Milarepa empowerment

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Milarepa empowerment

Postby lisehull » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:24 am

Anyone ever attended a Milarepa empowerment? I am planning to do so in August. Milarepa is one of my dharma heroes and I am looking forward to the experience.
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby lisehull » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:07 am

Well, I have a follow-on question about Milarepa. My husband asked me how we know Milarepa was enlightened. I didn't really know the answer. Can anyone help me on this one?
Thank you, :namaste:
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby Josef » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:23 pm

lisehull wrote:Well, I have a follow-on question about Milarepa. My husband asked me how we know Milarepa was enlightened. I didn't really know the answer. Can anyone help me on this one?
Thank you, :namaste:
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby conebeckham » Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:14 pm

How do we know anyone is or was enlightened?

How do we know Buddha Sakyamuni was enlightened?
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby Josef » Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:38 pm

conebeckham wrote:How do we know anyone is or was enlightened?

How do we know Buddha Sakyamuni was enlightened?

We dont.
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby lisehull » Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:40 pm

conebeckham wrote:How do we know anyone is or was enlightened?

How do we know Buddha Sakyamuni was enlightened?


This is a question I asked myself as well. Ultimately, we really don't know. . .
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby conebeckham » Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:42 pm

Right.


And some people say "faith" has nothing to do with Buddhism!!


:shrug: :smile:
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby Josef » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:20 pm

conebeckham wrote:Right.


And some people say "faith" has nothing to do with Buddhism!!


:shrug: :smile:

Some people say silly things.
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby lisehull » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:44 pm

And this is very cryptic. I think what I am getting from cone's comment is that this, like so many things, is about believing what cannot be proven?
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby kirtu » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:01 pm

lisehull wrote:And this is very cryptic. I think what I am getting from cone's comment is that this, like so many things, is about believing what cannot be proven?
Lise


Hi Lise -

Religious practice of any sort is effective for those people who are drawn towards it or have a resonance with it. If the story of Shakyamnui makes sense to you or you are drawn towards it them over time it may have blessing for you and the whole Buddhist path opens up for you. If within that you are drawn to Milarepa and his story of realization and make a connection with a lama who gives the Milarepa Empowerment then you may find yourself blessed by that as well. I specifically make a connection to HH Garchen Rinpoche because I'm not often around his teaching and he happened to be giving a Milarepa empowerment and he is a very great lama. So I'm very happy that I went to the empowerment last year.

The main question is do the blessings of the practice and our lamas and teachers change our lives: do we become more compassionate, peaceful, spiritually active, helpful, etc. Do the great positive qualities of the Buddhas and our teachers begin to develop in us and are our negativities diminishing? Dharma practice can be very subtle.

Buddhism is still very much a path of faith but people don't need all that much faith to begin. When I was a boy in Hawaii my family went to a temple and like all people we rang a bell. That began awakening faith in the Dharma for me. If we have just a little faith that this mantra will have positive benefits then actually the blessings will grow from that. The blessings themselves and the growth of the positive qualities are one of the proofs that the practice is working.

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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby Chaz » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:27 am

lisehull wrote:And this is very cryptic. I think what I am getting from cone's comment is that this, like so many things, is about believing what cannot be proven?
Lise


You should never believe what you can't prove to yourself. You should also be clear about what constitutes sufficient proof and if that is a reasonable expectation.

Back to the subject of Milarepa empowerment.....

While I'd like to encourage you in this matter, I find that I must ask you to be circumspect about taking the empowerment. Taking an empowerment often includes a vow, or samaya, to do the practice faithfully. This is somewhat different from Lung as described in your Tara thread. If you take the empowerment and neglect the practice, then you are breaking the vow. Bad karma.

I'd respectfully suggest you inquire further into the nature of the empowerment and attendant responsibilities. Then consider whether or not you can live up to that. If you can and will, then by all means take the empowerment. If not, it's not the end of the world. As time goes on and your practice matures, other opportunities for empowerment will arise.
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby Luke » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:38 am

lisehull wrote:My husband asked me how we know Milarepa was enlightened.

