Taking Refuge

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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby Caz » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:05 pm

JKhedrup wrote:This is a far cry from the opinion of the lamas and monks I have spoken to at Sera Jey and Mey monasteries, but I guess it all depends on where you get your information, and who you decide to trust.


It does depend on where you get your Information and not surprisingly those who disagree tend to see others in a negative light despite actuality. Of course as you know Venerable Khedrup I have different friends to you :)
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:14 pm

I don't know Caz. What is your version of "actuality"? How familiar are you with Tibetan culture, the situation in exile etc. Have you actually been to any of the places concerned or do you get your information from a few websites?
The situation in Tibet being what it is I am not so impressed with the connections of that have resulted in aforementioned tulku's so-called "beneficial activities". Any further discussion would violate ToS.
This is an issue whose depth cannot be comprehended without a deep knowledge of Tibetan language and culture. Believe me- it is part of the reason I decided to learn Tibetan.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:19 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: Taking Refuge

Postby Caz » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:19 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I don't know Caz.
The situation in Tibet being what it is I am not so impressed with the connections of that have resulted in aforementioned tulku's so-called "beneficial activities". Any further discussion would violate ToS.
This is an issue whose depth cannot be comprehended without a deep knowledge of Tibetan and culture. Believe me- it is part of the reason I decided to learn Tibetan.


Who is impressed with the situation in Tibet ? I think very few people are yet Dharma teachers there can only make the best of what they have least people receive no Dharma at all. Beyond that it gets far to political and I agree starts TOS violations. :thumbsup:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:21 pm

I certainly must agree with JK:


JKhedrup wrote: Any further discussion would violate ToS.


We're downright picky about that one.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby lobster » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:59 pm

Take refuge in the 3 jewels, follow the precepts as much as the current situation allows. Some demons serve the 3 jewels (as protectors). Everything goes towards an ideal. Courage mon brave.

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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby waimengwan » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:08 pm

by JKhedrup » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:05 am

Geshe Soepa is an excellent scholar and also a very nice man, even if he isn't the lama you choose as a guru, you will learn a great deal from him in the meantime.

The current Phabongkha tulku is not associated with FPMT or Sera Mey, as both organizations require their members to sign an oath against the spirit practice and so far he has not signed. Last I heard he had a small monastery in Nepal. He has not attended His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings or been to Sera for many years now. I am not sure if he finished his education at the monastery before leaving for Nepal or not.


Oh I see so FPMT they use a different Lamrim than Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, what lamrim does FPMT studies?
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:23 pm

I am by no means an official spokesperson for FPMT. I am merely a translator for a geshe at one of their centres so I don't have any official capacity or administrative position. I will do my best to explain things from what I have seen, although certainly others may have different experiences/opinions. FPMT is a large and diverse organization.

In terms of the actual study programs the Lam Rim used in the Basic Program is Lam Rim Tinpo, the Mid-Length Lam Rim, by Lama Tzongkhapa. The Masters program covers the 5 texts studied at the monasteries so Lam Rim is not included in the study texts, but Lama Zopa Rinpoche considers Lam Rim to be extremely important so it should some how be integrated into the Masters Program, and during the one year retreat that is required for Masters Program Completion, Rinpoche encourages an emphasis on the Lam Rim.

In terms of the text Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand I am not sure what you mean by the question. This text does not deal specifically with the Spirit Worship. And it has nothing to do with the status of the current Phabongkha tulku, as it was an oral teaching of the previous Phabongkha Rinpoche that was transcribed by Trijiang Rinpoche.

The problem with the current Phabongkha tulku is that he does not follow the wishes of HH Dalai Lama, and in fact has links with organizations opposing His Holiness. Because of thiss, he cannot according to the internal regulations of the FPMT, teach at any of their centres. You can find that policy here:http://www.fpmt.org/fpmt/announcements/511-shugden.html#policy it is also included in the ToS of this website.

