Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Karma Dorje » Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:12 am

Yudron wrote:Well, I went to a Hindu Saraswati puja a couple of nights ago so that I could understand more of the similarities and differences. It was really lovely, and seemed to run like I imagine a Buddhist sadhana practice from the outer tantras would be, and had some very similar symbolism to a Buddhst Saraswati practice. I say "I imagine" because I have never been to a puja from the outer tantras, so I don't really know. I would argue that for me the practice was a Buddhist one, or because I hold a Buddhist frame of reference. The people around me, eyes closed, palms up, seemed to be seeking rapture.


Unfortunately, there are few people that really know what they are doing amongst the Indian diaspora and Western practitioners. The symbolic meaning of something like the Devi Mahatmyam requires significant teaching and study to unfold. As I mentioned on a related thread, I think Vajrayana makes explicit many things which are only implicit in Hindu tantra. As a result, in general I think Western buddhists are better educated about what they are doing than Western hindus. In my experience a lot of the Hindus are more concerned with the emotional charge than with really understanding what's going on.

Yudron wrote:So, I don't really understand this kind of language, but it seems that if one wants to do Kriyayoga practice as such one remembers the view of the inseparability absolute and relative truth, while simultaneously exerting oneself at an elaborate sattvic practice, as though it was really really true. No wonder hardly anyone specializes in these practices in Vajrayana Buddhism anymore... for most of us this would be wicked confusing!


Not so confusing. We spend lots of time with partners, friends and family serving them as if they were really existent. This is the same thing. You perform the practice because that is what pleases the deity and it is done in a mood of love and devotion. The elaboration just becomes a way to express more fully your love.

Yudron wrote:So, you are right Karme, only a wisdom lama can determine who to accept as a disciple and what to advise them about their practices. I think it would be pretty easy to make Chenresi another god in the Hindu pantheon, if if hasn't already been done. Would it be of some benefit, sure! But, would bring the same fruition of Buddhist Vajrayana? I kind of think it would be a different fruit?


Chenrezig is another name for Shiva, and vice versa as far as I am concerned. The iconography is nearly identical, the wrathful form of both is Mahakala, It's clear to me that there is shared genesis.

One can be a Buddhist and yet hold a dualistic view of Chenrezig. Will such a practitioner achieve the fruition? Unlikely. What is important is the meditational view.
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:52 am

Karma Dorje wrote:One can be a Buddhist and yet hold a dualistic view of Chenrezig. Will such a practitioner achieve the fruition? Unlikely. What is important is the meditational view.
: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."
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Jainarayan » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:43 pm

Adamantine wrote: I have a hard time imagining how it is possible to worship Vishnu , or Krishna for instance and not outright be contradicting one's refuge vow. Most elements of that belief system and practice fall into Eternalist views. If you can explain how it is possible not to fall into an Eternalist frame of reference when practicing that way I would be quite interested.


I think it takes walking a fine line, and a dualist approach. I've come to not believe in advaita (on reflection, though I'm no theologian or acharya, I think it's illogical) but am becoming a semi-dualist (vishishtadvaita or achintya bhedābheda: not much difference between them), though I'm still an unabashed monist and theist. The word vishnu means "all-pervading", just as the word śiva means "auspicious". They were adopted as proper names for deities and demi-gods, and personifed and anthropomorphized sometime during Vedic times, then elevated to the status of supreme God.

The Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāranī in its last few lines are a virtual hymn to Shiva and Vishnu. Nīlakaṇṭha, literally "blue neck", is an epithet for Shiva from the time he selflessly swallowed poison during the churning of the ocean of milk and his neck turned blue. His consort Pārvatī grabbed his neck to keep the poison from going down. It stayed in Shiva's throat and colored it blue. Smeared with ashes, auspicious and lord of yogis are other attributes of Shiva. The boar-faced one (Varaha avatara), lion-faced one (Narasimha avatara), lotus, discus and mace-bearer are attributes of Vishnu.

For some reason which I do not know, Chenrezig had a Sanskrit name, variously translated as "the Lord who sees the world" or "the Lord who looks down (at the world)", both of which are also ascribed to Vishnu and Shiva. Whom I might add are also known as Harihara (Hari=Vishnu, Hara=Shiva) and Shankarnarayana (Shankar(a)=Shiva, Narayana=Vishnu), flip sides of the same coin. Avalokitesvara came from somewhere out of the Hindu pantheon, I would imagine.

This is just my take on it.
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Jainarayan » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:58 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:Unfortunately, there are few people that really know what they are doing amongst the Indian diaspora and Western practitioners.


