Pastors/Lay Teachers in the Gelug Tradition

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Pastors/Lay Teachers in the Gelug Tradition

Postby Blue Garuda » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:57 pm

What are these vows dating back to Shakyamuni that the 'Pastors' take, and why is it called an 'ordination'?

I thought at least 3 Bhikkhu ordained monks had to be present to ordain anyone in the Gelugpa Ganden tradition, and I've never come across lay ordination in the Gelugpa so it is very interesting.

Of course there are vows lay practitioners take (Bodhisattva etc) but an 'ordination' is a very different thing in the Gelugpa, surely.
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby Steveyboy » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:05 am

Blue Garuda wrote:What are these vows dating back to Shakyamuni that the 'Pastors' take, and why is it called an 'ordination'?

I thought at least 3 Bhikkhu ordained monks had to be present to ordain anyone in the Gelugpa Ganden tradition, and I've never come across lay ordination in the Gelugpa so it is very interesting.

Of course there are vows lay practitioners take (Bodhisattva etc) but an 'ordination' is a very different thing in the Gelugpa, surely.


We call it ordination not because the Pastors are empowered with monk vows, they are empowered with layman vows to lead by serving others. Tsem Rinpoche explained that the Pastor's role is like something in between a monk/nun and the normal lay practitioner. They hold the simple vows of a layman so that they are able to teach and benefit others. I am going to include the videos of the previous Pastor ordination so you get a better understanding of what Rinpoche's doing.

Part 1 :-


Part 2 :-


Part 3 :-


Part 4 :-
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:56 pm

There is no lay ordination in the Gelugpa, so I wondered if his monastery has sanctioned this new form, without the presence of 3 Bhikkhus and Vinaya procedure.

Lay vows such as Refuge or Bodhisattva Vows are not ordinations.

He can call them Pastors or whatever and they can take vows - I just think it is wrong to call it 'ordination' of lay people who are somehow approved to teach others, when he is within a Gelugpa organisation.

In some other traditions there is 'Bodhisattva ordination' but Tsem Tulku is Gelugpa, unless like the NKT he has decided to invent a new ordination system , in which case he is not Gelugpa. That was my point.

I'm not against it in any way, but if any one of the Pastors think they are being ordained within the Gelugpa then are they are being misled?
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby Steveyboy » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:09 am

Blue Garuda wrote:There is no lay ordination in the Gelugpa, so I wondered if his monastery has sanctioned this new form, without the presence of 3 Bhikkhus and Vinaya procedure.

Lay vows such as Refuge or Bodhisattva Vows are not ordinations.

He can call them Pastors or whatever and they can take vows - I just think it is wrong to call it 'ordination' of lay people who are somehow approved to teach others, when he is within a Gelugpa organisation.

In some other traditions there is 'Bodhisattva ordination' but Tsem Tulku is Gelugpa, unless like the NKT he has decided to invent a new ordination system , in which case he is not Gelugpa. That was my point.

I'm not against it in any way, but if any one of the Pastors think they are being ordained within the Gelugpa then are they are being misled?


Like I said before, it is not a monastic ordination.

ordination |ˌôrdnˈāSHən|
noun
1 the action of ordaining or conferring holy orders on someone.
• a ceremony in which someone is ordained.

Therefore, the English word for ordination does not imply the ordination of monks. So, the usage for Pastors is perfectly acceptable. But anyway, Tsem Rinpoche is preparing a select few individuals to have our local Sangha very soon. For real monastic ordination, Rinpoche will get them to be ordained in Gaden Monastery instead according to the Vinaya.
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:07 pm

Steveyboy wrote:
Blue Garuda wrote:There is no lay ordination in the Gelugpa, so I wondered if his monastery has sanctioned this new form, without the presence of 3 Bhikkhus and Vinaya procedure.

Lay vows such as Refuge or Bodhisattva Vows are not ordinations.

He can call them Pastors or whatever and they can take vows - I just think it is wrong to call it 'ordination' of lay people who are somehow approved to teach others, when he is within a Gelugpa organisation.

In some other traditions there is 'Bodhisattva ordination' but Tsem Tulku is Gelugpa, unless like the NKT he has decided to invent a new ordination system , in which case he is not Gelugpa. That was my point.

I'm not against it in any way, but if any one of the Pastors think they are being ordained within the Gelugpa then are they are being misled?


Like I said before, it is not a monastic ordination.

ordination |ˌôrdnˈāSHən|
noun
1 the action of ordaining or conferring holy orders on someone.
• a ceremony in which someone is ordained.

