CrawfordHollow wrote:Well, I am not so sure that many folks, especially those writing and publishing books in the West, are actually abiding by the traditional rules of secrecy that come with Vajrayana. It is true that there is much you can find through google and the internet on just about anything from the Vajrayana, including full translations of sadhanas and such. I think that this type of spiritual marketplace atmosphere takes away from the integrity of the practices and the tradition. On the other hand, the situation that we have here in the West is far different than India and Tibet where these practices originated from. Our role as practitioners is evolving and some leeway must be made to compensate for the difference.
It is relatively easy to get empowerments, especially if you have the means to travel and can afford the price of retreat. It is not so easy to develop a super close bond with a guru and get the support that you may need to really go in depth with you practice. It is possible, but not easy by any means. I think that having the books and teachings available to us through modern media can be a great support when we can't have so much one on one time with our teachers. Still, the commitment and respect needed to take up Vajrayana practice is still just as necessary as it was centuries ago in the Himalayas. Take ngondro, for example. It still takes 100,000 plus of each practice to complete. This is just as challenging if not more so than it was for Tibetans. We are still sentient beings whos minds need to be tamed and purified. Vajrayana is still the most effective method (in my opinion), and we can't expect to change it too much if we want it to work. As Greg said, it all comes down to the guru.
I would like to see teachers do more to prepare their students for Vajrayana. Perhaps empowerments are given too freely, although this is certaintly not true with all teachers. If empowerments are to be given freely, I think the teacher should explain why secrecy and samaya is so important. When it comes down to it, Vajrayana is risky business. I guess I didn't offer up a very clear answer, but its a tough one. How is the Vajrayana to be transmitted in a modern culture? What, if any of the traditional boundaries should be allowed to be broken for the ease of us Westerners? Big questions, but I would say that it would be best, for our own karma and the sake of our lineages, to stick to tradition as much as possible and keep secret what was once secret.
I dunno, all I know is this board seems more secretive and restrictive than the Geshe, the Lama, or any of the students at my center, both of whom are about as bona fide as you can get to the best of my knowledge. On the other hand, I am sure there is plenty under the surface i'm not aware of.Truthfully had I walked into a place where people were given blanket discouragement to discuss their experiences with meditation, and practice was approached with this consistent aura of exclusivity I never even would have bothered giving the place a second thought. Rightly or wrongly, this kind of thing rubs me the wrong way, to many people that simply screams cult, true or not..I wonder if some teachers simply make the accommodation knowing that this will be so for a good chunk of people.
It strikes me that a part of the problem here is that our society is not good at making a distinction between something having a needed amount of exclusivity and secrecy, and simply being an excuse to take advantage of people. As the OP notes, there is no question at all that this sort of thing gets abused regularly, and that for sure is not unique to Buddhism or spirituality.
For sure there are things that one doesn't display, give away for free, or share with people that don't need to know them..but I can only assume that attempting to move beyond a certain level of secrecy and exclusivity simply would eventually just make for far fewer practitioners. Then again, I imagine the flipside is also true sometimes - the air of secrecy and mystery might attract some.
Well, I am not so sure that many folks, especially those writing and publishing books in the West, are actually abiding by the traditional rules of secrecy that come with Vajrayana.
Heh, well, plenty of people writing these books and making them available are
also authorities on Vajrayana, seems top indicate that there is more than one approach out there to secrecy, unless i'm mistaken. Like anything, it's probably not a question of extremes.