How often to do you see your Teacher?

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How often do you see your Teacher?

Several times per week
2
5%
Once a week
3
8%
A couple of times per month
3
8%
Once a month
2
5%
A couple of times per year
12
30%
Once a year
9
23%
Once every couple of years
4
10%
Once every several years
0
No votes
My Teacher has died
5
13%
 
Total votes : 40

Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby pemachophel » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:25 pm

Pero,

I didn't say it's necessary. It is beneficial. Since you haven't had the opportunity to taste this particular "chocolate," there's no way to really convince you. What you say about Guru Yoga is, theoretically, true. However, being live in the Guru's presence makes it all so much easier. At least that's my experience.

In terms of your second point, I was actually referencing something that Tulku Sang-ngak Rinpoche said last January during a drubchen at Rigdzin Ling/Chagdud Gompa. He Himself was saying how He would often feel confident about a practice until He was on the cushion alone in retreat and then some detail He had never thought about before suddenly needed clarification. This struck a chord with me since I have had this experience several times during retreats. However, I had in mind fairly complex Mahayoga practices with lots of details. If the practice is simple, then sure, maybe no questions on how to do it.

Good luck and best wishes. :namaste:
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby kirtu » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:47 pm

The past three years have been very difficult ans I only see my teachers now a few times a year each on average. I used to see them more frequently, esp. my local teachers. Three of my main teachers have passed into Parinirvana. I hope that these outward circumstances will change for the better so that I will be able to spend more time with my teachers.

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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Tsering927 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:47 pm

Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche always said that “the best place to meet the Lama is in the mind.”

I think Rinpoche is referring to meeting the Lama in the visualization. The most important transmissions are mind to mind. Authentic Lamas can see our visualizations and they can work with our mind there. If we want to have tea and biscuits and talk business, then we should go see the Rinpoche in his private residence, but if we really want to tap into the essence of his mind, then we should focus on mikpa—the generation and completion phases of the practice. These visualizations are clearly explained and translated in most texts practiced in the west. There are so many people (western and Himalayan) who simply hook-up with a high Lama as a translator, director or some other title simply to push their own asses ahead of others and closer to the throne. They have hours, days and even months of “f2f” time with the Rinpoches, and yet, very rarely—if ever--do authentic qualities develop. If we really care about the life of the Lama and the practice, sit in the last seat and focus on the mental offerings. Offer continuously to the Lama in the mind. Focus on the mikpa. Mix one's mind with the Lama. Just go for it.

Occasionally, I think the interview is good, but it is not a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly necessity if we consistently mix our mind with the Rinpoche’s mind in our practice. Authentic qualities will ripen more quickly in a ten minutes of genuine meditation, than hours of "Dharma center business" talk over thukpa and tea.
It is said that you can tell whether someone has just eaten by how red his face is. Similarly, you can tell whether people know and practice the Dharma by whether it works as a remedy for their negative emotions and ego-clinging. --Jetsun Mila

The hungry are not satisfied by hearing about food; what they need is to eat. In the same way, just to know about Dharma is useless; it has to be practiced. --Jetsun Mila
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:45 am

Tsering927 wrote:The most important transmissions are mind to mind.


This is absolutely true. But some people misunderstand that. Some believe that they are in some kind of telepathic contact with their lama and after a while they start hearing voices. Believe it or not but such things happen. There are all sorts of misunderstandings possible, and even if it's not as extreme as hearing voices there are always hundreds of ways of deceiving yourself like thinking you're a very advanced practitioner and and and...

IMO the most important reason to meet the Lama face to face is that it gives him the opportunity to kick your ass when he sees you're going astray.
"Forget about being clever, and simply remain." Guru Rinpoche, Treasures from Juniper Ridge
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Jul 26, 2012 2:19 am

I see Geshe la pretty much every day as we work together. I was very fortunate after studying Tibetan to be assigned to a geshe who I could develop faith in and not only work well with but also see as a "virtuous friend". When the time comes, I would feel comfortable taking empowerments from Geshe-la.

Before I started this work, I would see my teachers maybe 2-3 times a year, though sometimes for long stretches of a month or two. With teachers like HHDL and HH Karmapa, once a year usually, when I'm living in the west. And then "see" usually means attend a teaching, not so much interaction (though 2 years ago with HH Karmapa that was still sort of possible for me. I imagine it has changed by now, as he develops more and more students).
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
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But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Pero » Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:39 pm

pemachophel wrote:I didn't say it's necessary. It is beneficial. Since you haven't had the opportunity to taste this particular "chocolate," there's no way to really convince you. What you say about Guru Yoga is, theoretically, true. However, being live in the Guru's presence makes it all so much easier. At least that's my experience.

