Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby Yudron » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:16 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I agree from a philosophical and practical standpoint. Many women have and will continue to generate great realization through the path of tantra. But from an institutional standpoint, Taiwanese Buddhism is the place where women are truly the major force and key decision makers, the nuns holding all sorts of different leadership roles. Taiwan is the one country in the Buddhist world where I think nuns have more advantages than monks in terms of education and leadership opportunities in the Buddhist community, especially in the sangha.


Since the nun's full ordination made it to China and not to Tibet, that makes sense. Nuns are the backbone of the women's tradition within Buddhism. Almost all the Tibetan yoginis we have heard of had to stay away from marriage, or leave marriage situation, to be able to practice seriously... whether nuns or not. However, one hears in the oral tradition of the wives of male lamas who gain great realization, so presumably there are a lot of Tibetan hidden yoginis who have gained some realization within family life, too.

You can see I care more about realization than institutional power, otherwise I'd be mentioning the handful of women who had institutional religious power in old Tibet. :zzz:
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:29 pm

You can see I care more about realization than institutional power, otherwise I'd be mentioning the handful of women who had institutional religious power in old Tibet.


I have a heavy aversion to institutional structures and instinctively want to rebel against them. But I think in Buddhism they definitely serve their purpose, sometimes even saving the teachings from disaster.

Sometimes the institutions are what preserve the texts and lineages that let the yogi/nis wander off and gain those realizations. However, you see for example in Jamgon Kongtrul's biography that in some cases they can be obstacles. Still, I firmly believe they bring more light to the world than darkness.

There are two examples of strong women's communities that come to mind in the world of Tibetan Buddhism:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqimgbbjrg4 (The Nangchen nuns)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApluxpphvM0 (Nuns of the Drukpa lineage)

And in the Gelug tradition we have had the first woman Geshe (a Westerner) and in the next two-three years will have several Tibetan nun geshes as well.
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby ngodrup » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:42 pm

And especially, the nuns of Gebchak... although formally Kagyu, they practice mainly a Nyingma Terma;

http://gebchakgonpa.org/

These nuns completely inspire me, as they are absolutely committed to life-long retreat.
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby Yeti » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:49 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I have a heavy aversion to institutional structures and instinctively want to rebel against them. But I think in Buddhism they definitely serve their purpose, sometimes even saving the teachings from disaster.

IMHO I think all these approaches to the path are valid and coexist well within the Nyingma. There are some great khenpos, tulkus and lamas who where part of the monastic tradition for their whole lives.

JKhedrup wrote:Sometimes the institutions are what preserve the texts and lineages that let the yogi/nis wander off and gain those realizations.

Exactly, such as Longchenpa and Patrul Rinpoche

JKhedrup wrote:However, you see for example in Jamgon Kongtrul's biography that in some cases they can be obstacles.


I haven't read it, can you please explain a little.

JKhedrup wrote:Still, I firmly believe they bring more light to the world than darkness.


I think there is both enough scriptural and empirical evidence to support this view.

JKhedrup wrote:There are two examples of strong women's communities that come to mind in the world of Tibetan Buddhism:

In my pilgrimage to Wutai Shan and Central Tibet in 2007 my limited and defiled perception observed that a lot of the monasteries I visited seemed to house monks whose main practice was sleeping in the shrine rooms. The nunneries seemed to be the opposite, full of women practising. In fact the monks seemed to me to have this air about them as to no care for PHR, impermanence, etc. I found the same observation of the Tibetan monks at Wutai Shan.

JKhedrup wrote:And in the Gelug tradition we have had the first woman Geshe (a Westerner) and in the next two-three years will have several Tibetan nun geshes as well.

I once had the good fortune of being able to listen to a teaching on the nature of mind by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. For those of us who didn't understand Tibetan we just sat there and tried to be as present as possible during that teaching. There was a western Geshe there, quite fluent in Tibetan. Whilst all the other Nyingmas sat there and tried to take the teaching as directly as possible, the western Geshe was rocking backwards and forwards vigorously whilst counting points with one hand on the finger of the other. Now I am not criticising this behaviour at all, he's probably much more enlightened than me, it's just the observation of the contrasting behaviour to the approach to receiving these types of teachings depending on the tradition you come from. Maybe it's nothing at all, just my namtok.

