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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:39 pm 
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The key for ALL Vajrayana lies with those able to extract the essence. Or its future is bleak.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:06 pm 
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Huifeng wrote:
When one throws a rock at a dog, the dog chases the rock,
When one throws a rock at a lion, the lion chases the thrower.


Problems exist in the mind. The tulku system worked for the Tibetans for centuries. Some may consider it an issue, but it seems to me most of the time people accept it as a unique feature of Tibetan Buddhism.

It is not easy to push through a revolution and it usually fails. In the realm of religion it is easier to go separately than to reform the existing structure. In Buddhism this is quite normal and happened in Tibetan too where there are some major and more minor sects. There is little meaning in endlessly criticising others. If you really don't like how it goes, work on finding or establishing a community that fits your ideals. There are already new independent groups making their own decisions about the administrative system and the teachings.

In the end every person is responsible for their Dharma practice. Blaming the church, the teachers or anyone else is meaningless. Your actions, your karma.

Dizang said, “I've heard you say several times that 'the three realms are only mind and the myriad dharmas are only consciousness.'” He pointed to a rock by the gate. “So do you say that this rock is inside or outside of mind?”
Fayan said, “Inside."
Dizang said, “How can a pilgrim carry such a rock in his mind while on pilgrimage?”
Dumbfounded, Fayan couldn't answer.

(Zen's Chinese Heritage, p 316; T47n1991_p0588b09-12)

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"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:28 am 
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Simon E. wrote:
The key for ALL Vajrayana lies with those able to extract the essence. Or its future is bleak.

And extracting the essence requires a lot of time, energy, dedication and commitment. It seems that not many modern people are up to the task, especially westerners.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:36 am 
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JKhedrup wrote:


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I can only speak with complete knowledge about FPMT since that is the organization I work within but I can say there are many opportunities for Westerners to have essential positions here. Either as those who help ensure the transmission of the teachings- Interpreters, Translators, Directors, Program Co-ordinators and so forth, as well as opportunities for Westerners(with about an equal split between lay and ordained Sangha) themselves to become teachers.

Graduates of the masters' program enjoy teaching positions and the same support/salary a Tibetan Geshe would enjoy. There is Sixte Vincotte at Vajrayogini Institute in France, Emily Hsu at Gyalwa Gyatso Centre in California, Ven. Neil Dondrub at Hayagriva Centre in Perth, not to mention well known traveling teachers like Ven. Robina Courtin, Ven. Antonia Satta etc. The study programs give opportunities for such people to become qualified teachers outside traditional Asian institutions,and serve dharma in the West. To be honest, things in the FPMT are moving increasingly towards Western teachers, especially as Visas and so-forth become more difficult with anti-immigrant sentiment especially in Europe.


Many of the "opportunities" for Western "teachers" are in fact volunteer positions. Training programs, such as the BP and MP, are better described as products which the FPMT markets and sells (anyone can sign up, with the possible exception of Shugden devotees), and through which converts are encouraged to cement their FPMT identity through a conspicuous consumption of time and money. MP graduates are by no means guaranteed a teaching role (only a certificate), let alone a salaried one, as the above quote seems to suggest. Furthermore, the institution accords great preference and deference to Tibetan monk-lamas, especially from Sera Je (non-Gelug lamas are just not on, whatever the Dalai Lama may say about nonsectarianism). A major emphasis of the FPMT is in producing new cohorts of translators and interpreters for them (e.g., through the Lotsawa Rinchen Tsangpo Translator Programme). The FPMT board is a self-perpetuating coterie consisting of Lama Zopa and selected students, so the whole enterprise is driven from the top down--and the top (of the FPMT as a whole as well as most local centers) is generally going to be a Tibetan.

Quote:
Actually the final word is with Lama Zopa Rinpoche,


This is very well put. This is why something like the Maitreya Project (now thankfully cancelled) could have happened.

Note that Vens. T. Yeshe and T. Zopa were relatively low-ranking monks who would never have been recognized as "lamas," except that they managed to attract followers from among the Western hippies in India / Nepal.

Quote:
it would have been with Osel (a Westerner), if he had decided to take the role, but that was not his wish.


Osel Hita has recently joined the FPMT board. A few years ago he expressed his desire to remain a civilian, so to speak, and become a filmmaker (though remaining a "Tibetan" Buddhist). I speculate that the European economic situation (never the best for filmmakers) has caused him to reconsider his earlier, more principled stance, and go back to Zopa and the FPMT. (I wonder how much money has received from them over the years...? How much he receives from them now?) I note that he has used FPMT centers to promote and distribute one of his films. As for why the FPMT is promoting Hita, that's easy--as a symbol, he's an effective fund-raiser and morale-raiser. (Much the same calculus led to the tulku system in the first place.) Perhaps he will eventually take Zopa's place, assuming Zopa predeceases him, but a mere change of autocrat (even to a Westerner) is not the sort of fundamental reform I would like to see, if Western Buddhist organizations are to represent and live up to Western ideals, rather than perpetuate the authoritarian structures of old Tibet.

