Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

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Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby waimengwan » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:48 pm

Actually when did the reliance of oracles start within Tibetan tradition? Is it a Gelug thing?

What deities goes into the oracles at Gaden and Sera? Thanks :)
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby Steveyboy » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:39 am

waimengwan wrote:Actually when did the reliance of oracles start within Tibetan tradition? Is it a Gelug thing?

What deities goes into the oracles at Gaden and Sera? Thanks :)


Relying on an oracle is not an exclusive Gelug thing and in fact, it is not of central importance at all. However, the tradition of relying on an oracle probably developed since the time of Guru Rinpoche. However, I know very little of the deities that enter the oracles of Gaden and Sera monasteries. They are probably the Dharma Protector of the individual monasteries that would enter in the monastic oracles and if they are enlightened, the Oracles would consulted by the monasteries for advice on recognizing Tulku incarnations and making major monastic decisions.
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:12 pm

The most important thing to know is that a completely enlightened being, a Buddha, can never manifest through an oracle. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has stated this at several teachings and it is also something I have confirmed with my teachers. The reason is that if enlightened beings started to manifest through oracles, it would create confusion about doctrine and the speech of the oracles would come to be seen as infallible.
Many problems and conflicts in Tibet can be traced back to this issue so it is very important to have a proper understanding of this, lest we be misled and put our ultimate faith in beings that are not suitable objects of refuge according to Buddhism.
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: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby zerwe » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:10 pm

It might be posted in another thread, but I have seen a documentary on this specifically.
I'll see if I can locate it. I am sure that it is on youtube.

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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby conebeckham » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:55 pm

The most famous "Oracle" in Tibetan tradition is surely Nechung. The rituals and methods of the Nechung Oracle are pre-Geluk, for sure....going back to Nyingma sources, and I recall hearing of some Bon influence, as well....

As for any other "Oracle Traditions," I don't know, but I agree with JKhedrup's comments--Oracles are "mundane," and not objects of refuge, no matter who they may be.
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby zerwe » Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:31 pm

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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby Steveyboy » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:23 am

JKhedrup wrote:The most important thing to know is that a completely enlightened being, a Buddha, can never manifest through an oracle. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has stated this at several teachings and it is also something I have confirmed with my teachers. The reason is that if enlightened beings started to manifest through oracles, it would create confusion about doctrine and the speech of the oracles would come to be seen as infallible.
Many problems and conflicts in Tibet can be traced back to this issue so it is very important to have a proper understanding of this, lest we be misled and put our ultimate faith in beings that are not suitable objects of refuge according to Buddhism.


I am sorry but I don't agree with what you said. When you say that, you put a limit on the powers and abilities on an enlightened being and you are saying they can make mistakes and create confusion. On contrary, enlightened beings have removed all causes towards making mistakes and they create clarity and wisdom with whatever they do instead. As a Vajrayana practitioner, we invite the Buddhas to enter a statue, thangka or image, why not an oracle. We invite the Buddhas everyday to inhabit our visualization, thangkas, statues etc when we recite the mantra Dza Hum Bam Ho in our sadhanas.

Gaden Shartse's Dharma Protector is Setrap and he is an emanation of Amitabha Buddha so he is enlightened. The Sangha of Gaden Shartse consults Setrap via an oracle for major decisions and also in recognizing Tulkus. In fact, the recognition papers of Tsem Rinpoche was signed and sealed as the authentic proclamation of Lord Setrap. Therefore, it is not just unenlightened Beings that enter oracles. On the other hand, I do not understand why did you say an enlightened Being manifesting through an oracle can cause confusion to the doctrine. Many of the problems that beset Tibet was not caused by enlightened beings manifesting through oracles, it is manifested through unenlightened being manifesting like Nechung. Hence, I wonder why the Dalai Lama still allow and consult Nechung. Nechung is not enlightened and many of his past proclamation has caused confusion and problems while there are other deities that are enlightened and recognized by High Lamas to be enlightened but are not consulted.
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:51 am

Steveyboy, please read my post carefully and don't misquote me- I never said enlightened beings can make mistakes create confusion- this would be ridiculous. I am saying the deities channeled by the oracles, though perhaps highly evolved, cannot be seen as enlightened beings and therefore their predictions are not perfect.

You should watch the video linked to above.

I did not know that Sertrap had an oracle, to be honest I was surprised to learn this.