This is the same reason the current Phabongkha tulku is not permitted to teach or participate in activities at Sera Mey. When I became a monk there I received an ID card where it states very clearly that the patron of Sera Mey is HHDL, that being the case all those affiliated with the monastery are bound to follow his advice. To remain in the monastery, (as I was not present) I had to sign an oath before Thaog in writing that I sent to the administration. This was required of all those who wanted to remain somehow connected to the college, even those residing overseas.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche certainly likes Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, and although it is not an official part of any of the structured FPMT study programs, certainly Geshes at the centres will teach on it from time to time-there is definitely no restriction on using this text. HHDL will give a lung for Liberation during the transmission of the 18 Great Lam Rim texts in India. I have received teachings on this texts from several of my teachers including Sermey Khensur Rinpoche and Geshe Lobsang Dragpa from Ganden who teaches at Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala. So although the current tulku has many problems connected with him, I don't think his status means that we can't or shouldn't read his books. Indeed HHDL says the PK's Lam Rim contains many good passages- read the notes from the Gelug conferences.

My personal opinion, though, is that since we are Gelugpas the Lam Rim we should rely on first and foremost is the Lam Rim Chenmo or Mid-Length Lam Rim of Lama Tzongkhapa. After all, he is the founder of our tradition. I also feel the Lam Rim Chenmo is far better suited to Westerners than Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, as LRCM reads more like a textbook, and is less culturally specific. The translation from Snow Lion is an excellent, high quality work that involved many of the top Tibetan translators with both academic and dharma qualifications. It also has more quotes from the classic scriptures which gives a taste of the vast wealth of the Buddhist canon. Liberation is more of an oral treatise, and I think that the fire and brimstone stuff is not so well suited to Westerners though of course that is my opinion.
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: Taking Refuge

Postby waimengwan » Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:20 am

Yes I have Lama Tsongkhapa's Lamrim Chenmo too as well. Lamrim Chenmo is very very structured in comparison and very technical. LRCM I find it a bit tough going as there many examples stories and etc, but after reading it much more I find that the stories and examples does help understand the dharma much much better, this is my simplistic way of comparing both of these texts.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby ram peswani » Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:25 pm

My opinion
There is a powerful positive buddhist family in this universe at this instant. They have a set of rules for entry to that family.
When you take refuge willingly and are accepted, then those laws will apply to you. These rules are for your benefit.
Any violation on your part gets immediate punishment, so that you learn the wisdom of these laws.

But many take refuge in buddhism. They do not know whether Buddha Sangha has accepted them. One is very very lucky in my opinion if one has been selected. Proof of sign of acceptance lies in immediate punishment on breaking the refuge.

I came to this life in this birth in ignorance that I belong to this buddha family. Even as a child I tried stealing and always was immediately caught and shamed. I learnt not to accept any free gifts without returning them in one form or the other. My lies were always hurting me and truth will appear out sooner than the later.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:18 am

Yes I agree.
I don't think it is that one text is harder or more advanced than the other really.
The technical flavour of LRCM might be daunting, but I think the cultural references in Liberation can be just as confusing at times. Perhaps Liberation is indeed easier to people coming from an Asian background, as of course there are cultural similarities between the Tibetan and other Asian cultures. So for example much of Phabongkhapa's societal commentary, social commentary and worldview would not be lost on people coming from Asian cultures, while Westerners would find some of it rather confusing IMO.

I was able to understand the book much better after 8 years of living amongst Tibetan, Thai and Chinese people.
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: Taking Refuge

Postby lama tsewang » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:02 am

i have not read all the posts on this topic, but i have to comment on one thing i see here. The word vow is being used constantly , and people here talk about refuge vows . What are these. The taking of the three refugees is not an oath or a vow. This is a very mioleading way of speaking of this. Its an idea from Christianity which distorts the teachings.
I also often see people talking about the five precepts as being vows or monastic precepts, as being vows . This a very BIG error, in my view.
In the Pali language the precepts are called Sikkhapada , or rules of training , not vows.
One says that one will, for instance, undertake the training, not to kill, not speak falsely, etc. Theses are not vows they are precepts, for training.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby zerwe » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:12 am

lama tsewang wrote:i have not read all the posts on this topic, but i have to comment on one thing i see here. The word vow is being used constantly , and people here talk about refuge vows . What are these. The taking of the three refugees is not an oath or a vow. This is a very mioleading way of speaking of this. Its an idea from Christianity which distorts the teachings.
I also often see people talking about the five precepts as being vows or monastic precepts, as being vows . This a very BIG error, in my view.
In the Pali language the precepts are called Sikkhapada , or rules of training , not vows.
One says that one will, for instance, undertake the training, not to kill, not speak falsely, etc. Theses are not vows they are precepts, for training.


