Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

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Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby Nosta » Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:30 pm

What kinds of esoteric, or secret, Buddhism exist?

And why are they secret?

Shouldnt Dharma be free and open to all?

Thanks
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby Astus » Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:36 pm

Esoteric Buddhism simply denotes a type of teachings. As for what qualifies as "free and open" is not necessarily an easy question. If by that you mean whether you can find things about it on the Internet without paying anything extra, then yes, the Dharma is free and open to all.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"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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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:39 pm

Nosta wrote:What kinds of esoteric, or secret, Buddhism exist?
The hidden and internal types?
And why are they secret?
They are not.
Shouldnt Dharma be free and open to all?
It is.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby hop.pala » Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:06 pm

And if it where,we did not know about it,because secret. :rolling:
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby smcj » Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:18 pm

Esoteric:
1. a : designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone <a body of esoteric legal doctrine>
1. b : requiring or exhibiting knowledge that is restricted to a small group <esoteric terminology>; broadly : difficult to understand <esoteric subjects>
2. a : limited to a small circle <engaging in esoteric pursuits>
2. b : private, confidential <an esoteric purpose>
3. : of special, rare, or unusual interest <esoteric building materials>



I heard a teaching on the 7 Line Prayer of Padmasambhava. There were several levels of interpretation. The first was the most literal, whereas there really is/was a place called Odiyana, and that Padma was born out of a lotus. But then there the lama gave three more interpretation, each one getting more sensible. Then the lama told us there were additional interpretations, but that he wasn't going to give us those.

So I guess there is esoteric Buddhism.
Last edited by smcj on Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby Nosta » Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:36 pm

Astus wrote:Esoteric Buddhism simply denotes a type of teachings. As for what qualifies as "free and open" is not necessarily an easy question. If by that you mean whether you can find things about it on the Internet without paying anything extra, then yes, the Dharma is free and open to all.


If I cant find it on internet, etc thats another issue. I was really talking about any form of Buddhism just to a few, like secret societies or secret because its dangerous...and so on.
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby Astus » Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:44 pm

Nosta wrote:If I cant find it on internet, etc thats another issue. I was really talking about any form of Buddhism just to a few, like secret societies or secret because its dangerous...and so on.


Buddhism itself is just to a few, those with the right karma. If there are some secret groups, then first of all, you won't hear about them; and second, they are very small. As for being dangerous, I think that it would not be Buddhism then. Buddhism is about liberating beings, not harming them. True, people may get the wrong idea when they hear about things like selflessness, emptiness, rebirth, nirvana, suffering, etc., but that's a mostly unavoidable risk.

Bhikkhus, there are these three things that flourish when concealed, not when exposed. What three? (I) Women flourish when concealed, not when exposed. (2) The hymns of the brahmins flourish when concealed, not when exposed. (3) And wrong views flourish when concealed, not when exposed. These are the three things that flourish when concealed, not when exposed.
Bhikkhus, there are these three things that shine when exposed, not when concealed. What three? (1) The moon shines when exposed, not when concealed. (2) The sun shines when exposed, not when concealed. (3) The Dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Tathagata shines when exposed, not when concealed. These are Hie three things that shine when exposed, not when concealed.

(AN 3.131)
Last edited by Astus on Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"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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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby smcj » Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:49 pm

Nosta wrote:
Astus wrote:Esoteric Buddhism simply denotes a type of teachings. As for what qualifies as "free and open" is not necessarily an easy question. If by that you mean whether you can find things about it on the Internet without paying anything extra, then yes, the Dharma is free and open to all.


If I cant find it on internet, etc thats another issue. I was really talking about any form of Buddhism just to a few, like secret societies or secret because its dangerous...and so on.

I've heard of self-secret teachings, where you more or less have to know what is being discussed beforehand because code words are used.

Advanced yogic practices are usually considered dangerous if improperly approached.

The Gelug school tries to keep much of their tantra "secret". But other sarma schools by and large have the same practices, so most is mostly quite available.

There are rumors of "Black Bon" practitioners that have a nasty reputation. I don't have any direct knowledge about that though, just rumors. If the rumors are at all true I wouldn't consider that Buddhism anyway.

Is that what you're asking about?
Last edited by smcj on Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby odysseus » Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:50 pm

Nosta wrote:If I cant find it on internet, etc thats another issue. I was really talking about any form of Buddhism just to a few, like secret societies or secret because its dangerous...and so on.


In Vajrayana, there is the requisite of a proper teacher. He/she will tell you the "secrets" as you become ready. It´s not because it´s dangerous, but to keep the teachings pure and genuine. There is no need for secret societies, but some may want to keep company according to their karma and hang together.

You may see more about Vajrayana on the Internet as the tantras get translated. Whether they will be useful or unintelligible methods will be according to people´s understanding.
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby Nosta » Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:14 pm

I think these last 3 posts were very clear and answered my question.

Astus, the excerpt you quoted is very good :namaste:
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby lobster » Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:26 am

Nosta wrote:What kinds of esoteric, or secret, Buddhism exist?

And why are they secret?

Shouldnt Dharma be free and open to all?

