Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby smcj » Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:51 am

Alfredo wrote:When I consider the contributions of Religious Studies to Buddhology, I see what amounts to a tsunami of high-quality academic works on virtually every area of Buddhism imaginable.

Technically "Dharma" is the speech of an enlightened being. So if a lama is enlightened, and he says something, then that is Dharma--period. There is no way an academic can integrate that into their world view of Buddhism being something they can trace historically.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Indrajala » Sat Oct 19, 2013 3:03 am

smcj wrote:There are no tibetan Kafkas, Borges or Phillip K. Dicks. And I'll wager that if you got a tibetan lama to read something by them they wouldn't get it, and they'd say, "Huh? WTF is this?" But when we read about Nagarjuna we take it as validating our existential confusion!


Well, I don't read Nagarjuna as validating my existential confusion. Speak for yourself.

Tibet never developed literature like you'd find in Europe or East Asia. That's not an indication of anything other than that their cultural forces were directed to other ends.

Also, Tibetan lamas have their own sets of problems. Look at all the nepotism that goes on within organizations and the politics. Sometimes their religious politics boil over and people get killed. As Malcolm pointed out, I've also never heard of western Tibetan Buddhists murdering lamas.

There's a common perception amongst a lot of western Tibetan Buddhist practitioners that they are somehow spiritually, philosophically and/or intellectually inferior to native Tibetans / Himalayan peoples. Your statements here are reflective of such self-deprecating sentiments. Frankly it is all quite unwarranted and smells of orientalism.

It is also hindering the development of Tibetan Buddhism in the west, having to rely almost exclusively on foreign teachers.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Indrajala » Sat Oct 19, 2013 3:09 am

Karma Dorje wrote:As a "Westerner" I completely sympathize with his puzzlement about Buddhologists who aren't also practitioners. It has always amazed me to find creatures that spend their entire life studying something in the abstract without putting it into practice. I suppose it is a way to make a cozy little living and to increase one's cred with undergrad hippie chicks, but aside from that it seems a pretty bloodless discipline.


Creatures seeking to get on with hippie chicks?

That's a rather unfair assessment of academia which has contributed more to modern Buddhism arguably than any group of self-identifying practitioners in terms of quality translations, histories and so forth.

Scholars who learn multiple languages and possess vast amounts of historical and philosophical knowledge are generally, in my opinion, far more disciplined and mentally stable than your average western Buddhist who hangs around Dharma centers.

It is really that secular academia offers a credible alternative to traditional Buddhist scholasticism, and one that arguably has a lot more going for it and is more in line with contemporary values. It is a direct threat to Buddhist scholastic institutions as they simply find it difficult to compete.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Tom » Sat Oct 19, 2013 3:50 am

Indrajala wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:As a "Westerner" I completely sympathize with his puzzlement about Buddhologists who aren't also practitioners. It has always amazed me to find creatures that spend their entire life studying something in the abstract without putting it into practice. I suppose it is a way to make a cozy little living and to increase one's cred with undergrad hippie chicks, but aside from that it seems a pretty bloodless discipline.


Creatures seeking to get on with hippie chicks?

That's a rather unfair assessment of academia which has contributed more to modern Buddhism arguably than any group of self-identifying practitioners in terms of quality translations, histories and so forth.

Scholars who learn multiple languages and possess vast amounts of historical and philosophical knowledge are generally, in my opinion, far more disciplined and mentally stable than your average western Buddhist who hangs around Dharma centers.

It is really that secular academia offers a credible alternative to traditional Buddhist scholasticism, and one that arguably has a lot more going for it and is more in line with contemporary values. It is a direct threat to Buddhist scholastic institutions as they simply find it difficult to compete.


Academic and Buddhist educational institutions equip their students with two very different skill sets. I think in the future the best "Western" teachers will need to have both the critical thinking and philological skills of the academic as well as the breadth, depth, and practical know how of those trained in the tradition. I'm not sure academic institutions in the "West" will ever want to offer the latter.

