Investigating fake lamas

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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:03 am

Yudron wrote:Gendun Chopel? Thang Tong Gyalpo? The Madman of Tsang? Many important teachers appear crazy (cholwa) or display uncontrived conduct (trul zhug). Of course a lama will teach a student to contradict conventional morality when they are at the right point on the path to do so. People in the Vajrayana really should read Kongtrul's Treasury of Knowledge which explains all these things, and the commentaries on the Dam Sum, the three levels of vows. The Vajrayana is transgressive to its core, and perhaps people who are not comfortable with that should stick to the Mahayana.
Well . . . Thangtong Gyalpo was just odd. Tsangnyonpa was unusual. Neither of them ever harmed beings or made up teachings. Even the worst that Virupa, the poster boy for crazy wisdom, did was break the Pratimoksha vow against drinking.

I believe crazy wisdom is never harmful.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:39 am

jkhedrup, The Characteristics of the spiritual masters to be relied upon:
I don't agree with number 4 as much study is not indicitive of an enlightened being.
I also don't agree with number 7 as proficient speakers can be dangerous if the teacher be too glib.
I think the most important characteristic would be a feeling of peace in the presence of a teacher.


In general while this feeling of peace/being inspired important I don't feel it is the main thing. I cannot tell you the number of people who trusted in their feelings but didn't do their homework and ended up with teachers who took advantage of them financially, isolated them from other masters even manipulated them emotionally etc. As a translator in interviews I have heard many such sad stories- in many cases people end up abandoning spiritual practice completely. If people study the basics of Buddhism themselves they will be less likely to be fooled by charlatans, and better equipped to differentiate between genuine and false masters.

If you don't agree with the points that is okay, but I should mention that they are not just the opinion of the Gelug masters or the Lam Rim. The points were sourced and elucidated from the Mahayanasutraalamkara (Ornament of Mahayana Sutras), one of the Five Treatises of Maitreya. According to this website http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?titl ... ana_Sutras this is widely studied in the Nyingma tradition as well. So the points are pretty much universal.

What does Mahayanasutraalamkara say?

Rely on masters, who are disciplined, pacified, thoroughly pacified,
Have superior qualities, are enthusiastic and rich in scriptural knowledge
Have an excellent understanding of thusness, skill in teaching,
A compassionate nature and have overcome discouragement.
(trans. Rosemary Patton)


People may mention Milarepa in this regard, that he never studied the scriptures. I believe he was a very special exception. This is because his teacher Marpa, was a Sanskrit scholar and journeyed to India to carry back texts and receive initiations. He studied quite a bit. Gampopa, one of Je Milarepa's foremost disciples, was a Kadampa scholar who systematized that approach in a way that integrated Milarepa's esoteric instructions as the pinnacle of practice.


So I would state that being learned, as mentioned by Berzin in the article I posted, is no guarantee of a qualified teacher, it is an important quality in a qualified one. I would not take as my tantric master a Geshe who studied well but didn't practice or exemplify spiritual qualities. That is why I have relatively few teachers. And even if a teacher is not a qualified guru, if he can pass on genuine dharma knowledge even if his presence is not inspiring or he doesn't exemplify many qualities, at least the teachings he is given are based on genuine Buddhist sources- so at least the students come away with something.

If a teacher is charismatic, but not a true guru, and in addition has no solid basis of knowledge, then maybe even wrong information will be passed onto the students and they begin practicing bizarre things.
But yes, knowledge can be manipulated by the particularly shameless. So even a good grounding in the dharma is no guarantee unfortunately.

The bottom line is no matter what we need to be careful.
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: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:01 pm

Section IV 7. Non-virtue does not exist in skillful behaviour.
...
Section V 16. Practice that contradicts the words of the Buddha is a misconception.
...
23. It is never the case in the Mantra[yana] that non-virtue turns into virtue.
...
Supplementary Verses 20. It is also the case that someone that has attained the pure bhumis goes to the lower realms.
21. If one were to indulge in the cause, then even someone on the tenth bhumi would fall down.
Jigten Sumgon Gonchig
For every one mad mahasiddha there exist at least a thousand realised vow keeping practioners (in the Vajrayana) but we focus on the few madmen. Why? Because we are enamoured by the (mistaken) conception that we, like them, can continue to indulge our clinging to distractions and unwholesome activities as a spiritual path. What we tend to forget is that these people were (apparently) enlightened and we are not. If your mind is continuously in Mahamudra/Dzogchen, then it's like mud sliding off the petals of a lotus flower. But if you slip, even for a second, well Jigten Sumgon explains that quite clearly. That is why for the unenlightened (ie us) it is better to uphold moral discipline, because as Jigten Sumgon points out non-virtue does not exist in skillful behaviour, we thus guarantee the ccumulation of merit that will ripen into circumstances conducive to our liberation.