Therefore, the English word for ordination does not imply the ordination of monks. So, the usage for Pastors is perfectly acceptable. But anyway, Tsem Rinpoche is preparing a select few individuals to have our local Sangha very soon. For real monastic ordination, Rinpoche will get them to be ordained in Gaden Monastery instead according to the Vinaya.



Actually 'holy orders' is a term specific to monks and nuns, as in the Order of St Francis.

It is also pretty irrelevant, since what matter is whether it is ordination in the context of the Gelugpa. It is not, so the term 'ordination' is misleading and perhaps a little bit of ego massage for those receiving it?

Why not just call it an appointment as a teacher or mentor?

'Pastor' of itself harks back to the 'pastoral', as in the shepherd in Christian terminology, later to be used of ordained clergy, so it too is an unfortunate term to choose in this context, but far less so than 'ordination'. As a Gelugpa monk on his own Tsem Tulku cannot ordain anyone, as I understand the system. if he was a Zen priest then it may be different, but he is a Gelugpa.

Inflating the role and ceremony with grandiose titles in this way is not good. I wish both clergy/shepherds and sheep well. :)
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby Steveyboy » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:44 am

Blue Garuda wrote:
Steveyboy wrote:
Blue Garuda wrote:There is no lay ordination in the Gelugpa, so I wondered if his monastery has sanctioned this new form, without the presence of 3 Bhikkhus and Vinaya procedure.

Lay vows such as Refuge or Bodhisattva Vows are not ordinations.

He can call them Pastors or whatever and they can take vows - I just think it is wrong to call it 'ordination' of lay people who are somehow approved to teach others, when he is within a Gelugpa organisation.

In some other traditions there is 'Bodhisattva ordination' but Tsem Tulku is Gelugpa, unless like the NKT he has decided to invent a new ordination system , in which case he is not Gelugpa. That was my point.

I'm not against it in any way, but if any one of the Pastors think they are being ordained within the Gelugpa then are they are being misled?


Like I said before, it is not a monastic ordination.

ordination |ˌôrdnˈāSHən|

noun
1 the action of ordaining or conferring holy orders on someone.
• a ceremony in which someone is ordained.

Therefore, the English word for ordination does not imply the ordination of monks. So, the usage for Pastors is perfectly acceptable. But anyway, Tsem Rinpoche is preparing a select few individuals to have our local Sangha very soon. For real monastic ordination, Rinpoche will get them to be ordained in Gaden Monastery instead according to the Vinaya.



Actually 'holy orders' is a term specific to monks and nuns, as in the Order of St Francis.

It is also pretty irrelevant, since what matter is whether it is ordination in the context of the Gelugpa. It is not, so the term 'ordination' is misleading and perhaps a little bit of ego massage for those receiving it?

Why not just call it an appointment as a teacher or mentor?

'Pastor' of itself harks back to the 'pastoral', as in the shepherd in Christian terminology, later to be used of ordained clergy, so it too is an unfortunate term to choose in this context, but far less so than 'ordination'. As a Gelugpa monk on his own Tsem Tulku cannot ordain anyone, as I understand the system. if he was a Zen priest then it may be different, but he is a Gelugpa.

Inflating the role and ceremony with grandiose titles in this way is not good. I wish both clergy/shepherds and sheep well. :)



-----


Well, the position is not an ego-massager but a name and position that empowers them to do more for others. There's a certain expectation that comes from being empowered and people in general expect more from those empowered with religious orders. It is very different in Malaysia where people have a certain respect for the teachers and at the same time, they also have an expectation because people in general are exposed to spirituality and religious orders. Also, you keep saying that Tsem Rinpoche is Gelugpa but and he can't ordain on his own.... but you are talking about monastic ordination again. Let me set the record straight, this is not a bhikshu ordination.
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby Emanon » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:05 am

I don't really get the need for the title and position before someone can do more :shrug:
Perhaps I'm too new in all this Buddhist thingy, I don't exactly remember Chenrezig, Manjushri and a host of others needing the special title to start doing more.
Maybe it's just me. :oops:

:namaste:
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:27 pm

Blue Garuda
You are right. Tsem Rinpoche cannot give a proper monastic ordination - either novice (sramanera/i) or full (bhikshu/ni) by himself. There is no lama who can do this singlehandely. If he has been an ordained bhikshu for at least 10 years ,though he could give the rabjung (pabbaja/going forth/leaving the home life) ceremony which would allow the person to wear the upper and lower red robes but not the yellow dharma robes worn by true monastics- the novices and the fully ordained.