As a footnote. Although my mind and practice are not capable of understanding Padmasambhava's enlightened mind at all, and whilst he supported the monastic tradition, and was also an ordained monk, I find it interesting that there doesn't seem to be much chronicling of him hanging out in villages or monasteries at all, it seems he spent most of his time in caves and charnel grounds. This does not disregard the incredible study and practice he made sure he received. IMHO I just take it as a teaching to practice and not get caught up in the phenomenal world.
"When a Dzogchen Yogi hears Shakyamuni Buddha turning the Wheel of the Dharma of the Four Noble Truths he hears Samathabhadra proclaiming the most profound Dzogpachenpo." - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:01 am

the western Geshe was rocking backwards and forwards vigorously whilst counting points with one hand on the finger of the other


Don't paint everyone with the same brush. I have had the pleasure of interacting with Kelsang Wangmo, the first female geshe (she's from Germany) and can tell you that I find her humble, down to earth and always willing to help. She has also attended HH Karmapa's teachings, for example.

This probably has more to do with him being a neurotic Westerner than his affiliation to the Gelug tradition. C'mon now, how many Westerners have you seen behave a little strangely at teachings in India and Nepal- at Nyingma/Kagyu or Gelug gatherings (yes I know the Tibetans fight over the blessings strings, but apart from that they seem generally less neurotic).

Every one of my Gelug teachers speaks of Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche with nothing but the highest reverence. Same with Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche, who was invited to teach on the Lam Tso Nam Sum in Sera- hundreds of monks attended including many geshes. My teachers would have severely reprimanded me if I behaved at a teachings from a great lama in such a manner.

I haven't read it, can you please explain a little.


It would derail the thread too much to go into it, and there are people here far more well versed in Kamtsang Kagyu than myself (such as Conebeckam). I direct you to Kongtrul's biography Gem of Many Colours, and to his Three Year Retreat manual. Basically, the monastic institutions of the time interfered in his setting up of the retreat centre. He was also forced to re-ordain in the Kamtsang tradition despite already being ordained a bhikshu with a renowned Nyingma preceptor. Anyways, you can research for yourself if you want. I find it discouraging to discuss at length to be honest. The deep sectarian divisions in Tibetan Buddhism have been a profound dissappointment to me since embarking on this path, and unfortunately I find the attitudes amongst various practitioners within all 4 schools.
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby Yudron » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:13 am

Nice post, Yeti!

Perhaps it is my ignorance, but it makes sense that Tibetan nuns would be more genuine in their practice, given that they probably chose to be a nun, whereas a lot of boys were put in a monastery by their parents. There are so many glittering nunneries in Tibet today, such as the above, and many more, such as those under Jetsun Khacho Wangmo (http://www.whitejewelmountain.org/jetsunma.html), herself a nun and scholar, and also the powerful little group at Yeshe Tsogyal's birthplace, who Lama Yeshe Wangmo is helping (http://www.jnanasukha.org/tsogyal-latso/).
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby Yeti » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:22 am

JKhedrup wrote:
the western Geshe was rocking backwards and forwards vigorously whilst counting points with one hand on the finger of the other


Don't paint everyone with the same brush.


To be clear, I am not. It was just one isolated incident, but so contrastingly bizarre.

Every one of my Gelug teachers speaks of Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche with nothing but the highest reverence. Same with Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche, who was invited to teach on the Lam Tso Nam Sum in Sera- hundreds of monks attended including many geshes. My teachers would have severely reprimanded me if I behaved at a teachings from a great lama in such a manner.


I don't come to the conclusion that Geshe was neurotic. I actually think he was just incredibly inspired by the teachings he was hearing and that was his was of working with what he was hearing. No problem from my side. I rejoice that he loved the teaching so much. It's just that he had a different way of appreciating it, and he obviously understood it far more than me. I'm not saying anything bad about it, it's just the contrasting styles.