This also means that it is a good idea to look for teachers that also display and encourage the qualities of moral discipline. The path to vajra hell is paved with the most pristine intentions, especially for immature and unripened disciples.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Karma Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:23 pm

Skillful behavior is that which brings benefit to sentient beings, not merely some list of rules. I think Yudron's point is well taken. Vajrayana is *inherently* dangerous. One should examine the teacher's motivation very well. In general it is good advice to see that they behave according to the three vows, but this is not foolproof. Moreover, one should always guard one's *own* behavior by the three vows regardless of what one is told by a guru. If a guru's advice goes against our understanding of the three vows, we should question it!
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Yudron » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:36 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Section IV 7. Non-virtue does not exist in skillful behaviour.
...
Section V 16. Practice that contradicts the words of the Buddha is a misconception.
...
23. It is never the case in the Mantra[yana] that non-virtue turns into virtue.
...
Supplementary Verses 20. It is also the case that someone that has attained the pure bhumis goes to the lower realms.
21. If one were to indulge in the cause, then even someone on the tenth bhumi would fall down.
Jigten Sumgon Gonchig
For every one mad mahasiddha there exist at least a thousand realised vow keeping practioners (in the Vajrayana) but we focus on the few madmen. Why? Because we are enamoured by the (mistaken) conception that we, like them, can continue to indulge our clinging to distractions and unwholesome activities as a spiritual path. What we tend to forget is that these people were (apparently) enlightened and we are not. If your mind is continuously in Mahamudra/Dzogchen, then it's like mud sliding off the petals of a lotus flower. But if you slip, even for a second, well Jigten Sumgon explains that quite clearly. That is why for the unenlightened (ie us) it is better to uphold moral discipline, because as Jigten Sumgon points out non-virtue does not exist in skillful behavior, we thus guarantee the accumulation of merit that will ripen into circumstances conducive to our liberation.

This also means that it is a good idea to look for teachers that also display and encourage the qualities of moral discipline. The path to vajra hell is paved with the most pristine intentions, especially for immature and unripened disciples.
:namaste:


It all sounds good, except almost all the Nyingma lamas universally agreed upon as the greatest of the 20th century drank wine and had sex with women, usually a lot of women. These are not stories from a bygone era. To guide people away from them would be a tremendous disservice.

Did the worst lamas of the 20th century also drink wine and have sex with women, too? Probably. Were a lot of people harmed by bad lamas? Definitely.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:06 pm

Yudron wrote:...except almost all the Nyingma lamas universally agreed upon as the greatest of the 20th century drank wine and had sex with women
Drinking wine, if you have not taken the precept of abstainence from intoxicants, and having sex (even with multiple partners), if you have not taken the precept of monasticism, are not a problem. Why you are drinking and having sex may be a problem.
:namaste:
PS Just because somebody is a lama, does not mean that they are realised/enlightened.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:07 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:Vajrayana is *inherently* dangerous.
I disagree.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Karma Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:22 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:Vajrayana is *inherently* dangerous.
I disagree.


You are of course welcome to. I have seen enough people go crazy or have their minds turn against the practice even with very good teachers in the time I have been practicing to be less sanguine. Tremendous energies are being invoked and people can become egomaniacs, fall prey to lung disease, etc. It truly is like a snake in a tube-- straight to liberation or straight to hell.

Kalu Rinpoche's advice about tantra comes to mind:

"Better not to start. If you start, better to finish."
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby justsit » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:30 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:Vajrayana is *inherently* dangerous.
I disagree.


You are of course welcome to. I have seen enough people go crazy or have their minds turn against the practice even with very good teachers in the time I have been practicing to be less sanguine. Tremendous energies are being invoked and people can become egomaniacs, fall prey to lung disease, etc. It truly is like a snake in a tube-- straight to liberation or straight to hell.

Kalu Rinpoche's advice about tantra comes to mind:

"Better not to start. If you start, better to finish."

Agree here. Many teachers have offered this caveat. And, sadly, students who ignore it may do so at their peril.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby conebeckham » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:30 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
People may mention Milarepa in this regard, that he never studied the scriptures.


I have heard that this is not true, and that Mila certainly studied quite a bit, prior to empowerment, etc. The most popular accounts may not mention this, but there are sources that indicate he studied and was exposed to general Mahayana scriptures to a great degree.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:49 pm

Thanks for this Cone! So it seems study is necessary even for the most extraordinary beings!
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: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:49 pm

For a beginner to Tantra "correct" behaviour is a matter of context.