I suppose believing that Milarepa was fully enlightened requires faith, but believing that he was a great yogi who was at the very least a bodhisattva of some high level or another does not, because if you believe the texts written by him and about him, his greatness is very plain to see. (Of course, like all Tibetan Buddhists, I believe he was fully enlightened.)

You can sense how deep Milarepa's wisdom was by reading his songs of realization. You can also observe that Milarepa's "100,000 Songs" is one of the few books--sometimes the only book--that many of the great modern Tibetan masters bring with them when they do long-term retreats. Like attracts like. Great Tibetan lamas are fascinated with and have deep devotion to Milarepa. They would not feel this way if he had not been so extraordinary.

Of course, "extraordinary" doesn't always equal "enlightened," but it certainly points in the right direction.

I received a Guru Rinpoche empowerment which felt very powerful and extraordinary. I would imagine that a Milarepa empowerment would be similar.

I hope you benefit a great deal from the empowerment and offer the blessings to all beings!
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby lisehull » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:01 am

Chaz wrote:Back to the subject of Milarepa empowerment.....

While I'd like to encourage you in this matter, I find that I must ask you to be circumspect about taking the empowerment. Taking an empowerment often includes a vow, or samaya, to do the practice faithfully. This is somewhat different from Lung as described in your Tara thread. If you take the empowerment and neglect the practice, then you are breaking the vow. Bad karma.

I'd respectfully suggest you inquire further into the nature of the empowerment and attendant responsibilities. Then consider whether or not you can live up to that. If you can and will, then by all means take the empowerment. If not, it's not the end of the world. As time goes on and your practice matures, other opportunities for empowerment will arise.


Hi Chaz, been there, done that, as they say. I have already discussed this with my lama, who encouraged me to go. I need to let you know, I suppose, that I am not as much of a newbie (nor as naive?) as you might be assuming . . .
Lise :namaste:
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby Chaz » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:03 am

Lise,

I stand corrected :oops: !!!!

Thanks for clearing that up.
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby conebeckham » Wed Aug 04, 2010 6:24 pm

Lise, I didn't mean to be cryptic.

But the very question "How we know Milarepa was enlightened?" led me to the bigger question.

If one reads Milarepa's life story, and his songs, one can get a very good idea of his state of mind, and his state of realization, I think. However, some people may feel that his life story is just too fabulous to believe--at one point, for example, he shelters inside a conch shell! :smile:

So, given those accounts, some would feel devotion and faith.....some, on the other hand, would discount everything they'd heard about the White Cotton Clad One.

Traditionally, all Tibetan Buddhist lineages see Milarepa as the greatest Yogi from the land of Tibet. He is the exemplar, if you will. I'm going to make a bold statement, that Milarepa is the third most important figure in the Tibetan Buddhist World, behind only Buddha Sakyamuni and Guru Padmasambhava. In my opinion, he also had the best sense of humor af all of them! :lol: I think he "attained" that position due to some sort of special qualities, don't you? :thumbsup: Especially given his not-so-savory past....??? Perhaps these are things you can discuss with your husband.

Now, from a personal point of view, if one knows some of the Dharma, and reads and studies some of Milarepa's songs, one can be convinced, I think, that he was a great and skillful teacher, as well as a great yogi. Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, in particular, used several of Mila's songs as pith instructions, from which he taught a wide variety of topics central to the Karma Kagyu understanding of Madhyamika, Yogacara, Tantric practice of the two stages, and Mahamudra.

The most common Milarepa practice sadhana, and the corresponding empowerment, come from Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye's collected writings. This is a profound Practice of the Guru. Entering into this practice with devotion and yearning can be very effective. I do think some teachers bestow this as a "blessing," without any practice commitments, but it's best to ask beforehand, as Caz points out.

May we all benefit from the words of the Cotton Clad One who Attained Enlightenment in this very life!
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby lisehull » Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:55 pm

Hi cone, thanks for your message and thoughts on Milarepa. I will be attending the empowerment this coming weekend and am looking forward to the experience. I was told that the lama doing the empowerment says it is comparable to any guru yoga and can/should (?) be done daily.