These days people who graduate with a PhD from the best institutions in the West, unless they have studied within the tradition, just don't have the breadth of knowledge to be able to instruct a practitioner. They are not remotely close to a good Khenpo or Geshe. And forget about two years at a Div school for a masters… academic institutions are best used to get your languages down but if you want to learn Buddhism turn to the tradition, and if you have time do both.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Karma Dorje » Sat Oct 19, 2013 4:26 am

Indrajala wrote:That's a rather unfair assessment of academia which has contributed more to modern Buddhism arguably than any group of self-identifying practitioners in terms of quality translations, histories and so forth.


Quality translations have come almost entirely from academics who were also practitioners, which if you read my comment more carefully you will see I was not referring to. YMMV, but hagiographies have contributed far more to my practice than archeological and historical musings.

Indrajala wrote:Scholars who learn multiple languages and possess vast amounts of historical and philosophical knowledge are generally, in my opinion, far more disciplined and mentally stable than your average western Buddhist who hangs around Dharma centers.


And parents who raise children, hold a job and manage to study and practice at the same time are infinitely more stable and disciplined than any effete intellectual in the Academy. So what? The point of the practice is liberation, not winning a prize for psychological wellness or good work habits. Scholars who can not actively engage in the tradition, but instead treat it as a germ under a microscope to be picked apart for the sake of publications contribute little to Buddhist praxis. Your antipathy for other Buddhists is well known,constantly demonstrated and duly noted.

Indrajala wrote:It is really that secular academia offers a credible alternative to traditional Buddhist scholasticism, and one that arguably has a lot more going for it and is more in line with contemporary values. It is a direct threat to Buddhist scholastic institutions as they simply find it difficult to compete.


I see. Well good luck with that. If all you are looking for is a meal ticket and ego strokes, academia is definitely better suited.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby smcj » Sat Oct 19, 2013 4:45 am

Then of course there are people like Lama Willa Miller. She's done 2 three year retreats and has a PhD. from Harvard in Tibetan Studies.

http://www.naturaldharma.org/about-us/teachers/

I knew her in the '80s. She was just starting out, but already had some good qualities even back then.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Indrajala » Sat Oct 19, 2013 4:49 am

Tom wrote:Academic and Buddhist educational institutions equip their students with two very different skill sets.


Yes and no. In the academic world you have access to multiple canons and tools unavailable to traditional Buddhist scholastics, all of which can contribute to one's own insight and discerning wisdom.


They are not remotely close to a good Khenpo or Geshe.


It all depends on the person really.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Indrajala » Sat Oct 19, 2013 4:54 am

Karma Dorje wrote:Quality translations have come almost entirely from academics who were also practitioners, which if you read my comment more carefully you will see I was not referring to.


That's not true, and plenty of bad translations are made by practitioners as well.

In any case, the academic tools needed to produce quality translations into English that are not anachronistic (like reading later ideas into earlier works) and overall solid were developed by members of the secular academy who may or may not have religious affiliations with a Buddhist tradition.


And parents who raise children, hold a job and manage to study and practice at the same time are infinitely more stable and disciplined than any effete intellectual in the Academy.


This is just an anti-intellectual sentiment.


The point of the practice is liberation, not winning a prize for psychological wellness or good work habits.



Wellness and a disciplined work ethic are probably more reflective of a stable mind than what I see going on with the self-identifying practitioners I frequently encounter. They are driven to an ideal which I don't see them ever reaching.


Scholars who can not actively engage in the tradition, but instead treat it as a germ under a microscope to be picked apart for the sake of publications contribute little to Buddhist praxis.


You really have no idea what you're talking about.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby smcj » Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:21 am

My understanding of the Dharma path, at least as it was practiced in Tibet, places the critical mind as a major impediment. I've even heard the Vajryana Vows summarized as "never criticize anything". In the practice of guru-yoga we try to see everything the guru does as enlightened conduct. In the tantras we aspire to see the world as the diety's mandala. And of course in Dzogchen practice we aspire to see the perfection of everything "just as it is". No criticism or finding fault is allowed in any of these practices.

I'm not so familiar with other forms of Dharma, so I'm not going to say it is true across traditions.
Last edited by smcj on Sat Oct 19, 2013 6:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Tom » Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:26 am

Indrajala wrote:
Tom wrote:Academic and Buddhist educational institutions equip their students with two very different skill sets.


