Termas and Cultural Paradigms

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Yudron » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:20 pm

Yes, I read the same books you guys do... when I have time. At least they sitting all around my bedroom and I'm hoping I can learn by osmosis. But, as a practitioner, the feeling state of being in a fortified palace--for those deities that have one--is simply evocative of a certain style of enlightenment. I feel the qualities of the deities mandala.. this is enlivening. On the other hand, I fall asleep reading Davidson's intellectual theories about the origin of tantra. And by the way, they are still just very educated theories at this early point. There is no relationship between the two for me.

For Nyingmpas, the deity is rigpa, and we are resting in that. IMHO analyzing the historical under-pinnings of the imagery and so forth just leads to a splitting off in one's practice, contributing to the idea that these practices are far away Asian things. To me, the setting of these practices is my house, and my body, and there is no time.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:49 pm

Yudron wrote:For Nyingmpas, the deity is rigpa, and we are resting in that.
For the Kagyu it is the same too, only the deity is Mahamudra which is, of course, infinitely sexier than rigpa! :tongue:

I tend to err in the direction Huseng outlines. I will not do a sadhana if I do not firstly familiarise myself with the visualisations, meanings of the words, mantra, mudra, etc... I refuse to just chant along, or sit in, "for the blessings". This attitude is just not for me. Honestly it is (also) a reaction to my years of Greek Orthodox Christian upbringing, where the ecclesiastical language of the service is incomprehensible and the meaning of the rituals is never ever explained to the laity. But it also makes the practice much richer and more meaningful for me. Much more so than just parroting a series of incomprehensible rhyming phrases.

Context is also important. As is understanding of symbology. Many of the Vajrayana images are downright terrifying for Westerners, they immediately interpret them through their Christian models and wrongly identify Dharmapalas and images of death as the worship of negativity. It takes a fair bit of explaining to get them to understand. Explanations that are 100% necessary to avoid misinterpretation.

Now whether one is comfortable at taking the teachings at face value or whether one needs to reinterpret them through the prism of their understanding is just a karma thing. It is neither right nor wrong. The question is: does the individuals "method" lead to wisdom and compassion? If the answer is yes, then the rest is irrelevant.

This is most evident in deity practices. Some people want to see the deity as something external to them , some want to see it as internal, some want to see it as inseperable from them and others want to see it as empty (as themselves). Different stokes for different folks. Or to put it more Buddhistically: karmic preponderance.

On this issue, I believe that it is really a case of live and let live. And ultimately, it depends on the teacher knowing the student and deciding the best avenue of approach to engender the students realisation. Beating somebody into unconsciousness with your sandal doesn't always work, neither may using logic to cause their (over) intellectual faculty to stall.
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One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Kunga » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:49 pm

The yidam is the nature of our own mind in all traditions - the sadhanas and related yogas are the means for us to realise this and abide in the recognition. All the symbology is thus a reminder of what we're about, as exemplified in whatever walking/talking/sitting/smiling/snarling Buddha figure that floats our boat, and the mandala - which is really everything we perceive 'around us', primordially pure. :namaste:
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Kunga » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:03 pm

Sherlock wrote::good: :good:
Thank for that heartfelt response venerable.

I personally visualize galaxies filled with stars and planets when doing mandala offerings, which HHDL has said makes no difference. I don't know, I think for me, it strengthens my intention more and relates better to the concept of offering the universe than visualizing Mt. Meru.


Sounds good to me, Sherlock. Wishing you all the best in your accumulations. :-)
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Yudron » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:07 pm

Sometimes, there is a teaching given in the Nyingma that the most elaborate visualization practices, such--in our tradition--Vajrakilaya are there for the lowest level practitioner (the lowest of the highest in this paradigm). The lowest level practitioner is defined, in this context, as the most intellectual. I'm not making this s**t up!

This, taking a kind of shamatha approach to an elaborate visualization practice, one studies up on all the deities in the mantra, their symbolism and so forth, then takes care to gradually meditate on each detail of the palace (parapets!), bringing one's mind back onto the object as in any shamatha practice. You can see this in Dilgo Kyentse's book on generating the deity--the one about Vajrasattva that was taken from teachings he gave to Kagyupas.

Personally, I started out this way based on my background in Kagyu shamatha vipassana meditation. I think I just assumed we did this this way, and also I relied on some wonderful Ka-Nying lamas to help me understand Mahayoga practice.

I was an intellectual, and an angry, judgmental, and political person, and for me, doing that as my first tantric practice after ngondro was pure gold. I made drawings and diagrams of mandala and all the most obscure deities not visible on thankas, studied up on their significance, and so on. It really unwound a lot of stuff for me.