Thanks


All practice results beyond the superficial are 'esoteric' in the sense of transcending communication. In other words the practice methodology is open, the eventual results are 'hidden' or one might say 'self evident' but may or may not be openly perceptible. :twothumbsup:
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby odysseus » Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:40 am

lobster wrote:
All practice results beyond the superficial are 'esoteric' in the sense of transcending communication. In other words the practice methodology is open, the eventual results are 'hidden' or one might say 'self evident' but may or may not be openly perceptible. :twothumbsup:


Then the esoteric becomes nothing elitist, finally! Only an enlightened human can recognize another enlightened human. In fact when you are enlightened, you don´t have to "hide" anything and your liberation is self-evident at least to yourself - what else recognition is needed?
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My lord is best.
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:30 am

I don't know any tradition that will tell you you can't study it.
But, let's make a comparison between what you call 'esoteric' schools (the term usually refers to Vajrayana)
and say, medical school.
You can go through all of the various steps and study and necessary prerequisites and then enter medical school
and then you have to study and practice, and take many tests, and finally, maybe, you will graduate pre-med.
And after that, perhaps you will go back and study surgery.
And perhaps some day you will even cut open a person's chest while they are still alive,
and remove their heart while it is still beating, and replace it with another one.
That is a big responsibility.
So, until that time comes, no, you cannot just go get a book from Amazon.com and be a heart surgeon
and nobody who is a surgeon or a surgical instructor is going to teach you.

So, the secret isn't that you can't get in,
but there are steps to understanding, and you have to develop an understanding of the context,
what mandalas are, what visualization practices are, and so forth, otherwise it's just nonsense
or, if you don't work through some basic meditation and other preliminary practices, you might just attach all the symbolism and trappings and rituals to all of the emotional and mental baggage you have right now, and then what you end up with is a kind of oriental-decorated neurosis, based on a mistaken understanding, and then and go off on a weird psycho power ego trip and hurt yourself or someone else.

The other reason some teachings are considered 'secret' is because they cannot be expressed in a way that someone who is not familiar with it will understand, just as a heart surgeon might talk to another surgeon using all sorts of terms that only they understand. Furthermore, the transformation in your outlook and understanding of the nature of things, and knowing the essence of your own mind, is something that a teacher can point out to you, but only you can truly experience.

Aside from that, if you want to study it, it is open to you
but I don't know that it has ever been free.
But, definitely less expensive than medical school.
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby Alfredo » Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:46 am

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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby smcj » Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:06 am

I don't know any tradition that will tell you you can't study it.

In Orthodox circles the study of Kabbalah is traditionally restricted to jewish men over the age of 40. Madonna & co. don't count in Orthodox circles.
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby lobster » Thu Mar 06, 2014 7:13 am

In Orthodox circles the study of Kabbalah is traditionally restricted to jewish men over the age of 40. Madonna & co. don't count in Orthodox circles.


Glad to hear that Kabbalah Is now considered esoteric Buddhism. :twothumbsup:
The Madonna is a very unorthodox Catholic . . . bit like the Bodhi JC . . . :tongue:

You can not restrict an oral tradition, one daughter of a Rabbi used to listen to her fathers teachings and when discovered they had to admit her into their circle . . . :woohoo:
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby theanarchist » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:44 am

Nosta wrote:What kinds of esoteric, or secret, Buddhism exist?

And why are they secret?

Shouldnt Dharma be free and open to all?




There are so called secret teachings in tantric buddhism.

They are secret because teaching them to people who don't have the reqirements to actually practice them will be very much prone to misunderstanding them and harming themselves rather than benefitting. It is also said that those teachings will decline if too many unqualified people get involved.

It is. Once you have the neccessary basis in study and practice your qualified guru will definitely teach you stuff like the tantric inner practices or dzogchen.



You can maybe compare it to quantum physics. Of course quantum physics is free and open to all. But you will not get anything out of a quantum physics lecture if you don't have gone through a thorough mathematics and physics training. Or do you consider it reasonable to try to teach quantum physics to 3rd graders?
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby Nosta » Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:45 pm

theanarchist: harming themselves how? What can be found on such teachings that could harm?
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:13 pm

Nosta wrote:theanarchist: harming themselves how? What can be found on such teachings that could harm?


Well, what I posted above:
"...if you don't work through some basic meditation and other preliminary practices, you might just attach all the symbolism and trappings and rituals to all of the emotional and mental baggage you have right now, and then what you end up with is a kind of oriental-decorated neurosis, based on a mistaken understanding, and then and go off on a weird psycho power ego trip and hurt yourself or someone else."

It has been my experience that (In the west) Vajrayana Buddhism often attracts people who have a lot of strong emotional and mental things they are dealing with (or perhaps not dealing with), as well as those who have been led by popular culture, books and movies and so forth to think that this is a quick path to all sorts of exotic magic, supernatural power, and so on.

There is a lot of rich tradition, visual imagery and complicated symbolism, and it's not that there is anything in the teachings that is especially dangerous. It's not as though you have to swallow balls of fire or anything. The problem is that without really understanding and practicing gradually from a good teacher, people can take what they see at face value, stick it onto whatever neurotic trip they are already on, and imagine all sorts of fantastic things about themselves. You know, there are people who think that they are the reincarnation of Cleopatra, or Hitler, or that they are channeling psychic vibes from jesus-buddha or whatever, imagining themselves to be holy visitors from space and so on. Vajrayana Buddhism has plenty of fuel for the imaginative mind to create all sorts of convoluted realities. These mental states can be damaging to the mind, but a person also might think they can fly or something, and jump of a building.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: Esoteric Buddhism: is it real? Why?

Postby Alfredo » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:26 am

And do you seriously think that the imagery of (say) Yamantaka is more dangerous than that of Vajrapani? The difference is not that the former is more terrifying, it's that he's got a mandala practice (which our Jungian friends assure is a symbol of psychological wholeness). And more basically, that the Gelugpa say he's more advanced. You can develop a power-trip based on peaceful Guanyin, if you put your mind to it. (Think Supreme Master Chinghai.)

This kind of talk reminds me of neo-Pagan rhetoric to the effect that curses rebound on the sender threefold. They say this, in part, because nobody wants to admit that it's all just make-believe.
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