Take meat eating and drinking for example. As a Mahayanaist vegetarianism and teetotalling is the norm. So to acclimatise one takes part in rituals where, after a lengthy period of practicing, one indulges in meat and alcohol whilst still in the middle of the ritual. With time the "effect" produced by the rituals can be carried over into daily life and an advanced practitioner can indulge in meat and alcohol of outside of the setting of the formal ritual.

This is the difference between a tantric practitioner and your average joe blow that (as a force of habit) chows down on hamburgers and knocks back a few beers every night. Otherwise there is no difference.

Now while some people are at a stage (or think that they are at a stage) where they can just say Ram Yam Kam Om Ah Hum three times in order for their minds to enter and remain in Dzogchen/Mahamudra for the course of the meal/drinking session. Then bully for them. How many people here can honestly admit they are at that level? Well the mahasiddhas are at a level where they don't even have to say a mantra. It's a 24-7 affair.

So let's not kid ourselves: Vajrayana is not dangerous, like a match is not necessarily the cause of a forest fire, if you know your capacities.

If you try to fly before you have grown wings then, as any fool can tell you, you will crash. 100% guaranteed.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Karma Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:44 pm

Vajrayana is *meant* to be transgressive. Look at the life of Saraha. Drinking wine and eating meat is meant to overcome conditioning (as well as the effect it has on one's channels and winds). It's not meant to just condition you to a new normal. Realization is the ultimate transgressive act.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby justsit » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:52 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:So let's not kid ourselves: Vajrayana is not dangerous, like a match is not necessarily the cause of a forest fire, if you know your capacities.

Big if!
How many of us do??
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby lama tsewang » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:19 pm

oooh karma dorje , that sounds so romantic
so exciting . not like the so boring statements of greg .

IT sounds so inviting , Dharma without having towork on yourself.
Dharma with no renunciation.
No rules!!!!!
Free to do whatever we want!!!

This kind of talk can be seen as an example of how dangeerous Dharma is .
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby lama tsewang » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:36 pm

I was not trying to make any personal attack , with my previous post.
I am trying to show how dangerous some of these statements can be .

I am reminded of what Nagarjuna , or rather what i have bee told, That it is much more dangerous to be attached to emptiness , than to be attached to following precepts and being attached to relative truth
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:51 pm

justsit wrote:Big if!
How many of us do??
That's the problem, that's why moral discipline is imperative. Especially for us beginners.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:58 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:Vajrayana is *meant* to be transgressive. Look at the life of Saraha. Drinking wine and eating meat is meant to overcome conditioning (as well as the effect it has on one's channels and winds). It's not meant to just condition you to a new normal. Realization is the ultimate transgressive act.
Drinking wine and eating meat can also be due to conditioning. Oaky, if you were living in a medieval Brahamanic society, with its extreme emphasis on purity, then it would be transgressive, but right now drinking wine and eating meat is the norm. Go into any cafe, bar, restaurant, etc... and see what is happening. What do you see? The triumphal reign of tantrism or the Mara of conditioned habit? I know what I see. Seems the description for transg
ressive has changed since Saraha was around. Now it is transgressive to be able to successfully maintain the five precepts. Wouldn't you agree.

...not like the so boring statements of greg
Actually Venerable Lama Tsewang I find my life just as exciting now, engaging in the constant batle to maintain precepts and vows, as I did when it was all sex, drugs and house music! :smile: Plus the added bonus is that I find it infinitely more fulfiling.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Karma Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:16 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:Vajrayana is *meant* to be transgressive. Look at the life of Saraha. Drinking wine and eating meat is meant to overcome conditioning (as well as the effect it has on one's channels and winds). It's not meant to just condition you to a new normal. Realization is the ultimate transgressive act.
Drinking wine and eating meat can also be due to conditioning. Oaky, if you were living in a medieval Brahamanic society, with its extreme emphasis on purity, then it would be transgressive, but right now drinking wine and eating meat is the norm. Go into any cafe, bar, restaurant, etc... and see what is happening. What do you see? The triumphal reign of tantrism or the Mara of conditioned habit? I know what I see. Seems the description for transg
ressive has changed since Saraha was around. Now it is transgressive to be able to successfully maintain the five precepts. Wouldn't you agree.


Yes of course, but you gave the example of the vegetarian teetotaler. For them, meat and wine are most certainly viewed as impure. But too often, people mix into their maintaining of precepts an unhealthy dose of pride and superiority and it all turns to shit anyway.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:21 pm

Dude, it doesn't turn to shit becaue of the vows/precepts themselves, like it doesn't turn to shit due to the tantric practice itself. Just that it is MUCH easier for the tantric practice to turn to shit on all fronts. What do I mean by this? If somebody screws up their vows via egoism and pride at least they will gain the benefit of having kept the vows and not having engaged in unholesome actions. If somebody screws up their tantric practice for the same reason, well the outcome is a (vajra) hell of a lot worse for them.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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