Termas and Cultural Paradigms

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Indrajala
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Re: tibetan buddhist monasticism in the west

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:32 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:24 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Karma Dorje » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:54 am

As a Western practitioner I bristle at the notion that rationalism is our de facto position unless we are rejecting it. This may be true of intellectuals and academics, but not of ordinary practitioners. I see no particular problem in Virupa stopping the sun in its tracks or Padmasambhava being born from a lotus. I find it kind of amusing for us to say "All of this is unreal" and then in the same breath say "But it is unreal in exactly this way that we 21st CE humans expect it to be". The world is far more wondrous than most of us give it credit for. Shoot, George Bush was elected to *two terms*! That's a lot harder for me to believe than any of these other stories and that was an ordeal I actually experienced firsthand.

Historical textual analysis may keep academics in grant money, but I don't think it does a damn thing for someone who is actually practicing. At least to me, what matters is that I can encounter a living tradition with realized masters that can pass on the teachings and bring it to fruition in my own mind. Most of what I practice is from terma teachings and these are not automatically accepted in Tibet. They needed to be validated by other great masters. You can read that in the lives of many masters that they were initially ridiculed. Those that practice the great terma cycles like the Long Chen Nyingthig, Nam Cho, etc. will all attest to the great power and blessing of these practices, and this emerges over time and with scrutiny.

Tantra is not for rationalists. Rationalists do poorly at it. Without devotion and trust in the teachings *as you receive them*, you might as well collect stamps or butterflies instead of empowerments. If Western rationalists want to come up with some dessicated "historically accurate" invention that they think is real Buddhism, they are welcome to it. I'll stick with a lineage of teachers that have validated the essence of the teachings in their own lives.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:10 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Kunga » Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:57 pm

As most treasures are decoded and expanded by their revealers into the liturgical, textual forms we know and use today can we not view the final product as the result of an enlightened being's realisation and skilful means - in the same way we might view 'mind treasures' or teachings revealed in 'pure vision', which exists even in schools which historically have *officially* rejected the terma tradition in the past? (Both these schools to some degree have incorporated major terma practices into their curricula nowadays, though.)

Historically, there seems to have been something of a terma industry in Tibet, with different, would-be tertons scrabbling around for 'treasures', discovering them, and then trying to market theirs as more viable than the discoveries of others and 'make it' in the 'Termasphere'. One cannot rule out that the system has been open to corruption, which is why I tend to view terma in terms of realisations that have born fruit in lamas' minds, which have arisen when the necessary causes and conditions have been present. If a teaching has come from a realised being's mindstream then there is no difference in its coming from Guru Rinpoche.

We could draw a parallel between this and certain Mahayana sutras which, clearly not coming from the historical Shakyamuni himself, have come from teachers with the same enlightened mind.

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Karma Dorje » Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:27 pm

"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:01 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Grigoris » Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:20 pm

The subject of termas always makes me laugh for a number of reasons.

Termas are not a purely Tibetan "cultural" thing. Think about the Dead Sea scrolls for example. Think about the fact that people hid books and manuscripts during the period of Nazi rule so that they escaped destruction and could be brought to light again to "enlighten" people after the Nazis lost power. The original people that hid them may have been killed and the books and texts still remain hidden. If a couple of hundred years later somebody rennovated the house they were hidden in and came across them? Think of texts on herbalism and other magic that may have been hidden during the Inquisition inorder to protect them. It is not so dissimilar.

Okay, maybe the Dead Sea scrolls were not puposefully hidden, but you get the idea.

What is so hard to believe that Padmasambhava and other teachers stashed texts in caves either to store them for future use or just so they didn't have to carry them around with them?

Here in Greece people would stash all sorts of things (tools, blankets, lamps, etc...) in remote rural locations so that when they went back to work they wouldn't have to carry them again. If they stashed a bible or a prayer book what would be so strange about that? If it was "found" a couple of hundred years later? Ascetics in the Orthodox tradition would stash icons etc... in caves where they were practicing, and then these were miraculously discovered hundreds of years later. I've personally seen a few instances of them.

Take the Peace Vase project as another example. Hundreds of vases filled with precious substances, prayers, teachings and blessings being hidden all over the planet. Whay do think that is? A modern terma project, that's what that is. And if someday somebody found and opened one of those vases and saw texts written by teachers that lived 2-3 generations ago what would they say? It's irrational! It's unlikely! Surely it cannot be! etc...

That's what is happening in this thread.

Oh yeh of little faith and way too much intellectual analysis, things are infinitely more simple than they seem. :tongue:
:namaste:
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby DGA » Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:14 pm


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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Sherlock » Tue Jan 01, 2013 6:45 pm


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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Yudron » Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:35 pm

I spent an hour this morning starting to read an e-book version of Jacob Dalton's The Taming of the Demons, on my Nook. The questions that arose for me on starting to read it seem very related to this topic. Dalton here is talking about stories of taming of rudra and the rather central role the occupied in Tibetan Buddhism, and therefore in Tibetan society and politics. He addresses these topics from an academic outsider's perspective. This kind of approach is always interesting to me, because it takes the same terms and imagery and imbues them with meaning that we would never ascribe to them as practitioners.

