Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Heruka » Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:25 pm

Heruka wrote:
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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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Heruka » Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:45 pm

I wonder if the latest Nechung Oracle would have been written off as "mental case" in the west?

http://nechung.org/oracle/about.php



On March 31st, 1987, the Venerable Thupten Ngodrup entered into his first spontaneous trance, during Drepung Monastery’s annual offering ceremony to the Protector at Nechung Monastery in Dharamsala. He displayed signs that he may indeed be the next Nechung Kuten.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama advised that he conduct an extended retreat and engage in special meditations and rituals to ripen and stabilize his abilities. On September 4th, 1987, he was fully recognized to be the Medium of Nechung, the Tibetan Oracle.
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:33 pm

I think you are romanticising the debilitating effect that mental illness has on the majority of the sufferers lives.
:namaste:
"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: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:47 pm

Quite likely, I don't know. EDIT: THIS WAS AN ANSWER TO THE PREVIOUS POST, GREG. (BTW, I AGREE WITH WHAT YOU'VE JUST SAID)
The fact is that the advices given regarding mental health and Vajrayana practice are meant to protect practitioners, not to doom anyone.
Most practitioners don't live immersed in a competent sangha with a resident lama and may get in harms way if they do some practices without close guidance.
Pema Chopel referred the case of Togden, ChNNR uncle, but he had a tremendously accomplished lama (Adzom Drukpa) with whom he could have close contact. Remember also that when he sent him on that journey that should only take a few days, a seasoned Chöd practitioner accompanied him and traced a route that took months. During the way they practiced. This is close guidance, very close guidance. It's almost as good as it can get.

This isn't the case for most Westerners who see their lama once or twice a year. So there are in fact practices that should be approached very carefully by those with specific mental disorders. We don't even need to talk about psychosis. A simple depression (that hasn't any simplicity at all, but you get the point) may need one to adopt certain practices instead of others (usually those that focus in the more positive and uplifting aspects of the Path). Eventually this same practitioner will overcome depression and can then practice with other methods.

Someone suffering from a mental disorder has a nasty karma. Very tough circumstances indeed. It should be evaluated if he has all the advantages and freedoms needed to practice Vajrayana and, if not, see if it is possible for him to get them. In some cases, it simply isn't possible. It's a very sad situation, but that's how it is. Some people have the freedoms and advantages and lose them at some point. It happens. This is why we should start practicing in this moment and stop wasting time. We never know when we will suffer the effects of bad karma accumulated in the past. There's people who can't even practice sutrayana. They are attached to views that make it impossible, or they don't have any interest and so on. Haven't you ever met someone who shown interest, followed a lama and then quit and became a fundamentalist christian? I remember at least one person! How sad is that? So close, yet so far. I'm already diverging from the topic, but the fact remains. Shit can and do happens. Some people simply don't have enough merits. Instead of letting them waste a human life practicing something that will make them worse, why not using such life wisely and improving their circumstances? It may be that along the way things change and he can enter Vajrayana, but if not, it's better to practice sutrayana and gaining a rebirth endowed with all the freedoms and advantages instead of gaining a rebirth in the hellish realms because he got his mind completely messed up with Vajrayana practice.

So let's be realistic. For some, sutrayana practice is the best path because that's the path they can walk. There's a saying in my country that goes more or less like this: it's better a donkey that carries me than a horse that throws me to the ground.
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Heruka » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:51 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:I think you are romanticising the debilitating effect that mental illness has on the majority of the sufferers lives.
:namaste:


you got no idea bro!

but thanks for caring.

:namaste:
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Heruka » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:52 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:

Someone suffering from a mental disorder has a nasty karma.
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:57 pm

Heruka wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:

Someone suffering from a mental disorder has a nasty karma.

No beef there, Heruka, right? It's a nasty karma, like being born in a country were there is famine, war and so on. The fact that it's nasty doesn't mean nothing can be done. I think it is as nasty as being born in a 1st world country and don't giving a rat's ass about Buddhadharma. I hope I'm not coming as a fatalist (karma is not fate), but some people do have terrible karma. That's why there are Bodhisattva's vows available for those who feel moved by others' unfortunate situation. :smile:
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:01 pm

Heruka wrote:you got no idea bro!

but thanks for caring.
I have no idea about what? :shrug:
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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: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby pemachophel » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:26 pm

Dechen,

You make my point exactly. It takes a special Lama and close supervision to do what Adzom Drukpa did for Uncle Togden. Not every Lama can or is willing to do this, and not every student/patient has the good karma to be able to meet and study with such a Lama.

