Transmission and shades of grey

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Transmission and shades of grey

Postby sherabpa » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:32 am

It seems to me transmission (a topic much discussed here) is not completely black and white, in that the manner in which it is given is either fully legitimate, or else it is totally ineffective, even 'a farce'. Rather, there are degrees.

In any empowerment or transmission, the lama will sometimes choose to do it very extensively and elaborately, and sometimes he or she will abbreviate things. The difficulty comes because it seems we have to draw the line somewhere between authentic and ineffective. The abbreviations or departures from the norm become so extensive that something essential has surely been lost - the transmission is ineffective no matter how receptive or devoted the student might be.

On one extreme, you have a detailed person-to-person transmission of whispered instructions directly from teacher to student. A little short of this, you have the transmission given to a room full of people in a noisy public building. Maybe you are sitting at the back.

At the other extreme, you have a written transmission posted from teacher to disciple, or a mere verbal description of the transmission spoken by an intermediary, or written in a book.

In between you have so many intermediate cases, such as webcasts, videos and other media. So where do we draw the line?

Obviously, I don't know, but it seems hasty to rule out the possibility of an authentic transmission being achieved through indirect media. The student's devotion may overcome such barriers of separation. On the other hand, true devotion probably also seeks the person-to-person transmission.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby MrDistracted » Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:28 pm

Hi

My interpretation is that the real transmission occurs at the meeting of a master's realisation and a student's devotion, as it were, the coming together of these two. As such that cannot be impeded by distance or diluted by numbers of people etc

If one accepts that the other circumstances are subordinate to these two essential criteria (the Guru's realisation and the student's devotion), then the scope for authentic transmission to occur in all sorts of circumstances and situations is there.

Conversely if those two criteria are not met, then no amount of jostling one's way to the front row, making sure that one has reserved a cushion right in front of the guru, directly in the line of fire, during an empowerment will really any difference, if you see what I mean.

So regarding drawing a line, I think that the line is drawn by ourselves in the sense of how much we have opened a channel of connection with the guru by our devotion.
If that's there, so is the transmission.

But of course our devotion can be a bit conditional at times, well mine certainly can, so it can be influenced by being in the physical presence of my teacher, or a situation I associate with Dharma, but that's my projection, and more to do with the conditions, ie personal preferences, that I impose upon the path. That's where a lot of the greyness is.

A lot of these discussions involve concerns about tradition, or rather the break from it. And there is validity in that kind of consideration, but I can't help feeling that if a master such as, for example, ChNN decides that webcasts are valid methods of transmission, then they are. I just can't conceive the possibility of him leading anyone astray or duping people into thinking they have received something when they haven't. That is not what he, or masters like him are about. That for me is reason enough to trust authenticity of these kind of transmissions, but I accept that decision to trust has to be made personally by each of us.

And if we accept the stories of transmission via footwear abuse and conversations about dogs barking because they are historical, why should we question the potential efficacy of transmission via webcasts and other modern technologies...

I'm sure not everyone will agree, many will find this a bit woolly...but I really think the quality of transmission is governed by devotion.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:36 am

sherabpa wrote:
Obviously, I don't know, but it seems hasty to rule out the possibility of an authentic transmission being achieved through indirect media. The student's devotion may overcome such barriers of separation. On the other hand, true devotion probably also seeks the person-to-person transmission.


Did you think ChNN's Dzogchen transmission occurred by way of the webcast itself? He has explained numerous times that the webcast itself only serves to coordinate the guru's timing with the far-away students'... i.e. so we can do guru yoga with him when he is actually intending to give the introduction. Dzogchen transmission has to do with ultimate wisdom... and ultimate wisdom has no center or edges. It is infinitely vast. Microphones and wires and cords and computers have no wisdom. So the direct introduction is not something that is passing through wires and cords. Even in the case of the master shouting a syllable, should he choose to, as a method to facilitate the introduction, this is still not a case of the transmission arriving over the internet. It is the master using a sound to facilitate an experience that you have for yourself. The internet doesn't have that experience and then actualize the capacity to realize Dzogchen - you do.

