From Theravada to Tibetan

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From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sherubtse » Thu Aug 13, 2009 3:00 am

I have been studying in the Theravada tradition for several years now, but want to learn about the Vajrayana tradition as well.

Although I have found a Temple where I might like to go for teachings, I have no idea what the etiquette is in a Tibetan Temple. For example, how do I address the monk? What should I do (and not do) while I am in the Temple? How do I bow, to whom, and when?

Any help that experts here could give would be much appreciated. :thanks:

Best wishes,
Sherubtse
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sraddha » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:33 pm

Welcome sherubtse! :smile:

Perhaps this site helps answer some of your questions on protocol:

http://www.sakyadhita.org/ordination/protocol.html
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sherubtse » Fri Aug 14, 2009 3:49 am

sraddha wrote:Welcome sherubtse! :smile:

Perhaps this site helps answer some of your questions on protocol:

http://www.sakyadhita.org/ordination/protocol.html


Thanks sraddha for the site. It looks quite interesting!

Best wishes,
Sherubtse
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:50 am

Greetings sraddha,

Is there any difference regarding protocols between the main Tibetan schools... or is it much of a sameness?

Metta,
Retro. :)
Live in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes

Dhamma Wheel (Theravada forum) * Here Comes Trouble
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby Dazzle » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:25 am

sherubtse wrote:I have been studying in the Theravada tradition for several years now, but want to learn about the Vajrayana tradition as well.

Although I have found a Temple where I might like to go for teachings, I have no idea what the etiquette is in a Tibetan Temple. For example, how do I address the monk? What should I do (and not do) while I am in the Temple? How do I bow, to whom, and when?

Any help that experts here could give would be much appreciated. :thanks:

Best wishes,
Sherubtse



Hi Sherubste,

Just be polite, friendly and smiling ! In Tibetan Buddhist centres, It's usual when speaking to a monk, nun or Rinpoche (Tibetan Tulku) to place one's palms together respectfully. One also bows ones head slightly when speaking to a teacher. Often people just put palms together only when speaking to Tibetan tulkus or Tibetan or western lamas and not to the monks or nuns. It depends on how strict the protocol is at the centre. I'm also mostly speaking from experience in the UK and Europe, it might be slightly different elsewhere.

After leaving their shoes outside, TB practitioners do 3 prostrations in the direction of the shrine on entering a shrine room --and again after standing when the teacher enters the shrine room last of everyone.The teacher has to sit down first. It's prefectly OK to just place palms together and bow one's head.( This can also be done 3 times.)
Everyone stands as the teacher enters and sits down after the teacher sits down. They stand up at the end when the lama and ordained sangha are leaving.

Sometimes at the end of teachings a Tibetan tulku will give a blessing. In this case people file down to the front, walk past him palms together and are given a blessing chord maybe. They also might give him a kata (long white scarf) which he returns by placing it around their necks.

I wouldn't worry too much - people will show you what to do - and you're there for the teachings primarily!

Kind wishes,

Dazzle
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sraddha » Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:04 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings sraddha,

Is there any difference regarding protocols between the main Tibetan schools... or is it much of a sameness?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro,

I am not a part of any Tibetan school or lineage, perhaps N. Drolma or Dazzle have more information.

Historically, I have heard there has been some fierce competition amongst the different schools -- some even violent.

I'm not sure about the accuracy of this information --

http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sraddha » Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:34 pm

sherubtse wrote:
sraddha wrote:Welcome sherubtse! :smile:

Perhaps this site helps answer some of your questions on protocol:

http://www.sakyadhita.org/ordination/protocol.html


Thanks sraddha for the site. It looks quite interesting!

Best wishes,
Sherubtse


You're very welcome! A few Tibetan Buddhist monks came to the library to draw mandalas, as Dazzle said, just speaking politely and with :anjali: should be quite enough for the most basic protocol.
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby Dazzle » Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:54 am

Hi Sraddha,

As a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner,I am very surprised that you are linking to that particularly negative article by Michael Parenti, which has no relevance to the question in the OP from Sherubtse or to Retro's question .

The article has been around for a few years on Buddhist forums and is known to be inaccurate and quoted by westerners who choose to despise Tibetan Buddhism. These same people have usually never spoken to either lay Tibetans or even Tibetan Buddhist practitioners at a centre or monastery They instead choose to form opinions from inaccurate secondary source information and from Chinese propaganda.

Michael Parenti is a western historian using secondary and questionable sources and is not an expert on Tibet or Tibetan Buddhism. He doesn't speak Tibetan nor does he appears to have spent any time even talking to Tibetans. Some of the information he cites as Tibetan history is also inaccurate.


You might like to read a response to the article which can be found here:

http://www.studentsforafreetibet.org/article.php?id=425

and repeated here at the Canada Tibet Committee:

http://www.tibet.ca/en/newsroom/wtn/archive/old?y=2003&m=7&p=23_4




:anjali:
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sraddha » Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:47 pm

Dazzle wrote:Hi Sraddha,

As a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner,I am very surprised that you are linking to that particularly negative article by Michael Parenti, which has no relevance to the question in the OP from Sherubtse or to Retro's question .