Indians of the diaspora and even westernizing and highly educated Indians in India often simply go through the motions of worship, just as cafeteria Catholics do. That's if the Indian educated class even worships, or does more than pay lip service to Hinduism. It's a contentious issue amongst Hindu nationalists.

Chenrezig is another name for Shiva, and vice versa as far as I am concerned. The iconography is nearly identical, the wrathful form of both is Mahakala, It's clear to me that there is shared genesis.


According to Georg Feuerstein (whom I know that some people dismiss as a mediocre scholar) in Tantra, The Path to Ecstacy Hindu and Buddhist tantra do have a common root and are really not so different at their cores.

One can be a Buddhist and yet hold a dualistic view of Chenrezig. Will such a practitioner achieve the fruition? Unlikely. What is important is the meditational view.


Unless one sees him as another manifestation of Vishnu and/or Shiva. So that goes back to my first post in that maybe I was in the right church but the wrong pew, to coin a phrase. Maybe I should be meditating on Vishnu/Shiva in the form of Chenrezig/Avalokiteshvara, the compassionate aspect of Harihara/Shankarnarayana (so many names and epithets :roll: ).
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:28 pm

Jainarayan wrote:Unless one sees him as another manifestation of Vishnu and/or Shiva. So that goes back to my first post in that maybe I was in the right church but the wrong pew, to coin a phrase. Maybe I should be meditating on Vishnu/Shiva in the form of Chenrezig/Avalokiteshvara, the compassionate aspect of Harihara/Shankarnarayana (so many names and epithets :roll: ).
Maybe it has come to the point where you have to just choose a direction, find a good guide and walk in that direction until you reach the destination. ;)
"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: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Jainarayan » Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:14 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Jainarayan wrote:Unless one sees him as another manifestation of Vishnu and/or Shiva. So that goes back to my first post in that maybe I was in the right church but the wrong pew, to coin a phrase. Maybe I should be meditating on Vishnu/Shiva in the form of Chenrezig/Avalokiteshvara, the compassionate aspect of Harihara/Shankarnarayana (so many names and epithets :roll: ).
Maybe it has come to the point where you have to just choose a direction, find a good guide and walk in that direction until you reach the destination. ;)


:bow: Yes, this is what I'm attempting to do. Believe it or not, this thread and others like it are helping me filter and sort things out. I've been meditating on my direction, and what I believe and don't believe. I'm throwing out a lot of beliefs and "superstitious silliness". Ninety-nine per cent of it coming from Hinduism. I may very well wind up on the Mahayana path. Maybe it's time to find a teacher, and let another set of eyes help me see the forest for the trees.

I've been in information overload too. There is too much conflicting information in books and on-line articles. To that end, I'm putting away a number of books I picked up from the bookstore and on-line on subjects I am really not interested in... The Yoga Sutras of Patajnali; B.K.S. Iyengar's books on yoga; Raja Yoga; J. Krishnamurti's meditations (I can't understand him for love or money); and so on. Maybe even the Upanishads, which I cannot get through. Most of these subjects I can chew but I can't swallow. Though I love the Bhagavad Gita. Lots of wisdom in there, even for non-theists when you strip out the theism. Thomas Jefferson did that with the gospels. He redacted all references to miracles, the resurrection and Jesus's divinity.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Karma Dorje » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:14 pm

Jainarayan wrote:I've been in information overload too. There is too much conflicting information in books and on-line articles. To that end, I'm putting away a number of books I picked up from the bookstore and on-line on subjects I am really not interested in... The Yoga Sutras of Patajnali; B.K.S. Iyengar's books on yoga; Raja Yoga; J. Krishnamurti's meditations (I can't understand him for love or money); and so on. Maybe even the Upanishads, which I cannot get through. Most of these subjects I can chew but I can't swallow. Though I love the Bhagavad Gita. Lots of wisdom in there, even for non-theists when you strip out the theism. Thomas Jefferson did that with the gospels. He redacted all references to miracles, the resurrection and Jesus's divinity.


As some humble advice, I would consign Ramanuja to the same heap until you can actually work through the various bhashyas of the Brahma Sutras and arrive at an informed opinion. Vedanta really has to be introduced by a realized teacher (which is the meaning of "upanishad", to sit down next to), much like any other meditational practice. If you are considering it at the level of doctrine, it is crazy-making.

You need a teacher to simplify things for you and point you in the right direction for practice. Then all of the intellectual investigation will bear fruit. If you feel very strongly about Mahayana, I urge you to thoroughly investigate what teachers you have in your area that appeal to you. From my experience there is little you won't find in the teachings of buddhist Dharma, and much you will miss outside of it.
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Yudron » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:04 pm

Karma, this was a Saraswati puja led by an incredibly well-educated vedic scholar named Veeruji. There were a few incredibly knowledgeable people there, and a bunch of other good-hearted spiritual seekers.