I have to wonder, how many empowerments are the average number for a person on the Vajrayana path? It seems that one could easily fill one's day with practices after attending all the empowerments that seem to be available these days. This will be my second one. . . And with that and the Green Tara practice I am learning, do they supplant one's calm abiding and insight meditations? How does one organize one's days around all of these meditations?

Lise :juggling:
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby Chaz » Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:56 pm

lisehull wrote:I have to wonder, how many empowerments are the average number for a person on the Vajrayana path?


That's a good question, but one that would be difficult to answer.

I've had several Lungs - Green tara, Kongchok Chidu & Medicine Buddha (all Kriya Yoga/Generation stage practices) - none of which I do with any regularity. I feel kinda bad about that and made a resolution to not take any more unless I was absolutely certain I could continue the practice.

It seems that one could easily fill one's day with practices after attending all the empowerments that seem to be available these days.


If you were to do the practices every day, yes. However you don't have to do them on a daily basis (unless you want to). For instance, Medicine Buddha is typically practiced on the 8th day of the lunar month. Kongchock Chidu on the 10th. You can also alternate practices. The Vajra Vidya retreat center alternates Chenrezig and Whte Tara practice during the week. They do medicine Buddha practice on Saturday, and so on. You could also do some practices in the morning and others in the evening. Traditionally, Green Tara is done in the morning and so on.

This will be my second one. . . And with that and the Green Tara practice I am learning, do they supplant one's calm abiding and insight meditations?


Oh no. The kind of practices we're talking about should not supplant or replace regular Shamatha/Vipassyana practice. I don't think there is anything more important than that.

How does one organize one's days around all of these meditations?


With difficulty. That's why I generally caution people about taking empowerments. If you don't have, or won't make time to do the practice you shouldn't take the empowerment. If you can, then may all beings benefit!
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby kirtu » Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:53 pm

lisehull wrote:Hi cone, thanks for your message and thoughts on Milarepa. I will be attending the empowerment this coming weekend and am looking forward to the experience. I was told that the lama doing the empowerment says it is comparable to any guru yoga and can/should (?) be done daily.

Milarepa is a guru yoga practice.

I have to wonder, how many empowerments are the average number for a person on the Vajrayana path?


Most lamas will tell you to take as many empowerments as possible. However they usually mean within a particular lineage. Also some lineages differ on this - for example Karma Kagyu apparently takes a more restricted view. In Sakya and Nyingma generally people take all the empowerments they can get. Why? Taking empowerment is itself a practice in these lineages (explicitly so in Sakya). Empowerments accumulate merit and purify the mindstream. They also accumulate some wisdom as usually one does briefly meditate during the empowerment. And one gets blessings from the empowerment three ways - from the guru, from the lineage and from the actual practice (even if you don't do the practice but during the empowerment you do get blessings from the practice itself).

It seems that one could easily fill one's day with practices after attending all the empowerments that seem to be available these days.


You could but you aren't a "full-time" practitioner (actually we are all supposed to be full-time practitioners doing about our daily life - this is the point of tantra in fact) or a lineage holder so you roll all of your practice into a few practices that you do daily. The term is usually roll all of your practice into one practice but in actual fact people often have really promised to do several different practices that your lama may tell you to do separately (for example my Palyul Khenpo has asked us to do Padmasambhava mantra and Tara mantra daily - this is in addition to my actual main practice from another lineage).

Actually some lineage holders only do four or so practices daily (their bare minimum) but this can take a good chunk of the day. And they are almost always doing other practices throughout the day. The biography of Dezhung Rinpoche (Saint in Seatlle) and Jamgon Kongtrul (A Gem of Many Colors) sheds much light on this.

