Leo Rivers wrote:
Check out this while you're there: 11.3.3 Doctrinal Systems for Richard H. Robinson - The Buddhist Religion http://www.scribd.com/doc/81473477/51/Doctrinal-Systems
This is interesting. I knew about the tulku tradition stemming from the Kagyus, but didn't know about this part of its origin:
"The tulku tradition originated in the Karma subschool of the Kagyus. One of Marpa's reputed magical skills had been the ability to transfer his spirit to animate the body of a person newly dead. The purpose of this skill, aside from its entertainment value, was to cheat death. If one were approaching death oneself, one could continue life in a younger body of one's choosing. Marpa had been unable to pass along this particular skill to any of his followers, but the tradition of its existence led the second hierarch of the Karma school,Karma Paksi (1204-83)-reputedly skilled at both Mahamudra and Dzogchen practices - to attempt to inject his spirit at death into the corpse of a boy. He failed in his attempt and ended up injecting his spirit into the womb of an expectant mother. After his rebirth, he was able to recount the details of his experience and was ultimately accepted as the next leader of the Karma school."
Begs the question - if the 2nd Karmapa injected his mindstream into the foetus of the expectant mother, won't it mean that the original mindstream of the foetus was ejected out (since in the sutras the Buddha taught that the consciousness of the reborn descends into the womb upon conception of the baby)? Won't that result in death?
One would think so, but at the same time you also have cases multiple incarnations of the same mindstream operating spontaneously in some cases - eg all the Kongtrul tulkus. So if that is possible, what isn't?
Well, that's true. Robinson suggested that the idea of multiple simultaneous split of mindstreams was developed later, and for political expediency:
robinson_tulku.jpg [ 85.58 KiB | Viewed 970 times ]
I am still a little ambivalent about this idea. In the classical Indian texts, Buddhas can project nirmanakayas onto many realms as nirmanakaya Buddhas, but there can only be 1 Supreme Buddha at any one time in any realm, so you don't get a case of multiple birth incarnations of the same Buddha walking around in the same time period. The great Bodhisattvas can project multiple emanations but as far as I know, these are not birth emanations, but more like apparitions (similar to those created by the manomayakaya abhijna). Perhaps there are Indian texts that mention the type of birth emanations we see in Tibet, but I have not come across these before.
Is it the case that only in Tibet we find such examples, and that these phenomena only developed later? What happens when 2 birth emanations of the same mindstream disagree with each other? Is that a display of skillful means? All sorts of questions like these spring up, and it can be difficult to find justification for it sometimes, and is especially tricky if one need to maintain guru devotion.