Empowerments

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Empowerments

Postby CrawfordHollow » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:30 am

Empowerments are something that both intrigues and confuses me.

I unserstand that they ripen our mindstream and are essential for tantric practice. I once held the mistaken view that getting an empowerment was like being given a precious jewel. This jewel is new to us; the Guru gives us this precious gift that we previously did not posses. Once we have it, it is ours unless we break our samaya, in which case our gift is lost. I realized that this is a dualistic view.

If the empowerments reveals what is already present within us, why the need to get all these different empowerments? And if the yidams themselves share the same nature why do we need to get seperate empowerments for different practices? It seems that any empowerment would allow us to practice a number of different sadhanas. Any why is it that certain sadhanas can be practiced by recieving only the lung, such as the way that ChNN gives transmissions. I am not trying to imply that empowerments are not necessary, I truly want to understand the process more. I believe that they are more than just a ritual or a mere formallity.

And what if we happen to be sick or distracted during an empowerment? Or make an emergency trip to the bathroom? Can a sadhana actually be less effective or even useless if we somehow "messed up" or held the wrong view during the empowerment? And what if we got an empowerment, but didn't start doing the practice till years later? I think I am trying too hard to "figure it out." I have faith and devotion to my Gurus, but sometimes I second-guess myself after empowermets. I think that maybe I did something wrong or missed something, and then doubt starts to creep into my practice. Doubt is a very bad thing is Vajrayana so if some of the more experienced tantrikas could offer some insights, I would be vastly greatful.

Thanks a bunch,
Troy (clean and sober :smile: )
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Re: Empowerments

Postby lobster » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:50 am

I once heard from a devoted practitioner, that when he heard that chenresig was all that was required, that was all he did. Later I saw a lifetime practitioner. Doing some powerful practice? Just doing mani's, even though empowered to do far more. He shrugged in apology for not doing something more 'advanced'.

Not the practice, not the empowerment.
The devotion. The devotion to practice.
You know that.

OM MANI PADME HUM
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Re: Empowerments

Postby CrawfordHollow » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:14 am

Sure, agreed.

But just because we have devotion doesn't mean we can jump into a Kalachakra practice without first recieving the empowerment. Unless, of course, that empowerments were nothing but a formaility.

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Re: Empowerments

Postby kirtu » Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:13 pm

CrawfordHollow wrote:If the empowerments reveals what is already present within us, why the need to get all these different empowerments?


To purify karma, purify the mindstream, to plant seeds, to bless beings, to introduce beings to the nature of their mind. These are the primary reasons (but I would like to see the list that Jamgon Kongtrul surely has in his Encyclopaedia but I cannot find).

And if the yidams themselves share the same nature why do we need to get seperate empowerments for different practices?


This is more on the method side of things - different deity practices have different results and have different power. WRT to compassion and the ultimate nature it's all the same (actually this is true from the side of the Buddhas and deities but not exactly true from the side of the being receiving the empowerment - different levels of tantra do reveal different views on the nature of mind for example which is why outer tantra takes 16-32 lifetimes).

It seems that any empowerment would allow us to practice a number of different sadhanas.


This *is* true for Highest Yoga Tantra but if you have some accomplishment. Most people don't have the confidence to pursue this and anyway it would be customary to receive the blessing of the specific practice (and would be a good thing).

Any why is it that certain sadhanas can be practiced by recieving only the lung, such as the way that ChNN gives transmissions.


I don't know how ChNN gives empowerments but some sadhanas do only require lung in specific traditions (even in Sakya where normally full (albeit brief) empowerments are given for just about anything).

I am not trying to imply that empowerments are not necessary, I truly want to understand the process more. I believe that they are more than just a ritual or a mere formallity.


Empowerments area a form of charismatic dependant arising. I would like to see the theory behind them presented from the Tibetan side (so this would be a mediaeval interpretation of this form of activity from the side of the written material but interpreted by living masters this becomes a real explanation). The primary thing is that they are a purification and an installation and that the master is enacting essentially a form from some sutras where they talk about all the Buddhas empowering a Buddha-to-be (so already a high Bodhisattva in this case).

