Books and Teachers

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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby Indrajala » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:16 am

smcj wrote:Do you know of any equivalent opportunity for practice anywhere in the world today?


In Theravada countries, as far as I know, there are places to do long-term, indefinite retreat, at least if you're a local.


Actually I think that when a Westerner gains deep realization it will be easier to tell because we know the mud puddle his lotus grew out of.


Maybe, but I doubt many western Tibetan Buddhists in the present day would ever see a non-Tibetan/Himalayan in the same light. It is a bit different in Theravada perhaps (look at how much respect there is for Ajahn Brahm).

In any case, that's a personal decision to venerate someone and entirely optional. It is illustrative though of orientalism.


Much has been said in this thread about the disappearance of the Dharma. We may be witnessing it as we speak. But it's not gone yet, and the outcome is not a foregone conclusion.


There is more Dharma available to more people than ever before in history. The fact that you can get someone like HHDL to travel with his entourage to several continents a year and do teachings for hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, is illustrative of something significant.
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby Indrajala » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:27 am

Karma Dorje wrote:A good lama will continuously throw these projections back on oneself, as well as undermine all of our pompous pretensions of being scholars or having accomplished anything.


Maybe this is a projection: that my Lama is throwing my projections back onto me so as to undermine my pompous pretensions.


The problem with the relative rarity of accomplished Westerner practitioners isn't any ethnic biased discrimination but rather that for the most part we haven't done enough retreat.


I think orientalist sentiments have more to do with it.

In any case, what these biases translate into in real life is a lack of support for western practitioners.

In India and Nepal I've seen it time and again people from Europe, Australia or America working tirelessly to support Tibetan monks or nuns (some even patronizing institutions that flat out reject non-Himalayans, which is a racist policy in effect). When I've asked them if they'd ever consider investing the same time and money into people from their own country, they're usually baffled by the question.

They'll build and support a nunnery that excludes foreign females, meanwhile a lot of western Tibetan nuns have to struggle just to find a place to settle, even when they know sufficient Tibetan.


However, there are most definitely Western lamas that have done extensive retreat, have dedicated students and are highly regarded by Tibetan lamas.


Have you ever seen Tibetan lamas take empowerments under a westerner/non-Tibetan (like maybe Chinese)? How about take one as a formal guru?
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby brendan » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:54 am

smcj wrote:
Astus wrote:
smcj wrote:The culture of Tibet encouraged and logistically supported people to do extended retreats to a degree not seen elsewhere. You don't see groups of 17 year olds committing to a lifetime of retreat these days, and being given the material support needed to do so (up until the society collapsed due to invasion).


Becoming a monk/nun is leaving home, leaving the secular world behind. It is the backbone of the Buddhist tradition, therefore it is very much supported by Buddhists everywhere. There are different types of monasteries, and among them you find those that are even more withdrawn and closed off from the world.

Some examples from China:

Tibetans do not have a monopoly on retreats and cloistered monks. However I stand by my statement that pre-PRC Tibet was a unique environment for Dharma practice both in scope and vitality--specifically for the Vajrayana. That mold has been broken. The likes of it will probably not be seen again.

Can the Vajrayana survive the modern world? Yes. Will it? I don't know. But the conclusion that the tradition of transmission through a succession of living masters has not yet disappeared, contrary to opinions expressed here. That may happen soon, but it hasn't happened yet.


Its seems true Tibet pre-PRC would of been a nice haven for Vajrayana practice. But in saying that Tibetans in general are a very judgement race and one must fit into there mould of reality so to speak or one will be classed as being abnormal or crazy.

This of course is going to be a problem when practicing anywhere especially in western countries were the understanding of what is sane and not sane seems to be formed with foundations of extra steal and unbreakable cement.
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:04 am

But in saying that Tibetans in general are a very judgement race and one must fit into there mould of reality so to speak or one will be classed as being abnormal or crazy.


As someone who has spent years living with Tibetans, and works with a Tibetan Geshe on a daily basis I must say that this is a rather broad generalization. Geshe la is in his 40s and is not judgemental-surprisingly open considering his very specific upbringing.

There are many factors that come into play here. Very conservative Tibetans (particularly from Central Tibet), getting on in years with little exposure to the West may act like that. But even then it depends on the teacher's experience and realization. I have two Tibetan teachers that I know really well, one is 74 and one is 80. The older one every time I see him rails against Western values (sometimes with good reason, such as our emphasis on telling children they can be anything they want when we all know that is not the case), my lack of interest Tibetan monastic structure and debate, and mixing lineages.