Of course nothing here I say can to convince you, as you have faith in your teacher (which is commendable). But for me the final word lies with the opinions of teachers like HH Dalai Lama and HH Karmapa. It may be for some unseen reason helpful for members of your centre to view Sertrap in that way. But for others who may be interested in this topic I think it is worthwhile to respond to your qualm.

You may not agree but a view that the speech of oracles is enlightened speech and therefore stainless and perfect is extremely dangerous.
That is exactly the problem, when an oracle relied on starts to be seen to channel an enlightened deity. Then the speech of an oracle becomes infallible. Are you going to try to convince me that every prediction issued by the Sertrap oracle at Shartse has been perfect, because it is the speech of a Buddha. That every tulku confirmed by this oracle has been perfect?
If oracles could carry forth the doctrine by proclaiming the enlightened speech of Buddhas, why is this not mentioned in the Sutras, Tantras, Shastras or Sungbum of Je Rinpoche?
Are you telling me that if HHDL relied on an "enlightened oracle" like Sertrap the predictions would have been perfect and there would have been no problems? C'mon.
HHDL's view on this is supported by that of great masters such as the late Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, HH Karmapa, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Rizong Rinpoche- the present Ganden Tripa, HH Sakya Trizin, HE Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche and many others.

If we continue along this line then Buddhism will become like the religion of the Brahma Kumaris- a religion that seeks the advice of channeled deities that become canonical teachings. A very dangerous road indeed.

What I said is completely in line with the views expressed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on a number occasions.
The fact that oracles make mistakes is the exact reason HHDL does not proclaim oracle deities as enlightened. Nechung is not seen as an enlightened being therefore absolute faith is not put in his predictions. This is reasonable and sane. The same is true of the Tenma goddess that Khandro la channels- they are regarded as highly evolved beings but not enlightened Buddhas. They are in Paldhen Lhamo's retinue but not Paldhen Lhamo herself.
The status of Sertrap as an enlightened being is questioned by the vast majority of lamas to whom I have spoken at both colleges of Sera, and at Drepung Gomang, where I have teachers.
The status of Sertrap is a source of contention in the wider Buddhist community, and not even all Shartse lamas are on the same page about it. There was a huge debate about his status on e-sangha. I am not as well versed on these matters as Malcolm, who had read many Tibetan texts about this issue and was able to post them.
These types of protector deities, called gyalpos were once universally proclaimed to be seen as mundane beings. But as their importance in the community grew they came to be seen as enlightened beings taking mundane form.
At Sera Mey there is a protector with a gyalpo like form called Thaog. He is greatly respected and there is a liturgy for him but he is not regarded as an enlightened being. The same is true of a protector with similar form at Sera Jey known as Chamseng. There are a few very strong Sera Mey loyalists who say that maybe Thaog is a mundane aspect of a Buddha or Bodhisattva- but their view is regarded as extreme by the vast majority of the monks there.
The problems that resulted from these gyalpos being elevated in status can be seen today. If Lama Tzongkhapa never mentioned relying on this class of beings as suitable objects of refuge, why should we?
Last edited by JKhedrup on Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:20 pm

Nechung is not enlightened and many of his past proclamation has caused confusion and problems while there are other deities that are enlightened and recognized by High Lamas to be enlightened but are not consulted.


Deities that manifest through oracles? Example? And recognized by which High Lamas?

In the video posted above, from minutes 36- forward, you can hear what His Holiness' views are. Even if you do not agree you should familiarize yourself with what they are. In this way you can see what I'm saying is hardly controversial.

I just checked with Geshe Sonam now to confirm what I have relayed here is accurate. He said every lama he has heard teach on this topic has stated that fully enlightened Buddhas cannot manifest through oracles, and says that there is no precedent that they can in any of the canonical scriptures.

So it seems that the view of His Holiness, the lamas I mentioned, and myself stands on quite firm philosophical ground.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby Caz » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:06 pm

Steveyboy wrote:
JKhedrup wrote:The most important thing to know is that a completely enlightened being, a Buddha, can never manifest through an oracle. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has stated this at several teachings and it is also something I have confirmed with my teachers. The reason is that if enlightened beings started to manifest through oracles, it would create confusion about doctrine and the speech of the oracles would come to be seen as infallible.
Many problems and conflicts in Tibet can be traced back to this issue so it is very important to have a proper understanding of this, lest we be misled and put our ultimate faith in beings that are not suitable objects of refuge according to Buddhism.


