"The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

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"The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby J-Bird » Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:41 pm

Would like to hear thoughts on Khyentse Rinpoche's assertion in the short video clip below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T83qPWcE ... re=related
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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby Kyosan » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:45 pm

Khyentse Rinpoche is not being very precise with his choice of words.The tulku system is unique to Tibetan Buddhism, so you can't say that it will ruin Buddhism, as if the only Buddhism that exist in the world is Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhists are a small percentage of the Buddhists in the world.

I do have a problem with the tulku system though. Is it a good idea to take persons at a very young age and decide for them what their life will be? I don't think so. Some of the Dalai Lamas of the past were not so saintly. It's not surprising because these people did not choose to be Lamas and some of them were probably not very spiritually inclined. I think the system that they use in other forms of Buddhism is better were the priests choose to be priests and are promoted when they advance spiritually.

Where did the tulku system come from; who made it up? According to Khyentse Rinpoche, there is no mention of it in the Buddhist sutras.
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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby Lars » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:53 pm

Scholar monk Ahjan Sujato points out in his video lecture "the great Santi spin" that in the Vinaya which is common to every school the word "abbot" or "leader" does not appear once. There is nothing in the Vinaya that gives any monk or nun authority to tell any other monk nun or layperson what to do. every relationship is purely consensual.
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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby Zenda » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:27 pm

And now, I personally think that to hold that culture, institutionalized Tulku. That culture is dying; it’s not going to work anymore. And even if it… And if it doesn’t work, I think it’s almost for the better because this tulku, it’s going to… If the Tibetans are not careful, this Tulku system is going to ruin Buddhism. At the end of the day Buddhism is more important [than] Tulku system, who cares about Tulku... [and] what happens to them.


I think it's a provocative statement, especially coming from a recognized tulku.
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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby Pero » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:32 pm

Kyosan wrote:Where did the tulku system come from; who made it up? According to Khyentse Rinpoche, there is no mention of it in the Buddhist sutras.

It's a Tibetan invention which started with the Karmapa as far as I know. Then others followed suit, though probably not out of the same, originally altruistic, intentions hehe.
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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby Sönam » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:36 am

Pero wrote:
Kyosan wrote:Where did the tulku system come from; who made it up? According to Khyentse Rinpoche, there is no mention of it in the Buddhist sutras.

It's a Tibetan invention which started with the Karmapa as far as I know. Then others followed suit, though probably not out of the same, originally altruistic, intentions hehe.


I would ponder on the use of the term "invention" ...

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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby J-Bird » Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:36 am

I think as Khyentse Rinpoche was inferring, the Tulku systems arose as a Tibetan cultural mechanism for succession planning.
It is a system unique to Tibetan Buddhism, however the merits of such a system should not be thrown out with the bath water in the discussion.
The Tibetan tradition has produced many accomplished meditators, scholars & monastics through the Tulku system. However, I think Khyentse Rinpoche's main point is regarding the importance of maintaining flexibility in the tradition, as a means to keep the system relevant in the modern world. If the Tulku system ends up deterring interest in the tradition, then maybe its utility in the modern world should be questioned?

Dunno ?
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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby Huifeng » Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:09 am

Lars wrote:Scholar monk Ahjan Sujato points out in his video lecture "the great Santi spin" that in the Vinaya which is common to every school the word "abbot" or "leader" does not appear once. There is nothing in the Vinaya that gives any monk or nun authority to tell any other monk nun or layperson what to do. every relationship is purely consensual.


Though in many recensions of the Vinaya, we do find that the Upadhyaya is to be considered as one's "father", and the Acarya as one's "mother".
Considering that the word "abbot", from "abba", meaning "father", we can fairly confidently say that one's Upadhyaya is one's abbot.
Though of course, entering into a relationship with an Upadhyaya, as with any abbot, is consensual.
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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:46 am

"You must see the difference between Dharma and tradition. When problems occur, understand that they do not come from the enlightened ones, but from the administrators. Even the Chinese communists who do not believe at all in religion nevertheless use it from time to time for their own political ends. This is because the administration system is so well established and is so powerful." (The Shamarpa, No Need for Too Much Tradition)
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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby Sönam » Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:37 am

Astus wrote:"You must see the difference between Dharma and tradition. When problems occur, understand that they do not come from the enlightened ones, but from the administrators. Even the Chinese communists who do not believe at all in religion nevertheless use it from time to time for their own political ends. This is because the administration system is so well established and is so powerful." (The Shamarpa, No Need for Too Much Tradition)


Maybe it's because Shamarpa has himself difficult relations with "the administration".
Certainly the tulku system has been useful for what ever authority in the past ... but it is not a reason to declare it a completely fake system.
Then, regarding Karmapa it comes, by itself, to an end ... so there should be a reason why it is so.

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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby kirtu » Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:15 pm

J-Bird wrote:Would like to hear thoughts on Khyentse Rinpoche's assertion in the short video clip below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T83qPWcE ... re=related


The tulku system needs adaptation to the modern world but this is basically a minor thing. The reality is that some tulkus could ruin Tibetan Buddhism though and this needs to be thought through (I have no one in mind BTW). The Panchen Lama's remarks before his death is advice to be followed.

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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby Pero » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:32 pm

J-Bird wrote:I think as Khyentse Rinpoche was inferring, the Tulku systems arose as a Tibetan cultural mechanism for succession planning.
It is a system unique to Tibetan Buddhism, however the merits of such a system should not be thrown out with the bath water in the discussion.
The Tibetan tradition has produced many accomplished meditators, scholars & monastics through the Tulku system.

Ah so, you think they weren't really tulkus. So tulkus are just people who get better and/or stricter education. That's not to say there aren't any real tulkus among them, however they probably came to be so in spite of the tulku system and not because of it.
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: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby catmoon » Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:46 am

If the tulku system were valid, and from a valid lineage of practice, then surely the disciples of Buddha would have begun the search for the next incarnation of Buddha shortly after his death. Instead, we read that there are to be no successors and no leaders in the Sangha, and that authority is to reside solely in the teachings.

When I look at our current forms of institutionalized Buddhism, with it's bhikkus, abbots, masters, lamas and priests, with it's stupas, monasteries, gilded temples, posh retreat centres and giant statuary, I cannot help but think we have gone completely off the rails.
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Re: "The Tulku System Could Ruin Buddhism..."

Postby Sönam » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:13 am

catmoon wrote:If the tulku system were valid, and from a valid lineage of practice, then surely the disciples of Buddha would have begun the search for the next incarnation of Buddha shortly after his death. Instead, we read that there are to be no successors and no leaders in the Sangha, and that authority is to reside solely in the teachings.

When I look at our current forms of institutionalized Buddhism, with it's bhikkus, abbots, masters, lamas and priests, with it's stupas, monasteries, gilded temples, posh retreat centres and giant statuary, I cannot help but think we have gone completely off the rails.


Bouddha Sakyamuni went into a paranirvana and decides not to rebirth. He is still present as a sambhogakaya and of course as the darmakhaya. So there has never been question of a tulku for him.

Anyone may think what he wishes and choose the vehicle adapted to his understanding ... then one may ask who is the thinker and what is the think to be thought.

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By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
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