The other, trained in the same tradition and only 5 years younger, wants to know how Westerners think, finds my lack of interest in traditional monastic debate amusing, and encourages me to take teachings in different lineages. So people have different personalities, even among the older generation.

The younger Tibetans in exile and the West are still figuring out what the "mould" is. They are at a crossroads and indeed someone who is super traditional and religious might be seen as weird. There is a widespread suspicion of lamas and their institutions, and the Westerners might be seen as crazy for trying to fit into or support those institutions, rather than acting Western.

Indeed, you will find Tibetans just like any other group of people have a wide variety of views and cultural practices, so I don't think we can speak of a "judgemental Tibetan race". Though there are some older, staunch conservatives for sure.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby brendan » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:13 am

JKhedrup wrote:
But in saying that Tibetans in general are a very judgement race and one must fit into there mould of reality so to speak or one will be classed as being abnormal or crazy.


As someone who has spent years living with Tibetans, and works with a Tibetan Geshe on a daily basis I must say that this is a rather broad generalization. Geshe la is in his 40s and is not judgemental-surprisingly open considering his very specific upbringing.

There are many factors that come into play here. Very conservative Tibetans (particularly from Central Tibet), getting on in years with little exposure to the West may act like that. But even then it depends on the teacher's experience and realization. I have two Tibetan teachers that I know really well, one is 74 and one is 80. The older one every time I see him rails against Western values (sometimes with good reason, such as our emphasis on telling children they can be anything they want when we all know that is not the case), my lack of interest Tibetan monastic structure and debate, and mixing lineages.

The other, trained in the same tradition and only 5 years younger, wants to know how Westerners think, finds my lack of interest in traditional monastic debate amusing, and encourages me to take teachings in different lineages. So people have different personalities, even among the older generation.

The younger Tibetans in exile and the West are still figuring out what the "mould" is. They are at a crossroads and indeed someone who is super traditional and religious might be seen as weird. There is a widespread suspicion of lamas and their institutions, and the Westerners might be seen as crazy for trying to fit into or support those institutions, rather than acting Western.

Indeed, you will find Tibetans just like any other group of people have a wide variety of views and cultural practices, so I don't think we can speak of a "judgemental Tibetan race". Though there are some older, staunch conservatives for sure.


I didn't mean this in a negative way (sorry) I have been and are living with native Tibetans at present. Anyway communication is difficult at the best of times so hope I wasn't rude.
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:21 am

Believe me I understand the frustrations that happen as one gets used to living with Tibetans. If you learn the language you will find though that what you assumed a behaviour meant in fact didn't mean that at all. You will also find that there are a wide variety of opinions on what "normal" and "crazy" are. The secular Tibetans think we Westerners are crazy for our blind guru devotion, super-conservative religious Tibetans think we are never respectful enough to our lamas. It is all relative.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby muni » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:28 pm

Books/texts are honestly studied, to prepare
This coarse me-delusion to be more flexible
To be as a simple empty open vessel
And recieve the highest medicine beyond worlds
Worlds as ones own mistaken consciousness

Selfknowing nature need no fabricated knowing
That is what a realized Master is pointing to
But ego keeps itself alive by devotion for intelligence
Not knowing this is the very delusion and suffering
Knowing and let go, letting go and go......

:meditate:
When there is Devotion, there is Compassion.
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby smcj » Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:20 am

It is easy to aggrandize people from foreign, exotic lands, especially when they don't speak English very well, and have a whole following of people to describe all the miracles they've performed.

I don't believe in U.F.O.s. I've never seen one. I think that there are reasonable explanations for the overwhelming majority of sightings. It doesn't make any sense to me why aliens would come all this way and not land. So I don't buy it.

However I am aware that, even if 99.99% of the sightings are bogus, and only .01% are authentic, that still changes everything. So yes, as of now I have an opinion, but I am not going to say I know that 100% of the sightings are bogus.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby muni » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:29 am

Indrajala wrote:
There were thousands of monks at Nalanda. How many do you believe forsook the library and went off to the cremation ground?



The problem is that we all talk from our own state of mind, our own possibilities and so followed opinions. Even as deluded as can be, I see somehow a light in the four reliances. http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Four_reliances, whether for books or Teacher. Therefore it looks like it completely depends on own state of mind whether we see wisdom or merely study temporary objects to push between two ears.