It is only in the case of the reading transmissions or rLung's that the transmission could be said to be coursing through through the internet, and that is merely because that transmission is simply one of sound that one needs to hear from someone with the qualifications and intentions to pass them on. But of course that situation is no different than when more conventional masters use microphones, cords, audio equipment, and speakers to amplify their voices so that people in large gatherings can all hear.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby dakini_boi » Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:10 pm

sherabpa wrote:In between you have so many intermediate cases, such as webcasts, videos and other media. So where do we draw the line?

Obviously, I don't know, but it seems hasty to rule out the possibility of an authentic transmission being achieved through indirect media. The student's devotion may overcome such barriers of separation. On the other hand, true devotion probably also seeks the person-to-person transmission.


Transmission through the internet, through a loudspeaker, through a glass window, or face-to-face are ALL "indirect media," because they are all mediated through the sense fields. The transmission in Dzogchen is mind-to-mind, and all these other tools (internet, loudspeaker, ears, eyes, etc) are simply to establish interdependence between the guru and disciple, whose habit is to rely on sensory input.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby White Lotus » Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:30 pm

all is mind, so people say, if this is so then how can there be any separation from teacher, or difference in media? have you ever experienced transfer of emotions on the telephone with the person you are speaking to.

of course there will be different opinions, some will see digital media as inauthentic. this is their choice.

best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:17 pm

I have no way of knowing, but I wonder if past masters, and even Shakyamuni, would have made use of amplification devices or narrowcast and broadcast media had they been available.

I'm becoming comfortable with the idea that the media used are not greatly significant in the process.

What concerns me more is that once a Guru has broadcast or printed a transmission, commentary etc. then there is no way of knowing how it may be used unless it is somehow restricted. The Guru would have a defined intention which perhaps is lost when someone he did not intend to use it comes across a sadhana, book or broadcast.

Some, like the FPMT, will require details of a specific empowerment before selling certain books or sadhanas to someone, and I think some websites also restrict access in this way. However, others have places every second of an HYT empowerment on the web, and the danger is that someone who was not the intended recipient, watches it and assumes they have received the empowerment from the Guru. I've also come across couple of people on forums who claim high attainments because they have read an HYT commentary.

So, I'm OK with the idea that if the Guru intends to give an empowerment to a disciple, and that disciple understands and shares that intention, then the medium is unimportant; thoughts and emotions, sound and vision, all require media to carry them - so humans have always depended upon media, for example in the form of light and air.

However, I'm not OK with the idea that someone can receive material which was never intended for them and may consequently either be misled or may delude themselves into believing that they are fully equipped for practices, when in fact they are not. Worse, they could set themsleves up to teach others.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Center Channel » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:27 pm

If you question the method of transmission, you are also questioning the guru's judgement.

And if you question the guru's judgement, why are you involved in the first place?
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:32 pm

Center Channel wrote:If you question the method of transmission, you are also questioning the guru's judgement.

And if you question the guru's judgement, why are you involved in the first place?


Better to question than accept on blind faith.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Center Channel » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:45 pm

dakini_boi wrote:Better to question than accept on blind faith.


Sure.

But if you don't believe in the guru, why are you getting transmission in the first place?

It makes no logical sense.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:52 pm

Center Channel wrote:
Sure.

But if you don't believe in the guru, why are you getting transmission in the first place?

It makes no logical sense.


Well, to my knowledge, ChNNR is the only Dzogchen master around who has agreed to give transmission to complete strangers in the comfort of their own home. So I think many of us who become his students have a sincere interest in Dzogchen, but perhaps have not yet developed unconditional faith in the process. Until sincere faith arises spontaneously, asking intelligent questions with an open mind is a good way to begin to develop understanding.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Center Channel » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:00 pm

I just don't agree its about "faith".

Its merely about simple logic.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:08 pm

Center Channel wrote:I just don't agree its about "faith".

Its merely about simple logic.


I think it takes a certain amount of faith for an ordinary person from a nihilist-materialist culture to accept the idea that they can receive a Dzogchen transmission over the internet. Certainly, with the right understanding, logic will lead you to that conclusion as well. Asking questions is an important part of engaging that kind of logic. Discouraging such questions seems unskillful.
Last edited by dakini_boi on Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Center Channel » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:15 pm

dakini_boi wrote:I think it takes a certain amount of faith for an ordinary person from a nihilist-materialist culture to accept the idea that they can receive a Dzogchen transmission over the internet. Certainly, with the right understanding, logic will lead you to that conclusion as well.