Quote:
The relationship between Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Tibetan institutions is quite complex. To a certain degree they are dependent on him, as with the Sera Jey food fund for example. Also, FPMT and its board, as well as the Western centre managers, decide if and when to invite Geshes or visiting lamas... And teaching positions are increasingly going to Westerners.


Tibetan teachers are preferred over non-Tibetans, who are mainly used when the center cannot afford to maintain a group of monks, or to cut down on the workload of resident lamas (for example, by leading small groups). "High-ranking" Westerners generally (there are exceptions) turn out to be servants of Zopa, or some other Tibetan. Of course there will be differences of education, but the sort of education that is more feasible for Westerners is regarded less favorably than a traditional geshe curriculum.

Also, note that the MP has two tiers--residential and online--which are carefully distinguished, lest unacceptable people be credentialled to teach, or the credential become devalued through oversupply. The period of residence is 6 or 7 years, depending on whether one includes a number of required Lamrim retreats, and there are "moral" requirements as well. Note that the system requires a certain combination of money and time, which only a few well-off Westerners (with the right nationalities) would be able to manage. Also, subjects like the Abhisamayalankara are taught from a very Tibetan perspective (which outsiders would find almost unintelligible), using strange calques and glosses which students are expected to memorize and uncritically regurgitate, and do not take advantage of the many fine Western academic studies that have been produced on the AA. In other words, Westerners are supposed to imitate (badly) the approach of teenage Tibetan monks, not the sort of approach customary at our universities, which Westerners would find familiar, but in which Tibetans would lose their advantage.

Unfortunately for the FPMT, and for Tibetan Buddhism as a whole, it is hard to conceive of reforms that would not bring the whole structure crashing down. Without tulkus, and authoritarianism in general, there would be little to hold the group together.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:40 am 
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Alfredo wrote:
the Maitreya Project (now thankfully cancelled) could have happened.



Not cancelled.

"The laying of the foundation stone for a very large Maitreya Buddha statue in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, will take place during a ceremony on Friday, December 13, 2013..."

http://mandala.fpmt.org/2013/maitreya-p ... p-forward/

See also:

http://www.maitreyaproject.org/en/index.html

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:46 am 
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Well. downscaled so they won't have to ask the government to expropriate land (as they attempted to do in Kushinagar; the project is now relocated to Boghgaya). Money 'graf:

Quote:
Also, the Maitreya statue will now be built in Bodhgaya, but due to restrictions there, the statue won't be as tall as originally planned (500 feet); now it is going to be 150 feet in height.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:47 am 
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When viewed from the outside, the system can seem exclusive and negative, but once you find a Tibetan tulku who is very welcoming and eager to teach you even though you are a westerner, it doesn't feel negative. Not at all Tibetan tulkus hide behind their titles; many actively seek out ways to benefit others.

But in reply to some of the concerns raised in this thread, perhaps what is needed is a Tibetan Buddhist educational institution in the west which would produce graduates which even Tibetans would respect.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:49 am 
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Alfredo wrote:
Well. downscaled so they won't have to ask the government to expropriate land (as they attempted to do in Kushinagar; the project is now relocated to Boghgaya). Money 'graf:

Quote:
Also, the Maitreya statue will now be built in Bodhgaya, but due to restrictions there, the statue won't be as tall as originally planned (500 feet); now it is going to be 150 feet in height.

I used to be appalled by this. Now I find it to be one of the more comedic episodes of East meets West.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:04 am 
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Luke wrote:
But in reply to some of the concerns raised in this thread, perhaps what is needed is a Tibetan Buddhist educational institution in the west which would produce graduates which even Tibetans would respect.


The racial hierarchy largely precludes the possibility of this. I'll believe things have changed when Tibetan Lamas of some standing prostrate themselves before a non-Tibetan in public. You can argue that nobody is worthy of such respect yet, but then supposing there were, there would still be the negative bias that they couldn't really be that good.

There is something of a 'borderland complex' which needs to be recognized: that the west and its native peoples are largely 'barbarians' in the sense of lacking Dharma and appropriate attainments. Arguably every other Buddhist civilization went through the same process. Still, considering the level and quality of scholarship that exists in the English language alone I think we should give ourselves more credit. When it comes to spiritual attainments, there are people who have them but just go unrecognized because the institutions don't want to recognize them. People want to defer to Asian men, preferably in robes.

