Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:50 pm

Hi Adamantine, Thank you for your heart-felt response.

Adamantine wrote:5 years invested is no small thing. I wonder how immersive you've been able be in your practice in this time. It's one thing to do a little practice for an hour or two a day. It's another to do a closed retreat for at least a week or two to get a real taste of the meaning and effect of the practice.

I have never done very long retreats, but I have done 5 to 7-day retreats before. I have also done some nyungnes.

Adamantine wrote:Similarly, it is good to make an aspiration to go to some of the powerfully magnetized holy places that sing with the enlightened energies of the great lineage masters. This will also really help you to resolve some doubts and understand cultural contexts.

Well, I have been to some holy places... but I can't really talk about it. I was on a very difficult trip with my lama... it kind of freaked me out... maybe I have some form of PTSD. It took me a long time to be able to remember details from the trip. I kind of blocked it out. I also can't remember much about my life before the trip. The situation in Tibet is very sad. Tibetan monks/nuns show great courage in the face of adversity every day there. I hope that the monks and nuns who were so kind to me are okay now...

Adamantine wrote:But a pilgrimage to a Buddhist country where the political situation isn't so difficult might feel quite different.

I have read some of their stuff. I like them. I also like Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. But right now, I feel compelled to at least visit the sanghas of non-Vajrayana Buddhist traditions. I especially want to try Soto Zen. Actually, my lama told me that my meditation posture is lousy, so if I improve it with the Zen Buddhists, I am, in an indirect way, following his instructions, and also I could make other Buddhist friends closer to where I live.

Adamantine wrote: However, if the question is of leaving the Guru and the tradition behind entirely versus continuing ngondro -then your teacher would probably prefer you to focus on a different practice.

That's an idea. One of these days, I will need to write to him to explain things, just out of courtesy if nothing else. But I am not sure about the value of practicing Vajrayana for a long time without completing ngondro and advancing. Zen is appealing to me because there is no advancement and nothing to grasp after: It's about letting go and letting things be as they already are and zillions of preliminaries aren't required in Zen in order to give oneself the gift of simplicity.

While it's theoretically possible to be a student of a lama and only to practice shamatha and basic pujas forever, in reality, other Vajrayana practioners will look down at such a person because the "higher" practices, or at least the desire to do them, is often what is respected. In Vajrayana, there is often the disease of always looking ahead to the next practices. It's often harder to appreciate the present while practicing Vajrayana.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:32 pm

Well, I am likely one of the clueless Vajrayana center tea-sippers you mentioned earlier..but I kind of question whether or not constantly running through a wide variety of graduated practices is in fact the only valid expression of Vajrayana tradition, since histories, hagiographies, statements and works by current and past teachers seem to indicate otherwise.

I can see how you feel the way you do for sure, it kind of makes me want to just continue being a tea-sipper, this thread has served to make me think about my own direction as well, so thanks.
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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: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Adamantine » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:21 pm

Luke[quote][/quote] wrote: It's about letting go and letting things be as they already are and zillions of preliminaries aren't required in Zen in order to give oneself the gift of simplicity.


I am not sure who your Lama is or what their approach is, but the Lamas I have studied with in the Nyingma often give Dzogchen teachings and introduction to mind's nature at the get-go. From there, if one doesn't immediately have recognition or realization (and those of highest capacity are said to the moment they receive these teachings) then the Lama may prescribe a more gradual set of practices that will help purify the mind-stream so that it can then more readily recognize the profound simplicity of it's own true nature. If you haven't had this introduction or teaching from your Lama it may also be because they are not qualified to give it.
While it's theoretically possible to be a student of a lama and only to practice shamatha and basic pujas forever, in reality, other Vajrayana practioners will look down at such a person because the "higher" practices, or at least the desire to do them, is often what is respected. In Vajrayana, there is often the disease of always looking ahead to the next practices. It's often harder to appreciate the present while practicing Vajrayana.