Yes and no. In the academic world you have access to multiple canons and tools unavailable to traditional Buddhist scholastics, all of which can contribute to one's own insight and discerning wisdom.


They are not remotely close to a good Khenpo or Geshe.


It all depends on the person really.


So who are you thinking of that was not also traditionally trained?
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby heart » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:04 am

Malcolm wrote:
heart wrote:But it seems to take some time to land.

/magnus



Sorry Magnus, this does not rate.


Perhaps not the best link, but the one I found in a hurry. The situation at this point is that the oldest printed book is the Diamond sutra and the oldest known Buddhist text we know contain both Mahyana and Hinayana texts.

/magnus
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Indrajala » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:06 am

Tom wrote:So who are you thinking of that was not also traditionally trained?


AFIK the famous Dr. Jan Nattier was not traditionally trained though she's done translations and produced remarkable scholarly works (like this)

Tibetan Buddhist academics tend to be Buddhist themselves, whereas generally those who translate Sanskrit, Pali and Chinese tend to be less self-identifying Buddhists, though again it depends on the individual. I know some academics who don't identify as Buddhist or talk about their practice much.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby heart » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:08 am

dzogchungpa wrote:Does that article provide some evidence that Mahayana might have been taught by the Buddha? I looked through it and I didn't see anything like that.


It says clearly that the oldest Buddhist texts we have are both Hinayana and Mahyana, as to what the Buddha actually taught is anybody's guess since its early history is hearsay.

/magnus
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby heart » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:26 am

Alfredo wrote:Magnus, when you put it that way, the Buddha might just as easily have been a Jehovah's Witness.

When I consider the contributions of Religious Studies to Buddhology, I see what amounts to a tsunami of high-quality academic works on virtually every area of Buddhism imaginable. Scholars protest that the field is too huge, and they've only made a beginning, but this "Western" (read "academic"; there are a bunch of Asians involved too) influence is responsible for a veritable golden age of critical Buddhist scholarship which has broadened and deepened the understanding of "outsiders" and Buddhists alike. Just look at your library's holdings (not to mention internet-based resources), and tell me we're not living in a golden age, comparable to earlier transmissions of Buddhism and their associated cultural florescences.


Alfredo, you have tho learn to quote. I have no idea to what post you are responding.

Again, there are no archeological proof to that the Hinayana texts are oldest or more genuine at this time. If you have proof please show me.

There are of course many excellent scholarly texts available these days, mainly because many practitioners and translators that have chosen to work in the academia the last 20 years. However, the history of religious studies in the west leaves a lot to desire. So there is no particular reason for an Buddhist scholar to bow deeply to our scholarly tradition, at least in the religious field.

/magnus
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Alfredo » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:27 am

Quite a few (perhaps even most) Buddhist Studies scholars are also Buddhists, and increasing numbers have experience as monks or nuns. Georges Dreyfuss got the geshe degree, then a Ph.D.. He acknowledges the limitations of the geshe curriculum, and the benefits of his academic turn, thanks to which he came to appreciate thinkers from outside his lineage, such as Sakya Pandita.

Magnus, early Buddhism is not my field. I leave the response to others more qualified.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Kunga » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:49 am

I would agree with Malcolm - I have had enough of Tibetan chauvinistic attitudes towards other cultures.

As for wriggling worms - maybe this lama is not as wise as he purports to be. Making generalisations like this is are unskilful and actually false. It's racist, actually, and if we said this about Indians or Tibetans or Africans we'd be in hot water. Many Tibetans I've met are just as preoccupied with mundane concerns as many Westerners I've met, particularly money and business. It seems that Western practitioners, in general, take practice more seriously than the average Tibetan householder. If you want evidence for this, go to a wang, where I have seen the faithful fight monks for blessing cords and bhumpa water.T Westerners may get it wrong, but they try, and this should be recognised.