The thing one needs to bear in mind is that the Tibetans in South Asia are in desperate circumstances and they got a good thing going with their Buddhism. The Tibetan's primary export is Buddhism. It also ensures a steady income from abroad. Money is funneled from foreign countries back to India and Nepal for buildings and other projects. Without the appeal of Tibetan Buddhism and the purported magic possessed by its lamas, the Tibetans would be destitute refugees in south Asia, probably not unlike the Afghanis which few know about let alone care. The large numbers of pilgrims from abroad also supports Tibetan businesses, craftsmen and teachers.

The economic situation for them alone means it is not in their interests to delegate spiritual authority to outsiders. There's too much lose and too many people depending on the clerics.

It is interesting to contrast this to Japanese Buddhism. They're economically secure and generally well off, and they don't really make much of an effort to export their traditions abroad. Japanese Buddhist teachers are not really known for going on teaching tours outside of Japan despite the widespread interest in Zen and increasingly Tendai. They don't learn much English usually. If a foreigner wants to adopt a Japanese tradition, they're welcome to and maybe they'll even get thumbs up from their sect's HQ for it (like Soto Zen or Tendai), but there seems to be nothing comparable in institutional and logistical support as one would find in TB. Besides SGI and the Japanese movements in the 70s and 80s (like here in India), Japanese traditions for better or worse simply don't proselytize. There is no economic need to for the Japanese, whereas Tibetans are in dire straights and depend so much on the revenue generated from their religion.

The fact that some Lamas become rather rich as a result of their skill with religion also encourages further expansionist mentalities. On top of that they have followings of dedicated and often highly educated professionals from the west working for them for free.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:19 am 
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Alfredo wrote:
Also, note that the MP has two tiers--residential and online--which are carefully distinguished, lest unacceptable people be credentialled to teach, or the credential become devalued through oversupply. The period of residence is 6 or 7 years, depending on whether one includes a number of required Lamrim retreats, and there are "moral" requirements as well. Note that the system requires a certain combination of money and time, which only a few well-off Westerners (with the right nationalities) would be able to manage. Also, subjects like the Abhisamayalankara are taught from a very Tibetan perspective (which outsiders would find almost unintelligible), using strange calques and glosses which students are expected to memorize and uncritically regurgitate, and do not take advantage of the many fine Western academic studies that have been produced on the AA. In other words, Westerners are supposed to imitate (badly) the approach of teenage Tibetan monks, not the sort of approach customary at our universities, which Westerners would find familiar, but in which Tibetans would lose their advantage.


Alfredo, I'm trying to understand your concern with the above. Is it that people actually had to put in a lot of time and spend some money to learn dharma?

Maybe you can point us in the direction of a serious program that won't take up too much of our time, is free, and will turn us into erudite scholars rather than those bad clones of teenage Tibetan monks! Oh, and can it be run entirely by Westerners (for some reason)! One more thing... let's count out the ACI (Michael Roach) program shall we!

Seriously though, I'm not as familiar with the FPMT programs as you seem to be, but I have met a couple of the FPMT masters program graduates and I also know many doctoral graduates from some of the big universities around the world and I can tell you the best FPMT masters graduate, who granted have certain limitations, still seem to have it over most of those graduating from the Western academic programs when it comes to general dharma knowledge.


Last edited by Tom on Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:23 am 
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Tom wrote:
Seriously though, I'm not as familiar with the FPMT programs as you seem to be, but I have met a couple of the FPMT masters program graduates and I also know many doctoral graduates from some of the big universities around the world and I can tell you the best FPMT masters graduate, who granted have certain limitations, still seem to have it over most of those graduating from the Western academic programs.


Those graduating from western academic programs, however, will probably be able to better see things from both the etic and emic perspectives.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:25 am 
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Indrajala wrote:
Tom wrote:
Seriously though, I'm not as familiar with the FPMT programs as you seem to be, but I have met a couple of the FPMT masters program graduates and I also know many doctoral graduates from some of the big universities around the world and I can tell you the best FPMT masters graduate, who granted have certain limitations, still seem to have it over most of those graduating from the Western academic programs.


Those graduating from western academic programs, however, will probably be able to better see things from both the etic and emic perspectives.


No they will generally have no idea of the emic perspective, which is discouraged. This is part of the problem.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:27 am 
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I just had to look up both emit and etic. I know I'm on the right website when you guys expand my vocabulary. Thanks!

