Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jun 05, 2013 5:51 pm

Indrajala wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:What possible impact on your life, as a Mahayana monk...


What exactly does "Mahāyāna monk" mean? Is this in contrast to a Vajrayāna monk? If so, this is again one of those Tibetan Buddhist distinctions that are projected onto others who may not recognize them. That's really unfair, like calling a bhikkhu a Hīnayāna monk. He wouldn't call himself that.

I tend to think of myself more as a śramaṇa. There's really no need to identify with terms so heavily.


A Mahāyāna monk (or layperson) is someone who, in addition to Pratimokṣa vows, also has Bodhisattva vows. A Vajrayāna monk (or layperson) additionally has samaya vows. Where the lower vows contradict the higher vows, one follows the higher vows.

A bhikku would not recognize Theravada (along with the other "eighteen" schools) as hīnayāna, and he also would not recognize the validity Bodhisattva vows or Vajrayāna vows.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:00 pm

Malcolm wrote:It has a Vinaya lineage, it doesn't need more than one. Dharmagupta Vinaya is not different than Mulsarvastivada in its intention. The path of Vinaya in all "eighteen" schools is the same path. There are not different Vinaya paths.


No all Vinaya paths are identical. The Mahāsāṃghika school had 218 precepts in contrast to the Dharmagupta's 250. Their goals might have been the same, but nevertheless their procedures still differ.

My point really is that functionally speaking East Asia just as well has a complete path to liberation plus some components which the Tibetans simply lacked, and there's no reason to denigrate it.


Tibetan Buddhism as two bodhisattva vow lineages...so are you going to now argue that Chinese Buddhism has a less complete Mahāyāna system since it only has one bodhisattva precept lineage?


No, because Chinese Buddhism has two mainstream bodhisattva lineages for precepts. One based on the Brahma Net Sūtra and the other on the Yogācārabhūmi Śāstra / Sūtra of Bodhisattva Stages.




and presumably some of the divination and astrology practices as found in East Asia that originate from India.


These things are not paths. And Pramaṇā as well as other things never found much footing in the Sino-sphere.


Your statement here is problematic.

They are arguably part of some paths. Kukai and Shingon were quite appreciative of the astrology texts as translated by Amoghavajra and others. However, even long before this we find sūtras which offer detailed guidance on astrology. Astrology was a key part of Buddhadharma to some early Buddhists in India.

For example, the Mātaṅga Sūtra (摩登伽經), translated into Chinese in 230 CE by Zhiqian 支謙, is the oldest known Indic sūtra translated into Chinese to include jyotiṣa elements such as the 28 nakṣatras, 9 grahas, monthly gnomic and the Metonic cycle. There was an earlier translation of the text done by An shigao 安世高 between 148-170 CE, though it is much shorter and does not contain astrological references. It is a brief sūtra about a daughter of a witch wanting marry the handsome Ānanda. The mother attempts to use witchcraft to trap and make him consummate a marriage, but fails. The girl becomes a bhikṣuṇī in the end and renounces her evil ways. Zhiqian's work picks up from here and extends the sūtra to include dialogue between characters from some long past time, including many teachings on astrology.

I outline all this here:

https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadep ... n-buddhism




All I can say then is that you have not met any mahāsiddhas. Or if you have, you were like Sunakṣatra and could not perceive their qualities.


That's just a call to believe something based on faith. That's fine in some contexts, but I generally match my judgements against observations I've made over time. If that is some kind of sign of failure on my part to recognize virtue, then so be it. If I'm too thick headed and merit-less to perceive the qualities of a mahāsiddha when I meet them, then there's not much I can do about it at the moment.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:03 pm

Malcolm wrote:A Mahāyāna monk (or layperson) is someone who, in addition to Pratimokṣa vows, also has Bodhisattva vows. A Vajrayāna monk (or layperson) additionally has samaya vows. Where the lower vows contradict the higher vows, one follows the higher vows.

A bhikku would not recognize Theravada (along with the other "eighteen" schools) as hīnayāna, and he also would not recognize the validity Bodhisattva vows or Vajrayāna vows.


I'm well aware of the legal definitions.

The spirit of what is being proposed here though is to establish a hierarchy and denigrate some while raising up others.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:06 pm

Malcolm wrote:There is a lot of triumphalism in Buddhism in general, as religions go, it is very triumphalist.


Let me quote John Michael Greer in this respect:

“The best philosophy or spirituality for any person, and the one that appeals most to any person, is the one most nearly opposite his or her own natural inclinations, since that's the one that leads to balance and wholeness.” - John Michael Greer


This helps to explain why a lot of Buddhists are flaming egotists, like me.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:16 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:It has a Vinaya lineage, it doesn't need more than one. Dharmagupta Vinaya is not different than Mulsarvastivada in its intention. The path of Vinaya in all "eighteen" schools is the same path. There are not different Vinaya paths.