It wasn't until I spend a lot of time--years-- with my lama that I realized that this was not his approach at all! He is named by other lamas as, along with Alak Zenkar Rinpoche, one of the most knowledgeable people in the world of all things Kilaya, but he reminds us that there was no TV or movies in Kongpo when he grew up. For him, reading up on all that stuff and memorizing it was very entertaining.

We have an oral teaching from the 20'th century master Sera Khandro that articulates this.

[in the] the custom of those who belong to the Ancient Translation School (Nyingma; rnying ma) meditation on the deity and sustaining [the recognition of] your own mind’s uncontrived, abiding nature are not different. Why is that? What meditates is the mind; what you meditate upon, the deity, is also the mind’s natural glow. Moreover, to settle directly in recognition of the mind’s natural repose, without meditating on the deity’s shape, is the deity’s wisdom aspect, the essence of the true body of ultimate enlightenment (chöku; chos sku).


Yes, Greg, she goes on to articulate the way of practicing in the language of Mahamudra as well.

Some, such as Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche, argue that the lamas should not bother with teaching the elaborate practices anymore, such as Kalachakra. He and the charming Dr. Nyida had a debate about this at our center about a year ago. Orgyen Chowang (AKA Khenpo Orgyen Thinley) feels strongly that this is the era for Dzogchen.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:29 pm

There is a decided preference for referring to the teachings of the "historical Buddha" Śākyamuni in much western discourse on Buddhism. Deferring to Mahāyāna sūtras or even tantras somehow doesn't cut it in the wider discussion on Buddhism in general.


This is not to the benefit of Western Buddhism. Gampopa Teaches that a rationalist point of view is one of the 10 negative Actions related to mind, as Wrong view.
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Re: tibetan buddhist monasticism in the west

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:35 pm

Huseng wrote:
Yudron wrote:Great topic, Husung... I suggest a new thread on it.

The origins of the tantras that are definitely from India are believed to be from much more fantastical origins than termas--so I don't know how a scientific rationalist is going to be comforted by going back to the original source material. Plus written documents from 1200 or more years ago inevitably have lots of scribal errors, like the Bible does.


If something is attributed to Śākyamuni and this is denied by specialist scholars who write the books on the subject, the issue must be addressed on a basis other than just faith and deference to orthodox authorities.


Not true at all. Specialist scholars have the impossible task of demonstrating anything at all has ever been attributed to Buddha.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:39 pm

A kind of new orthodox canon might emerge that depends on the historical Buddha for its authority. That might end up being a real new key component of western Buddhism.


This is just a fantasy.
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Re: tibetan buddhist monasticism in the west

Postby Yudron » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:52 pm

deepbluehum wrote:
Huseng wrote:
If something is attributed to Śākyamuni and this is denied by specialist scholars who write the books on the subject, the issue must be addressed on a basis other than just faith and deference to orthodox authorities.


Not true at all. Specialist scholars have the impossible task of demonstrating anything at all has ever been attributed to Buddha.


Look, the Throma terma of Dudjom Lingpa was the main practice of 13 people who attained rainbow body. It is attributed to Saraha inseparable from Guru Rinpoche. If you take this kind of literal interpretation of things, lamas would then be required to say something "Dudjom Lingpa just made these things up and he wasn't smart enough to know that Saraha was not a Nyingma master and lived in a different era than Guru Rinpoche, and chod was the invention of Phadampa Sangye and Machig Lapdron in the 11th century." Come on! Pure view is core of tantric practice.

This is an interesting discussion, but the Vajrayana is transmitted by wisdom lamas, from guru to disciple. Our suggestions about how they should teach will probably not be read by them. Except for perhaps Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche who I'm sure is too busy giving the wangs and lungs of the Dam Ngag Dzo right now to be surfing the internet much on his ipad... although I have seem him apparently answering his email on the throne during ceremonies.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:56 pm

Well, generally speaking, it [Rationalism] is the default ideology of most if not all western states. It is the perspective from which scholarship of religion is done.


A state does not have an ideology and in any event the ideology most popular in the state is not a reason to adopt it in one's religion. Furthermore the perspective of academia is not relevant to the perspective of the practitioner of a religion.
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Re: tibetan buddhist monasticism in the west

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:59 pm

Yudron wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:
Huseng wrote:
If something is attributed to Śākyamuni and this is denied by specialist scholars who write the books on the subject, the issue must be addressed on a basis other than just faith and deference to orthodox authorities.


Not true at all. Specialist scholars have the impossible task of demonstrating anything at all has ever been attributed to Buddha.


Look, the Throma terma of Dudjom Lingpa was the main practice of 13 people who attained rainbow body. It is attributed to Saraha inseparable from Guru Rinpoche. If you take this kind of literal interpretation of things, lamas would then be required to say something "Dudjom Lingpa just made these things up and he wasn't smart enough to know that Saraha was not a Nyingma master and lived in a different era than Guru Rinpoche, and chod was the invention of Phadampa Sangye and Machig Lapdron in the 11th century." Come on! Pure view is core of tantric practice.