I am sorry but I don't agree with what you said. When you say that, you put a limit on the powers and abilities on an enlightened being and you are saying they can make mistakes and create confusion. On contrary, enlightened beings have removed all causes towards making mistakes and they create clarity and wisdom with whatever they do instead. As a Vajrayana practitioner, we invite the Buddhas to enter a statue, thangka or image, why not an oracle. We invite the Buddhas everyday to inhabit our visualization, thangkas, statues etc when we recite the mantra Dza Hum Bam Ho in our sadhanas.

Gaden Shartse's Dharma Protector is Setrap and he is an emanation of Amitabha Buddha so he is enlightened. The Sangha of Gaden Shartse consults Setrap via an oracle for major decisions and also in recognizing Tulkus. In fact, the recognition papers of Tsem Rinpoche was signed and sealed as the authentic proclamation of Lord Setrap. Therefore, it is not just unenlightened Beings that enter oracles. On the other hand, I do not understand why did you say an enlightened Being manifesting through an oracle can cause confusion to the doctrine. Many of the problems that beset Tibet was not caused by enlightened beings manifesting through oracles, it is manifested through unenlightened being manifesting like Nechung. Hence, I wonder why the Dalai Lama still allow and consult Nechung. Nechung is not enlightened and many of his past proclamation has caused confusion and problems while there are other deities that are enlightened and recognized by High Lamas to be enlightened but are not consulted.



JKhedrup wrote:
Nechung is not enlightened and many of his past proclamation has caused confusion and problems while there are other deities that are enlightened and recognized by High Lamas to be enlightened but are not consulted.


Deities that manifest through oracles? Example? And recognized by which High Lamas?

In the video posted above, from minutes 36- forward, you can hear what His Holiness' views are. Even if you do not agree you should familiarize yourself with what they are. In this way you can see what I'm saying is hardly controversial.


His Holiness view is not the be all and end all, If you remember your History correctly Venerable the 13th Dalai lama died due to the Nechung Oracles bad advise with medicines. In fact had HH followed Nechungs advise he would not be with us today.
Actual Enlightened beings like Setrap give faultless advise that is always helpful just because they can manifest through an oracle does not indicate their status of being, in Setraps case and a few others it indicates they are enlightened beings appearing in a worldly form the previous Trijang Rinpoche was explicitly clear that in the future people would become confused by this or develop harmful and wrong views with regards to the actual nature of certain beings. :jawdrop:
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:09 pm

Your condescending tone about me not remembering my history would be warranted if your own view of Tibetan history were tempered by a variety of sources instead of a few political sites on the internet.

Caz, you only wish that it was only His Holiness the Dalai Lama who stated this so that you can continue your campaign to malign him on the internet. You completely ignored the list of other lamas I provided with a similar view, and the fact that I checked this today with a Geshe Lharampa.

If you think that I am at risk of developing the same "wrong views" as HH Karmapa, HH DAlai Lama, HH Sakya Trizin, Trulshik Rinpoche and Lama Zopa Rinpoche I am not too worried.

Where is the scriptural precedent that Fully Enlightened Buddhas manifest through oracles??
What Sutra, Tantra or Indian Shastra?

Where did you get your information about the 13th Dalai Lama? Certainly doesn't seem to be from any widely available book or academic research.

Wikipedia:
The 13th Dalai Lama predicted before dying:
"Very soon in this land (with a harmonious blend of religion and politics) deceptive acts may occur from without and within. At that time, if we do not dare to protect our territory, our spiritual personalities including the Victorious Father and Son (Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama) may be exterminated without trace, the property and authority of our Lakangs (residences of reincarnated lamas) and monks may be taken away. Moreover, our political system, developed by the Three Great Dharma Kings (Tri Songtsen Gampo, Tri Songdetsen and Tri Ralpachen) will vanish without anything remaining. The property of all people, high and low, will be seized and the people forced to become slaves. All living beings will have to endure endless days of suffering and will be stricken with fear. Such a time will come."
Furthermore, the 13th Dalai Lama went on to predict the invasion of Tibet and announced that he would die early, in order that his successor would be old enough to act as a leader for the Tibetan people at the time of this invasion. He died a few months later in Lhasa, in December 1933.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:18 pm

In fact had HH followed Nechungs advise he would not be with us today.


Ridiculous. I have spoken to many from that generation who say this is not the case- I lived in Sera and Dharamsala for many years and speak the language.


Your view of the truth is simply second hand slander from a website run by people who have been trying to destroy the reputation of HIs Holiness the Dalai Lama for last 10 years.