No all Vinaya paths are identical. The Mahāsāṃghika school had 218 precepts in contrast to the Dharmagupta's 250. Their goals might have been the same, but nevertheless their procedures still differ.



The paths are identical.

There are different numbers of rules for each Vinaya because all were compiled separately in different places by different groups. There are minor differences in the mode of ordination procedure. But the paths are the same, how one is to practice, etc. So really, your point isn't valid.


My point really is that functionally speaking East Asia just as well has a complete path to liberation plus some components which the Tibetans simply lacked, and there's no reason to denigrate it.


The Tibetans do not lack Vinaya. One does not need more than one Vinaya to be a Bhikṣu.


Tibetan Buddhism as two bodhisattva vow lineages...so are you going to now argue that Chinese Buddhism has a less complete Mahāyāna system since it only has one bodhisattva precept lineage?


No, because Chinese Buddhism has two mainstream bodhisattva lineages for precepts. One based on the Brahma Net Sūtra and the other on the Yogācārabhūmi Śāstra / Sūtra of Bodhisattva Stages.


Brahma net sutra does not come from India. Your argument was predicated on lineages from India.

and presumably some of the divination and astrology practices as found in East Asia that originate from India.


These things are not paths. And Pramaṇā as well as other things never found much footing in the Sino-sphere.


Your statement here is problematic.

They are arguably part of some paths. Kukai and Shingon were quite appreciative of the astrology texts as translated by Amoghavajra and others. However, even long before this we find sūtras which offer detailed guidance on astrology. Astrology was a key part of Buddhadharma to some early Buddhists in India.


The calculation of auspicious days and calendar creation does not constitute a path. Astrology was a key part of agricultural life everywhere in the world at that time -- still is not a path, however.


For example, the Mātaṅga Sūtra (摩登伽經), translated into Chinese in 230 CE by Zhiqian 支謙, is the oldest known Indic sūtra translated into Chinese to include jyotiṣa elements such as the 28 nakṣatras, 9 grahas, monthly gnomic and the Metonic cycle. There was an earlier translation of the text done by An shigao 安世高 between 148-170 CE, though it is much shorter and does not contain astrological references. It is a brief sūtra about a daughter of a witch wanting marry the handsome Ānanda. The mother attempts to use witchcraft to trap and make him consummate a marriage, but fails. The girl becomes a bhikṣuṇī in the end and renounces her evil ways. Zhiqian's work picks up from here and extends the sūtra to include dialogue between characters from some long past time, including many teachings on astrology.


There is nothing forbidding the inclusion of astronomical information in sutras and tantras -- that was not my point -- nevertheless astrology and divination do not constitute paths. They simply don't, even if they are useful aids on the path, like medicine, arts and so on.


If I'm too thick headed and merit-less to perceive the qualities of a mahāsiddha when I meet them, then there's not much I can do about it at the moment.


You can be more less intellectual and more open.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:21 pm

Indrajala wrote:This helps to explain why a lot of Buddhists are flaming egotists, like me.


Ummm...actually, triumphalism is what feeds egos, which is precisely what you are arguing, that Tibetan Buddhists are on a big ego trip.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:32 pm

Malcolm wrote:The paths are identical.

There are different numbers of rules for each Vinaya because all were compiled separately in different places by different groups. There are minor differences in the mode of ordination procedure. But the paths are the same, how one is to practice, etc. So really, your point isn't valid.


It is valid because in this context the Chinese have a lot of additional and necessary literature (official commentaries in translation from India and so forth) which the Tibetans lack. Consequently, their understanding of the Vinaya will be richer in some ways, thus giving it bonus points in the whole debate over "completeness" which this whole discussion is about. More importantly, however, is how different schools implemented their practices: their paths were never identical as you suggest. You can say they were similar, but not identical.


Brahma net sutra does not come from India. Your argument was predicated on lineages from India.


That's not 100% for sure. Plenty of scholars keep saying so, but there is, at least in Chinese, debate that argues for an Indian source given a few factors. Some people suggest it wasn't translated by Kumārajīva, but then other sources say it was an oral transmission that was then compiled by the disciples. There's no Indian record of it, sure, but then we only have a limited amount of material from the 4th and 5th centuries. There are plenty of Indian scriptures you only find extant in Chinese from an early period. It might have been a regional thing, too, because Mahāyāna was scarce and concealed in many places.


The calculation of auspicious days and calendar creation does not constitute a path. Astrology was a key part of agricultural life everywhere in the world at that time -- still is not a path, however.