I do know one or two people who seem to have enough knowledge to practice both Hindu and Buddhist tantra correctly. But most of us slobs are quite fortunate if we are able learn one tradition well, enough to practice well... much less be able to read and comprehend the language of origin, and have a grasp of its literary tradition.

I'm increasing belonging to the "keep it simple" school of Tibetan Buddhism.
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Jainarayan » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:28 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:As some humble advice, I would consign Ramanuja to the same heap until you can actually work through the various bhashyas of the Brahma Sutras and arrive at an informed opinion. Vedanta really has to be introduced by a realized teacher (which is the meaning of "upanishad", to sit down next to), much like any other meditational practice. If you are considering it at the level of doctrine, it is crazy-making.


Yes, Ramanuja is in there too. His book is one of those I already donated to the public library, as well as Swami Sivananda's. I agree that Vedanta is a tough nut to crack. For that reason anyone studying Advaita is advised to do so under the close guidance of a guru. However, I have no such aspirations to learn Vedanta, but for a passing interest in philosophy. A quick overview book, written in a style that brings it to the layman is perfectly fine for me. I am going to skim through The Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna and The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, again simply for intellectual curiosity, not for any depth in Vedanta. I have nothing against Vedanta, nor do I intend to "slam" it, but I'm trying to simplify things.

You need a teacher to simplify things for you and point you in the right direction for practice. Then all of the intellectual investigation will bear fruit. If you feel very strongly about Mahayana, I urge you to thoroughly investigate what teachers you have in your area that appeal to you. From my experience there is little you won't find in the teachings of buddhist Dharma, and much you will miss outside of it.


There is a Mahayana center not far from me. I have been thinking about taking a ride there. The puranic stories are quite colorful and do have lessons and morals in them, but they are just that... stories that teach lessons and morals. I'm becoming quite disillusioned with Hinduism because it is rife with superstition; it's not much different than the Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy I fled. My goal is bodhicitta.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:48 pm

Jainarayan wrote:I'm becoming quite disillusioned with Hinduism because it is rife with superstition; it's not much different than the Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy I fled. My goal is bodhicitta.
Careful, you may find exactly what you are trying to avoid. The thing is that, both in the traditions you just mentioned and Buddhism you have to really look into the symbolism of the "superstitions" because a surface reading of the practices will leave you with a bad taste (again). I recommend you read Beer, Robert - Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs to get an idea of what you may encounter.
"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: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Jainarayan » Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:08 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Jainarayan wrote:I'm becoming quite disillusioned with Hinduism because it is rife with superstition; it's not much different than the Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy I fled. My goal is bodhicitta.
Careful, you may find exactly what you are trying to avoid. The thing is that, both in the traditions you just mentioned and Buddhism you have to really look into the symbolism of the "superstitions" because a surface reading of the practices will leave you with a bad taste (again). I recommend you read Beer, Robert - Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs to get an idea of what you may encounter.


Thanks, I will read it. I don't want to become disillusioned yet again and become totally cynical. Let me qualify "superstition"... for an Ekadashi fast, if the fast isn't broken with grains within a prescribed time, the fast is for nothing; to not fast on Ekadashi is an effront to Vishnu; in temple, if one turns so that their back is towards Garuda (sometimes unavoidable in a temple layout), he will never forgive it. Vishnu will forgive turning your back, but Garuda will not. Not fasting on Janmashtami, the birth of Krishna is a serious offense. Symbolism is one thing, but the if-then-else requirements, rules and regulations written down and proclaimed by gurus and interpreters of sruti and smrti are often downright ridiculous and do nothing to further one's devotion or spiritual growth. In fact, many of them smack of the "sins" in the RCC.
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flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Adamantine » Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:21 am

Jainarayan wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
Jainarayan wrote:I'm becoming quite disillusioned with Hinduism because it is rife with superstition; it's not much different than the Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy I fled. My goal is bodhicitta.
Careful, you may find exactly what you are trying to avoid. The thing is that, both in the traditions you just mentioned and Buddhism you have to really look into the symbolism of the "superstitions" because a surface reading of the practices will leave you with a bad taste (again). I recommend you read Beer, Robert - Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs to get an idea of what you may encounter.


Thanks, I will read it. I don't want to become disillusioned yet again and become totally cynical. Let me qualify "superstition"... for an Ekadashi fast, if the fast isn't broken with grains within a prescribed time, the fast is for nothing; to not fast on Ekadashi is an effront to Vishnu; in temple, if one turns so that their back is towards Garuda (sometimes unavoidable in a temple layout), he will never forgive it. Vishnu will forgive turning your back, but Garuda will not. Not fasting on Janmashtami, the birth of Krishna is a serious offense. Symbolism is one thing, but the if-then-else requirements, rules and regulations written down and proclaimed by gurus and interpreters of sruti and smrti are often downright ridiculous and do nothing to further one's devotion or spiritual growth. In fact, many of them smack of the "sins" in the RCC.