My question would be about how one is chosen to be a pastor. "Empowered" is a very vague term. How long did these people study? What are they qualified to do and how is that determined? Have they completed long periods in retreat? Do they have any other relevant skills such as training in conflict resolution or pastoral counselling? Have they written an exam to ensure that they have basic dharma knowledge? Are they familiar with a classical Buddhist language? Does the organization provide ongoing training for them?

If they are very senior practitioners who have studied for years (in my opinion at least 10) and have a sound basis in practice through retreat and daily practice, perhaps this could be useful. But I am wary because of the number of people I have met who were adversely affected by the "teachers" of neo-Buddhist organizations who had very little training and were still young in the dharma. Especially with topics like emptiness it is very easy to cause confusion.

In my opinion it is better to have a handful of well trained practitioners than a large number of "dharma propagators" with insufficient training. But who knows, maybe these pastors do have the qualifications of many years of study and practice.

Shambhala and FPMT, for example, after many years of experience (and learning from mistakes) have very strict guidelines about who is allowed to teach what. In both organizations before one can do anything more than guide meditations one has to attend training, write exams, and be evaluated by an instructor. The FPMT masters program, for example, involves 5 years of intense study of the 5 key Indian treatises studied in Gelug monasteries and a one year retreat commitment. In the Karma Kagyu tradition it seems that a 3 year solitary retreat is the minimum required for a teacher.
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: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby zed » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:21 am

Is Tsem Rinpoche a "geshe"?
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:32 am

My guess would be not as it does not mention on his websites that Rinpoche finished the Geshe curriculum and exams (which takes a minimum of 17 years but sometimes 19 or 20 depending on the type of Geshe). To be sure you would have to ask one of his students. You could ask them what year/class of studies he finished in the curriculum, and if he formally entered the study program or did independent study/retreat under his teachers.

To be fair, as a Western passport holder Tsem Tulku may have had difficulties staying in India for long periods. I know several Westerners and Mongolians who had problems with this. And there are Gelug lamas who did not complete Geshe degrees but have been very effective teachers in the West (think Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche). I say this being the interpreter for a very traditional Lharampa geshe! Geshe la functions extremely well in the West and people love his classes but the high level of knowledge he has can only be partially transmitted in the Western context anyways.
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: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby zed » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:10 pm

JKhedrup wrote:...To be sure you would have to ask one of his students. You could ask them what year/class of studies he finished in the curriculum...

Any of Tsem Rinpoche's disciples on the forum?
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 pm

They are around, and may answer the query. If you really want to know, you could always contact them through Tsem Tulku's website.
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: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby Yudron » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:04 am

JKhedrup wrote:Blue Garuda
In the Karma Kagyu tradition it seems that a 3 year solitary retreat is the minimum required for a teacher.


All the Kagyu lamas I know who did three year retreat, did it in a traditional formal group retreat... at least the first time they did it. Not solitary.

The Nyingma lineage does not have set universal standards for who can teach. But that doesn't mean it's a free-for-all.
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:33 am

My bad. I thought that there was one group session a day and the rest were done alone, with some special events on important days in the calendar. (It has been a long time since I read Jamgon Kongtrul's Retreat Manual).
But this makes sense, and reminded me what one monks at the Kagyu Monlam told me about the first 3 year retreat, that it was "a retreat on how to do 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: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby zed » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:55 pm

Yesterday I asked one of Tsem Tulku's disciples (I believe he was a pastor) through the chat facility on the Kechara website, who confimed that Tsem Tulku does not hold a geshe degree.

Tsem Tulku's biography states that he studied at Gaden monastery for nine years. According to my limited knowledge of the Gelugpa monastic curriculum, this would mean that he probably completed the Prajnaparamita class only.

(It seems that a thorough knowledge of Buddhist philosophy is not necessary in order to be a good teacher.)
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Re: Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday Celebration

Postby Yudron » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:08 pm

JKhedrup wrote:My bad. I thought that there was one group session a day and the rest were done alone, with some special events on important days in the calendar. (It has been a long time since I read Jamgon Kongtrul's Retreat Manual).
But this makes sense, and reminded me what one monks at the Kagyu Monlam told me about the first 3 year retreat, that it was "a retreat on how to do retreat".


Even when you do no sessions a day, and just attend meals, tsog, and teachings together, if one is cloistered with a group of people for 3 years, it is very much a group retreat.
Kalu Rinpoche said that three year retreat is like putting a bunch of dirty potatoes in a bag together and shaking it: at the end you have clean potatoes. Having done longish personal retreats before group three year retreat, I would say this is true.

but I'm :offtopic:
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