Questions..

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Questions..

Postby Lukeinaz » Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:47 pm

I have been practicing by myself for over four years. Mostly sutra studying with a solid sitting practice. Recently I have started to "shop around" a bit and look for a tradition or lineage to help continue my practice. A friend gave me some copies of Lama Yeshe's book and they really struck a chord in me. After visiting a center and reading all of the FPMT free books I feel I am ready to dive in a bit deeper.
I live over 1.5 hours away from the closest center so was advised to start the online programs on FPMT. I guess I am wondering if this is the correct path to go deeper. Or prehaps self study with some books on lam rim. I will try to make it to the center probably once a month as I am available. Thank you!
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Re: Questions..

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:30 pm

Sounds good. The FPMT's The Foundation of Buddhist Thought series is excellent. The Great Treatise On The Stages Of The Path To Enlightenment (three volumes) is a classic.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Questions..

Postby ngodrup » Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:28 am

My thinking is that if you are serious about *studying* sutrayana
with FPMT, then go directly to "the Basic Program," which is in reality
"intermediate" level. Alternatively, you could study some and practice
some-- for example by starting to accumulate what they call "devotional
practices" -- Prostrations, mandala offerings, water bowls, vajrasattva, etc.
I assume you are a westerner, have some kind of career or family--
we just don't have so much time. And as we get older, we have less.
Best to do whatever we can, as soon as we can.
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Re: Questions..

Postby Lukeinaz » Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:46 am

Yes I am a westerner with a family.I am interested in the preliminary is and could see that taking as long as two years to complete. Can I start the prostrations and vajrasattva mantra straight away? Also is there any benefit in the FPMT over the books mentioned? The online material looks great but I would much prefer a book.
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Re: Questions..

Postby ngodrup » Mon Mar 10, 2014 4:02 am

Yes, you can set up a shrine, place lights, water bowls, flowers and other things on it.
You can do prostrations, make mandala offerings and recite vajrasattva immediately.
The instructions on how are readily available, and if you have any access to a lineage holder,
you can easily get the lung or oral transmission of the texts in question. Do not delay.

On the other hand, some of these texts are not easy reading and use rather strange terminology.
It is useful to have some help and guidance, hence the classes. But, why not just try to read
them? The Lam Rim books are not too difficult, on the other hand, madhyamaka or Abhisamayalankara--
not so easy. Even "Bodhisattva's Way of Life" -- generally straight forward-- the wisdom chapter is quite
hard without commentaries and help.
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Re: Questions..

Postby jiashengrox » Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:28 am

Hmmm, indeed, we do not have enough time, and we should start as soon as we can. Je Rinpoche's Lam Rim Chen Mo is indeed a very good start, but if you feel that Lam Rim Chen Mo might be a little overwhelming, I do have a few more suggestions on Lam Rim texts:

1. Je Rinpoche's Middle Length Lam Rim. It is a more concise text, and headings have been added by Trijang Rinpoche. However, there is a slightly different approach in which Je Rinpoche adopts to writing this Middle Length Lam Rim (though i am not very capable of explaining how, sorry about that! :/) and is indeed an interesting read and contemplation. Some of the major Lam Rim Commentaries have been based on this Middle Length Lam Rim as well.

2. Pabongkha Rinpoche's Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. Despite many controversies surrounding him, I still feel his commentary on the Swift Path is concise, yet it is complete and profound. This text is more experiential, and that it provides a lot of guidance to beginners. I myself always refer to this text (and of course, Lam Rim Chen Mo) for my practice.

3. Panchen Lama's Easy Path, and the commentary by Gyurmed Khensur Rinpoche Losang Jampa. I personally would view this text more like a summarised version of Pabongkha Rinpoche's Liberation, but it is handy and easy to read and refer to.
A good book if you do not have enough time to mull over the lam rim topics extensively.

When we are more familiarised with lam rim, then the study of the more complicated texts (such as the major indian treatises) becomes less daunting, because we have some background knowledge of what is happening.

Personally, i am not sure about ngondro in gelug, because (if i never remember wrongly), ngondro is not a separate issue from the HYT empowerments, i.e. It is not given separately. However, it is also dependent on case to case basis, so it would be good to get a qualified teacher for guidance. FPMT does have quite a collection of qualified teachers, but i recommend that if you are adventurous enough, travel to india and visit the three great seats (Ganden, Sera and Drepung). You will discover a lot.

