Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby heart » Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:08 pm

Camellia wrote:Is there a place for someone who says "Whether or not he is someone's reincarnation doesn't matter, this Rinpoche is wise and I will learn from him what I can" to practice sutrayana-only, or is belief in reincarnation/tulkus and Vajrayana practice necessary for this path?


I think most of us started as "respectful skeptics". It is a good place to start, most people don't understand rebirth in the Buddhist tradition anyway without studying with a qualified lama. So if you accepted rebirth now it would probably be on the wrong premises anyway.

Good luck!

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:56 pm

A few things for contemplation:

It's worth examining what exactly it is you are skeptical about, and why, especially as regards Vajrayana and rebirth, do you know either one well enough to decide definitively whether or not you believe in it, and why is it important to you to define that? With the things you are skeptical about, you need to figure out what they are actually saying first, then you can decide. If you are just having an immediate reaction to the idea of rebirth or to Vajrayana's colorful practices, that is not really skepticism, but might be also tied up in some cultural imprints.

Of course you can practice it in whatever way you want, like most things it's unlikely anyone is going to ask you to prove you believe in rebirth before attending. It seems some Tibetan centers have days that are mostly Shamatha/Vipasanna sitting sessions as well.

Not trying to be facetious, I've been in your shoes and it is the right place to start from, just saying, be as willing to question your own ideas about the importance of your beliefs, and your own cultural baggage as you are willing to question rebirth and Vajrayana practices. I truly believe (not saying it's you, just saying i've seen it) that many people actually have a reaction to Vajrayana partially because it is so culturally foreign, and then they incorrectly label that reaction itself as skepticism. Once you actually start learning the philosophy behind it and say "no this cannot be so" that's actual skepticism, it involves some level of analysis an rejection, not just gut reaction - which truthfully seems to be coming from the more puritanical side of our cultural baggage than anything else.

If you are both simultaneously drawn to the practice but feeling this tension, there might be more at work than just your rational mind, and it's worth including analysis of your own beliefs in there alongside your questioning of Vajrayana, rebirth, and whatever else. Again i'm not trying to sway belief one way or another, just saying that accepting one's pre-existing cultural beliefs is not the same thing as honest inquiry, and if you haven't already been through the honest inquiry..why not start with that?
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Heruka » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:43 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:just saying that accepting one's pre-existing cultural beliefs is not the same thing as honest inquiry,



also rejecting ones cultural beliefs should also be open to honest inquiry.
or does it not cut both ways ?

does a pre existing bias to rejecting where your at, not count?

curious advice.
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:03 am

Heruka wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:just saying that accepting one's pre-existing cultural beliefs is not the same thing as honest inquiry,



also rejecting ones cultural beliefs should also be open to honest inquiry.
or does it not cut both ways ?

does a pre existing bias to rejecting where your at, not count?

curious advice.


Yes of course that also counts. However, (as an example) Americans who are not culturally influenced by materialism and/or some puritanical ideas, or somehow naturally feel opposition to those kinds of ideas are likely a much smaller group than those that are at home right in the middle of them - that stuff is pretty deep seated for many I would imagine. People who are already involved on some level in "counter culture" obviously have biases going in another direction... That being the case, I think the bias of most people in The West, and maybe even moreso in America towards something like Vajrayana can often come from a place like this, and being so close to our eyes, and being the dominant worldview here, it sometimes is the hardest kind of bias to see.

Not sure what's curious about the advice, it came from the heart, and you're certainly welcome to add your two cents.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Heruka » Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:29 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote: and you're certainly welcome to add your two cents.


hi JD,


most people answer their own questions anyway.

:namaste:
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Jikan » Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:46 am

Son of Buddha wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:Also from the perspective of the Lotus sutra the Buddha only teaches Bodhisattvas,so the vows are important.
I am not a Bodhisattva yet I receive Buddhist teachings so how does the Lotus Sutra deal with that then?


From the perspective of the Lotus sutra there are 3 vehicles(all buddhists fit in these vehicles)
But the Buddha only teaches Bodhisattvas(all students end up Bodhisattvas)

...which is to say that the Buddha teaches all beings, that the Dharma as taught affects all beings, that in a sense all beings are already bodhisattvas. This is why some 500 sravakas plus Ananda and Rahula get predictions of Buddhahood (note that they are in attendance as the Lotus Sutra is taught, which means that the Buddha is teaching them and that the teaching is effective for them). This is in chapter 9.

Finally, according to the Lotus Sutra, the three vehicles are at best a provisional contrivance. Buddha teaches the three vehicles as an expedient means; ultimately, there is only one vehicle, the Buddha vehicle, Ekayana. This gets worked out in the early chapters.

Back to the OP:

The best thing you can do is find yourself a situation in which you can learn. Don't worry so much about which tradition or what label gets attached. Don't sweat it if the teachings don't match your own preconceptions 100%. Just find yourself a teacher who clearly "gets it" at the level of kindness and compassion, who is willing to teach you, &c. It may be a Zen center or a Tibetan temple or who knows what. The point is that all roads lead to the Buddha within, which is the meaning of the above exchange with Son of Buddha.
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby monktastic » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:39 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:never said you did need to be a monk,im also not saying a person can sleep with his wife,watch the lakers games,and work a Samsaric job for 8 hrs while he only practices 1 hr a day,and still thinks he will reach that Enlightenment in one lifetime.
Masters of Mahamudra

Weren't they practicing all the time?
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:58 pm

It is not necessary to believe in tulkus,
and there is a lot of benefit that one can get from studying and practicing dharma
even if one is not really convinced of rebirth.

However, the process is explainable in a way that is quite feasible.
First of all, consciousness is not a "thing" in itself.
It is a combination of causes.
Ordinarily, when a person dies,
these causes scatter.
But with proper training and meditation,
this does not have to happen.

Consider this analogy:
Two trucks are driving along a road near a river, where there is a sharp turn in the road.
Both trucks carry a load of wooden boards.
The first truck goes around the turn too quickly, all the boards fall into the river,
wash down stream and end up randomly all over the place.

The second truck goes around the turn too quickly, all the boards also fall into the river,
but there is a difference.
These boards had previously been put together as a boat.
The boards, as a boat, still drift downstream,
but they stay together and wash up again, all in one bunch, as a boat.

basically, a tulku has been able to build his lumber of consciousness into a boat.
When entering the stream of death,
his consciousness does not totally scatter, as it would had he not trained his mind.

Just a rough analogy.
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:42 pm

monktastic wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:never said you did need to be a monk,im also not saying a person can sleep with his wife,watch the lakers games,and work a Samsaric job for 8 hrs while he only practices 1 hr a day,and still thinks he will reach that Enlightenment in one lifetime.
Masters of Mahamudra

Weren't they practicing all the time?
Shouldn't we all? There's more to practice than a 4x a day Sadhana text.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:16 am

monktastic wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:never said you did need to be a monk,im also not saying a person can sleep with his wife,watch the lakers games,and work a Samsaric job for 8 hrs while he only practices 1 hr a day,and still thinks he will reach that Enlightenment in one lifetime.
Masters of Mahamudra

Weren't they practicing all the time?
;)
"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: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:39 am

Konchog1 wrote:Shouldn't we all? There's more to practice than a 4x a day Sadhana text.
I just came back from a lecture by Garchen Rinpoche. To paraphrase from memory: "People often tell me they can't practice because they have to work. To those people I say: can you not you recall how your boss has been your mother since beginningless time? Same with your co-workers and others."
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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