And what if we happen to be sick or distracted during an empowerment? Or make an emergency trip to the bathroom? Can a sadhana actually be less effective or even useless if we somehow "messed up" or held the wrong view during the empowerment?


Wrong view is a problem but not the wrong view of the nature of mind (the minimal view is said to be the view of the Mind-Only school and the best view is one of the Madhyamika views). But the absolute minimal thing is compassion for all beings and better some dedication to a minimal Bodhicitta (so a minimal dedication to eventually liberating all beings at least in theory).

Distracted: this can be a problem but it just means that your personal experience during the empowerment was less than it could have been. Then again maybe not. You might have really gotten a glimmer of true compassion or another quality and this overwhelmed you. That's okay - take the empowerment again later (this is a Sakya view BTW - empowerments are themselves practice).

Sick: this is a purification during he empowerment. Usually this kind of thing happens *before* the empowerment.

Bathroom: some people would say that you missed some of the empowerment. I think it depends. Then again this is a form of purification and anyway you would get the main empowerment itself.

Engagement in the sadhana is self-correcting as long as you are sincere. Want to attain Buddhahood for all beings? Good to go. The sadhana will eventually open up to you.

And what if we got an empowerment, but didn't start doing the practice till years later?


Since you are not carrying the lineage of this practice then there is no problem. Afterall, the seeds are planted in the mindstream. Like a form of positive karma they remain forever (they might be overwhelmed by extreme negativity but will still bear fruit in future lives).

I think I am trying too hard to "figure it out." I have faith and devotion to my Gurus, but sometimes I second-guess myself after empowermets.


Faith and devotion is the key. Don't second guess yourself after the empowerment. If you meant to get it, you got it. Secondly you should start seeing positive changes in yourself over time.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Empowerments

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:23 pm

As Lama Yeshe points out in Introduction to Tantra you're expected to take the same empowerment over and over. This is because few people do it perfectly the first time. You still receive the empowerment if you did it imperfectly though.
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: Empowerments

Postby dakini_boi » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:14 am

CrawfordHollow wrote:If the empowerments reveals what is already present within us, why the need to get all these different empowerments? And if the yidams themselves share the same nature why do we need to get seperate empowerments for different practices? It seems that any empowerment would allow us to practice a number of different sadhanas. Any why is it that certain sadhanas can be practiced by recieving only the lung, such as the way that ChNN gives transmissions.


The deities are ultimately all of one nature. Relatively, they have different characteristics and functions, so for someone who is still conditioned by the relative, it's a good idea to establish a connection with a specific deity. Whoever first revealed a particular practice received the empowerment directly from the sambhogakaya deity, and continued the lineage by empowering disiciples, who in turn pass the empowerment on. Entering this stream of transmission allows for a causal link between you and that particular sambhogakaya.

Technically, any sadhana can be done with just lung + permission from the lama, but having the empowerment is preferable. ChNN gives lungs with the assumption that his students have also received rigpai tsal wang, which is equivalent to the 4th empowerment in vajrayana - so that would encompass all deities. I'm sure he would agree that getting the empowerment also would be ideal - but as he always advises his students, one must work with circumstances, and it's not practical for him to regularly give empowerments for all the practices he transmits.


CrawfordHollow wrote:And what if we happen to be sick or distracted during an empowerment? Or make an emergency trip to the bathroom? Can a sadhana actually be less effective or even useless if we somehow "messed up" or held the wrong view during the empowerment?


If you managed to receive the empowerment with perfect attention, perfect pure perception of the lama, the attendants, the place as a pure land, and perfect stable divine pride, then you probably didn't need the empowerment to begin with. But the fact is, you entered the mandala, you participated to your capacity, and therefore you definitely received the complete empowerment. Anyway, Vajrayana is the path of taking impossible vows, messing up constantly, and purifying mistakes over and over. The fact that you are asking these questions shows that you are sincere. Therefore, as S.N. Goenka says, practice "patiently and persistently, you are bound to succeed! Bound to succeed!"


