Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby byamspa » Sun May 05, 2013 3:14 pm

Konchog1 wrote:This applies to me, so I can appreciate it. But as someone else said before, the ego can also feel like it's in a 'secret club'. Thankfully, I've been spared this delusion.


Didn't you get the membership card and discount program to WalMart too? :rolling:
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Sun May 05, 2013 3:15 pm

Konchog1 wrote:But as someone else said before, the ego can also feel like it's in a 'secret club'. Thankfully, I've been spared this delusion.

So you have never felt that way? Why do you think it is that you were able to avoid having that feeling?

I guess I didn't feel like that very often when I was practicing Vajrayana, so I shouldn't always be so paranoid about suspecting that others feel that way, but I certainly did feel that way sometimes. Being popular within a Vajrayana sangha, hanging out with Tibetan lamas behind the scenes, and travelling in the lamas' entourage can certainly feed this feeling, or at least it did so in my case.
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Sun May 05, 2013 3:27 pm

byamspa wrote:Didn't you get the membership card and discount program to WalMart too? :rolling:

Vajrayana is often more upper-class in the west. I think it's more like a discount card for Wisdom Publications and Brooks Brothers. lol

...Which brings up another point: Buddhism typically has required the support of the upper classes in order to survive and spread into new countries. Does secrecy help make Vajrayana a "snob good" which is more appealing to the upper classes (and therefore more likely to receive their monetary support)?
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby byamspa » Sun May 05, 2013 3:39 pm

Luke wrote:
byamspa wrote:Didn't you get the membership card and discount program to WalMart too? :rolling:

Vajrayana is often more upper-class in the west. I think it's more like a discount card for Wisdom Publications and Brooks Brothers. lol

...Which brings up another point: Buddhism typically has required the support of the upper classes in order to survive and spread into new countries. Does secrecy help make Vajrayana a "snob good" which is more appealing to the upper classes (and therefore more likely to receive their monetary support)?


maybe... esp if you get that membership card sorta feeling if you give money to a sangha. This sorta thing is something i am hyper-aware of when i wear my robes. I don't want to be the vajra snob, but i always wonder if that is indeed what i am becoming. :(
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby heart » Sun May 05, 2013 4:56 pm

Luke wrote:Vajrayana is often more upper-class in the west.


Do you have a very wide experience from a lot of different centers in Europe and North America? Or what do you base that statement on?

/magnus
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Sun May 05, 2013 5:31 pm

heart wrote:
Luke wrote:Vajrayana is often more upper-class in the west.


Do you have a very wide experience from a lot of different centers in Europe and North America? Or what do you base that statement on?

No. You're right. I should maybe be more careful with generalizations. While most of the people I have met in sanghas in Europe have not been upper-class, a lot of them have been university-educated and almost none of them have been minorities. Once an extremely rich woman at a Vajrayana event did take me out to lunch just because my appearance seemed spiritual to her! lol

However, I do base this feeling on the fact that I've only ever heard of famous lamas speaking at elite universities. I have never heard of them speaking at average universities or at community center type places. I have also never ever watched a Tibetan Buddhist video in which the narrator had a southern or mid-western accent. Based on all the media and the marketing for Vajrayana, the target demographic seems so obvious to me (at least in the English language Vajrayana materials).

However, you're right: Maybe there are all kinds of people at Vajrayana centers who don't appear in any of the marketing.
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Konchog1 » Sun May 05, 2013 6:57 pm

Luke wrote:target demographic
Or just the people who are interested?
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-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."