There is in my limitations, even I have read a lot, wow, sigh, no possibility to stop conditions leading to suffering other then by devotion for own nature, in form of the appearance of the Awaken Master, inviting in same Awaken Nature. When I see only a human, then me is the body and the master is another body. Then I get teachings by a mundain being, which is not what the four reliances describe. Those mundain beings can be cheaters and guess what more is percieved by the confused mind. Then those cheaters can be really there, for sure, but this again is an example it all depends on own state of mind what we meet. Anyway I can cheat books and so my mistaken self as much as I like, but not Awaken Nature.

The cremation ground I guess is method, beyond body.

Texts can talk about water and an awaken one just throw you in it. That's my idea of this, so don't buy/grasp it.
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby Matt J » Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:26 pm

In my mind, the dharma is not a one-size fits all type of thing. There are different methods that work well for some but not for others. For some, books are great. For others, teachers are great. For others (like me), both are great. For everyone, they each have limitations. But it all depends on context.

For me, it appears that books and teachers are useful for taking you to a point where you don't need books or teachers.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby KonchokZoepa » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:16 pm

smcj wrote:
Wisdom read and wisdom heard are not really so different.

In my experience, they are completely different. A book can't see through you, know your mind, and know which teaching or practice is right for you--for starters.


actually when you meet with the right books, they represent enlightened wisdom and give the light of that wisdom to your problems and mental states.

i havent had close relationships with any of the lamas ive met. only on retreats and festivals. so no time for giving teachings. just empowerements.

but from books when you find the right book that reflects your state and presents it from enlightened clarity. its like having the best teacher in the world.

so i have to disagree with you on this.

allthough i agree that there are different kinds of blessing that a lama can bless you with. mind to mind transmission or give you blessings or some understanding of his state of mind. open your heart which no book has done for me and stuff like that.

but i would say that scriptures and real living Lamas are equally important and equally full of blessings and Dharma.
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby KonchokZoepa » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:20 pm

Matt J wrote:In my mind, the dharma is not a one-size fits all type of thing. There are different methods that work well for some but not for others. For some, books are great. For others, teachers are great. For others (like me), both are great. For everyone, they each have limitations. But it all depends on context.

For me, it appears that books and teachers are useful for taking you to a point where you don't need books or teachers.



from tibetan buddhist point of you i would say that you are wrong. the Guru or the Lama is seen as the embodiment of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha , so he is the buddha, he is the dharma and the sangha.

and ie. tilopa and naropa. tilopa blessed naropa with by slapping him in his face with a shoe. and he achieved mahamudra realization in other words tilopas enlightenment. and this is the only way. by guru pointing out the enlightened mind. it happens in dzogchen and vajrayana generally this way.

it is the Gurus Blessing
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby smcj » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:35 pm

it is the Gurus Blessing.

"On the sutra level of practice there is no sense that the teacher is one to whom we pray as a source of blessing or that the teacher is one from whom we can receive blessing. Certainly the teacher or spiritual friend is considered worthy of our respect and honor, someone to whom we can make offerings and in whom we have faith, but only the Vajrayana views the teacher as a source of blessing.

From Kalu R.'s chapter on Guru Yoga practice from his "Gem Ornament of Manifold Oral Instructions."
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby disjointed » Fri Oct 04, 2013 3:34 am

Believe it or not, books can be sufficient.

It's probably not a great idea to develop your understanding or practice in isolation because you won't have someone to tell you when you've developed a warped or unbalanced understanding.

For the same reason you should not rely solely on one teacher. It is very dangerous to have a single Buddhist teacher and develop your understanding and practice in isolation.

There are some bogus lamas going around telling people to only have 1 teacher, so it's worth stressing here.
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby smcj » Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:09 am

For the same reason you should not rely solely on one teacher. It is very dangerous to have a single Buddhist teacher and develop your understanding and practice in isolation.

Marpa had many teachers. Mila basically had one. There's no rule on it.
There are some bogus lamas going around telling people to only have 1 teacher, so it's worth stressing here.

Well that's not cool. It sounds manipulative. It is up to the student to decide, not the teacher. Although I have often heard of a teacher sending a student to study subject X with another teacher.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Books and Teachers

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Oct 04, 2013 7:24 am

However the motivation of teachers who loudly insist that their students should study with no one else (especially when they themselves have more than one teacher) should be questioned. It could be that there are control issues of very really concern. If it is really coming from the student's side that they only want one teacher that is another matter.

In terms of the Tibetan lamas I know I cannot think of a single one that restricts themselves to one teacher, though of course many have root gurus, or main sources of inspiration.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
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Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
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