off to my mind, any teacher that says that, is not worth the bother.
Care to elucidate?
:namaste:

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:07 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
Heruka wrote:
first off to my mind, any teacher that says that, is not worth the bother.
Care to elucidate?
:namaste:


it might get ugly!!


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:11 pm 
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greg,

i recognize the fact that im entitled to my opinions, and that others are equally entitled to not be subjected to them. Freedom of speech is not there to protect pretty nice speech.

:reading:


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