I think that is certainly a tendency with Vajrayana-adolescents among the western groups: But the more one connects to true teachers and develops in ones own commitment then what happens is the only thing that becomes important is finding that space of sincerity, whatever the practice is doesn't matter anymore. It could just be a brief recitation of refuge, and bodhicitta, and then sitting silently finding the sincerity of that surrender and devotion in your heart reflecting true refuge, and likewise sitting until one actually feels the opening of the true intent of bodhicitta at the expense of self-grasping. If one can do that once a day for a few minutes it's more profound then hours of mindlessly reciting ritual liturgy. Really, it is clearly possible to get to know elaborate practices well enough to practice them thoroughly with full concentration and sincerity, but if that's not the place your at then you need to be realistic and do what you can do with quality, and forget about quantity, and what practice is "higher". Really, that's just a subtle trap of spiritual materialism and if you feel aversion towards that it's a good thing,... but it doesn't mean that's what the nature of Vajrayana is, it's quite the opposite actually.

There's subtle traps like that in every tradition: likewise in some schools of Zen the obsession with formalities related to codes of sitting, moving, recitation and relation to the teacher could be equally alienating and distracting from the actual essence of practice. A lot of formal aspects of Zen from Japanese traditions are actually related to military history of Japan and the culture of discipline it engendered.

As Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche has said, the Dharma is like a liquid, held by different vessels: In India the Dharma may have been held in a simple leaf cup, in Japan a finely glazed ceramic cup, in Tibet a very ornate goblet, and in America perhaps a paper cup: these are the cultural containers, but they are needed to transmit the essence inside. The liquid is the same, although the taste may reflect the container slightly. So you've been drinking from one cup, you could definitely throw that cup down and pick up another, but it will also have the cultural trapping: the container- that may distract in some ways from the liquid inside. The point is to just drink, instead of sniffing around from one to the other and dying of thirst in the meantime. My point is that you've already made a commitment to drinking from the cup in your hand, it is a bit fickle to just throw it down now to try another. There is a danger of becoming a dilettante.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby justsit » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:34 am

Another wonderful teaching from Ponlop Rinpoche:

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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby randomseb » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:26 am

Remember, just because other people have a clinging to views sickness, this doesn't mean you need to as well! Find the practice that suits you, and do that, and nevermind what others think or do, it's not their mind, it's your mind, and only you are.

Clinging is one of the big sources of suffering according to the 4 noble truths. Flow.

:buddha1:
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:27 am

randomseb wrote:Remember, just because other people have a clinging to views sickness, this doesn't mean you need to as well! Find the practice that suits you, and do that, and nevermind what others think or do, it's not their mind, it's your mind, and only you are.

Clinging is one of the big sources of suffering according to the 4 noble truths. Flow.

:buddha1:
I guess that means you are free from clinging to views? Yet you are recommending that he choose and cling to a new view (as if the current view is imposed). So what is your advice (view) then? Freedom from views (impossible without a degree of realisation, I wager) or a new view to cling 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: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby MalaBeads » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:22 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Yet you are recommending that he choose and cling to a new view


Actually, Greg, i don't think he was recommending that at all. Maybe read what he wrote again. He says specifically, at the end, flow.

Which btw, was the advice of the great Nyoshul Khenpo. Just saying.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:36 pm

MalaBeads wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:Yet you are recommending that he choose and cling to a new view


Actually, Greg, i don't think he was recommending that at all. Maybe read what he wrote again. He says specifically, at the end, flow.

Which btw, was the advice of the great Nyoshul Khenpo. Just saying.
So if I said: "Club a baby seal to death. Flow." you would only read the last word in my statement? :shrug:

randomseb said: "... ... ... Find the practice that suits you ... ... ... Flow."
"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: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby MalaBeads » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:29 pm

I guess Luke will have to read what randomseb said the way he reads it, as it was meant for him.

Sorry to have contributed my 2 cents.

:smile:
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby randomseb » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:14 am

gregkavarnos wrote: :buddha1:
I guess that means you are free from clinging to views? Yet you are recommending that he choose and cling to a new view (as if the current view is imposed). So what is your advice (view) then? Freedom from views (impossible without a degree of realisation, I wager) or a new view to cling to?


Hi boss, I have full on views about all sorts of things, all of which have been imposed on me by other people's need to propagate their way of doing things!