CrawfordHollow wrote:And what if we got an empowerment, but didn't start doing the practice till years later?


That's fine (provided the lama didn't give you daily practice commitment).


CrawfordHollow wrote:I think I am trying too hard to "figure it out." I have faith and devotion to my Gurus, but sometimes I second-guess myself after empowermets. I think that maybe I did something wrong or missed something, and then doubt starts to creep into my practice. Doubt is a very bad thing is Vajrayana so if some of the more experienced tantrikas could offer some insights, I would be vastly greatful.



I feel for you. I second-guess myself too, and it hurts! All you can do is your best. So let your doubts humble you, rather than distress you. And let your sincerity and aspirations guide your practice, that's really the only thing you have control over.
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Re: Empowerments

Postby JKhedrup » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:03 am

For me it really helped to study the philosophy behind the various stages of the empowerment. What each phase represents, the potentials it establishes, and the symbolism of the ritual. For years I took empowerments on an experiential level which moved my mind to some extent but once I understood the psychology and philosophy behind the various activities it made a big difference in making them really relevant to my spiritual life. Of course others might argue that this is an overly conceptual approach.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
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Re: Empowerments

Postby kirtu » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:25 pm

JKhedrup wrote:For me it really helped to study the philosophy behind the various stages of the empowerment. What each phase represents, the potentials it establishes, and the symbolism of the ritual. For years I took empowerments on an experiential level which moved my mind to some extent but once I understood the psychology and philosophy behind the various activities it made a big difference in making them really relevant to my spiritual life.


Perhaps you could elaborate on this.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Empowerments

Postby heart » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:58 am

CrawfordHollow wrote:Empowerments are something that both intrigues and confuses me.

I unserstand that they ripen our mindstream and are essential for tantric practice. I once held the mistaken view that getting an empowerment was like being given a precious jewel. This jewel is new to us; the Guru gives us this precious gift that we previously did not posses. Once we have it, it is ours unless we break our samaya, in which case our gift is lost. I realized that this is a dualistic view.

If the empowerments reveals what is already present within us, why the need to get all these different empowerments? And if the yidams themselves share the same nature why do we need to get seperate empowerments for different practices? It seems that any empowerment would allow us to practice a number of different sadhanas. Any why is it that certain sadhanas can be practiced by recieving only the lung, such as the way that ChNN gives transmissions. I am not trying to imply that empowerments are not necessary, I truly want to understand the process more. I believe that they are more than just a ritual or a mere formallity.

And what if we happen to be sick or distracted during an empowerment? Or make an emergency trip to the bathroom? Can a sadhana actually be less effective or even useless if we somehow "messed up" or held the wrong view during the empowerment? And what if we got an empowerment, but didn't start doing the practice till years later? I think I am trying too hard to "figure it out." I have faith and devotion to my Gurus, but sometimes I second-guess myself after empowermets. I think that maybe I did something wrong or missed something, and then doubt starts to creep into my practice. Doubt is a very bad thing is Vajrayana so if some of the more experienced tantrikas could offer some insights, I would be vastly greatful.

Thanks a bunch,
Troy (clean and sober :smile: )


Well,when you look at empowerment from the point of our nature, something we already possess is pointed out. But from a more practical empowerment is the transmission of a path to fully realize our true nature. This is something we didn't have before, the authorization to actually apply these particular teachings. Empowerment's can be quite a mess, screaming baby's and people fighting to get first to the bumpa or almost anything else. But in my opinion you always receive the empowerment as a path or a practice, but if you are checking out the girls it is very possible you miss recognizing during the pointing-out. I think most people do this, miss the point. However, you were present and you did receive the permission to apply these teachings so if you indeed will apply them it might be a good idea to request the empowerment again and again from your root Guru.

Doubt is a bad thing in Vajrayana, a real obstacle actually. But doubt can be very creative also when it triggers you to do just about anything to resolve that doubt. This is often the way we find our root Guru.

My root Guru have several times given me just a "lung" for a practice and sometimes it have taken years before I actually got the actual empowerment. Some practices also don't have any empowerment but only "lung".

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
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