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:38 am 
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Luke wrote:

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But in reply to some of the concerns raised in this thread, perhaps what is needed is a Tibetan Buddhist educational institution in the west which would produce graduates which even Tibetans would respect.


How about the University of Virginia?

Tom wrote:

Quote:
Alfredo, I'm trying to understand your concern with the above. Is it that people actually had to put in a lot of time and spend some money to learn dharma?


While I sympathize with their willingness, where does this leave those without the time and/or money? Other types of programs--including the online version of the FPMT MP--minimize both problems, but have been deliberately accorded "second-class" status. The traditional geshe curriculum is assumed to be best of all, despite its limitations and relative inaccessibility. (Indeed, it was only recently that women were admitted.)

Quote:
Seriously though, I'm not as familiar with the FPMT programs as you seem to be, but I have met a couple of the FPMT masters program graduates and I also know many doctoral graduates from some of the big universities around the world and I can tell you the best FPMT masters graduate, who granted have certain limitations, still seem to have it over most of those graduating from the Western academic programs when it comes to general dharma knowledge.


This raises the question of how to interpret "dharma knowledge." The FPMT programs follow what might be described as a Sunday-school type approach, which fails to critically examine the tradition in any appreciable way. For example, an MP student of the AA (and remember, we are speaking of a one-and-a-half to two-year program) would be asked to memorize various definitions and the like, but might never become aware of critical scholarly literature on the AA, let alone its place in the history of Buddhist thought. What deficiencies do you perceive in Western academic programs? Is it that scholars are not required to be believers in, or insiders to, the traditions that they study?

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:40 am 
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Tom wrote:

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No they will generally have no idea of the emic perspective, which is discouraged. This is part of the problem.


Well they'd better have an idea, if they want to pass their orals!

But seriously--really? You think Harvard discriminates against Buddhists?

As a certain Buddhologist once quipped, 'All God's chillun' are emic."

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:48 am 
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change of mind...deleted...


Last edited by Tom on Sat Dec 14, 2013 4:02 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:52 am 
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Quote:
The FPMT programs follow what might be described as a Sunday-school type approach, which fails to critically examine the tradition in any appreciable way. For example, an MP student of the AA (and remember, we are speaking of a one-and-a-half to two-year program) would be asked to memorize various definitions and the like, but might never become aware of critical scholarly literature on the AA, let alone its place in the history of Buddhist thought.

In other words you object to the Tibetan educational system.
Quote:
This raises the question of how to interpret "dharma knowledge."

Indeed.

The Tibetan educational system is designed to prepare somebody for the next step, which is meditation. The Western educational system does not. Sutrayana is a path. It is supposed to have a specialized effect on the student. The point is not to give him information. It is to develop the student's mind and mature him along spiritual lines.

But you won't catch me enrolling in it!

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:52 am 
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Indrajala wrote:
When it comes to spiritual attainments, there are people who have them but just go unrecognized because the institutions don't want to recognize them.


Surely one of the highest spiritual attainments is not craving any recognition?

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:53 am 
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Alfredo wrote:

Well they'd better have an idea, if they want to pass their orals!


Are you serious! What departments are you talking about?

Alfredo wrote:
But seriously--really? You think Harvard discriminates against Buddhists?


No, but certainly an insider perspective/approach is taken less seriously.

Granted this is less true in some divinity schools but I was more commenting on the doctoral programs. I am not sure it is fair to compare someone who has done two years at a div school against the 6 year FPMT masters program.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 4:02 am 
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Oh, and another thing: The FPMT MP is 7 years long. Unlike an academic degree, it confers no secular advantage on its particpants, who are mostly laypeople. The credential is useless outside the FPMT, while the knowledge it represents is limited to dGelugs tradition. I feel it is a mistake to encourage laypeople to make such a sacrifice.

One dGelugs program that I have more respect for is the Namgyal Institute in Ithaca, New York--a three-year program taught by resident monks as well as visiting scholars, and which covers a wider range of Tibetan Buddhist subjects. This is less of a sacrifice to its participants, and the education it confers is more transferable to other traditions. Oh, and it is "nonsectarian" in the Tibetan Buddhist sense promoted by the Dalai Lama.

Tom:

Quote:
Are you serious! What departments are you talking about?


For Buddhist Studies, or religious studies in general, it would be a poor scholar indeed who failed to deeply understand the religion he/she studies. Unless one is fixated on ancient history or philology (and possibly even then), this means appreciating the lived experience of its adherents. I find it hard to believe that academic departments are really as scientistic as more devout types sometimes suppose.

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Last edited by Alfredo on Sat Dec 14, 2013 4:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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