The article has been around for a few years on Buddhist forums and is known to be inaccurate and quoted by westerners who choose to despise Tibetan Buddhism. These same people have usually never spoken to either lay Tibetans or even Tibetan Buddhist practitioners at a centre or monastery They instead choose to form opinions from inaccurate secondary source information and from Chinese propaganda.

Michael Parenti is a western historian using secondary and questionable sources and is not an expert on Tibet or Tibetan Buddhism. He doesn't speak Tibetan nor does he appears to have spent any time even talking to Tibetans. Some of the information he cites as Tibetan history is also inaccurate.


You might like to read a response to the article which can be found here:

http://www.studentsforafreetibet.org/article.php?id=425

and repeated here at the Canada Tibet Committee:

http://www.tibet.ca/en/newsroom/wtn/archive/old?y=2003&m=7&p=23_4




:anjali:


Thank you for your articles Dazzle, however, the question was the protocol (and sometimes historically the lack thereof)amongst various Tibetan Buddhist schools,

http://www.tibetinfonet.net/content/update/116

The infusion of political power and propaganda in Buddhism has always led to a downward course:

Historians see the Shugden cult as having flourished under the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682). Although he established the supremacy of the Gelugpa school and was the first Dalai Lama to exert political power over Tibet, spiritually, Lobsang Gyatso was also firmly linked to other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He felt a particular affinity with the Nyingmapa, the most ancient school of Buddhism in Tibet, and integrated some of their traditions into state rituals. His promotion of Nyingmapa deities to the status of state oracles and ritual protectors drew objections within his own Gelugpa school, giving rise to the first historically verifiable appearances of the Shugden cult.

In the twentieth century, the Shugden cult was propagated from Sera monastery by Lama Pabongka, who was as universally acknowledged for his scholarship as for his recusant attitude towards other Buddhist schools. After 1959, the dominance of the Gelugpa establishment within early Tibetan exile institutions raised strong tensions, threatening to split the community. One of the most influential personalities of the early years in exile, a disciple of Pabongka and fervent Shugden follower, was one of the late tutors of the current Dalai Lama, Trijang Rinpoche. The Dalai Lama, however, is known for having had a more hearty relationship to his other tutor, the late Ling Rinpoche, whose more open and ecumenical attitude strongly influenced him. As time went by, the Dalai Lama reformed the exile institutions to make them more inclusive to different Tibetan groups of various regional and religious backgrounds. He had expressed his reservations towards the Shugden cult for many years, before taking a more clearly disapproving stance in 1996. He has consistently advised Tibetans, and particularly monks, to rethink their attitudes towards Shugden and requested that, if they do not feel able to give up its worship, to refrain from participating in religious ceremonies that he led personally. Although the move created some tensions within the exile community, partly due to pressures exerted on Shugden followers by some over zealous Tibetans, as a whole, these eased over the years, mainly because the most influential Shugden detractors gave up the cult or relocated outside India. Most laypeople, given that the cult was mainly a monastic phenomenon, followed instinctively the advice of their supreme spiritual leader.


Basically, like most schools, sometimes there were periods of fierce competition and periods of amity between the schools, and generally, political power generally destroyed this amity.
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby Dazzle » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:04 pm

.

Hi there Sraddha,

I was under the impression that the question #1 was about the basic etiquette when visiting and receiving teachings at a Tibetan Buddhist temple or centre and that the second question was asking if this etiquette was the same for the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The kind of information you have presented is concerned with completely different matters altogether. Etiquette within temples remains basically the same for everyone regardless of school or lineage.


Where is the actual source of the website you've quoted for Tibetan Buddhist information, in order to check its accuracy, by the way ?

:anjali:
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:20 pm

sraddha wrote:Welcome sherubtse! :smile:

Perhaps this site helps answer some of your questions on protocol:

http://www.sakyadhita.org/ordination/protocol.html


Hi sraddha,

I appreciate your joining in and helping folks who are looking into TB for the first time! However, that article by Michael Parenti is misinformed and written by a western historian who knows nothing firsthand about Tibetan Buddhism or Tibet. I need to point this out for the sake of the record, and so that people exploring TB for the first time don't get a misinformed impressions.

I would recommend to the OP, who is asking how to handle himself/herself in general when going to a TB dharma center that s/he do just this, asking people who can speak from personal experience.

I would be very surprised if the protocol differed very much from the manners people extend when visiting with and greeting the Sangha in other traditions. Of course females shouldn't touch the male monastics, and we should be respectful. A nod or bow with hand together is fine. Important texts shouldn't be placed on the floor. If you need to place a text on the floor, for sure put something down to separate the text from the floor, such as a cloth.

I hope this helps. The OP is asking about the behavior of lay people and what's expected, so let's stick to that. If I've missed anything, anyone can feel free to jump in!

Thanks muchly,
Drolma

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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sraddha » Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:17 pm

Hi Dazzle and N. Drolma,


Like any form of Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism should be independently studied.