Nevertheless, the original question is whether or not people with mental-emotional problems should practice Vajrayana and I was specifically addressing that question (not the practicalities involved).

BTW, the practices Adzom Drukpa gave Uncle Togden were specifically Vajrayana practices, including at least one Mahayoga sadhana.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Heruka » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:00 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Heruka wrote:you got no idea bro!

but thanks for caring.
I have no idea about what? :shrug:
:namaste:



respectfully.....
i know, neither do i wish to share


:namaste:

again in all sincerity. thanks for caring!
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Heruka » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:03 am

just remember that we need to consider those less fortunate than ourselves, encountering the dharma is rare and precious, to turn away those that seem unfit is a travesty in my honest opinion, and that even includes those disabled and unable to make the stairs to the temple.....

im really hot on this.......no discrimination regrading the buddhas teachings even if we judge others to have really bad karma........

we are not to judge the why...but offer open arms and a warm welcome, let them work out their own salvation.
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:33 am

I was depressed and suicidal when I encountered Buddhism. Shortly after reading, studying, and having contact with a Tibetan Buddhist teacher...my depression & suicidal thoughts went away. They stayed away for many years...about 10 years. Then at the end of this 10 year cycle...my teacher moved away...I studied less & less...practiced less & less..meditated less & less...became more & more depressed and suicidal again....so here I am again...........starting over.....I haven't told my teacher about all my depression & suicidal thoughts...and all the other crap that's been going on.....But I hope to talk with him over the weekend.

I guess what I'm trying to say is....there is really something amazing that happend when I studied & had faith & was seeing my teacher on a regular basis....and that if you give up your practice & slough off...shit happens again....

I feel I must start from the begining( again)....can't wait to talk to my teacher & hear what he tells me.

I've been away for many years from the Buddhist boards...I think I need the support again of like minded people.

_/\_
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:47 am

pemachophel wrote:Dechen,

You make my point exactly. It takes a special Lama and close supervision to do what Adzom Drukpa did for Uncle Togden. Not every Lama can or is willing to do this, and not every student/patient has the good karma to be able to meet and study with such a Lama.

Nevertheless, the original question is whether or not people with mental-emotional problems should practice Vajrayana and I was specifically addressing that question (not the practicalities involved).

BTW, the practices Adzom Drukpa gave Uncle Togden were specifically Vajrayana practices, including at least one Mahayoga sadhana.

:namaste:
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:03 am

Heruka wrote:just remember that we need to consider those less fortunate than ourselves, encountering the dharma is rare and precious, to turn away those that seem unfit is a travesty in my honest opinion, and that even includes those disabled and unable to make the stairs to the temple.....

im really hot on this.......no discrimination regrading the buddhas teachings even if we judge others to have really bad karma........

we are not to judge the why...but offer open arms and a warm welcome, let them work out their own salvation.

I think nobody is saying that, friend!

The point we are making is that there are practices dangerous for people suffering from specific mental disorders (not each and all mental disorder, mind you). This is not the same as saying that someone should leave Dharma practice. Pretty much the opposite. Otherwise it is like saying to a man who lost his limbs to cross a swimming pool without a boat instead of leading him to the ferry! This has nothing to do with discrimination, but with facing reality. And reality says that a man without limbs will drawn. It's not judging other's karma either. It's caring and worrying about others that due to their ignorance may take the wrong step. as in most regarding Vajrayana, the best advice comes from one's lama, as long as he is qualified to provide such an answer. I used to say: ask your lama, but nowadays I'm even more careful. Ask your lama IF you are sure he is qualified enough.

If someone has the good fortune of being near a very qualified lama and this lama recommends Vajrayana practices, not mattering if the student suffers from mental disorders, it won't be me saying otherwise. This same lama will be "swimming along with the student", see? Also, it's not just any mental disorder.

However, for those who haven't such possibility, unless they were specifically instructed to do those practices by a very qualified lama, it may be dangerous for them to pursuit such path. Besides, that would be ego, nothing else. If one capriciously decides that no matter what one will practice Maha or Anuyoga, one is begging for trouble. Snake in the bamboo tube, remember? It's important not to endanger our mental health when practicing, neither to do a mortgage on our future rebirths.

People are free to do what they want, but they should know the danger signs. It's in their best interest, not discriminatory. Imagine you, Heruka, were in this situation. You are Namkhai Norbu's student, right? I would say, ask Rinpoche. Then follow whatever he says and forget my words.

