Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby conebeckham » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:22 pm

Everyone, High Lamas included, "relies" on mundane things to a degree. We rely on the sun to illuminate our environment, for example, or for artificial light, in the sun's absence. But "reliance," in an absolute way, on mundane things is doomed to eventual failure. Reliance on Buddha, in the absolute sense, is the only true absolute refuge.

Ask yourself this: Where in the source texts of Indo-Tibetan tradition are oracles mentioned as object of refuge? In the same way, you can ask this of geomancy, "mo," and other mundane factors. My feeling is that much of this comes from pre-Buddhist Tibetan tradition, and not necessarily Bon as it's commonly understood. Shamanistic trance is common to many cultures throughout the world, and has been around long before Buddhism. It's still found in many places, as well. Why would a supermundane, enlightened being choose to manifest in this way?
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:32 pm

waimengwan wrote:it probably breaks the refuge commitments then the entire Gelug tradition for example is put into question.
It can, but generally worldly deities are treated like powerful friends. "Remember how you promised to help us? Please do this for me. Here is an offering as a sign of my gratitude"

For example, Tsem Rinpoche gives this prayer to the worldly deity, Kalarupa: http://v7.tsemtulku.com/resources/prayers/prayers-protectors/praise-to-the-dharma-king-kalarupa/

It ends with: "Accept the offerings, ARGHAM and the rest,
And incessantly carry out the promise
You swore before the glorious Yamantaka!"
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:38 pm

Exactly- we don't regard them as sources of ultimate refuge.
It is about the knowledge of who we turn to in order to guide us towards full enlightenment, liberation and spiritual attainments. For this- non other than Buddha, dharma and Sangha.
For protection from the elements, worldly matters, or when moving to a new house for example we might make offerings to the mundane guardian deities of the site. You find this in both Chinese Mahayana Buddhism as well as Theravada Buddhism in Thailand (the "nat" houses).
But they are not ultimate sources of refuge.
The refuge vows are damaged when one relies on the mundane as an ultimate source of infallible refuge.
HHDL and other monks do not prostrate to Nechung, for example. In fact, they are able to protect their refuge in this way, by knowing where the line is drawn:
From Freedom in Exile:

Even some Tibetans, mostly those who consider themselves 'progressive', have misgivings about my continued use of this ancient method of intelligence gathering. But I do so for the simple reason that as I look back over the many occasions when I have asked questions of the oracle, on each one of them time has proved that his answer was correct. This is not to say that I rely solely on the oracle's advice. I do not. I seek his opinion in the same way as I seek the opinion of my Cabinet and just as 1 seek the opinion of my own conscience. I consider the gods to be my 'upper house'. The Kashag constitutes my lower house. Like any other leader, I consult both before making a decision on affairs of state.


We should note that since this was written a great deal has changed and His Holiness no longer has any official political capacity in the exile government, so the structure has been changed to a modern democratic one. I am not sure what the new role of the oracles is in this paradigm.
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 conebeckham » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:36 pm

Ask yourself this: if these were enlightened beings, don't you think they'd find a more....dignified method to communicate? Seriously, all the shaking, frothing at the mouth, flailing movements, etc......do those strike you as attributes of a supermundane "possession?"
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby ngodrup » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:23 pm

So what do you call Umapa's serving as a medium of Manjushri for Je Tsongkhapa?

It couldn't be Manjushri, since Buddhas don't speak through mediums.
Or maybe, some schools teach that Manjushri is a Bodhisattva and not a Buddha?
In that case, the teachings that Manjushri gave would be open to dispute.

So, the matter really is a can of worms.

Best to leave the matter open ended to my way of thinking, or else
we're renouncing too many things-- baby along with the bathwater.
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby plwk » Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:40 am

Btw, on the topic, I recall reading a passage in the Pabongka Rinpoche's Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand text (can't seem to find the page citation for the life of me) that practitioners are exhorted to NOT indulge in the habit of asking for divinations, oracles and related stuff as the study and practice based on the Buddha Dharma, chiefly the Lamrin is a far better and more superior method of development and cultivation, something to that effect...
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:05 am

So what do you call Umapa's serving as a medium of Manjushri for Je Tsongkhapa?



I am not convinced with Lama Umapa it was a trance or channeling in the fashion of an oracle.
I think it is more like Umapa spoke to Manjushri, as two people sitting across from a table would speak to eachother, and then relayed
what he had heard to Lama Tsongkhapa. Certainly none of the accounts I have read indicate that he "channeled" Lama Tzongkhapa.
Certainly there seems no solid reason that LTK consulted Manjushri through oracular trance.