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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby JKhedrup » Sun May 05, 2013 7:14 pm

esp if you get that membership card sorta feeling if you give money to a sangha


I have heard, and I will not say where, that at a particular Vajrayana temple in the West whether one gets to attend Dzogchen talks or not is determined by whether one pays a 100$ per month membership fee or not.
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A wise man keeps them secret within.
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But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Rakshasa » Sun May 05, 2013 7:26 pm

Regarding Buddhist persecution by Hindus, I had started another thread in historum forum, which some of you might be interested in

http://historum.com/asian-history/55896 ... india.html

Most of the Hindu Tantras come from Buddhist Tantras.

http://buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT ... I/bhat.htm
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby pueraeternus » Sun May 05, 2013 8:09 pm

Rakshasa wrote:Most of the Hindu Tantras come from Buddhist Tantras.

http://buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT ... I/bhat.htm


Indeed. The most salient part of the article is this one:

The origin of the Taantric
Mantra, thus, can be traced through successive
stages of the Buddhist literature. When, however,we
turn our attention to the Hindu literature, we are
surprised to find that the Tantric Mantras suddenly
make their entry in the Hindu Taantric literature,
without showing,even a faint trace of the earlier
and crude stages of development. To my mind this
seems to be a sufficient reason for believing the
Hindu Taantric system to be later than the Buddhist
Vajrayaana and for holding that they were
incorporated into Hinduism bodily from Buddhism.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Konchog1 » Mon May 06, 2013 4:12 am

Luke wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:But as someone else said before, the ego can also feel like it's in a 'secret club'. Thankfully, I've been spared this delusion.

So you have never felt that way? Why do you think it is that you were able to avoid having that feeling?

I guess I didn't feel like that very often when I was practicing Vajrayana, so I shouldn't always be so paranoid about suspecting that others feel that way, but I certainly did feel that way sometimes. Being popular within a Vajrayana sangha, hanging out with Tibetan lamas behind the scenes, and travelling in the lamas' entourage can certainly feed this feeling, or at least it did so in my case.
I suppose it's for two reasons. First, I'm a very serious and stern person, so I see Secret Mantra as a chance to take advantage of. Playing ego games doesn't further the path, so my mind knows not to engage in them. Second, I don't treat my Sangha like a social group (they're merely some friends I learn and pray with), I treat my Gurus like hungry lions, and most of my contact with the Dharma is through books.
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: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Sherlock » Wed May 08, 2013 9:20 pm

Art cannot reveal what teachings were actually passed on, but even early on before the first tantras were written down (based on linguistic dating), there had been paintings of "erotic" scenes in Buddhist art even in monastic contexts.

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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed May 08, 2013 10:31 pm

Except that you are making the classic new-age mistake of equating tantric with erotic. Erotic art has existed in all cultures, does this make all cultures tantric?
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
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One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Simon E. » Thu May 09, 2013 8:38 am

Luke wrote:
byamspa wrote:Didn't you get the membership card and discount program to WalMart too? :rolling:

Vajrayana is often more upper-class in the west. I think it's more like a discount card for Wisdom Publications and Brooks Brothers. lol

...Which brings up another point: Buddhism typically has required the support of the upper classes in order to survive and spread into new countries. Does secrecy help make Vajrayana a "snob good" which is more appealing to the upper classes (and therefore more likely to receive their monetary support)?

Really ? Not in my experience. That's a generalisation that borders on the inane.
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Thu May 09, 2013 9:59 am

Simon E. wrote:
Luke wrote:Vajrayana is often more upper-class in the west. I think it's more like a discount card for Wisdom Publications and Brooks Brothers. lol

...Which brings up another point: Buddhism typically has required the support of the upper classes in order to survive and spread into new countries. Does secrecy help make Vajrayana a "snob good" which is more appealing to the upper classes (and therefore more likely to receive their monetary support)?

Really ? Not in my experience. That's a generalisation that borders on the inane.

Really? Tell me the last time you saw poor minorities at a Vajrayana event.

And take a look at publications like Tricycle and Shambhala Sun and think about which demographic they are targeting.

And in ancient Japan, Shingon was the religion of the nobility and Pure Land was the religion of the common people. Secrecy is something which aristocrats have found appealing historically.

In my opinion, ignoring these trends is inane.
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Adamantine » Thu May 09, 2013 10:28 am

Luke wrote:Really? Tell me the last time you saw poor minorities at a Vajrayana event.

And take a look at publications like Tricycle and Shambhala Sun and think about which demographic they are targeting.



