On Aro gTér

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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:35 pm

Astus wrote:I think you have heard of Zhang Zhung Nyan Gyud, Tapihiritsa, etc. No attribution to Buddhism there.
No, I hadn't heard of this claim. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Lineage, tradition and community are not synonyms.
Synonyms? No! Intrically related? Yes!
The idea of a lineage exists in Zen, (Tendai), and Vajrayana, to form exclusive claims on certain teachings and strengthen their position as orthodox.
not always, but they can be misused in this manner, I agree.
But Buddhism can survive perfectly well without such lineages too.
I wouldn't bet on it. Maybe, but... :shrug:
On one hand, experienced practitioners, wise and compassionate teachers and enlightened beings are not restricted to lineages.
Didn't say they were.
On the other hand, even without the benefits of a teacher and a community when can verify experiences by the recorded teachings and personal life.
Not in Vajrayana. Recorded teachings (tantra) are coded in Vajrayana and 100% require the presence of a guru. The guru learnt the code through their guru and... so now you start to see why (and how) lineages take shape.
: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: On Aro gTér

Postby dzogchungpa » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:00 pm

I don't know much about this group. Do any well known living lamas endorse or have some ongoing connection with them?
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:09 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
But Buddhism can survive perfectly well without such lineages too.
I wouldn't bet on it. Maybe, but... :shrug:


Since lineage exists only in two or three traditions, the rest of Buddhism is fine without it. The main bearer of the teaching is the sangha, the entire community of monastics and laypeople. The lineage is generally a way of organising leadership in a somewhat aristocratic manner, where a select few exercise spiritual (and often secular) power over the others, like a group of cardinals and bishops without a pope. Although here we can also consider the accessibility of the elite club, since while in East Asia virtually any monk could and can obtain transmission, while in Tibetan Buddhism the tulku system is quite restrictive and doesn't allow advancement.

Not in Vajrayana. Recorded teachings (tantra) are coded in Vajrayana and 100% require the presence of a guru. The guru learnt the code through their guru and... so now you start to see why (and how) lineages take shape.


Tantras have commentaries and the commentaries have commentaries too, plus all the treatises and other types of recorded teachings about them. Ambiguous and symbolic language allows a wide range of interpretations, something that is reflected in the commentaries themselves. Davidson's "Indian Esoteric Buddhism" has a short chapter on the early development of tantric scriptures and exegesis.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:16 am

Astus wrote:Since lineage exists only in two or three traditions, the rest of Buddhism is fine without it. The main bearer of the teaching is the sangha, the entire community of monastics and laypeople. The lineage is generally a way of organising leadership in a somewhat aristocratic manner, where a select few exercise spiritual (and often secular) power over the others, like a group of cardinals and bishops without a pope.
Again a very skewed view on lineage. This is how the lineage system can be misused, it is not the aim of the lineage system. My personal opinion is that this misuse arose (in Tibet) when lineages were also associated with monastaries and thus there were worldly, instead of spiritual, concerns at play. How aristocratic and power based was the lineage relationship between Naropa and Tilopa? Marpa and Milarepa? Milarepa and Gampopa? How much worldly power can a cave dwelling hermit actually practice?
Although here we can also consider the accessibility of the elite club, since while in East Asia virtually any monk could and can obtain transmission, while in Tibetan Buddhism the tulku system is quite restrictive and doesn't allow advancement.
Here you ae confounding the meaning/function of lineage with the tulku system. Though, in Tibet, they are very closely related, it is not the case that they are the same thing. I agree that the tulku system has restricted the development of lineages, on the one hand, yet at the same time it also acted as a safeguard for the preservation of many practices. Thing is, nothing can 100% protect the practices and teachings from political currents better than a transmission lineage. Many practices were maintained outside of the political influence of the ruling spiritual elites of Tibet by beng passed from teacher to student. How, for example, did the Jonangpa manage to survive, or even many of the Bon teachings if not via whispered lineages?
Tantras have commentaries and the commentaries have commentaries too, plus all the treatises and other types of recorded teachings about them. Ambiguous and symbolic language allows a wide range of interpretations, something that is reflected in the commentaries themselves. Davidson's "Indian Esoteric Buddhism" has a short chapter on the early development of tantric scriptures and exegesis.
Recorded commentaries exist and are due to the presence of the teacher that wrote them. The teachers received the instructions from... So the fact that one has access to commentaries on the tantras is due to...
"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: On Aro gTér

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:35 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Again a very skewed view on lineage. This is how the lineage system can be misused, it is not the aim of the lineage system. ... Milarepa and Gampopa? How much worldly power can a cave dwelling hermit actually practice?