Hope all will be well! :namaste:
Homage to the Mother of Buddhas as well as of the groups of Hearers and Bodhisattvas
which through knowledge of all leads Hearers seeking pacification to thorough peace
And which through knowledge of paths causes those helping transmigrators to achieve the welfare of the world,
And through possession of which the Subduers set forth these varieties endowed with all aspects.

- Ornament of Clear Realisation
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Re: Questions..

Postby Lukeinaz » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:55 pm

okay thank you I will check out some of those books and start the practices immediately. I may take some online modules as well to get a feel for that. How important is pronunciation in the vajrasattva? How does one meet a teacher? Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks again for all the help.
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Re: Questions..

Postby ngodrup » Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:05 pm

Lukeinaz,
Where are you located?

How to pronounce?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AGwY9AJAgE

Best to pronounce like you teacher does, but the general
Tibetan way is different from the Sanskrit as it would be
pronounced by Indians. So its ok if not perfect.
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Re: Questions..

Postby Lukeinaz » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:20 pm

New Hampshire
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Re: Questions..

Postby Punya » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:31 pm

The Foundation of Buddhist Thought course http://www.buddhistthought.org is also a wonderful option for those of us who live some distance from a dharma centre. It combines study and practice over a two year period and you make connection with a wonderful teacher, Geshe Tashi, along with the FPMT network. There is also a Lam Rim course that follows it.
Unless the inner forces of negative emotions are conquered
Strife with outer enemies will never end.
~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Questions..

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:43 am

jiashengrox wrote:Panchen Lama's Easy Path, and the commentary by Gyurmed Khensur Rinpoche Losang Jampa.
It's translated?! Yay! Phabongkha Rinpoche recommends it and the Swift Path (Easy Path's commentary)
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Questions..

Postby ngodrup » Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:40 am

Well, you're fortunate to live near Milarepa center.
But frankly, it looks to me like you have more access to Kagyu centers in your area.
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Re: Questions..

Postby jiashengrox » Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:45 am

Lukeinaz wrote:okay thank you I will check out some of those books and start the practices immediately. I may take some online modules as well to get a feel for that. How important is pronunciation in the vajrasattva? How does one meet a teacher? Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks again for all the help.


I am not sure what you are asking, but for me, I met my teachers when they travelled to my country. Then one of my teachers suggested visiting india whenever i am free. So i went, and ... Wow. It's really amazing. :twothumbsup:

Konchog1 wrote:
jiashengrox wrote:Panchen Lama's Easy Path, and the commentary by Gyurmed Khensur Rinpoche Losang Jampa.
It's translated?! Yay! Phabongkha Rinpoche recommends it and the Swift Path (Easy Path's commentary)


Yes it is out. It is indeed amazing as a summary, with khensur rinpoche's additional explanations. Yup, in fact, pabongkha rinpoche's liberation is also a commentary on the swift path.

ngodrup wrote:Well, you're fortunate to live near Milarepa center.
But frankly, it looks to me like you have more access to Kagyu centers in your area.


Hmmm, that shouldn't be a problem. May i suggest some classics in Kagyu as well?

1. Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation. This is also another classic lam rim text, as Je Gampopa unites his learnings from kadam and mahamudra, and thus it is written more so in a sense as a preliminary to mahamudra practice. The structural arrangement is slightly different from Je Tsongkhapa's Lam Rim (the way of structuring the content is cause, method and result, and hence starts off with a Chapter on Buddha Nature, not sure if i explained correctly though). This is also a very good reference to refer to as well.

2. A Complete Guide to the Buddhist Path by Drikung Dharmakirti. It is heavily commentated on by Khenchen Rinpoche Konchog Gyaltsen. Nevertheless, it is still succinct and with the original text in verse format, it becomes concise but yet illuminating when reading it with the commentary.

3. I am not sure how you can get hold of this, but the commentary on the Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva by Garchen Rinpoche is amazing. It is his pith instructions on the Thirty Seven Practices, and he wishes all his students to actually read this text once a day, as it is one of the core teachings of the Buddhist Path.