See here:
http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect ... =bio&id=37
At the age of thirty-three he met with the remarkable Lama Umapa (dBu ma pa), who came to Tsang (gTsang) with the intention of studying with Tsongkhapa. Umapa had had a vision of Manjushri, the embodiment of enlightened wisdom, which had changed his life from that of a simple cowherd. As a result of this vision he took up practices related to Manjushri and eventually experienced Manjushri's constant presence.

Lama Umapa became Tsongkhapa's direct line of communication with Manjushri. They spent periods of retreat together during which Umapa conveyed to Tsongkhapa Manjushri's advice and responses to questions concerning the correct understanding of reality. Eventually Tsongkhapa himself experienced visions of Manjushri, who bestowed empowerments on him and gave him teachings.


And here- it says quite clearly that Lama Umapa received visions of Manjushri and asked questions. This is quite different from an oracle:
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... khapa.html
Tsongkhapa also went to study the practice of Manjushri Dharmachakra (‘Jam-dbyangs chos-kyi ‘khor-lo) and Madhyamaka with the Karma Kagyu Lama Umapa (Bla-ma dbu-ma-pa dPa’-bo rdo-rje). This great master had studied Madhyamaka with the Sakya tradition and, since childhood, had daily visions of Manjushri, who taught him one verse each day. Tsongkhapa and he became mutual teacher and disciple. Lama Umapa checked with Tsongkhapa to get confirmation that the teachings he received in his visions of Manjushri were correct. This is very important, since visions can be influenced by demons.

Together with Lama Umapa, Tsongkhapa did an extensive retreat on Manjushri. From this time onward, Tsongkhapa received direct instruction from Manjushri in pure visions and was able to receive from him answers to all his questions. Before this, he had to ask his questions to Manjushri through Lama Umapa.


See the words of Geshe Sonam Rinchen from LTWA here:
http://books.google.nl/books?id=ctVXX43 ... pa&f=false
It indicates that Lama Umapa experienced the constant presence of Manjushri. Very different from oracles who experience the presence of a particular deity only during the "trance" state. In one biography I looked at it speaks of an initial vision of Manjushri where Umapa fainted- but that only occured once, and after that he seemed to actually meet Manjushri and speak to him. It never mentions Manjushri taking possession of Lama Umapa's physical body or "entering" him.
Denma Locho Rinpoche:http://mp.iltk.org/en/L2_S1_4_4.html
When Lama Tsongkhapa would ask him questions, Lama Umapa would ask Manjushri and then relay the response back to Lama Tsongkhapa. After some time Manjushri told Lama Umapa to send Lama Tsongkhapa into retreat, but Lama Umapa said that if he did so others would criticize him. Manjushri told him not to worry, but to send Lama Tsongkhapa into retreat.
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 heart » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:50 am

ngodrup wrote:So what do you call Umapa's serving as a medium of Manjushri for Je Tsongkhapa?

It couldn't be Manjushri, since Buddhas don't speak through mediums.
Or maybe, some schools teach that Manjushri is a Bodhisattva and not a Buddha?
In that case, the teachings that Manjushri gave would be open to dispute.

So, the matter really is a can of worms.

Best to leave the matter open ended to my way of thinking, or else
we're renouncing too many things-- baby along with the bathwater.


Oracles are possessed, they have no idea what is happening while they are in trance. This is certainly not the same as communicating and receiving blessings from your Yidam. There is no can of worms.

/magnus
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:25 am

I checked with Geshe Sonam at breakfast about the Lama Umapa stories in Je Rinpoche's biography and he told me Umapa was not functioning as a Kuten (medium) and nothing he has ever read has characterized his relationship with Manjushri as being like that.
I realize this is the opinion of one Geshe (albeit a learned one), but this also seems to be the view of Geshe Sonam Rinchen, Alex Berzin and many other qualified sources.
If there is a passage that indicates Umapa was a medium I would definitely be interested in seeing it- would make for some more good breakfast conversation!
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 Mariusz » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:57 am

JKhedrup wrote:I checked with Geshe Sonam at breakfast about the Lama Umapa stories in Je Rinpoche's biography and he told me Umapa was not functioning as a Kuten (medium) and nothing he has ever read has characterized his relationship with Manjushri as being like that.
I realize this is the opinion of one Geshe (albeit a learned one), but this also seems to be the view of Geshe Sonam Rinchen, Alex Berzin and many other qualified sources.
If there is a passage that indicates Umapa was a medium I would definitely be interested in seeing it- would make for some more good breakfast conversation!
Thank you. It clears up many controversial topics which were in e-sangha and here. So, is it similar to Asanga who finally had the same kind of relationship with Maitreya and consulted with Him the new Yogacara ideas?
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby conebeckham » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:53 pm

I was going to use the Asanga story as an example. Come to think of it, any of the Mahasiddhas who discovered Tantras-Luipa, etc.- would be much the same.
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby Mariusz » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:23 pm

conebeckham wrote:I was going to use the Asanga story as an example. Come to think of it, any of the Mahasiddhas who discovered Tantras-Luipa, etc.- would be much the same.
it is particularly discused when Umapa with Yamantaka: viewtopic.php?f=102&t=5770&hilit=yamantaka&start=90
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby ngodrup » Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:57 pm

JKhedrup: Thank you for exploring this with Geshe Sonam.