Many people refer to the five precepts as lay precepts and/or vows interchangeably.

Refuge itself doesn't entail any vows, but comes with advice in what the practice entails. However, most formal

refuge ceremonies include the transmission of the five precepts as well.

Shaun :namaste:
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby PorkChop » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:39 am

lama tsewang wrote:i have not read all the posts on this topic, but i have to comment on one thing i see here. The word vow is being used constantly , and people here talk about refuge vows . What are these. The taking of the three refugees is not an oath or a vow. This is a very mioleading way of speaking of this. Its an idea from Christianity which distorts the teachings.
I also often see people talking about the five precepts as being vows or monastic precepts, as being vows . This a very BIG error, in my view.
In the Pali language the precepts are called Sikkhapada , or rules of training , not vows.
One says that one will, for instance, undertake the training, not to kill, not speak falsely, etc. Theses are not vows they are precepts, for training.


I guess maybe that's where I have a misunderstanding.
The way it's been presented to me is that once you've adopted the precepts in a formal ceremony, you are beholden to those precepts that you agree to adopt.
If you are unable to follow the precepts to a T, then you have to re-do the ceremony.
If it's a grievous offense, you may not be able to consider yourself part of the sangha.
The example that was used was the monk who asked his executioner to cut clean, so that he didn't suffer and he was kicked out on the spot for encouraging killing.
I've been trying to figure out how to adjust my behaviors on a permanent basis before undergoing such a ceremony and have felt unable to join until I can modify those behaviors.
"Don't sign up for it if you know you can't do it" kind of a thing.
Some behaviors, while I admit they are not skillful, I see as being very hard to change given my current capacities & obligations.
While I do take some amount of refuge and try to follow the teachings in order to adjust my behaviors; I feel almost at an impasse for fully getting "on board" until I am able to change.

EDIT: the 5 precepts were listed as part of the refuge ceremony for the temple local to me.
Last edited by PorkChop on Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby zerwe » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:47 am

JKhedrup wrote:I am by no means an official spokesperson for FPMT. I am merely a translator for a geshe at one of their centres so I don't have any official capacity or administrative position. I will do my best to explain things from what I have seen, although certainly others may have different experiences/opinions. FPMT is a large and diverse organization.

In terms of the actual study programs the Lam Rim used in the Basic Program is Lam Rim Tinpo, the Mid-Length Lam Rim, by Lama Tzongkhapa. The Masters program covers the 5 texts studied at the monasteries so Lam Rim is not included in the study texts, but Lama Zopa Rinpoche considers Lam Rim to be extremely important so it should some how be integrated into the Masters Program, and during the one year retreat that is required for Masters Program Completion, Rinpoche encourages an emphasis on the Lam Rim.

In terms of the text Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand I am not sure what you mean by the question. This text does not deal specifically with the Spirit Worship. And it has nothing to do with the status of the current Phabongkha tulku, as it was an oral teaching of the previous Phabongkha Rinpoche that was transcribed by Trijiang Rinpoche.

The problem with the current Phabongkha tulku is that he does not follow the wishes of HH Dalai Lama, and in fact has links with organizations opposing His Holiness. Because of thiss, he cannot according to the internal regulations of the FPMT, teach at any of their centres. You can find that policy here:http://www.fpmt.org/fpmt/announcements/511-shugden.html#policy it is also included in the ToS of this website.