Clinging IS one of the big sources of suffering described by the four noble truths. Really, good ol' Siddhartha talked all about it at some point or other, that guy..what a character, expressing his views recklessly, like that!

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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:24 am

Has anyone else left Vajrayana? In this lifetime? Or in other lifetimes?
Probably yes, over and over again.
Don't worry about it.
Don't take refuge in worrying.
Think about how many lifetimes you have been practicing this way and that way,
this method, that method.
Just follow your own inclinations.
But my guess is that you will always retain vajrayana
even if you do not formally practice it.
And what does "formally practice" mean anyway?
The practice is mindfulness and compassion,
and looking at one's own mind as path.
That is vajrayana. That is dharma practice.
Everything else, sadhana, yidam, mantra,
serve very important purposes in vajrayana but that is not dharma practice.
Maybe it is dharma activity, or as my lama likes to say, "the homework".
But if you are motivated by the wish for the liberation of all beings from samsara
and you make an effort to develop mindfulness and compassion
then who cares what you call it?
.
.
.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:37 am

randomseb wrote:Hi boss, I have full on views about all sorts of things, all of which have been imposed on me by other people's need to propagate their way of doing things!
Somehow I don't think Lukes views regarding the Vajrayana have been imposed. I imagine that Luke voluntarily adopted Vajrayana views. Just like he is voluntarily questioning them and may voluntarily reject them.
Clinging IS one of the big sources of suffering described by the four noble truths.
Agreed!
Really, good ol' Siddhartha talked all about it at some point or other, that guy..what a character, expressing his views recklessly, like that!
So now you are saying that there are good views? That your problem is clinging to views rather than specific views? What if one naturally expresses and "flows" :tongue: with "wrong" views? Does that make them "right" since the practitioner of those views is not clinging to them?
"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: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby randomseb » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:08 pm

Imposed by other people's need to propagate their view.. Had they no need to propagate their view,.there would be no teaching to learn, now would there? Cause and effect!
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby pemachophel » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:05 pm

Luke,

"I just don't want to be a part of the whole complicated empowerment-lung-samaya system in terms of my own practice anymore."

Have you considered that, having taken empowerments, you already have samaya? Therefore, you are the proverbial "snake in a bamboo tube." You can choose to walk away from Vajrayana, but you can't choose to give back your samaya. I've tried to run away from Vajrayana twice, once after 6-7 years and once again after almost 20. You can't. It doesn't work that way. By taking tantric vows, you have created karma, and karma never ever just evaporates for no reason. Sooner or later it comes to fruition, this life or the next. It has nothing to do with whether we like it or not or even whether we believe it or not.

My best advice: See your doubts and all your namtok (discursive thoughts about acceptance and rejection, hope and fear) as obstacles arising due to your practice actually working. Pray to your Gurus, develop nying-ru/"heart bone"/perseverance, and carry on. You are on the verge of a great leap forward but are also standing on the edge of a precipice.

Good luck and best wishes.

:namaste:
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:40 pm

randomseb wrote:Remember, just because other people have a clinging to views sickness, this doesn't mean you need to as well! Find the practice that suits you, and do that, and nevermind what others think or do, it's not their mind, it's your mind, and only you are.

Clinging is one of the big sources of suffering according to the 4 noble truths. Flow.

:buddha1:

Yes, thanks, I have come to a similar conclusion. I hadn't done any meditation for a long time because I'd been thinking all this over, but recently I tried just a little zazen on my own and--boom!--my mind settled down again and became peaceful. Regardless of which Buddhist path one follows, the Eightfold Path is the right path, and Right Concentration is very important for reducing negativities in the mind. With a calm mind, almost anywhere can be heaven. With a disturbed mind, almost anywhere can be hell.

Worrying doesn't solve anything. So I let go of Vajrayana for now and try Zen. No worries. No problems. Like Greg mentioned earlier, I can always return to my lama later if I feel that's the right thing to do some time in the future. I guess at first, I felt shocked and guilty to even consider doing something besides Vajrayana because I had envisioned myself sticking to it forever... but there's always impermanence at work! lol Lots of experiments are possible within the wide and wonderful world of Mahayana Buddhism! :)
Anyway, I'm not freaking out anymore. I regained my equanimity. Thanks everyone! :anjali:
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:56 pm

pemachophel wrote:Have you considered that, having taken empowerments, you already have samaya?