It is a component of some paths if you believe the alignment of stars above is suggestive of events taking place on earth and things to come. This is why electional astrology was so important to Buddhists.


You can be more less intellectual and more open.



Maybe, but at this point in my life I feel compelled to be very intellectual. It might change in time, it might not. In any case, I believe my stated observations and conclusions are perfectly logical. If I can't perceive great wisdom when it is staring at me in the face, then better to play it safe rather than being led astray.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:33 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Indrajala wrote:This helps to explain why a lot of Buddhists are flaming egotists, like me.


Ummm...actually, triumphalism is what feeds egos, which is precisely what you are arguing, that Tibetan Buddhists are on a big ego trip.


Clearly my attempt at humour failed.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:27 pm

Malcolm wrote:You can be more less intellectual and more open.
How do you define intellectual?
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:07 pm

Indrajala wrote:So, contrary to your assertion here, it does have consequences to my practice. Let's not jump to conclusions about my practice or lack thereof.
I am not jumping to any conclusions about your practice, nor is my "assertion" specific to you. I practice Vajrayana and I do not give a rats posterior about Tibetan religious politics. I am in it for the practices (which, to date, seem to work) not for the power plays. ;)
What exactly does "Mahāyāna monk" mean? Is this in contrast to a Vajrayāna monk? If so, this is again one of those Tibetan Buddhist distinctions that are projected onto others who may not recognize them. That's really unfair, like calling a bhikkhu a Hīnayāna monk. He wouldn't call himself that.
No, he wouldn't, he may call himself a Theravada monk though (or a monk in the Theravada tradition, to be more exact). And I think you are being overly defensive, because there is obviously a difference (in practices, for example) between a monk in a Mahayana tradition and a monk in a Vajrayana tradition. I am sure that it would not be purely a Tibetan Buddhist distinction. I am sure that a Mahayana practitioner would know that a distinction exists. Not a contrast, a distinction. Anyway, I am sure that not all monks in a Mahayana tradition would be as open to Vajrayana (tantric) practices as you are. Let's not kid ourselves!
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:08 am

gregkavarnos wrote: I am in it for the practices (which, to date, seem to work) not for the power plays. ;)


How do you square that with the institutional politics and problems that practitioners and masters are involved in?

My concern is that you constantly hear how effective all these special practices are, but the organizations and sometimes the representatives of the teachings don't display the qualities you'd expect of compassionate enlightened beings. The same concern can be extended to pre-PRC Tibet and all the Lamas involved in politics alongside a Buddhist aristocracy. Where are all the noble qualities when there are monasteries and rinpoches everywhere?

Naturally this isn't just TB. I have similar questions about other forms of Buddhism as well. They have grand claims about rapid buddhahood and so forth, but the organizations pushing these claims don't exactly have clean histories. Anyone asking for a demonstration or proof can be told, as I was above, to take it on faith:

All I can say then is that you have not met any mahāsiddhas. Or if you have, you were like Sunakṣatra and could not perceive their qualities.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:18 am

Indrajala wrote:
Naturally this isn't just TB. I have similar questions about other forms of Buddhism as well. They have grand claims about rapid buddhahood and so forth, but the organizations pushing these claims don't exactly have clean histories. Anyone asking for a demonstration or proof can be told, as I was above, to take it on faith:

All I can say then is that you have not met any mahāsiddhas. Or if you have, you were like Sunakṣatra and could not perceive their qualities.


I am not an organization, I don't speak for an organization, and you don't have to take anything on faith.

Sunakṣatra was unable to perceive the Buddha's qualities, even though he was his attendant for 24 years. But his vision was blind to Buddha's qualities.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:29 am

Malcolm wrote:Sunakṣatra was unable to perceive the Buddha's qualities, even though he was his attendant for 24 years. But his vision was blind to Buddha's qualities.


I've met plenty of teachers I thought well of. I'm not saying spiritually advanced people don't exist.

I'm just wondering how people can square all the hyperbole and lineage aggrandizement (Chan and Zen has this too incidentally) with the reality of their institutions they cherish and their respective histories. If you claim to have a method for rapid attainment and are teaching it to thousands of people, why do you find so many skeletons in closets, to say nothing of politics out in the public?
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:44 am

Indrajala wrote:I'm just wondering how people can square all the hyperbole and lineage aggrandizement (Chan and Zen has this too incidentally) with the reality of their institutions they cherish and their respective histories. If you claim to have a method for rapid attainment and are teaching it to thousands of people, why do you find so many skeletons in closets, to say nothing of politics out in the public?

Honestly, it's just exaggeration, IMO, but considering how small the Tibetan population is they actually have produced a large number of great masters, even recently.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:22 am

dzogchungpa wrote:Honestly, it's just exaggeration, IMO, but considering how small the Tibetan population is they actually have produced a large number of great masters, even recently.