This is the same reason the current Phabongkha tulku is not permitted to teach or participate in activities at Sera Mey. When I became a monk there I received an ID card where it states very clearly that the patron of Sera Mey is HHDL, that being the case all those affiliated with the monastery are bound to follow his advice. To remain in the monastery, (as I was not present) I had to sign an oath before Thaog in writing that I sent to the administration. This was required of all those who wanted to remain somehow connected to the college, even those residing overseas.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche certainly likes Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, and although it is not an official part of any of the structured FPMT study programs, certainly Geshes at the centres will teach on it from time to time-there is definitely no restriction on using this text. HHDL will give a lung for Liberation during the transmission of the 18 Great Lam Rim texts in India. I have received teachings on this texts from several of my teachers including Sermey Khensur Rinpoche and Geshe Lobsang Dragpa from Ganden who teaches at Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala. So although the current tulku has many problems connected with him, I don't think his status means that we can't or shouldn't read his books. Indeed HHDL says the PK's Lam Rim contains many good passages- read the notes from the Gelug conferences.

My personal opinion, though, is that since we are Gelugpas the Lam Rim we should rely on first and foremost is the Lam Rim Chenmo or Mid-Length Lam Rim of Lama Tzongkhapa. After all, he is the founder of our tradition. I also feel the Lam Rim Chenmo is far better suited to Westerners than Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, as LRCM reads more like a textbook, and is less culturally specific. The translation from Snow Lion is an excellent, high quality work that involved many of the top Tibetan translators with both academic and dharma qualifications. It also has more quotes from the classic scriptures which gives a taste of the vast wealth of the Buddhist canon. Liberation is more of an oral treatise, and I think that the fire and brimstone stuff is not so well suited to Westerners though of course that is my opinion.


This part of the discussion is a little off topic and perhaps warrants a new thread, but as a lay FPMT practitioner, I wanted to add my perspective. Discovering Buddhism is a two year Lam Rim focused course of study that prepares a foundation for students.

The texts used are transcripts of various teachings, Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, and various teachings/books from HHDL, LZR, and Lama Yeshe.

In addition to this, Discovering Buddhism carries a number of retreat and preliminary practice requirements for completion. One of these is a 2-4 week Kopan style

Lam Rim retreat. Most students are encouraged to complete Discovering Buddhism first and then often pursue the Basic Program and can follow this with study in the Masters Program.

There is a big jump in the depth covered and prerequisites between Discovering Buddhism and the Basic and Masters program. So, our center (and perhaps others) in particular facilitate a more detailed study of

the Lam Rim Chen Mo as an intermediate step to Basic program study. Sometimes, Geshe Tashi Tsering's Foundations of Buddhist Thought are also recommended and/or

an experiential approach through study of LZR's teachings from the Light of the Path retreat.

With that said, although PK's text is used the LRCM and Atisha's Lamp for the Path are primary. So, from the beginning and throughout Lam Rim is essential.

Shaun :namaste:
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby Indrajala » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:53 am

JKhedrup wrote:My personal opinion, though, is that since we are Gelugpas the Lam Rim we should rely on first and foremost is the Lam Rim Chenmo or Mid-Length Lam Rim of Lama Tzongkhapa. After all, he is the founder of our tradition. I also feel the Lam Rim Chenmo is far better suited to Westerners than Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, as LRCM reads more like a textbook, and is less culturally specific. The translation from Snow Lion is an excellent, high quality work that involved many of the top Tibetan translators with both academic and dharma qualifications. It also has more quotes from the classic scriptures which gives a taste of the vast wealth of the Buddhist canon. Liberation is more of an oral treatise, and I think that the fire and brimstone stuff is not so well suited to Westerners though of course that is my opinion.


I agree with this.

The Lam Rim Chen Mo is systematic and starts from the basics, working its way up from there. Lama Tsongkhapa's use of quotations are all in context, too, and hence make sense, plus they're all sourced. As a beginner I don't think it would be difficult to read and grasp much of its meaning, and with a teacher available to clarify things the entirety of it could be thoroughly explained.

The English translation also isn't ghastly expensive. The three volumes in hardcover come to US$65.58.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby Tom » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:16 am

Huseng wrote:
JKhedrup wrote:My personal opinion, though, is that since we are Gelugpas the Lam Rim we should rely on first and foremost is the Lam Rim Chenmo or Mid-Length Lam Rim of Lama Tzongkhapa. After all, he is the founder of our tradition. I also feel the Lam Rim Chenmo is far better suited to Westerners than Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, as LRCM reads more like a textbook, and is less culturally specific. The translation from Snow Lion is an excellent, high quality work that involved many of the top Tibetan translators with both academic and dharma qualifications. It also has more quotes from the classic scriptures which gives a taste of the vast wealth of the Buddhist canon. Liberation is more of an oral treatise, and I think that the fire and brimstone stuff is not so well suited to Westerners though of course that is my opinion.