It should not be forgetten that Tibetan Buddhism is TANTRIC Buddhism! I' m sure you are both not saying there is no difference between the protocols of non-Vajrayana Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism?



:anjali:
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sherubtse » Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:04 am

Ngawang Drolma wrote:I would be very surprised if the protocol differed very much from the manners people extend when visiting with and greeting the Sangha in other traditions.
Thanks muchly,
Drolma

:namaste:


Thanks Drolma for your input.

But it is because the protocol is in fact so different for me that I asked about it. The prostrations, the fact that the monk didn't return my anjali but instead shook my hand, etc. all confused me.

I would really like to get more involved, but the protocol seems daunting. :shrug:

Best wishes,
Sherubtse

P.S. I apologise for setting people at odds with my question. :oops:
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:42 am

sherubtse wrote:
Ngawang Drolma wrote:I would be very surprised if the protocol differed very much from the manners people extend when visiting with and greeting the Sangha in other traditions.
Thanks muchly,
Drolma

:namaste:


Thanks Drolma for your input.

But it is because the protocol is in fact so different for me that I asked about it. The prostrations, the fact that the monk didn't return my anjali but instead shook my hand, etc. all confused me.

I would really like to get more involved, but the protocol seems daunting. :shrug:

Best wishes,
Sherubtse

P.S. I apologise for setting people at odds with my question. :oops:


Hi Sherubste,

I'm so glad you came here to ask. No need for apologies at all!

I can see why you were puzzled by what happened at the center! In this case, I would go with the flow with the monastic :)

Normally it's customary to remove your shoes and prostrate three times in front of the shrine before entering the shrine room. A slight bow, maybe a smile, to the monk should be fine. But if he shook your hand, that's cool. I've shaken monks' hands lots of times. It's a nice gesture.

If your did a full prostration before the teacher and it's not your guru, the teacher might have been puzzled. Next time be sure to prostrate before the image of the Buddha Shakyamuni. If it were me, I'd just follow the monk's lead on interactions, and watch how the other students address him and greet him.

Please keep us posted on how it's going!

Best,
Drolma
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:47 am

sraddha wrote:Hi Dazzle and N. Drolma,


Like any form of Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism should be independently studied.

It should not be forgetten that Tibetan Buddhism is TANTRIC Buddhism! I' m sure you are both not saying there is no difference between the protocols of non-Vajrayana Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism?



:anjali:


Hi Sraddha,

As far as etiquette, whether someone practices lower tantra, higher tantra, and so on, the particular practice shouldn't make any difference as far as how to behave in a dharma center.

Best,
Drolma
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sraddha » Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:15 pm


Hi Sraddha,

As far as etiquette, whether someone practices lower tantra, higher tantra, and so on, the particular practice shouldn't make any difference as far as how to behave in a dharma center.

Best,
Drolma


Hi Drolma,

In Newar Vajrayana the high priest (Vajracharya) is a married lay person with his wife permanently as his "wisdom consort", not a monk (historically the Newari Buddhists used to be monks but returned to the lay life to practice tantric Buddhism).

Ofcourse, I don't really treat a monk/nun any differently from a lay follower in a Dharma center/temple. However, atleast in this Chinese temple, people do half bows (the more reverential go lower :smile: )for receiving blessings from the head monk/nun --they don't generally bow to any lay person.

I think for the most part just being respectful and as you said, go with the flow as much as you feel comfortable, is the best advice given! :anjali:
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sherubtse » Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:35 pm

What about taking notes?

The monk in the temple I might start attending gives a good Dharma talk. Is it OK / acceptable for me to take notes?

Thanks,

Best wishes,
Sherubtse
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:22 am

sherubtse wrote:What about taking notes?

The monk in the temple I might start attending gives a good Dharma talk. Is it OK / acceptable for me to take notes?

Thanks,

Best wishes,
Sherubtse


Hi Sherubtse,

It's a good idea to take notes :)
Depending on the teacher and the teaching, you might be allowed to record it as well.

Best,
Drolma

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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby Dazzle » Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:30 am

sherubtse wrote:What about taking notes?

The monk in the temple I might start attending gives a good Dharma talk. Is it OK / acceptable for me to take notes?

Thanks,

Best wishes,
Sherubtse



Hi Sherubtse,

As Drolma has said, its a good idea to take notes. I have always taken notes myself, and they can be very useful at a later date.


Kind wishes,


Dazzle :anjali:
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Re: From Theravada to Tibetan

Postby sherubtse » Mon Aug 24, 2009 12:33 am

I am re-considering my exploration of Vajrayana, as I have read a an introductory book on the topic, which stressed some aspects that I don't at all like, viz.

1. The fact that Mahayanists really look down upon us Theravadans as inferior, and view our practice of Buddhism as an inferior way (with Mahayana, of course, being far superior).

2. The presence of guru worship / utter devotion to one's teacher, which seems to really allow for (encourages?) mis-use and abuse of this relationship.

Please forgive me if you have heard these things before. But for me, they come as a shock, and are really a "turn-off". :crying:

Best wishes,
Sherubtse
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