On the side note, New Hampshire looks like an amazing place to travel to, I hope I can go there some day! :D

All the best in finding your path! :namaste:
Homage to the Mother of Buddhas as well as of the groups of Hearers and Bodhisattvas
which through knowledge of all leads Hearers seeking pacification to thorough peace
And which through knowledge of paths causes those helping transmigrators to achieve the welfare of the world,
And through possession of which the Subduers set forth these varieties endowed with all aspects.

- Ornament of Clear Realisation
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Re: Questions..

Postby ngodrup » Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:57 am

In that Lama Tsongkhapa's main Kagyu sources were Drikung,
it would be especially appropriate. And Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen's
translation of the Jewel Ornament is quite nice. If you want to meet
"your teacher" you can start by meeting whatever qualified Lamas
you can who may be nearby. Your practice and study will magnetize
the opportunities.
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Re: Questions..

Postby Lukeinaz » Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:01 pm

Thank you all so much for the responses. All of this is a bit overwhelming and part of me wishes I could back to my simple little sitting practice.
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Re: Questions..

Postby lobster » Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:32 pm

Lukeinaz wrote:Thank you all so much for the responses. All of this is a bit overwhelming and part of me wishes I could back to my simple little sitting practice.


Your simple little practice will no doubt deepen, expand and incorporate more. Sounds just what you wanted . . . to dive in deeper. Bravo :woohoo:
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Re: Questions..

Postby ngodrup » Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:19 pm

There is nothing better, in terms of diving deep, than offering lights, water bowls, prostrations,
mandala offerings and doing purification practices like Vajrasattva. The impact of such meditation
on your mind is amazing. And, accumulating merit and purification definitely enhances your
understanding of what you study as well as the quality of your sitting.
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Re: Questions..

Postby Lukeinaz » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:57 pm

Ok so a couple more questions then I will stop lurking about. So I work 24 hr shifts at my job and some days only have the morning to practice. So my question is about combining vajrasattva with prostrations since I wont have time to do both unless I eliminate an hour of sitting which I would greatly miss. Instead of combining I could work more in depth on just one practice for now? I am awaiting Liberation In The Palm of Your Hand in the mail and hoping that will help to set my practice straight. Also I have noticed more discursive thoughts arising since starting vajrasattva. Does Practice ever regress when starting down this path? Sorry for so many random questions. Feeling very rattled lately. Like I could jump out if my skin. Thank you Thank you Thank you!
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Re: Questions..

Postby heart » Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:17 am

Lukeinaz wrote:Ok so a couple more questions then I will stop lurking about. So I work 24 hr shifts at my job and some days only have the morning to practice. So my question is about combining vajrasattva with prostrations since I wont have time to do both unless I eliminate an hour of sitting which I would greatly miss. Instead of combining I could work more in depth on just one practice for now? I am awaiting Liberation In The Palm of Your Hand in the mail and hoping that will help to set my practice straight. Also I have noticed more discursive thoughts arising since starting vajrasattva. Does Practice ever regress when starting down this path? Sorry for so many random questions. Feeling very rattled lately. Like I could jump out if my skin. Thank you Thank you Thank you!


You don't have more thoughts, you are just starting to notice how many there are. So that is ok. But if you are starting to tense up you should try to take it easier. Shorter sessions, slower recitation for example. This is one reason we need a teacher.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
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Re: Questions..

Postby ngodrup » Sat Mar 15, 2014 4:55 pm

:good:

Exactly what heart said: "You don't have more thoughts, you are just starting to notice how many there are.
So that is ok. But if you are starting to tense up you should try to take it easier. Shorter sessions,
slower recitation for example. This is one reason we need a teacher."

Protestations are often done in connection with Vajrasattva, just like they are done in connection
with refuge, recitation of 35 Buddhas, or Chenresig in the Nyung Nye practice. There are many possible
permutations. The thing is each has its own criteria. So you can't lump them all together and count once.

I would think though, that you *could* do Vajrasattva in connection with prostrations to 35 buddhas.
In that case you would be counting prostrations and long vajrasattva mantras.

From a practice point of view-- practicality of actually doing it-- the more things you add, the more time
each thing takes, the greater the possibility of you becoming impatient with your progress in meeting
the quantity benchmarks.
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