I haven't read it, can you please explain a little.


It would derail the thread too much to go into it, and there are people here far more well versed in Kamtsang Kagyu than myself (such as Conebeckam). I direct you to Kongtrul's biography Gem of Many Colours, and to his Three Year Retreat manual. Basically, the monastic institutions of the time interfered in his setting up of the retreat centre. He was also forced to re-ordain in the Kamtsang tradition despite already being ordained a bhikshu with a renowned Nyingma preceptor. Anyways, you can research for yourself if you want. I find it discouraging to discuss at length to be honest. The deep sectarian divisions in Tibetan Buddhism have been a profound dissappointment to me since embarking on this path, and unfortunately I find the attitudes amongst various practitioners within all 4 schools.

Fine, but I have a growing physical and cognitive disability which is making reading a more and more difficult persuit. I think I should do everyone a favour and get off this board, and not bother people. I thought I was asking a simple question which I thought might be valid, but as you point out, I'm being lazy and asking too much of others. Will bugger off soon.
"When a Dzogchen Yogi hears Shakyamuni Buddha turning the Wheel of the Dharma of the Four Noble Truths he hears Samathabhadra proclaiming the most profound Dzogpachenpo." - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby Yeti » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:26 am

Yudron wrote:Nice post, Yeti!

Perhaps it is my ignorance, but it makes sense that Tibetan nuns would be more genuine in their practice, given that they probably chose to be a nun, whereas a lot of boys were put in a monastery by their parents. There are so many glittering nunneries in Tibet today, such as the above, and many more, such as those under Jetsun Khacho Wangmo (http://www.whitejewelmountain.org/jetsunma.html), herself a nun and scholar, and also the powerful little group at Yeshe Tsogyal's birthplace, who Lama Yeshe Wangmo is helping (http://www.jnanasukha.org/tsogyal-latso/).


My opinion isn't worth much, but I felt that where places began to get more sponsorship, the practice fell off, but where they had to struggle, the practice was much better. Also in discussion with a lot of places, they said that if they kept to themselves the Chinese government left them alone to fend for themselves and didn't cause problems for them.
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby Yudron » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:09 am

Please don't bugger off soon, Yeti, I really appreciate your contribution.
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:41 am

Firstly, they were just general comments and I was not commenting as a moderator (I sometimes regret that I took on this moderator role as I feel it really limits my ability to express myself freely).

Fine, but I have a growing physical and cognitive disability which is making reading a more and more difficult persuit. I think I should do everyone a favour and get off this board, and not bother people. I thought I was asking a simple question which I thought might be valid, but as you point out, I'm being lazy and asking too much of others. Will bugger off soon


Where did I call you lazy?

Please don't take it personally, I didn't realize my comments came off so harsh (perhaps should avoid writing messages late at night, but since I often translate in the evenings and take the train back from the city to the retreat centre my mind is still turned on at that time and that is often when I write things.). I was not trying to imply that you are lazy. Perhaps I am the lazy one, though without the books I mentioned immediately available to me there is little I can do but rely on my memory of what I read in them, which is shabby at best. Without the books nearby, the best I can do is direct you to where to find the information.

The comment about the sectarianism was a general one and not directed only at you either, it was a general feeling I have from dealing with practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism of all stripes that there is a subtle and constant "one-upmanship" throughout the various lineages. Sometimes I feel comments are towards Gelug are slightly more barbed in the Nyingma forum, but if you look at my comments in the Gelug section you will see that the triumphalism there goes challenged by me as well. Again, the comment was not directed only at you, but I see how I could have been more skilfull in sharing those feelings or in waiting for the thread to develop more before saying anything.

I personally thought the description you gave of that geshe was not really one of someone who was enjoying the teachings- but that is maybe my bad. Also, the observation came right after I mentioned the female Western Geshe, hence I made the comment about tarring with the same bursh. I have dealt with many neurotic academics (particularly Westerners) at Sera and Dharamsala, so maybe you touched a nerve. Hence the need to outline that we aren't all like that.

