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 Post subject: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:42 am 
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Hi. I just came across the concept of Tonglen on wikipedia while trying to find an alternative to the kind that is taught from the Insight Meditation group. It sounds like a nice practice and am wondering if one could learn it without a guru. I'm completely ignorant to Tibetan Buddhism, but have read one needs a guru for its practices as they can be dangerous if not guided properly. The wiki article mentioned "His Holiness offers a translation of the Eight Verses in his book The Path To Tranquility: Daily Meditations." Would there be a better text to self teach from?

Thanks,

Jon


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 Post subject: Re: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:06 am 
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I am pretty certain anyone can practice Tonglen - although it would perhaps be better to seek someones opinion who knows more about it. However have you ever looked at Metta Bhavana meditation? it is practiced in the Theravadin tradition and although I practice Tibetan buddhism mainly I also do this 'loving kindness/goodwill meditation and this can be definitely practiced without a teacher

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 Post subject: Re: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:09 am 
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Here is a beautiful, very simple tonglen meditation instruction.


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 Post subject: Re: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:00 am 
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AdmiralJim wrote:
I am pretty certain anyone can practice Tonglen - although it would perhaps be better to seek someones opinion who knows more about it. However have you ever looked at Metta Bhavana meditation? it is practiced in the Theravadin tradition and although I practice Tibetan buddhism mainly I also do this 'loving kindness/goodwill meditation and this can be definitely practiced without a teacher


Yes, I have done Metta Bhavana. I meant to say in my first post that I was looking for an alternative to it. The reason being, is because the words have become rather Mantra like. I say the words in my mind out of memorization, which makes connecting with my heart kind of difficult.


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 Post subject: Re: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:28 am 
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Mojo Jojo wrote:
Yes, I have done Metta Bhavana. I meant to say in my first post that I was looking for an alternative to it. The reason being, is because the words have become rather Mantra like. I say the words in my mind out of memorization, which makes connecting with my heart kind of difficult.
I had the same problem with tonglen meditation: it started becoming too standardised or mechanical, my teacher said that I should continue, even if it was feeling mechanical, and that at some point there will be a break through and the "feeling" will return to the practice. I imagine that instead of chasing after "new" practices since the old ones feel "boring" or "irrelevant' that it would be better to persist with the ones you know (Metta Bhavana) until you come across a teacher who can give tonglen to you.

Tonglen has incredibly in-depth explanations of its relevant texts and an oral transmission of the texts is normally given. It is a profound and effective practice, it would be a shame to go into it "half-assed".
:namaste:

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 Post subject: Re: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:35 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
Mojo Jojo wrote:
Yes, I have done Metta Bhavana. I meant to say in my first post that I was looking for an alternative to it. The reason being, is because the words have become rather Mantra like. I say the words in my mind out of memorization, which makes connecting with my heart kind of difficult.
I had the same problem with tonglen meditation: it started becoming too standardised or mechanical, my teacher said that I should continue, even if it was feeling mechanical, and that at some point there will be a break through and the "feeling" will return to the practice. I imagine that instead of chasing after "new" practices since the old ones feel "boring" or "irrelevant' that it would be better to persist with the ones you know (Metta Bhavana) until you come across a teacher who can give tonglen to you.

Tonglen has incredibly in-depth explanations of its relevant texts and an oral transmission of the texts is normally given. It is a profound and effective practice, it would be a shame to go into it "half-assed".
:namaste:



Or even three-quarter-assed :sage:

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 Post subject: Re: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:49 pm 
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Thank you.

Incidentally, I had been using the instructions of Bhante G which can be found www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe9.html (along with his entire book, "Mindfulness in Plain English." It is about Vipassana style meditation. He uses the Metta as a pre-Vipassana exercise.


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 Post subject: Re: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:42 pm 
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Mojo Jojo wrote:
Hi. I just came across the concept of Tonglen on wikipedia while trying to find an alternative to the kind that is taught from the Insight Meditation group. It sounds like a nice practice and am wondering if one could learn it without a guru. I'm completely ignorant to Tibetan Buddhism, but have read one needs a guru for its practices as they can be dangerous if not guided properly. The wiki article mentioned "His Holiness offers a translation of the Eight Verses in his book The Path To Tranquility: Daily Meditations." Would there be a better text to self teach from?

Thanks,

Jon


Tonglen can be done by anyone; Sogyal Rinpoche gives a wonderful tonglen instruction in the book The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying; there's also a very general, basic phowa instruction that is okay for anyone to do, even studying on their own.


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 Post subject: Re: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:48 pm 
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Here's a brief instruction from Pema Chödrön, exerpted from her wonderful book, Start Where You Are, courtesy of Dharma-Haven:

"You breathe in the pain of a specific person or animal that you wish to help. You breathe out to that person spaciousness or kindness or a good meal or a cup of coffee - whatever you feel would lighten their load. You can do this for anyone: the homeless mother that you pass on the street, your suicidal uncle, or yourself and the pain you are feeling at that very moment. The main point is that the suffering should be real, totally untheoretical. It should be heartfelt, tangible, honest, and vivid."

After a while you expand the exchange: "You use specific instances of misery and pain as a stepping stone for understanding the universal suffering of people and animals everywhere. .... What you feel for one person, you can extend to all people."

"You need to work with ... both the immediate suffering of one person and the universal suffering of all. .... Working with both situations together makes the practice real and heartfelt; at the same time, it provides vision and a way for you to work with everyone else in the world."


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 Post subject: Re: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:12 pm 
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Dear Sheila,

there are do-it-yourself manuals for dream yoga, chod and everything else you can imagine. When I was taught tonglen it took five days of 6 hour teaching sessions to get the basic points across. This is mainly because an un-informed practitioner may do tonglen from the position of self ("I" am taking on the suffering of others) and run into all sorts of problems. Tonglen requires guru yoga at the very least in order to be truly effective, otherwise it either becomes another ego-bolstering practice (look at "me" taking on everybody's suffering) or can easily lead to disillurionment ("I" cannot possibly deal with everybody's suffering).

Books are for info, teachers are there to teach you practices (and deal with all the issues that arise from the practice).

Tonglen can be done by anyone that has been taught tonglen.
:namaste:

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 Post subject: Re: Tonglen?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:00 am 
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Greetings,

:good:

Whilst I'm happy to advocate people practicing instructions from the Sutta Pitaka without a teacher, I think was Greg says is spot on in the context of the kinds of practices being discussed here.

Quote:
When I was taught tonglen it took five days of 6 hour teaching sessions to get the basic points across.

Indeed... Right View is the forerunner.

Maitri,
Retro. :)

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