I don't think you'll find things like that in dharma. There are refined understandings of interdependence i.e. karmic cause and result, as well as general guidelines of etiquette in practice to fulfill your goal/s both the ultimate (enlightenment) and relative. But nothing is absolute in the fashion you describe. In Mahayana it generally boils down to your understanding and motivation. If you have the right view and motivation, then skillful methods may be employed that normally may be considered negative, etc. The big picture is not forsaken, -- rather to use the common expression: the forest is not lost for the trees.
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Jainarayan » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:30 pm

Adamantine wrote:I don't think you'll find things like that in dharma. There are refined understandings of interdependence i.e. karmic cause and result, as well as general guidelines of etiquette in practice to fulfill your goal/s both the ultimate (enlightenment) and relative. But nothing is absolute in the fashion you describe. In Mahayana it generally boils down to your understanding and motivation. If you have the right view and motivation, then skillful methods may be employed that normally may be considered negative, etc. The big picture is not forsaken, -- rather to use the common expression: the forest is not lost for the trees.


That's the general feeling I have of the differences in Hindu practice and Buddhist practice. Thanks for encapsulating it. :smile:
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flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:40 pm

Adamantine wrote:I don't think you'll find things like that in dharma.
Of course he will. There are humans in dharma so there is human stupidity in dharma too. Example: one time after finishing serkyem offerings I plonked the cup upside-down on top of the plate like I always do (like my lama does). A nun freaked out at me when she saw what I had done because after you empty the serkyem, the cup "has to" be placed sideways on top of the saucer with the empty bit of the cup pointing towards the shrine, otherwise... No, I did not stick around to hear the "otherwise" bit, I just gave her a "haven't you got anything better to do with your life?" look. Yes, I know, I am a cheeky blighter! :tongue:

And I won't even go into telling you what my lama said about the incident (he's a lay man) except to see that he was an even cheekier blighter than I was! ;)
"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: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Jainarayan » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:53 pm

You know Greg, that story actually made me feel better. It restored my faith in human stupidity, er I mean human nature. If there are extraterrestrials watching us, they're either too afraid and horrified at our behavior to make contact, or they are laughing their butts off (assuming they have butts). :mrgreen:
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Yudron » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:10 pm

I've done so many stupid things in my life--it's almost incalculable.
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:37 pm

The mere act of babbling a sing-song in a (largely unknown to me ) foreign language, sprinkling cups of wine and grains with "nectar" and then tossing them outside in order to gain the attention and benefit of protectors seems pretty stupidly superstitious to me! Why I drew the "stupid" line at how to place the serkyem afterwards is beyond me! :shrug:
"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: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Jainarayan » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:44 pm

You raise a good point: I've gotten into heated linguistics debates (I'm a linguistics geek) with certain "hardliners" (aw what the heck, they're Hindutvas) who claim that unless Sanskrit mantras are pronounced perfectly and without deviation from Pāṇini, the mantras have no benefit. When I've asked if a person with a speech impediment chants a mantra and cannot make a retroflex phoneme like the ṇ, is the mantra worthless? :roll: You know, I never did get an answer. Hmm...
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Adamantine » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:28 am

gregkavarnos wrote:There are humans in dharma so there is human stupidity in dharma too. Example:


I wouldn't say there is human stupidity in dharma. Dharma is not at fault. There are many stupid humans (myself included) trying our best (ideally) to practice it, with all the limitations we may bring with us. Certainly people may get hung up on details about ritual practices and lose the forest for the tree but that is not inherent in the teachings.. that is losing the path altogether. Mindfulness of the practice, the tradition and it's rituals is important, based on motivation and view and understanding. But it is not a part of dharma to think you'll go to hell if you make a mistake despite good motivations and sincere effort. And true masters go totally beyond any of these relative constructs anyway. We beginning practitioners may cling to a certain formula of how we have been taught or think things should be done and then see our own Guru break all the so-called rules. Dharma is about not grasping to anything whatsoever in the end. The larger process is letting go.
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Re: Startling issue about my yidam/ishta-devata is arising

Postby Adamantine » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:29 am

Jainarayan wrote:certain "hardliners" (aw what the heck, they're Hindutvas) who claim that unless Sanskrit mantras are pronounced perfectly and without deviation from Pāṇini, the mantras have no benefit.


Well, you'll never find a Tibetan with that opinion! :tongue:
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