Tricycle has proven more anti-vajrayana than not on many occasions, they are not targeting a vajrayana demographic they just begrudgingly include some vajrayana related information or articles occasionally. Shambhala Sun is of and somewhat for the Shambhala community: it's own entity and specifically unique in the way it's been oriented in recent years. I have no idea about it's national diversity as an organization, but it's quite big.

These should probably speak to you more of the target audience for convert-Buddhists (in general) in the U.S.A. who can afford fancy expensive magazines: not the nature of Vajrayana's inherent demographic. There's many reasons why people in desperate struggles for basic needs may not have the luxury to begin thinking about starting a new path, meditation practice or otherwise. They may have barely enough time to attend their local church or whatever their inherited faith's institution might be, let alone think overly about new options or investing in luxury magazines. I also guarantee you that the culture of materialism prevalent in the urban youth context (like those inhabiting the projects across the street from me) is pretty extreme. Anti-materialist philosophies and practices like any form of Buddhism are not easily approached or assimilated when coming from that basis. What's more, many people in Western countries encounter Buddhist philosophy in their studies at University, not as children --so that separates already who will most likely encounter these traditions in the first place. Most people who are destitute will not be able to attend college or University. There are not Buddhist missionaries going to preach on the street in poor neighborhoods: because Buddhism is not a missionary tradition, not because it is purposefully ignoring a demographic.

That all said, in my local sanghas I believe minorities are equally represented relational to the percentage of "minorities" in the general population. As for poverty, the majority of the immigrant Tibetans, Bhutanese, Sherpas, etc. that are truly the majority Vajrayana practitioners in my area are anything but wealthy. And the minorities in my Sangha may be more well-off in general than the majorities. And most of the practitioners that I personally know that are white are struggling for money just as severely as I am, which is severely. Most make great sacrifices to be able to do retreat, etc. So if you are in a place/situation where abundance is prevalent in your sangha or otherwise you should rejoice and not start projecting a classist basis upon a stainless tradition. Most of the great yogis (of which there are and were many) have lived the majority of their lives in caves, charnel grounds, prisons and the like with hardly any decent basic resources, -my own root Guru included.
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Sherlock » Thu May 09, 2013 11:54 am

In many texts, Anuttarayoga tantra is specifically said to have been emanated for the benefits of outcasts. The four different tantras in the Sarma schemes are the inverse of the traditional Indian order. It actually makes quite a lot of sense; the lower tantras, with their many rules on purity and elaborate mandalas and so on would be very much familiar to Brahmans, in HYT, while empowerments can still be very elaborate, the actual praxis is centred around the human body, which doesn't require that much wealth.
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Cloudrider » Thu May 09, 2013 2:39 pm

Need for secrecy



"If on the road you meet a swordsman, offer him your sword;
To a man who’s not a poet, don't present a poem." -Linji
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Karma Dorje » Fri May 10, 2013 2:30 am

Sherlock wrote:In many texts, Anuttarayoga tantra is specifically said to have been emanated for the benefits of outcasts. The four different tantras in the Sarma schemes are the inverse of the traditional Indian order. It actually makes quite a lot of sense; the lower tantras, with their many rules on purity and elaborate mandalas and so on would be very much familiar to Brahmans, in HYT, while empowerments can still be very elaborate, the actual praxis is centred around the human body, which doesn't require that much wealth.


That's interesting, given that there were so many brahmins (Saraha notably) represented in tantric lineages. Can you point me to one of the texts you are referring to, please?
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Re: Historical reasons for secrecy in Vajrayana?

Postby Sherlock » Fri May 10, 2013 7:06 am

I first read it somewhere else, but Kongtrul references it:

Marvellous Cemetery Ornament (Toh. 413), vol. Ga, f. 254b2-5. Correspondence
between the trainees of the four tantras and the four castes is also asserted by Alamkakalasha
in his Commentary on the Indestructible Garland (Toh. 1795), vol. Gi, ff. 3a3-4a2. See
Tsongkapa’s Tantra in Tibet (English translation), pp. 155-156.
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