During the empowerment you will promise to always rely on the deity. This doesn't mean that specific deity taken singularly - it means if you have several empowerments like different forms of Avalokiteshvara, Tara, Manjushrit, Vajrapani, Vajrakilaya, etc. to rely on anyone you want and role all your commitments like this into your main deity practice. We love all the deities and they love and bless us but we don't usually have the time to go through the 42 different forms of Tara in the Atisha and Suryagupta lineages (21 each and there is apparently a Longchenpa 21 Taras as well) or all the different forms of Avalokiteshvara or the different Manjushri forms, etc.

This will be my second one. . . And with that and the Green Tara practice I am learning, do they supplant one's calm abiding and insight meditations?


Deity yoga sadhana is also shamatha (calm abiding) and vipashyana (insight). Mantra recitation should at least be shamatha.

How does one organize one's days around all of these meditations?


Not like me - I'm often falling asleep before I do my practice. BAD, BAD, BAD! Just do one main practice and try to find time in the morning or early evening for it. Most of the practices can really be done in a few minutes. Approach it like a shower - to be done daily and not like you are on a long closed retreat - so only sit normally for 10-15 maybe 30 minutes - 1 hour total depending on you.

As always ask your lama.

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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby conebeckham » Mon Aug 09, 2010 8:38 pm

Kirtu's answer hits all the important points.

Every person is different. Every empowerment is different, too...commitments specific to empowerments differ.

Although deity yoga, when done correctly, includes samatha and vipassana, it's also good to maintain those practices as they are taught outside the context of deity yoga, if you have those instructions and enjoy that sort of "formless" or "unelaborate" practice.

In general, as Kirtu says, it's best to have one main practice, at least for a given period. Other practices can be done on special days, or occasions. Many of us have more practice instructions and empowerments than we could actually do in a 24 hour period. I identify as a Kagyupa, and we allegedly are more strict than most in terms of "collecting" empowerments....but still, just sticking to one lineage, there's more than can be done in a day.
Since 1996, I have been instructed on various practices, and take them up for varying durations. The last two major practices I've been doing have each taken me more than 5 years to "complete"-which is a misleading word, as I've not completed them since I have no enlightenment result, you know? Nothing to show...heh.

If one is seriously committed to a Vajrayana lineage, I would bet that one would maintain a yidam practice daily, and in addition possibly a Protector Offering practice (torma offering, or "Sol Kha," or something relatively short)-and perhaps a Guru Yoga practice as well....which may be included in a daily ngondro recitation or not.

When Milarepa LaDrup is done in retreat, there are accumulation requirements regarding recitation numbers, etc......certain prayers and mantras are counted.

But this would apply only if one's teacher gave such instructions.

In general, if one practices ngondro, all deities and gurus are condensed...refuge is taken in all yidams, gurus, etc......purification via Vajrasattva is like purification from all Enlightened Ones, as Vajrasattva represents all Enlightened Families...Mandala Offerings are made to all...and Guru Yoga includes all, as well, ultimately condensed into the MahaGuru of whatever tradition one practices....

Hope that helps.
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Re: Milarepa empowerment

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:08 pm

My lamas, who happen to be Nyingmapas, all concur with Kirtu and Cone's lamas on these matters and have said that taking as many empowerments as one has the opportunity to (with the bodhicitta motivation, not a collection mentality) is an excellent practice because it generates merit, wisdom, and purifies obscurations.

Generally speaking, commitments for all practices are subsumed through practicing ngondro daily, as both one's guru and Vajrasattva (plus the entire merit field in refuge, bodhicitta, and mandala offerings) are each the complete embodiment of all the Three Jewels and Three Roots - nothing is or could be left out. If you think about it, the whole ngondro is essentially one big guru yoga practice. One could also say the same for any HYT deity yoga practice - the deity is inseparable from one's guru; nothing is missing. Aside from this, if one's lama has instructed one to specifically commit to doing another practice or practices in addition, perhaps as a specific skillful means, then one should do as instructed, but usually those commitments are not extensive - maybe like 7x, 21x, or a mala of the mantra, which is simple enough.

But if there is any doubt at all, one should just talk to one's lama and ask for clarification, or ask the vajra master who's going to give an empowerment one is considering taking and verify that the above will fulfill the commitments satisfactorily.
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