I actually think you do Tsem Tulku and his students a disservice by trying to use propaganda from these sources to defend one of his views. I don't think TR would be very happy about it at all.
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: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby Tara » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:03 pm

Caz wrote:His Holiness view is not the be all and end all,


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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby Yudron » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:35 pm

Waving the banner of any entity--whatever it is-- with a political agenda can only be a worldly activity. Even if Shakyamuni's name itself was bantered about in such a fashion--like a team mascot--he would became a worldly deity in the minds of those upholding him.

This is the ultimate waste of a precious human birth; pretending to be practicing Dharma when one is really just reinforcing a karmic habit of dualism. One's monastery, or group, or teacher becomes a source of pride, the most insidious of the five afflictive emotions.
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby zerwe » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:51 pm

To briefly summarize some of HHDL's and others points from the film regarding this manner.

The oracles are mundane spirits nothing more and are not worthy objects of refuge. For people to solely rely on the oracles in

making decisions is wrong. We as human beings must take responsibility for our own actions.

When making decisions HHDL reflects a very rational approach; we seek the advice of our teachers and peers, we

analyze the situation for ourselves, and then perhaps consult the oracle in addition to the aforementioned in the decision making process.

HHDL even makes a statement that, if I am correct, elevates our status as human beings to being above that of the oracle.

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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby ngodrup » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:44 pm

Just to slice the definitions a big smaller:

Although many of the oracles that are consulted are worldly protectors--
even those classed as mundane-- some of them are high Bodhisattvas,
maybe 8th level. We cannot say categorically in every case, this or that.
There always seems to be some exception.
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:25 pm

Paldhen Lhamo is classed by some as an 8th bhumi bodhisattva, though a few lamas say a Buddha. It is interesting that She does not manifest through oracles- only the lesser beings associated with her mandala, like the Tenmas do. I have heard some state that Nechung is on the bhumis, but not which one.

Still, there is no textual support in the accepted canon for fully enlightened Buddhas manifesting through oracles. I am surprised people cannot see the reasons for this- the problems such a phenomena would present are abundantly clear.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby ngodrup » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:48 pm

Oh I see the doctrinal problem, quite clearly.
And, I see the political dangers, as well.
Lots of room for delusion.

Tibetan history is quite thick sectarian warfare.
This is how the Rime movement was born.

That said, I'm always just a wee bit suspicious when
lamas make absolute categorical statements that this
or that never happens. Because, the categories themselves
are dualistic-mind phenomena and the truth simply doesn't
always fall neatly into them. Even the best of scholars can be
mistaken.
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby waimengwan » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:07 pm

I know that once Buddhas becomes a Buddha they do not just disappear just like that because their compassion was so great for all sentient beings which was the cause of them attaining a Buddha's form and attainments. So what do they do? Are they in the Western Paradise sipping pina colada? I would think due to their highly developed compassion they will manifest in whatever forms that will benefit beings, and one of the best forms they manifest in is as a human spiritual guide or teacher.

So if an enlightened being can project its consciousness into the red and white cells, then it is highly plausible and enlightened being can exist in a human oracle?

Even Nechung is become more enlightened by the day due to his service to HH the Dalai Lama.

To think none of the beings are supramundane that enters the oracles and all of Tibetan Buddhism in all sects rely on them is a bit disturbing. Why would buddhists or monks or high lamas some of them mahasattvas rely on mundane beings? It is like relying on something unreliable and it probably breaks the refuge commitments then the entire Gelug tradition for example is put into question.
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:14 pm

His Holiness explains this in the video posted above.
They are not fully enlightened Buddhas, but some of them are beings with extra powers of insight or lower levels of realization.
They don't "rely" on these beings or oracles! The "consult" them as only PART of the decision making process.
If we could just ask a Buddha, through an oracle, every time a decision had to be made- all the decisions would be perfect. This would prevent suffering.
Such a way of making decisions would become a Buddhist practice.
The Buddhas would have wanted us to do this if it would work- so it would be mentioned in their teachings of the sutras or tantras.
If enlightened beings came through oracles, the great Nalanda Pandits would've mentioned it in their works, don't you think?
They are stated not to be suitable objects of refuge in many of the texts.
As I said, don't count on what I say. Look to the words of HH Dalai Lama, HH Karmapa, HH Sakya Trizin, HH Ganden Tripa Rizong Rinpoche and others.
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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