Perhaps I am the one who should bugger off from this thread :tongue:

I realize in retrospect actually that this thread may have been a bad idea in general, starting with the title. It could seem like a mostly Gelug trained monk came into Nyingma turf with guns blazing about monasticism. I ask for all of your patience and would like to say I honestly started this thread because I was curious, not some weird motivation to assert Gelug supremacy.

I also ask for everyone's patience while I transition from regular poster to moderator. Until now I hadn't really thought of the implications that I need to be much more careful in how I put forward my opinions.
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby Yeti » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:12 am

@JKhendrup

Just to clarify, at that event when Dilgo Khyentse was teaching on the nature of mind, no one else blinked or talked about that Geshe's reaction to the teachings, and there were other Gelugpa's in the room. I found that Geshe a really nice guy and certainly not neurotic. And that behaviour I don't classify as neurotic, but to me, I just saw it as someone developed in the debating tradition, that is just how they would manifest inspired in that situation. It's just that it is the flip side of how I was taught to remain in the presence in those teachings. That's not putting one above the other at all. But at the same time it was really bizarre (to me).

I began my Buddhist teachings in the Gelugpa tradition. It really gave me a good basis for my practice. After a few years of teaching, during a long period of study and practice, I went to my Gelugpa teacher, who was a tulku, but had also been sent by HHDL to train in the Theravada tradition of meditation. I told him that I felt I was much better off doing a lot of shamatha practice and just doing short contemplations and sadhanas at the end of the day, it seemed to have a better effect. He went into his room and came out with a book and gave it to me and said "I think you are much more suited to this approach"... it was a book on Dzogchen. All my Gelugpa teachers are/were fantastic.

You might not have accused me of being lazy, but I certainly felt it was implied, and I think given you started this topic, I felt my question was not really off topic or branching. I think there was some laziness in not being willing to give even a short explanation. There's no need to apologize to me, it's actually a good experience for me to see how my own expression can create confusion. But I would say to you, for the sake of newer students, it's tough to be a practitioner, especially to be an ordained sangha in the west, I can't do it, so hats off to you, but please try and take care and represent yourself well and keep you bodhisattva pledge to try and help others. But be careful you don't take on too much and burn yourself out.

You know, I have the opposite experience of sectarianism; I'm really finding a surprising lack of it in the places I look and the Dharma practitioners and sanghas I come across. I'm just wondering how my quick remark set you off, maybe your radar is set on too high alert for this. Maybe it's not. I don't know. But I can definitely point to many sanghas and practitioners were this is off the radar completely.

Anyway, I hope you don't over extend yourself and burn yourself out.
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby Namgyal » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:16 am

My own view is Nyingma, but I revere monks and nuns as possessing the highest form of existence, and I am filled with gratitude for their courage and dedication. Of course, ngakpas can achieve the same realisation, but it is obvious that without support and entangled with the world their work is that much harder, and so they are much less likely to succeed. In any case, as lay practitioners we have to constantly aspire to a perfect monastic life, even if we can never achieve it in this life, because this was the path taught by our teacher Lord Buddha, and one that was followed by all the great masters of India, including Guru Rinpoche. Just having this aspiration can bring many blessings, and hopefully create the opportunity for the perfect monastic life in the future.
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:24 am

but please try and take care and represent yourself well and keep you bodhisattva pledge to try and help others.


I honestly do, but I am only human. Due to my lack of anonymity, being a monk, working as an interpreter and volunteering as a moderator though I realize that I must be more careful of how I say things. But please remember that I am only human, and I put myself out there everyday- not as anonymous poster but as a real person that people can connect with (or not), be frustrated with, be disappointed in.

Why did I make this decision? Mostly so people who needed it could connect with Geshe la for example. I get several private messages a week asking me to put questions to Geshe la and in this I way I feel I can serve Buddhism by helping people connect with advice from a qualified teacher. I also saw it as an opportunity for cultivation- if I am called out and criticized publicly on a forum where I have a management role,can I handle it? If not, why not?