Yes, I realize this, but I can fulfill many of those requirements by just being careful of my actions and not disclosing secret things while no longer practicing Vajrayana.

pemachophel wrote:Therefore, you are the proverbial "snake in a bamboo tube." You can choose to walk away from Vajrayana, but you can't choose to give back your samaya. I've tried to run away from Vajrayana twice, once after 6-7 years and once again after almost 20. You can't. It doesn't work that way. By taking tantric vows, you have created karma, and karma never ever just evaporates for no reason. Sooner or later it comes to fruition, this life or the next. It has nothing to do with whether we like it or not or even whether we believe it or not.

This was something else I was thinking of bringing up, but I hesitated to mention it. In a very general way, receiving Vajrayana empowerments and instructions is like joining the mafia: you can never really leave it entirely!

justsit wrote:Another wonderful teaching from Ponlop Rinpoche

Yes, he's very great! And he understands a lot about western culture. It seems like it would be very easy to be comfortable with him.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:But if you are motivated by the wish for the liberation of all beings from samsara
and you make an effort to develop mindfulness and compassion
then who cares what you call it?

I agree! :anjali:

Adamantine wrote:I am not sure who your Lama is or what their approach is, but the Lamas I have studied with in the Nyingma often give Dzogchen teachings and introduction to mind's nature at the get-go. From there, if one doesn't immediately have recognition or realization (and those of highest capacity are said to the moment they receive these teachings) then the Lama may prescribe a more gradual set of practices that will help purify the mind-stream so that it can then more readily recognize the profound simplicity of it's own true nature. If you haven't had this introduction or teaching from your Lama it may also be because they are not qualified to give it.

Well, my lama emphasizes completing ngondro before learning any higher practices. He says that ngondo is Dzogchen, and gets angry if a student says otherwise, but he doesn't try to introduce students to their own mind's nature before they've completed ngondro as far as I know. But he definitely doesn't lack any qualifications. He was trained at several famous monasteries in Tibet and in India, and other lamas respect him.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Adamantine » Wed May 01, 2013 4:42 am

Luke wrote:
pemachophel wrote:Have you considered that, having taken empowerments, you already have samaya?

Yes, I realize this, but I can fulfill many of those requirements by just being careful of my actions and not disclosing secret things while no longer practicing Vajrayana.


Luke, are you familiar with the 14 root downfalls of the Vajrayana? Whether the answer is yes or nor, please reflect on the below:

1.To disparage the Master
2.To transgress the three levels of vows
3.To be hostile to vajra brothers and sisters
4.To foresake loving kindness on behalf of sentient beings
5.To abandon the enlightened mind
6.To disparage one's own doctirne and those related to it
7.To divulge secrets to the immature
8.To abuse the five components which are primordially pure
9.To develop doubt in the inner doctrines of the tantras ***
10.To have compassion for evil beings especially those who harm the doctrine
11.To apply conceptualisation to wordless natures
12.To belittle those who have faith
13.To violate the commitments that have been undertaken
14.To disparage women, the source of discriminative wisdom

*** #9): To develop doubt in the inner doctrines of the tantras

Doubt is perfectly appropriate when considering the step of entering the path of Vajrayana but, like a snake entering a bamboo tube which can only go forwards, once the commitment to the practice of Vajrayana has been made, the Practitioner should not indulge the development of doubt.