It depends on how you define "master". Is a master someone who is enlightened? Or just has deep wisdom? Or is it a formal title given to someone with disciples?

I have a Master's Degree in Buddhist Studies. Does that make me a master? I personally don't think of myself as such, but technically as a scholar I am a master scholar, like being a master carpenter.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:16 am

Indrajala wrote:I'm well aware of the legal definitions.

The spirit of what is being proposed here though is to establish a hierarchy and denigrate some while raising up others.
No, I was not attempting anything of the sort. I can't speak for everybody, but personally, I do not see the situation as heirarchical. For me it is like saying zebras, draft horses and shetland ponies are not different because they share many attributes. I mean, it is not a matter of one being better than the other, it is just a recognition of the fact that there are actual differences.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:32 am

Indrajala wrote:How do you square that with the institutional politics and problems that practitioners and masters are involved in?
I don't bother. I assess the master on the basis of their capacity to teach, their behaviour and the fact that they have received the practices via a lineage.

If the "master" is involved in something "problematic" I try to assess the nature of the problem and see if it is worth getting my knickers in a knot over.

I don't expect all masters (nor their students) to be Buddhas. A master may not have perfect ethical behaviour but they may have a fantastic intellectual grasp of meanings and terms. A master may have perfect ethical behaviour but an incapacity to teach properly. A master may be a great politician but have no grasp of proper ritual method. I will go to each of them to learn what they are good at in the hope that I will one day be able to bring all these qualities together myself.

Let's put it this way: I would not expect a maths teacher to teach me history. I would not expect a physical education teacher to understand the nuances of modern english literature. I would not expect the headmaster of the school to offer counselling to a student having personal problems and I do not anticipate the institutional educational framework to be perfect.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby yegyal » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:46 am

Indrajala wrote:
yegyal wrote: In other words, what tradition were you ordained in? I'm asking because, despite several people asking this very question on the thread in which you anounced your ordination, you never actually gave the specifics.


I don't go into those details on a public forum as a safety precaution. I don't need my real life friends and Dharma brothers having to potentially deal with those who have threatened me in the past (and I have received threats).

I hope you will respect my decision.

Regardless, I can say that my ordination was a bit unorthodox in the sense that the witnessing monks were Tibetan, Ladakhi and Japanese. It was transcultural. :smile:


It's just that I don't know much about ordination outside of the Tibetan tradition and to my untrained eye I just can't figure out to which tradition the robes you're wearing in the picture belong to.




There are plenty of monks outside institutions who don't have dress code regulations and dress however they feel is appropriate. It doesn't really matter so much. I'm well aware of the formal dress code requirements of various Vinaya texts, but these are not normally followed in their entirety. A lot of what monks wear now is symbolic of the old dress codes.


Does the tradition you follow have a similar kind of training requirement or do you just right into "venerable"? Sorry if this is off topic, though most of this thread has been, but I just thought it would be an opportune time to ask.


"Venerable" is an English term, the usage rules for which are nebulous and largely unsettled. When I meet with Theravada bhikkhu they call me bhante, and I address them as such. Tibetan monks call me kushok, and I either call them kushok or rinpoche depending on their age. With Japanese people I just get the suffix -san attached to my name, or I am referred to as an o-bou-san (monk). When speaking Chinese we use the term fa-shi 法師 as a suffix.


Ya that's pretty much what I suspected. And, btw, Tibetan monks don't become "Rinpoche" when they grow old, so 'kushok-la' is appropriately polite enough for most circumstances. In fact, in certain areas of Tibet the title Rinpoche is exclusively used for the Dalai Lama.
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:49 am

yegyal wrote:Ya that's pretty much what I suspected. And, btw, Tibetan monks don't become "Rinpoche" when they grow old, so 'kushok-la' is appropriately polite enough for most circumstances. In fact, in certain areas of Tibet the title Rinpoche is exclusively used for the Dalai Lama.


Have you ever lived in India amongst Tibetans or maybe Ladakhis?
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Re: Government of Pre-PRC Tibet

Postby yegyal » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:03 am

Indrajala wrote:
yegyal wrote:Ya that's pretty much what I suspected. And, btw, Tibetan monks don't become "Rinpoche" when they grow old, so 'kushok-la' is appropriately polite enough for most circumstances. In fact, in certain areas of Tibet the title Rinpoche is exclusively used for the Dalai Lama.


Have you ever lived in India amongst Tibetans or maybe Ladakhis?


Yes, I have for many years, but I guess you're still going to tell me that they call old monks 'rinpoche.' Well, Indians refer to five year old monks as 'lama' but it doesn't make them lamas.
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