Being an interpreter also means that most of my mistakes become public as well which is a good way to poke at the self-cherishing. (embarassment does that)

It was not easy to make the decision to put the photo in my avatar and be open about who I was, as I knew I would be under a lot of extra scrutiny (some people naturally give Western Sangha a hard time too- that wasn't directed at you Yeti, it is a general statement).

Putting myself out there meant welcoming peoples opinions and criticisms of me in a way. I realize I have many faults and that sometimes those will upset people. But I ask that people not allow my shortcomings to lessen their opinion of the Western Sangha. And certainly not of my teachers. Geshe Sonam who I work with everyday is a shining example of the qualities of knowledge and practice. Perhaps he keeps his translator close because he sees that my blundering needs constant correcting. (though I am told I am pretty good company and undemanding in general)
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:36 am

Thanks Raksha for your comments.

Yeti-la
I'm just wondering how my quick remark set you off, maybe your radar is set on too high alert for this. Maybe it's not. I don't know


This high alert attitude comes from seeing what happens on the various internet forums. The anonymity and accessbility of the internet means that attitudes that people would not normally express face-to-face in polite company often appear in the forums. I think if you stick around here awhile and observe you will see some of what I mean. I agree that in the centres people are generally milder, though I definitely think the sectarianism still exists.
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby wangdak » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:41 am

JKhedrup wrote:
You can see I care more about realization than institutional power, otherwise I'd be mentioning the handful of women who had institutional religious power in old Tibet.


I have a heavy aversion to institutional structures and instinctively want to rebel against them. But I think in Buddhism they definitely serve their purpose, sometimes even saving the teachings from disaster.

Sometimes the institutions are what preserve the texts and lineages that let the yogi/nis wander off and gain those realizations. However, you see for example in Jamgon Kongtrul's biography that in some cases they can be obstacles. Still, I firmly believe they bring more light to the world than darkness.

There are two examples of strong women's communities that come to mind in the world of Tibetan Buddhism:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqimgbbjrg4 (The Nangchen nuns)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApluxpphvM0 (Nuns of the Drukpa lineage)

And in the Gelug tradition we have had the first woman Geshe (a Westerner) and in the next two-three years will have several Tibetan nun geshes as well.


And also Khandro Rinpoche and her nuns from Samten Tse.
http://www.mindrolling.com/samtentse/default.cfm
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:43 am

Khandro Rinpoche is involved in lots of interesting work. I hope I have the pleasure of meeting her one day, too bad she isn't often in Europe.

Ven. Tenzin Palmo:

"The world needs yoginis. This is the point. We need women who are not just realized but very deeply stabilized in their realization, with real understanding and knowledge of the Dharma because they have studied … so that in time they can come out and also teach. Because you know, all we women, we don't have so many female teachers and for the future we need them, don't we? It's just an example of what women can do."
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby wangdak » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:18 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Khandro Rinpoche is involved in lots of interesting work. I hope I have the pleasure of meeting her one day, too bad she isn't often in Europe.

Ven. Tenzin Palmo:

"The world needs yoginis. This is the point. We need women who are not just realized but very deeply stabilized in their realization, with real understanding and knowledge of the Dharma because they have studied … so that in time they can come out and also teach. Because you know, all we women, we don't have so many female teachers and for the future we need them, don't we? It's just an example of what women can do."


Rinpoche is in Europe very often. :-)
http://www.mjkr.org/schedule.cfm
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:14 pm

:thanks: I stand pleasantly corrected! That is great news. I just hope I can find a weekend where she is teaching and I don't have to translate courses.
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby heart » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:47 pm

JKhedrup wrote::thanks: I stand pleasantly corrected! That is great news. I just hope I can find a weekend where she is teaching and I don't have to translate courses.


She speaks really excellent English, and she always teach in English, it is very powerful because she is that good.

/magnus
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Re: Is the Nyingma tradition profoundly non-monastic?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:57 pm

Yes I have heard her lectures on youtube and she is very fluent and also can joke in English which is wonderful (she seems to have a great sense of humour). What I meant was that I don't have translation responsibilities here during all her teaching events. (Most of my work falls on weekends because that is when people come for classes that need to be translated)
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