I agree with this.

The Lam Rim Chen Mo is systematic and starts from the basics, working its way up from there. Lama Tsongkhapa's use of quotations are all in context, too, and hence make sense, plus they're all sourced. As a beginner I don't think it would be difficult to read and grasp much of its meaning, and with a teacher available to clarify things the entirety of it could be thoroughly explained.

The English translation also isn't ghastly expensive. The three volumes in hardcover come to US$65.58.


I totally agree with the above but would just add that the LRCM is not really an introductory text. For example, even at the very start the Guru Yoga is presented from a tantric perspective and also I think without the guidance of a teacher it would be easy to miss many of the subtleties of Tsongkhapa's argument in the special insight chapter, especially if you are not familiar with Indian sources he quotes. So, if beginners find it difficult to begin with they should not be discouraged. It is a text they will come back to again and again and gain enormous benefit from.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:26 am

Tom wrote:I totally agree with the above but would just add that the LRCM is not really an introductory text. For example, even at the very start the Guru Yoga is presented from a tantric perspective
Not entirely, he starts with the Sutra view. But yes.

Tom wrote:and also I think without the guidance of a teacher it would be easy to miss many of the subtleties of Tsongkhapa's argument in the special insight chapter, especially if you are not familiar with Indian sources he quotes. So, if beginners find it difficult to begin with they should not be discouraged. It is a text they will come back to again and again and gain enormous benefit from.
I would be immensely surprised if anyone has ever picked up the LRCM, read the Emptiness chapters, and understood everything perfectly the first time. If I may be a little arrogant, I think everyone reads those chapters over and over again, learning a little bit more every time.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby Tom » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:45 am

Konchog1 wrote:
Tom wrote:I totally agree with the above but would just add that the LRCM is not really an introductory text. For example, even at the very start the Guru Yoga is presented from a tantric perspective
Not entirely, he starts with the Sutra view. But yes.


The fact that Tsongkhapa starts with Guru Yoga at all is an indication this is not an introductory text. You'll notice in Atisha's Lamp for example that the Guru Yoga comes much later.

Konchog1 wrote:
Tom wrote:and also I think without the guidance of a teacher it would be easy to miss many of the subtleties of Tsongkhapa's argument in the special insight chapter, especially if you are not familiar with Indian sources he quotes. So, if beginners find it difficult to begin with they should not be discouraged. It is a text they will come back to again and again and gain enormous benefit from.
I would be immensely surprised if anyone has ever picked up the LRCM, read the Emptiness chapters, and understood everything perfectly the first time. If I may be a little arrogant, I think everyone reads those chapters over and over again, learning a little bit more every time.


This is true even when your teacher makes your first reading last a few years!

It may have been an obvious comment but I thought to add to the conversation because I have met quite a few people who felt intimidated and discouraged after having tried to read the text even with a Lama's guidance.
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Re: Taking Refuge

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:31 am

Tom you make a very good point. I have often heard HHDL advocate that although you find reliance on the virtuous friend (Guru Yoga) in the beginning of the text, that especially for Westerners it is better to start with some of the later topics- such as Precious Human Rebirth, and then come back to the Guru Yoga a little bit later. This seems to be a wise approach as after people have been exposed to the teachings and experienced their value they will be better suited to developing faith in the dharma and its teachers.

Also, in the section about reliance of a virtuous friend there are many qualifications of a guru that are described that presuppose a familiarity with other topics included within the Lam Rim. So even to be able to check a teacher thoroughly requires some basic knowledge of 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: Taking Refuge

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:44 pm

Konchog1 wrote:If kill without the intention to kill, it has no karmic effects.
Nonsense, it does have karmic effects, it just does not have the same karmic effect as killing with the intention to kill.
All five must be present or it is not killing. So if a beast attacks your family and you kill it in self defense, it is my understanding that there is no sin.
Sin? What relationship does sin have to karma?
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