We started this conversation talking about terma. As Malcolm used to point out, the terma tradition is essentially Nyingma, no matter what tradition the terton comes out of. The terton is a heroic figure in our Nyingma world, and thus far, usually male, based on the model of the Bodhisattva hero, and the tantric model--where the practitioner inhabits universes of symbols, deities, and mandalas that have vanquished, or are in the process of vanquishing a barrage of countervailing evil forces, personified as demons.

The terton bursts out of the pages of the tantric back story, in which the demons of Tibet were tamed by Guru Rinpoche, enough so that the Dharma could be established here. All tertons are tulkus, and most of them tulkus of one of Guru Rinpoche's main disciples... and they burst on the scene again when the genuine practice of the inner tantras is in peril for various reasons. Then, the perfect practice or teaching or power object directly from Guru Rinpoche for this specific place, time, and situation is released from its time capsule. A community of disciples grows up around the often charismatic, usually non-monastic, terton, and performs the revealed rituals and practices, and individual practioners perfect their internal practice of the terma and teachings.

It's a wonderful world to be a part of... so evocative, moving and interesting. That open, trusting, quality, and the sense of being held and supported by a one's heroic enlightened lama (with his connection to our lineage history), supercharges one's practice. It gives one courage and motivation to put a lot of energy and time into practice and imbues the practice itself with juice and power. If you take away this juiciness, you have unplugged the power cord of the Nyingma lineage.

There is no problem with reading books by these wonderful scholars who are looking the history of Tibetan and Indic Buddhism from the perspective of what can be verified historically and scientifically at this time, but I view that as entertainment or a side hobby... these "objective" viewpoints have no relevance to practice. How could they?

People in our tradition do years of retreat, or daily practice, in which they inhabit a whole world that is the mandala of the deity. For a Vajrakilaya practitioner, for example, at every moment rudra is being subjugated and a vast battle is underway. A practitioner of Guru Rinpoche is always taming the wild lands by means of suitable manifestations. The Saraswati practitioner is always by her milk ocean, tuned-in to vast omniscient wisdom and singing it to the world.

Do we take away her veena and say--you are a river that dried up centuries ago... get real, lady?

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1020 ... the-demons
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Karma Dorje » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:45 pm

"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:00 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Karma Dorje » Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:32 am

You're obviously not listening, Huseng. The foundational premise I am talking about is that the Guru is Buddha and that the teachings he or she gives are Dharma. In the context of practice of Vajrayana, that is not really up for discussion. How Padmasambhava appeared in the world is presented a certain way. Make of it what you will. I have absolutely no problem with mind manifesting directly in that manner, nor do I feel even the slightest desire to prove one way or another what the life of the historical personage of Padmsambhava was.

If you are going to continue to take my repeated statements that I am NOT going to make a definite statement on things as meaning that I am promoting faith claims rather than that I am going to keep an open mind about things and leave it in the realm of possibility, there is little point in continuing this conversation. You are welcome to hold onto some delusional reality where "ordinary beings" live separate from other realities where buddhas live and different laws apply. That makes less than no sense to me practically, experientially or philosophically.

You dislike faith, you admire rationalism and history and your ideal Buddhism is some sort of Positivist fantasy. I get that. Good luck with that. I'm sure you will have a most excellent academic career with that approach as it's all the rage in the Academy. However, dismissing practitioners as dangerous, cultish and unhealthy because they don't agree with your own (smug) point of view is hardly the Mahayana approach you so glibly chastise others with... Particularly when you have neither practical experience with the tradition under consideration nor agreement with its underlying principles, nor I might add even the slightest acquaintance with me as a person.

If this kind of aggressive over-intellectualization is what you consider the way forward for Buddhism, God help us all.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Re: tibetan buddhist monasticism in the west

Postby icylake » Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:43 am


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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:17 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby muni » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:49 am

Termas are revealing unapprehended nature while conceptual mind sees apprehended only, 'appearing' in unapprehended, but last one is not seen.
Termas are revealing by faith in unapprehended nature like it is, in seeing the Guru like that. No faith in fixated apprehended. All have Buddha nature/ are Buddha. Symbolic; we all are perfect diamonds, all of different shapes. Therefore so many apprehended approaches to reveal unapprehended nature.

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby pemachophel » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:35 pm

Karma Dorje,

I feel the heat. Gimme some of what you're drinking.

:namaste:
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Yudron » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:54 pm

Husung: The Dzogchen tradition does not have a dichotomy between relative and absolute truth. So there is something else besides Guru Rinpoche was "literally" conceived on a lotus versus definitely born from a woman's womb, lived a normal human lifespan and so forth. Phenomena are not viewed that way by serious practitioners in our tradition--and I'm not talking about mahasiddhas here--just us regular simple dedicated practitioners. We apply the view to everything, so there is a softening of the whole need to see things as this or that.

I know it is irritating if you want to pin things down.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Silent Bob » Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:19 am

"You are all lotus-born." Trungpa Rinpoche
"All the sublime teachings, so profound--to throw away one and then grab yet another will not bear even a single fruit. Persevere, therefore, in simply one."
--Dudjom Rinpoche, "Nectar for the Hearts of Fortunate Disciples. Song No. 8"


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