Actually though I don't have the fortune to spend time with my teacher I did meet him in person and just from that I do know what you're talking about. What I was wondering in my previous post is why do you think it is easier for us in person? So much easier that it is practically necessary to be in his presence for it, even though in theory it shouldn't be. I mean, I doubt it's like there's a kind of limit, "if you are 7.343 meters or more away you from your teacher you will not experience anything" or is there haha? (didn't express myself well in previous post, I hope this is more clear)

In terms of your second point, I was actually referencing something that Tulku Sang-ngak Rinpoche said last January during a drubchen at Rigdzin Ling/Chagdud Gompa. He Himself was saying how He would often feel confident about a practice until He was on the cushion alone in retreat and then some detail He had never thought about before suddenly needed clarification. This struck a chord with me since I have had this experience several times during retreats. However, I had in mind fairly complex Mahayoga practices with lots of details. If the practice is simple, then sure, maybe no questions on how to do it.

Ahhh, that makes a lot more sense to me. I wasn't doing anything complicated at all. :smile:
Did he give any advice what to do if that happens and you don't have a teacher nearby when you're in retreat?
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: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby conebeckham » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:07 pm

Frankly speaking...

the importance of spending time with one's teacher cannot be under-estimated. I'm talking about real, interactive, two-way communication. Is it easy? Nope. Is it fun? Sometimes.

There are potential pitfalls, of course, with constant contact. But there's no substitute for two way communication, in informal as well as formal, situations.

Perhaps not "necessary," but without doubt, hugely beneficial on balance.
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:12 pm

Pero wrote:What I was wondering in my previous post is why do you think it is easier for us in person? So much easier that it is practically necessary to be in his presence for it, even though in theory it shouldn't be.


I know this was addressed to Chophel, but I'd like to give my 2 cents on this:

I think it has to do with the difference in circumstances between being alone in one's shrine room or otherwise away from one's teacher and being in one's teacher's presence. In general, when we're around other people, it tends to be a lot more dynamic experience than being alone. Everything from the mere presence of others, to what they're doing, how they're doing it, what vibes they're giving off, what they'r wearing, etc. plus how we're interpreting all this stuff sparks mental experiences--perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. All those things can be catalysts to recognize the natural state if we have some presence when they occur, but maybe if it's our friends we're around, we're distracted and not even thinking about our practice. Maybe we've gotten carried away.

When the other person is our guru who we have a strong connection with and who we're confident has concrete realization of his own nature, maybe we're feeling inspired, in awe, and present... If we have a real connection with our guru, that's likely to be the case, right? And for some reason, we often feel those things much more strongly in person than if we're seeing our guru remotely or simply thinking about him. So the experiences are generally much more dynamic in person and open us up while we're present and may practically carry us into instant presence... or at least spark the creative aspect of our nature that spontaneously brings about some new understanding about something. Does that make sense?
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:41 am

My take is for Sarma style, lama contact is pretty much indispensable. Especially with Kagyu. The "practice blessing lineage" has so many pithy quirky methods that require the right timing, and screwing around with your head a bit and breaking down structures. It's a little different with Dzogchen. There's more independence there, especially with ChNN's style. F2F contact won't add much, IMHO, although I'm sure it's amazing. Methods like Thogal are pretty straight forward and not mysterious.
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Yudron » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:16 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I see Geshe la pretty much every day as we work together. I was very fortunate after studying Tibetan to be assigned to a geshe who I could develop faith in and not only work well with but also see as a "virtuous friend". When the time comes, I would feel comfortable taking empowerments from Geshe-la.

Before I started this work, I would see my teachers maybe 2-3 times a year, though sometimes for long stretches of a month or two. With teachers like HHDL and HH Karmapa, once a year usually, when I'm living in the west. And then "see" usually means attend a teaching, not so much interaction (though 2 years ago with HH Karmapa that was still sort of possible for me. I imagine it has changed by now, as he develops more and more students).


I have been off line for a few years, and it is interesting to see that you came back to the Tibetan tradition from the sojourn in the Theravadin tradition.
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Yudron » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:18 pm

deepbluehum wrote:My take is for Sarma style, lama contact is pretty much indispensable. Especially with Kagyu. The "practice blessing lineage" has so many pithy quirky methods that require the right timing, and screwing around with your head a bit and breaking down structures. It's a little different with Dzogchen. There's more independence there, especially with ChNN's style. F2F contact won't add much, IMHO, although I'm sure it's amazing. Methods like Thogal are pretty straight forward and not mysterious.