My comment is not intended to undermine pure vision or termas.
Rather, it comes from experience of growing up in a family that practiced Spiritualism.
Spirit medimumship takes many forms, not just trance channeling or possession.
There are seances, trumpet circles, and even materialization-- where the spirit
is seen by all. All of these and even crystal balls and ouija boards can be seen
as oracular in nature.

Tibetans have technical terms surrounding some of these phenomena, but I think
we face some translation issues. Seems "medium" in TIbetan only refers to trance
possession. But when one person sees and hears a being and another doesn't, and the
one with the "deficient" hearing and seeing asks the one who does see and hear
to speak to that 'entity' for them, we call it a medium in English.

Of course, pure vision is a completely different phenomenon. Or...
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby heart » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:48 pm

ngodrup wrote:JKhedrup: Thank you for exploring this with Geshe Sonam.

My comment is not intended to undermine pure vision or termas.
Rather, it comes from experience of growing up in a family that practiced Spiritualism.
Spirit medimumship takes many forms, not just trance channeling or possession.
There are seances, trumpet circles, and even materialization-- where the spirit
is seen by all. All of these and even crystal balls and ouija boards can be seen
as oracular in nature.

Tibetans have technical terms surrounding some of these phenomena, but I think
we face some translation issues. Seems "medium" in TIbetan only refers to trance
possession. But when one person sees and hears a being and another doesn't, and the
one with the "deficient" hearing and seeing asks the one who does see and hear
to speak to that 'entity' for them, we call it a medium in English.

Of course, pure vision is a completely different phenomenon. Or...


Tibetan oracles are possessed, I think that is pretty well studied. They don't necessary need to be practitioners even. Masters that communicate with deities and other beings are not considered mediums because it is well known in Vajrayana that a Bodhisattva on the Bhumis are capable of seeing the Samboghakaya that is the source of all forms of deities.

Pure vision or perception is actually just resting in the natural state, pretending will never be pure.

/magnus
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby waimengwan » Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:58 pm

If the oracles and the deities that possess them is unreliable and only consulted for certain situations.

Where do you draw the line of when you believe the oracles predictions and when you dont? Monks and High Lamas of the Gelugpa order are not fools why would they carry on using such oracles then, and that includes the His Holiness Dalai Lama. I mean why would you even ask someone dodgy? I wouldn't if the advice is known to be unreliable. Then better for me to rely on my own perception and logic.

Where in the scriptures that tells you, when it is A believe when it is B don't believe.

So IMHO I would think the the Monks and Lamas do believe in the predictions and advice of the oracles and they do rely on the oracles.
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Re: Tradition of Oracles in Gelug

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Oct 19, 2012 7:14 pm

They ask advice as in some cases these unseen beings are perceptive to certain situations.
Because they beings are not considered perfect they make the advice part of the decision process-
all of this is explained in the excerpt of the biography of HH Dalai Lama "Freedom in Exile" that I posted in the thread.

It is similar to a politician seeking to pass some new legislation in government. First he would speak to his constituents,
then to some experts about the issue at hand, then perhaps with other members of his political party or cabinet.

A consultative approach leads to a more balanced outlook. Indeed, HHDL takes information from a variety of sources into
account before making his decision. The oracles are only one small part of it.

If the oracles were channeling Buddhas the advice would be perfect and there would be no need for other consultations.
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 heart » Fri Oct 19, 2012 7:21 pm

waimengwan wrote:If the oracles and the deities that possess them is unreliable and only consulted for certain situations.

Where do you draw the line of when you believe the oracles predictions and when you dont? Monks and High Lamas of the Gelugpa order are not fools why would they carry on using such oracles then, and that includes the His Holiness Dalai Lama. I mean why would you even ask someone dodgy? I wouldn't if the advice is known to be unreliable. Then better for me to rely on my own perception and logic.

Where in the scriptures that tells you, when it is A believe when it is B don't believe.

So IMHO I would think the the Monks and Lamas do believe in the predictions and advice of the oracles and they do rely on the oracles.


What you have to understand about oracle is that their answers always need interpretation, so it is not so clear cut one would expect.

/magnus
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