With deep friendship,

DN
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:05 am

Kunga Lhadzom wrote:I was depressed and suicidal when I encountered Buddhism. Shortly after reading, studying, and having contact with a Tibetan Buddhist teacher...my depression & suicidal thoughts went away. They stayed away for many years...about 10 years. Then at the end of this 10 year cycle...my teacher moved away...I studied less & less...practiced less & less..meditated less & less...became more & more depressed and suicidal again....so here I am again...........starting over.....I haven't told my teacher about all my depression & suicidal thoughts...and all the other crap that's been going on.....But I hope to talk with him over the weekend.

I guess what I'm trying to say is....there is really something amazing that happend when I studied & had faith & was seeing my teacher on a regular basis....and that if you give up your practice & slough off...shit happens again....

I feel I must start from the begining( again)....can't wait to talk to my teacher & hear what he tells me.

I've been away for many years from the Buddhist boards...I think I need the support again of like minded people.

_/\_

I'm very happy for having you here. Hang in there, friend! Talk with your lama.
You won't start from the beginning. You've learned a very important lesson by experience.

Keep us posted, please! :hug:
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby username » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:01 am

Kunga Lhadzom wrote:I was depressed and suicidal when I encountered Buddhism. Shortly after reading, studying, and having contact with a Tibetan Buddhist teacher...my depression & suicidal thoughts went away. They stayed away for many years...about 10 years. Then at the end of this 10 year cycle...my teacher moved away...I studied less & less...practiced less & less..meditated less & less...became more & more depressed and suicidal again....so here I am again...........starting over.....I haven't told my teacher about all my depression & suicidal thoughts...and all the other crap that's been going on.....But I hope to talk with him over the weekend.

I guess what I'm trying to say is....there is really something amazing that happend when I studied & had faith & was seeing my teacher on a regular basis....and that if you give up your practice & slough off...shit happens again....

I feel I must start from the begining( again)....can't wait to talk to my teacher & hear what he tells me.

I've been away for many years from the Buddhist boards...I think I need the support again of like minded people.

_/\_


Your Karma is not necessarily better or worse than anyone here. How many insects did we kill intentionally as children in this life or previous lives? Each was a sentient being just like a human being. So we could all be suffering extremely badly if all our karma from numerous lives unfolded. All karma does not necessarily unfold as secondary conditions and causes come into play and much can be averted or purified. Your depression and suicidal thoughts are very common in modern society. So stop blaming yourself and giving yourself extra unnecessary burden. Mingyur Rinpoche who is an amazing young tulku and master and a close friend and elder vajra brother of the Karmapa often details his earlier psychological problems. He was told by his master to use the severe panic attacks as the path and go to their root to see the wisdom in them and then the real nature of mind. You can read or listen to his accounts. The problem with suicide is that the Karma for that often ripens quickly and one can end up in a worse world system and/or worse situation. Our psychological states can be a great crisis but also a great opportunity as they say in China but here for making progress on the path. One of Trungpa Rinpoche's sons who is a great tulku has been severely mentally disabled and has been in care for decades 24/7. Secretly he is a blessing and in my opinion taking on sufferings of others as he must have vowed in a previous life. The last Karmapa took on his fatal illness in the west for the sake of westerners. In cases like ours these problems can actually be transformed into great leaps on the path. So it is foolish for you to be judged by yourself or others.

Some tantric practices are good for some mental illnesses and some are bad depending on the person as said. ChNNR often tells the story of a person who had a physical illness and was told to practice Vajrapani. He told Rinpoche he is doing ngondro and his lama won't let him. After seeing him a few more times in the following years he got worse and finally it was too late to do Vajrapani practice as he was dying which he did. So just doing what a lama says is not necessarily right as it depends on the lama too. There is also justification for warning psychologically vulnerable people to choose their own advanced tantric practices. Many have ended up badly or crazy or dead after taking on tantric practices such as the six yogas and wrathful ones and some even do it without empowerment from books which is even worse. You can research comprehensively or ask around for a good mature esteemed master before choosing one. If your old lama worked for you, go to him again.