My Nyingma lamas screw around with my head plenty.
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:26 pm

.[/quote]

I have been off line for a few years, and it is interesting to see that you came back to the Tibetan tradition from the sojourn in the Theravadin tradition.[/quote]

Yes, it really took seeing the Buddhist world to be able to make a decision about where I wanted to root myself. That being said, I would recommend spending time in a Theravada country as something valuable for anyone who is interested in monastic life.
I learned a lot of things about the Vinaya and about anapanasati that I still use in my practice. The time I spent in Thailand made me feel more grounded as a monk, and I think helps me serve Geshe better in that I now feel comfortable in monastic life. Before due to not knowing Tibetan and the lack of monastic flavour at Vajrayana centres in the West, I didn't real know what I should do or how I should train as a monk.
But now with my Thailand experience, the Tibetan language, and the position of attendant/translator, I definitely feel as if I am of some use. And for me, that is important because I always wanted to be a monk who provided service to people and engaged with them, rather than a retreatant on high mountain peaks.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Yudron » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:56 pm

Yudron wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:My take is for Sarma style, lama contact is pretty much indispensable. Especially with Kagyu. The "practice blessing lineage" has so many pithy quirky methods that require the right timing, and screwing around with your head a bit and breaking down structures. It's a little different with Dzogchen. There's more independence there, especially with ChNN's style. F2F contact won't add much, IMHO, although I'm sure it's amazing. Methods like Thogal are pretty straight forward and not mysterious.


My Nyingma lamas screw around with my head plenty.


Someone gently pointed out to me this previous post by me can easily be taken negatively. When I say that my non-sarma lamas screw with my head, I was referring to the previous post which contrasted the method of training in Mahamudra with the method of training in Dzogchen. What I was ineptly attempting to communicate was that, in order to progress it is a good thing to have a lama actively engaged in changing one’s habit patterns. What one perceives as one’s wisdom lama “screwing with one’s head” is often a teacher creating a situation in which all one’s assumptions about how things go are completely laid bare, and one is forced to re-examine one’s way of thinking.

It’s a positive thing.
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:11 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
I have been off line for a few years, and it is interesting to see that you came back to the Tibetan tradition from the sojourn in the Theravadin tradition.

Yes, it really took seeing the Buddhist world to be able to make a decision about where I wanted to root myself. That being said, I would recommend spending time in a Theravada country as something valuable for anyone who is interested in monastic life.
I learned a lot of things about the Vinaya and about anapanasati that I still use in my practice. The time I spent in Thailand made me feel more grounded as a monk, and I think helps me serve Geshe better in that I now feel comfortable in monastic life. Before due to not knowing Tibetan and the lack of monastic flavour at Vajrayana centres in the West, I didn't real know what I should do or how I should train as a monk.
But now with my Thailand experience, the Tibetan language, and the position of attendant/translator, I definitely feel as if I am of some use. And for me, that is important because I always wanted to be a monk who provided service to people and engaged with them, rather than a retreatant on high mountain peaks.

Great. Good to see.
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"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Yudron » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:34 pm

JKhedrup wrote:.


I have been off line for a few years, and it is interesting to see that you came back to the Tibetan tradition from the sojourn in the Theravadin tradition.[/quote]

Yes, it really took seeing the Buddhist world to be able to make a decision about where I wanted to root myself. That being said, I would recommend spending time in a Theravada country as something valuable for anyone who is interested in monastic life.
I learned a lot of things about the Vinaya and about anapanasati that I still use in my practice. The time I spent in Thailand made me feel more grounded as a monk, and I think helps me serve Geshe better in that I now feel comfortable in monastic life. Before due to not knowing Tibetan and the lack of monastic flavour at Vajrayana centres in the West, I didn't real know what I should do or how I should train as a monk.
But now with my Thailand experience, the Tibetan language, and the position of attendant/translator, I definitely feel as if I am of some use. And for me, that is important because I always wanted to be a monk who provided service to people and engaged with them, rather than a retreatant on high mountain peaks.[/quote]

And for those of us who are not monastics I think it is good to familiarize ourselves with the Theravadin tradition, to understand a bit more what Mahayana and Vajrayana bring to the table.

Hey, congrats for learning to speak Tibetan! No small feat.
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Pero » Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:36 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
Pero wrote:What I was wondering in my previous post is why do you think it is easier for us in person? So much easier that it is practically necessary to be in his presence for it, even though in theory it shouldn't be.


I know this was addressed to Chophel, but I'd like to give my 2 cents on this:

I think it has to do with the difference in circumstances between being alone in one's shrine room or otherwise away from one's teacher and being in one's teacher's presence. In general, when we're around other people, it tends to be a lot more dynamic experience than being alone. Everything from the mere presence of others, to what they're doing, how they're doing it, what vibes they're giving off, what they'r wearing, etc. plus how we're interpreting all this stuff sparks mental experiences--perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. All those things can be catalysts to recognize the natural state if we have some presence when they occur, but maybe if it's our friends we're around, we're distracted and not even thinking about our practice. Maybe we've gotten carried away.