Before the rise of the Kagyü school Rechungpa was believed to be the primary disciple of Milarepa, something that later was changed, although Gampopa was a monastic and spent only a year with Milarepa. Why? To strengthen the legitimacy of the Dakpo Kagyü. Gampopa also studied with other masters, but Milarepa is emphasised as the lineage master, because he was famous. Again, it's about creating legends and not about the actual sources Gampopa relied on. And this is the difference I'm talking about, between lineage and tradition. Highlighting a lineage is about propagating a tradition, creating a myth of origin, and giving a few people within the tradition special positions. Teachers who transmit different practices usually do so to a community of people as that is a reliable way to preserve the teaching. Vajrayana has this story about secretly whispered teachings, while in fact it is just part of the style of Tantra, nevertheless it is spread far and wide since the time it appeared in India and it's not hidden at all. Now you might say that still there are minor lineages that only a few people know of. However, when people here about very secretive transmissions, it is usually about claiming an immediate legitimacy to a new or neglected teaching - or you can say, to inspire faith, which is practically the same.

I agree that the tulku system has restricted the development of lineages, on the one hand, yet at the same time it also acted as a safeguard for the preservation of many practices. Thing is, nothing can 100% protect the practices and teachings from political currents better than a transmission lineage. Many practices were maintained outside of the political influence of the ruling spiritual elites of Tibet by beng passed from teacher to student. How, for example, did the Jonangpa manage to survive, or even many of the Bon teachings if not via whispered lineages?


A lineage, a linear transmission of authority from one man to another man, is actually easily corrupted or eliminated. Having a community of people is different, it can adapt and individuals are replaceable. Convincing a community to change their views is more difficult than changing one man's ideas. Although it is true that both centralised and decentralised organising have their advantages, the survival of a teaching is more likely with a larger number of dharma-bearers. I'm not very familiar with the history of the Jonang school, but it seems they have survived because of remote monasteries and not because there was a single hero preserving the teachings alone. At the same time, they were suppressed by a tulku lineage holder possessing political power - although blaming a single man is unfair, it takes a leader to have unquestioning followers.

Recorded commentaries exist and are due to the presence of the teacher that wrote them. The teachers received the instructions from...


You assume all commentators were members of a secret lineage. If there had been such a thing then uncertainty and variation in interpretation could not have occurred, not to mention all the changes over time.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:41 pm

Astus wrote:Before the rise of the Kagyü school Rechungpa was believed to be the primary disciple of Milarepa, something that later was changed, although Gampopa was a monastic and spent only a year with Milarepa. Why? To strengthen the legitimacy of the Dakpo Kagyü.
Hate to be the one to burst your bubble but ther are practice and transmission lineages of Rechungpa within the Kagyu tradition, just not the politically dominant Karma Kagyu. So here we have (yet another) a clear instance of lineage being used to maintain practices that are politically undesirable. Like I said before, emphasis on lineage can be used AND abused. You seem to be wearing idolgical blinkers that do not alow you to see the benefits as well as the disadvantages.
A lineage, a linear transmission of authority from one man to another man, is actually easily corrupted or eliminated. Having a community of people is different, it can adapt and individuals are replaceable. Convincing a community to change their views is more difficult than changing one man's ideas. Although it is true that both centralised and decentralised organising have their advantages, the survival of a teaching is more likely with a larger number of dharma-bearers. I'm not very familiar with the history of the Jonang school, but it seems they have survived because of remote monasteries and not because there was a single hero preserving the teachings alone. At the same time, they were suppressed by a tulku lineage holder possessing political power - although blaming a single man is unfair, it takes a leader to have unquestioning followers.
As I said earlier: community and lineage are not the same thing but they are currently inseperable. Obviously lineage is not about "single heroes", but in any endeavour there is always an individual or group of individuals that stand out. These are then held up as role models.
You assume all commentators were members of a secret lineage. If there had been such a thing then uncertainty and variation in interpretation could not have occurred, not to mention all the changes over time.
No, you are projecting this assumption onto what I am saying. I said that commentators learn about the practices/texts they are commenting on from teachers within lineages. They didn't learn about them from the corner store owner (who may just be a daka in disguise) or the local hairdresser (a dakini slumming it in samsara?). And yes, surprise, surprise, teachers disagree with each other and present their own interpretations too. I do not think I have said anything to the contrary.
: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: On Aro gTér

Postby Stewart » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:07 pm

Hate to be the one to burst your bubble but ther are practice and transmission lineages of Rechungpa within the Kagyu tradition, just not the politically dominant Karma Kagyu.