You can also ask Lama Dawa by email to do divination for you but keep in mind two points. First ask precise questions like for my psychological problems and suicidal thoughts which lama and practice is best. People always ask about how things are or were but never for the exact remedy! Also if the best lama for you is not accessible, ask again saying who is the best lama I can access within my circumstances. If that is again too far, ask again saying the lama is not accessible. Same for specific practices to help you. Then before taking on a lama you can tell him what the divination said. Also you can have more than one lama which many forget and good teachers often welcome that. Also mainly use rationale and common sense, logic, cold analysis and critical reasoning in calmer moments. Shamatha/Shiney for moments of crisis and later nature of mind based guru yoga. Local sangha can be useful too. And of course modern medicine and therapies but from what therapist doctor friends have told me finding a good one can be hard and many of them actually often need basic advice themselves. Alternative traditional medicine like Tibetan, Chinese or Ayurvedic can be useful if they start to work for you. Wiser people's company too. Be open to stable and calming new experiences and sense yourself more for solutions. With all these tools you can find your way easily but slowly and not in one leap.

You are not starting from scratch as your path has already given you experience of what works and what does not. Just think of the suffering of all the hundreds of millions who are much worse. That sympathy actually helps you not just by feeling better than others but like Shakyamuni who was once in hell as all have been and took on the burden of the person next to him by pulling his load uphill under lashes and was immediately released from hell for that action. Karma works in very complex ways and don't believe simplifications and blame yourself. From your tone I would say you are actually very together and once you overcome the black clouds and finally start to see their wisdom essence, you will make more rapid progress than most of us. If I had to place a bet I would say your karma is probably much better than most of us, not to mention your honesty and pure intentions which also come through. Once you have made progress and well beyond these current problems you can start to think of ways to help people who are still suffering from them in this and future lifetimes and make appropriate aspirations. All the best to you.
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Apr 23, 2011 9:51 am

Heruka wrote:just remember that we need to consider those less fortunate than ourselves, encountering the dharma is rare and precious, to turn away those that seem unfit is a travesty in my honest opinion, and that even includes those disabled and unable to make the stairs to the temple.....

im really hot on this.......no discrimination regrading the buddhas teachings even if we judge others to have really bad karma........

we are not to judge the why...but offer open arms and a warm welcome, let them work out their own salvation.
Dear Heruka,
Nobody is saying anything of the sort. But there are just some activities that can be directly detrimental to a persons well being. If a person in a wheelchair wanted to practice Budhism would you teach them Cham dances? You could, you could alter the nature of the dances so that the practitioner could take part and not feel left out (I have seen some amazing dance routines carried out by people that are wheelchair bound) but really, wouldn't it make more sense to give them a practice that you know they could execute, and probably (because of their condition) do so better than any other practitioner? Equality can be established in a number of ways, one way is to make everybody the same (impossible) and the other is to assist every single being become the best they can be within the (apparent) confines of what they can do (equality in diversity). If somebody is suffering from delusions of grandeur you are not going to help them by giving them self-visualisations as Samantabhadra Buddha are you? No, you can help them through tonglen practices where the emphasis is on the similarity (equality) of their mental states (ignorance, greed, anger, suffering), to that of all other sentient beings, so that through sharing their suffering all involved will reach enlightenment.

Nobody is left out, nobody is discriminated against, every body has their role and their role is designated by their capacity. Some will dance, some will sing, some will sit... Different vehicles suited for a myriad types of individuals but all leading to the same goal.
:namaste:
"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."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:22 pm

2 :good:
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Luke » Sat Apr 23, 2011 10:54 pm

Inge wrote: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?

I don't think you have to worry. I don't want to downplay your mental suffering, but depression and social phobia are quite mild mental disorders when compared with full-blown schizophrenia, and neither of your disorders imply that you are delusional. I think the warning was mainly for people like schizophrenics who are delusional and who easily get swept away by fantastic tales (that being said, a really great lama could probably help anyone, including those people with serious mental illnesses).

So, don't worry. Put your trust in your lama and in the Three Jewels.

You should be joyful because you had the good fortune to come in contact with Vajrayana teachings in your present lifetime. Millions of other beings are not so fortunate.

You should also realize that people without clinical mental disorders also can struggle with Ngondro and other Vajrayana practices. So the fact that you periodically encounter some difficulties with your practices shouldn't be taken as sign that you are weak just because you suffer from some mild mental illnesses. Other people suffer from laziness and lack of faith, which can be just as damaging, if not more so.

Emotions are impermanent things. Sometimes I feel great bliss while practicing Ngondro, and other times I feel anger or boredom. The main thing is to keep on following your lama's instructions.

Good luck with your practices.

:buddha1:
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Re: Vajrayana practice and psychological disorders

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:42 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:I'm very happy for having you here. Hang in there, friend! Talk with your lama.
You won't start from the beginning. You've learned a very important lesson by experience.

Keep us posted, please! :hug:



Thank you so much Dechen Norbu....you have no idea how wonderful your words touched my heart ! :namaste:
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