This is an interesting discussion, but the Vajrayana is transmitted by wisdom lamas, from guru to disciple. Our suggestions about how they should teach will probably not be read by them. Except for perhaps Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche who I'm sure is too busy giving the wangs and lungs of the Dam Ngag Dzo right now to be surfing the internet much on his ipad... although I have seem him apparently answering his email on the throne during ceremonies.


We are in agreement. Incidentally, I am puzzled by the exasperated tone of your comment. My previous comment was meant to highlight that academics are unable in actuality to demonstrate what they say they can demonstrate. As a practitioner of Vajrayana I accept that anything stated by someone empowered with the lineage blessings is equal to that of the Buddha.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:13 pm

So, as a prerequisite sign of faith one must unquestionably accept that Padmasambhava was literally conceived from a lotus? Or that Virupa stopped the sun in its tracks despite no other human record detailing such an anomaly? Belief in the fantastical is necessary for rapid liberation from saṃsāra?


Everything in the Vajrayana path is symbolic. What these events symbolize is the power and purity of the lama, and the need for devotion. But many miracles can be verified for example teachers have imprinted their hands, feet or faces in solid rock.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:16 pm

Yudron wrote: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.


:good: this sort of comment is often repeated by my teacher.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:19 pm

Yudron wrote:
Huseng wrote:
Yudron wrote:Husung: The Dzogchen tradition does not have a dichotomy between relative and absolute truth.


So you personally believe in crow's teeth and turtle fur?


I haven't come across references to crows feet and turtle fur, but in this amazing universe it wouldn't surprise me if something like that existed somewhere.

I believe what I see right now is just the result of having a human body with human eyeballs, brain, and nervous system. A tiny narrow band of reality.


The one truth in great perfection teachings doesn't mean that there are crows Teeth or turtle Fur in reality. What it means is that there is only one direction to follow to find the path and looking outwardly at relative existence Is not it.
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Re: tibetan buddhist monasticism in the west

Postby Yudron » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:20 pm

I was agreeing with you, Blue... my seeming not to was from working with nested quotes.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:25 pm

Huseng wrote:
It is via analysis that things are empty that we halt grasping via reification. The sun still rises and sets, albeit observed with a different perspective.


This view is part of the middle way path. The great perfection and the Tantric path reject this attitude that analysis ends reification and grasping.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:30 pm

Academic scholarship and practice are not so mutually exclusive.


A serious practitioner to Tantric path will find that they are mutually exclusive take for example the story of Naropa.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:02 pm

Huseng wrote:
There is nothing wrong with curiosity and a strong intent to investigate, thoroughly understand and thereafter possess confidence in subject matter. You describe such individuals as "doggedly curious and doubtful", which I read here as being pejorative.


This needs to be done with the help of a lineage teacher or one will fabricate ideas that don't belong.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby heart » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:00 pm

Yudron wrote:We have an oral teaching from the 20'th century master Sera Khandro that articulates this.

[in the] the custom of those who belong to the Ancient Translation School (Nyingma; rnying ma) meditation on the deity and sustaining [the recognition of] your own mind’s uncontrived, abiding nature are not different. Why is that? What meditates is the mind; what you meditate upon, the deity, is also the mind’s natural glow. Moreover, to settle directly in recognition of the mind’s natural repose, without meditating on the deity’s shape, is the deity’s wisdom aspect, the essence of the true body of ultimate enlightenment (chöku; chos sku).



Very cool quote, where is it from? I want more.

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Re: tibetan buddhist monasticism in the west

Postby heart » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:02 pm

Yudron wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:
Huseng wrote:
If something is attributed to Śākyamuni and this is denied by specialist scholars who write the books on the subject, the issue must be addressed on a basis other than just faith and deference to orthodox authorities.


Not true at all. Specialist scholars have the impossible task of demonstrating anything at all has ever been attributed to Buddha.


Look, the Throma terma of Dudjom Lingpa was the main practice of 13 people who attained rainbow body. It is attributed to Saraha inseparable from Guru Rinpoche. If you take this kind of literal interpretation of things, lamas would then be required to say something "Dudjom Lingpa just made these things up and he wasn't smart enough to know that Saraha was not a Nyingma master and lived in a different era than Guru Rinpoche, and chod was the invention of Phadampa Sangye and Machig Lapdron in the 11th century." Come on! Pure view is core of tantric practice.

This is an interesting discussion, but the Vajrayana is transmitted by wisdom lamas, from guru to disciple. Our suggestions about how they should teach will probably not be read by them. Except for perhaps Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche who I'm sure is too busy giving the wangs and lungs of the Dam Ngag Dzo right now to be surfing the internet much on his ipad... although I have seem him apparently answering his email on the throne during ceremonies.


Auntie got a good point here. :smile:

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