To be fair, Astus never said there were no tranmissions from Rechungpa, just that his role as Milarepa's cheif disciple was played down. Anyway transmission wise there are hardly any compared to Gampopas contribution....see Peter Allan Roberts 'Biographies of Rechungpa' Rechungpa does seem to have been shelved in favour of the Monastic influence in the Kagyu in general, not just Kamtsang (which you know is my background).

Another example of this is how Milarepa's Dzogchen background is portrayed as a 'mistaken episode' in his lead up to meeting Marpa, when in actual fact Milarepa studied with several Dzogchen teachers proir to meeting Marpa.

Edit: PS: source Dan Martin: The early education of Milarepa. I have it in PDF if you want a copy

But this is where my agreement with Astus ends, I believe lineage and authentic transmission is vital and indispensible, be it Mahamudra, Dzogchen or Vinaya etc. Nothing will sway me otherwise.
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:16 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:You seem to be wearing idolgical blinkers that do not alow you to see the benefits as well as the disadvantages.


I have yet to see the benefits that are not already present in traditions without lineage. Maintenance of teachings and practices don't require specified owners, this is my point.

As I said earlier: community and lineage are not the same thing but they are currently inseperable. Obviously lineage is not about "single heroes", but in any endeavour there is always an individual or group of individuals that stand out. These are then held up as role models.


Lineage is an exclusive transmission of authority from one person to another. This is not inseparable from a community or that there are outstanding teachers. Even in a lineage not all members are outstanding, and without a lineage it is also natural that there are more important historical teachers (e.g. Nagarjuna, Dharmakirti, etc.).

No, you are projecting this assumption onto what I am saying. I said that commentators learn about the practices/texts they are commenting on from teachers within lineages. They didn't learn about them from the corner store owner (who may just be a daka in disguise) or the local hairdresser (a dakini slumming it in samsara?). And yes, surprise, surprise, teachers disagree with each other and present their own interpretations too. I do not think I have said anything to the contrary.


Everyone who has contact with Buddhism learn about the teachings and methods from others. Are they automatically members of a lineage? If yes, our debate is based on different interpretation of the word. If no, then learning about tantras and such doesn't require having a teacher within a lineage.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:20 pm

Stewart wrote:To be fair, Astus never said there were no tranmissions from Rechungpa, just that his role as Milarepa's cheif disciple was played down.
Now why would I want to play fair when I have so much to gain from being unfair? :tongue:
Anyway transmission wise there are hardly any compared to Gampopas contribution....see Peter Allan Roberts 'Biographies of Rechungpa' Rechungpa does seem to have been shelved in favour of the Monastic influence in the Kagyu in general, not just Kamtsang (which you know is my background).
I agree, and I have to admit that this emphasis on monasticism kind of destroyed the yogic aura of the lineage, though, I also admit, that the anally retentive structuring helped bring the practices to a wider circle.
PS: source Dan Martin: The early education of Milarepa. I have it in PDF if you want a copy.
I'd love a copy!

Hmmmm... now that you brought it up Stewart: Astus, what is your view on the Vinaya lineages? Do you also consider them problematic? Being lineages and all... ;)
: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: On Aro gTér

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:32 pm

Astus wrote:Everyone who has contact with Buddhism learn about the teachings and methods from others. Are they automatically members of a lineage? If yes, our debate is based on different interpretation of the word. If no, then learning about tantras and such doesn't require having a teacher within a lineage.
Yes, they are part of the lineage of Buddha Dharma. Are you saying they are not?