When the other person is our guru who we have a strong connection with and who we're confident has concrete realization of his own nature, maybe we're feeling inspired, in awe, and present... If we have a real connection with our guru, that's likely to be the case, right? And for some reason, we often feel those things much more strongly in person than if we're seeing our guru remotely or simply thinking about him. So the experiences are generally much more dynamic in person and open us up while we're present and may practically carry us into instant presence... or at least spark the creative aspect of our nature that spontaneously brings about some new understanding about something. Does that make sense?

Yeah.
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.
- Shabkar
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Sally Gross » Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:55 am

I'm a relatively new student of Choegyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. Apart from webcasts, there is little prospect that I will ever actually be able to see him face to face unless he visits Cape Town: possible, but not overwhelmingly likely. Health and financial constraints currently rule out travel abroad in order to see him. There is a very real day-to-day connection through Guruyoga, though, and contact through the webcasts; and who knows what the future might hold?
Dukkham eva hi, na koci dukkhito,
kaarako na, kiriyaa va vijjati,
atthi nibbuti, na nibbuto pumaa,
maggam atthi, gamako na vijjati


Suffering there certainly is, but no sufferer,
no doer, though certainly the deed is found.
peace is achieved, but no-one's appeased,
the way is walked, but no walker's to be found.

- Visuddhimagga XVI, 90
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby heart » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:07 pm

Sally Gross wrote:I'm a relatively new student of Choegyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. Apart from webcasts, there is little prospect that I will ever actually be able to see him face to face unless he visits Cape Town: possible, but not overwhelmingly likely. Health and financial constraints currently rule out travel abroad in order to see him. There is a very real day-to-day connection through Guruyoga, though, and contact through the webcasts; and who knows what the future might hold?


You should invite him, he might come. I think that would be great for you.

/magnus
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby Tsering927 » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:20 pm

I know Pema Chophel wasn’t merely referring to the translators and Dharma center directors. He is right about the rank and file not having the same opportunities to spend personal time with the Lamas as previous generations. But, the translators, western teachers and Dharma center directors arise from the rank and file and they do spend the most f2f time with the Rinpoches. Too often I see the Sangha chasing the example of the person sitting next to the Rinpoche and not the example of the Rinpoche, him or herself. Too often the person next to the Rinpoche is over-inflated with his or her position. In such situations, it is easy to lose one’s practice. The aspirations of the sangha devolve into a simple-minded competition between one another for favoritism.

Authentic Dharma practice is making a swift turn to the west, but with the rising popularity we owe it to ourselves to be honest with ourselves about our motivation for engaging in the practice. If we don’t continuously cultivate this honesty in our practice – if we, as westerns think that the best we can do is simply to hook-up with a high Lama for extended f2f time – if we don’t believe in our practice and our ability to cultivate authentic qualities – then we should just go back to our ordinary lives. Carrying samsaric goals onto the chariot of Dharma will only weigh us down into the lower realms. So, it is best to meet the Lama in the mind. All the siddhis are attained heart to heart – mind to mind.

I do think, if possible, small group settings are very beneficial. These days, with the popularity of Buddhism growing, I think it will be harder to schedule personal time with the Rinpoches. That is why I stress the motivation and mikpa. Personal time, one-to-one, isn’t possible for most of us. Especially if one’s Root Lama has many students.
It is said that you can tell whether someone has just eaten by how red his face is. Similarly, you can tell whether people know and practice the Dharma by whether it works as a remedy for their negative emotions and ego-clinging. --Jetsun Mila

The hungry are not satisfied by hearing about food; what they need is to eat. In the same way, just to know about Dharma is useless; it has to be practiced. --Jetsun Mila
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Re: How often to do you see your Teacher?

Postby pemachophel » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:55 pm

So now my questions are:

1. Has the teaching methodology we have evolved in the West where foreign-born Rinpoches spend a weekend in a particular city only once per year (or less) and the "rank and file" hardly ever get to spend personal f2f time with their Teachers taken a wrong turn? IOW, is it really working for the majority of students?

(Sorry if this is a provocative question, but I'm not convinced.)

2. If your answer is yes, we have, willy nilly, evolved a inapt teaching methodology, what, if anything, can be done about it?

If people want to discuss how this teaching methodology came about historically as a way of beginning to suggest alternatives, that's fine with me.

:namaste:
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
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