Then logically why are you getting transmission in the first place, since you question your guru's judgement?

You make no sense.

You can't have it both ways.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:21 pm

Because, someone may have an interest in Dzogchen, but very little background. ChNNR's method of transmission is unique in that it makes it available for a wide range of people, whether or not they have any prior knowledge. So they may receive transmission because they are interested and hope to develop a connection, and yet perhaps they still have some doubts about the guru or the process. Then they could come to a board such as this to explore their uncertainties, and get support and clarification from more experienced sangha members. I think it's a great thing.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:10 pm

More than faith, coming from who knows where, you need to apply in the four contemplations from the Semde series. Learning them carefully, understanding the obstacles and methods to overcome them will go a long way. :smile: That will help you getting ready for direct transmission when you attend it via webcast or personally.
Going to a retreat, meting ChNN and especially studying his work helps developing trust in him.
I believe most doubts and lack of trust people have are due to lack of proper study (knowing what one MUST know and what is accessory) and practice.
Worry less. Study and practice more. Then you'll see results. :smile:
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:23 pm

By the way, it's not shades of grey. If you think you've recognized instant presence, confirm with the teacher. You either did or did not. But you can be moving in the right direction in terms of preparation if you didn't. In that preparation perhaps we could say that there are shades of grey, but how many tonalities will it have it's an individual matter. For some it's easy while for others it is not. There are methods to help if one finds himself not being able to recognize instant presence, even if one is practicing yet finding a lot of obstacles.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:37 pm

It does make logical sesne that for any communication to be complete, the Transmitter (Lama) and Receiver (Disciple) must both be communicating in a way which enables the exchange to be complete. So if the Lama chooses to give an initiation, no matter what medium he chooses, if the Disciple is not equipped to receive it through that medium and/or is not capable of understanding the message/internalising it - then he or she will not do so. The physical aspects are as useless as a light bulb and wiring before somebody throws the switch.

One does not require faith in the Lama to receive what is sent through any medium, but communication of transmissions or empowerments from lama to disciple is about so much more than that.

I agree with DN - we can spend more time that is warranted on worrying about such things. Prepare for it, try it and see - as we are all different, nobody can predict what we may experience from any transmission, whether in person or remotely.

Oh, I also must excuse myself as I belatedly noticed this was in the Dzogchen forum, and my experiences relate mainly to Gelugpa, Mahamudra etc.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:48 pm

One almost wouldn't notice that, but when you wrote
However, I'm not OK with the idea that someone can receive material which was never intended for them and may consequently either be misled or may delude themselves into believing that they are fully equipped for practices, when in fact they are not. Worse, they could set themsleves up to teach others.

I realized that you were somehow assuming that empowerments were given via webcast. Such is not the case.
There are also closed webcasts and retreats where you need to ask permission to the Lama to assist before they start.

Direct transmission can always be attempted with no harm whatsoever. Of course there are those who may think they got it when they didn't, don't check it, and remain deluded for years, but that's the student's fault.
If someone doesn't get direct transmission, he shouldn't consider it some sort of mystery. Such person should try to identify why and deal with it in appropriate manner. It's always due to a deficient preparation in relation to one's own obstacles. These are what we need to find out and overcome with correct practice. We shouldn't expect transmission to happen magically if we do absolutely nothing on our side. We must check our condition. When in doubt about why it isn't happening in spite of we doing our best in terms of preparation for some time, we should move our asses and go ask. Becoming stressed about it only makes things worse.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Pero » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:13 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:One almost wouldn't notice that, but when you wrote
However, I'm not OK with the idea that someone can receive material which was never intended for them and may consequently either be misled or may delude themselves into believing that they are fully equipped for practices, when in fact they are not. Worse, they could set themsleves up to teach others.

I realized that you were somehow assuming that empowerments were given via webcast. Such is not the case.

Actually it is. :smile:
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
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Re: Transmission and shades of grey

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:22 pm

You mean an online wang? I never seen it. Explanations and lungs yes, but I never seen a wang being given online. When did that happen?
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