I learn and practice Mahamudra because Tilopa was "divinely inspired" by the Buddha Vajradhara. He then taught it to Naropa, blah, blah, blah... who then taught it to my teachers who then taught it to this unworthy imbecile. I am graciously indebted to this glorious lineage for giving me the opportunity to come into contact with this wonderful and profound teaching. No doubt about it! :twothumbsup:
"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: On Aro gTér

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:36 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Hmmmm... now that you brought it up Stewart: Astus, what is your view on the Vinaya lineages? Do you also consider them problematic? Being lineages and all... ;)


A very good and appropriate question. :)

It is said that all ordained person after 10 years (vassa/varsah) can give full ordination (upasampada). That is, anyone without any further restriction in the monastic community. In real life this has been a lot more complicated, when rulers decided about monastic life, and at the same time self-ordination was a common practice. The greatest controversy about ordination lineage today is the Theravada bhikkhuni order. It is an appropriate example how lineages can die out and be used to deny equal rights to a large number of people.

Another thing about ordination is that it is supposed to be a community decision, unlike one person giving it to another without any peer review.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:11 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Yes, they are part of the lineage of Buddha Dharma. Are you saying they are not?


All Buddhists are members of that lineage, however, it doesn't exactly qualify as "lineage".

I learn and practice Mahamudra because Tilopa was "divinely inspired" by the Buddha Vajradhara. He then taught it to Naropa, blah, blah, blah... who then taught it to my teachers who then taught it to this unworthy imbecile. I am graciously indebted to this glorious lineage for giving me the opportunity to come into contact with this wonderful and profound teaching. No doubt about it! :twothumbsup:


And what would it take for you to become a lineage holder yourself, someone equal to your teacher? Is that even possible?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:28 pm

Astus wrote:And what would it take for you to become a lineage holder yourself, someone equal to your teacher? Is that even possible?
Why would I even bother contemplating this? I practice as well as I can and I teach as well as I can. That's it.
"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: On Aro gTér

Postby Jikan » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:44 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:I don't know much about this group. Do any well known living lamas endorse or have some ongoing connection with them?


No, at least not publicly, as far as I know. If I'm in the wrong I'd like to be corrected.
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:57 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Astus wrote:And what would it take for you to become a lineage holder yourself, someone equal to your teacher? Is that even possible?
Why would I even bother contemplating this? I practice as well as I can and I teach as well as I can. That's it.


Sorry, I didn't mean it to be personal. What I mean is that with such a lineage system the power is withheld by a small group of people, instead of sharing it and giving equal authority and responsibility to all capable person.

Also, what I think is the wrong approach is that instead of actually analysing the teachings and practices of a teacher/group, the focus is on whether they have or don't have a lineage.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:03 pm

Astus wrote:Sorry, I didn't mean it to be personal.
I didn't take it personally, just answered honestly. :smile:
What I mean is that with such a lineage system the power is withheld by a small group of people, instead of sharing it and giving equal authority and responsibility to all capable person.
I'm not interested in power, it's not the reason I got into Dharma. I am interested in enlightenment and I have been given more than enough tools in order to realise it. Enough within this nasty, undemocratic and corrupt power structure. ;)
"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: On Aro gTér

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:10 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:I'm not interested in power, it's not the reason I got into Dharma. I am interested in enlightenment and I have been given more than enough tools in order to realise it. Enough within this nasty, undemocratic and corrupt power structure. ;)


:)

So, how about first investigating a group's/teacher's teachings and practices first instead of lineage?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby CrawfordHollow » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:19 pm

I think that sometimes they go hand in hand. My two cents- sorry.
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby CrawfordHollow » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:20 pm

But I agree with where you are coming from.
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Re: On Aro gTér

Postby Yudron » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:00 pm

The main practice of the Vajrayana and Dzogchen is Guru Yoga. There is the idea that the practitioner receives blessings and empowerments from merging one's mind with an awakened lama's mind. That's it.

It is very difficult for us, as unenlightened people, especially in places where Buddhism is new, to evaluate whether a lama is awakened. Many people would evaluate him or her based on our cultural habits, such as: Is he or she famous, or charismatic, law-abiding, or really smart, or knows a lot of things? What word did you use Astus? Oh yeah... competent.

These things, although they may be present in a teacher, have nothing to do with enlightenment. Therefore, we rely on lineage to publicly authorize people to teach as a lineage holder. It's our Better Business Bureau. Some Tibetan systems have intermediate level teachers who are simply knowledgeable people who have done the core practices of the lineage, who may be given a lama title, or an academic title such as Khenpo. But it is pretty easy to sort these out from a person authorized to serve as a guru and take their own personal disciples.
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