Doubt will still arise – but that the sensation of doubt is regarded as a practice. The spirit of questioning is important in Buddhism, particularly in Sutra, but involvement with Tantra is like marriage used to be in the West. To entertain doubt about one’s bride or bridegroom on one’s wedding night does not bode well for the marriage. One’s wedding night is not the time for doubt. The time for doubt and questioning lies in the phase which leads up to engagement. The engagement phase can be compared with the ngöndro which leads into the actual practice. A point of interest here is that unlike the traditional marriage system where sexual intimacy is deferred until the wedding has taken place, ngöndro contains the actual practice. The parallel to sexual intimacy within ngöndro is the Lama’i naljor in which a practitioner unifies with the Mind of the Lama. Lama’i naljor is therefore very important if the marriage with Vajrayana is not to end in divorce. It is imperative that the Practitioner already has complete confidence in the Lama. If the practitioner is not certain of this the fourteen root vows should not be taken. It would be far better never to take the vows than to break them and feel justified in breaking them. Once a Practitioner has broken these vows all further attempts at practice come to nothing. Vow breakage does not necessarily mean each and every slip. In order to break one’s vows one has to do so consistently and without any form of regret. In other words to feel justified in doing so. It is said that one can repair one’s vows up to three years after breakage has occurred – but that the ability to repair one’s vows becomes increasingly unlikely as time goes on. For these reasons doubt is regarded as a cancer to be surgically removed. If cancer can be removed by chemotherapy, then we do not object too much to the pain or damage that chemotherapy might cause. Cancer is life threatening, and doubt is also regarded as life threatening. With life threatening diseases the most serious steps must be taken, and one acknowledges that fact on becoming a tantrika. If a Practitioner is not prepared to treat doubt as a life threatening disease, the fourteen root vows should not be taken.

Nevertheless a Practitioner can always clarify doubts with his or her Lama. One’s Lama will always deal with one’s doubts as part of the teaching – so it is important that one never hides the doubts which arise. Such doubts can be a necessary aspect of one’s spiritual evolution, so if they are explored in discussion with the Lama, they become the basis for valuable insights. When dealing with doubt, the commited student would regard it as an obvious consequence of dualistic conditioning, and seek methods of practice with which doubt can be overcome. To avoid ‘expression’ means that one only voices one’s doubt to one’s own Lama – it does not mean that one never expresses any doubt. To avoid repression means that one is open and honest with one’s Lama – it does not mean that one presents one’s doubts as recrimination against the Lama, but that one is open to having one’s doubt resolved by the Lama. One has confidence that the Lama will resolve one’s doubts. To avoid dissipation means that one does not avoid one’s doubts through burying one’s doubts in ‘organisational activity’ in order to be part of the Lama’s mandala without actually participating in the teaching.

~http://www.nyingma.com/artman/publish/ngakpa_root_commitments.shtml

Of course, your ego will naturally find kinship with opinions that mirror the choices it's already made. But since you asked publicly, and I heard your question, then it is my responsibility as a Vajra brother to tell you the straight truth. Don't kid yourself that following your doubts about Vajrayana and your teacher, and making big decisions to abandon the practices he instructed you in without even the courtesy of consulting with him about it: --that this will be something you can do and still maintain your samaya. The only way it could work is if you asked your Lama with deep respect and he gave you his blessing to practice Zen for a while. Otherwise, I don't see how you can avoid a downfall. Once you've taken tantric vows you're embedded in an intimate web of interdependance with your Lama and the mandala of his retinue and the other disciples who have taken initiation with you, and with your Lama in general. Once you begin to break vows it will have an affect on all of them. This is a basic truth, not fear mongering. It is a basic of understanding of karma, cause and result.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 01, 2013 5:09 am

Greetings,

It sounds like Vajrayana has a lot of in-built scare tactics to keep you in the system... leaving (or even seriously contemplating leaving) must be a brave decision.

Maitri,
Retro. :)
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby yegyal » Wed May 01, 2013 6:03 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

It sounds like Vajrayana has a lot of in-built scare tactics to keep you in the system... leaving (or even seriously contemplating leaving) must be a brave decision.

Maitri,
Retro. :)


This a little inflammatory, don't you think?
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 01, 2013 6:55 am

Greetings,

It wasn't meant to inflame.

It was just an observation formed from reading about some of the factors raised in this topic (e.g. root downfalls, kammic consequences of samaya breaches, Vajra Hell, the bamboo tube analogy)... factors which (to the best of my knowledge) are otherwise absent in other modalities of Buddhism.

It would seem that to enter the Vajrayana community you do take these thing on board. To then be prepared to turn around and consider an alternative route once you have accepted these things is as I said... brave. Others may well perceive it as foolhardy.

Maitri,
Retro. :)
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