Many high lamas I have spoken to - and, having lived amongst Tibetans as a monk in a number of monasteries for a good number of years, I have had many such conversations, secretly (and sometimes openly) lament the state of their fellows: laypeople and monks. One major throneholder of the Sakya tradition is happy when he gives wangs and teachings to Westerners in particular, because he believes they will take them more seriously - more so than Tibetans and Asian people. He says Western people accomplish the same in retreat as anyone else; sometimes with really excellent results. I have heard a major figure in the Kamtsang lineage, from the throne, berate Asians who say Westerners are inferior, pointing out that they often display greater faults and misunderstandings and could do well to be more like Western practitioners. This kind of pointing out is quite rare, as Chinese money keeps monasteries afloat and not many want to rock the boat.

True, we have our fair share of lunatics and mess-ups, but this is no worse than other cultures. Sometimes we are even better than they.

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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Indrajala » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:55 am

heart wrote:It says clearly that the oldest Buddhist texts we have are both Hinayana and Mahyana, as to what the Buddha actually taught is anybody's guess since its early history is hearsay.

/magnus


No, we have the pillars of Aśoka (304–232 BCE) and there is clearly no mention of a Mahāyāna on them. Moreover, a lot of early Mahāyāna literature is clearly set in a different period and is in reaction to challenges posed by the "Hīnayāna".
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Alfredo » Sat Oct 19, 2013 9:18 am

Kunga:
maybe this lama is not as wise as he purports to be


Having listened to a number of his videos, I am happy to report that DJKNR often engages in self-deprecation, and does not purport to be wise at all. On the charge that he is racist, do you remember a previous thread calling for Westerners dharma practitioners to receive funding support on an equal basis with Tibetans? Well, the Khyentse Foundation does support both. I might add that as far as I can tell, the Khyentse Foundation appears to be run honestly and openly, with great professionalism.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby Simon E. » Sat Oct 19, 2013 9:27 am

Kunga wrote:I would agree with Malcolm - I have had enough of Tibetan chauvinistic attitudes towards other cultures.

As for wriggling worms - maybe this lama is not as wise as he purports to be. Making generalisations like this is are unskilful and actually false. It's racist, actually, and if we said this about Indians or Tibetans or Africans we'd be in hot water. Many Tibetans I've met are just as preoccupied with mundane concerns as many Westerners I've met, particularly money and business. It seems that Western practitioners, in general, take practice more seriously than the average Tibetan householder. If you want evidence for this, go to a wang, where I have seen the faithful fight monks for blessing cords and bhumpa water.T Westerners may get it wrong, but they try, and this should be recognised.

Many high lamas I have spoken to - and, having lived amongst Tibetans as a monk in a number of monasteries for a good number of years, I have had many such conversations, secretly (and sometimes openly) lament the state of their fellows: laypeople and monks. One major throneholder of the Sakya tradition is happy when he gives wangs and teachings to Westerners in particular, because he believes they will take them more seriously - more so than Tibetans and Asian people. He says Western people accomplish the same in retreat as anyone else; sometimes with really excellent results. I have heard a major figure in the Kamtsang lineage, from the throne, berate Asians who say Westerners are inferior, pointing out that they often display greater faults and misunderstandings and could do well to be more like Western practitioners. This kind of pointing out is quite rare, as Chinese money keeps monasteries afloat and not many want to rock the boat.

True, we have our fair share of lunatics and mess-ups, but this is no worse than other cultures. Sometimes we are even better than they.

K

I once heard the late Ajahn Chah say something similar about Thais...
He said in brief that it was necessary forthe Dharma/Dhamma to come west for safe keeping and be re-imported when Thais become disillusioned by all the worst aspects of populist western culture.
Which currently looks to be a long way off.
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Re: Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche brief comment on Je Tsongkhapa

Postby heart » Sat Oct 19, 2013 9:53 am

Indrajala wrote:
heart wrote:It says clearly that the oldest Buddhist texts we have are both Hinayana and Mahyana, as to what the Buddha actually taught is anybody's guess since its early history is hearsay.

/magnus


No, we have the pillars of Aśoka (304–232 BCE) and there is clearly no mention of a Mahāyāna on them. Moreover, a lot of early Mahāyāna literature is clearly set in a different period and is in reaction to challenges posed by the "Hīnayāna".


Apart from the pillars of Ashoka there are no archeological proof of Hinayana being the original teaching of the Buddha.

/magnus
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