Lineage and Individual Approaches to Practice

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Sönam » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:56 am

Hi Greg,

I do not understand what you actually want to highlight ... except possibly chaos. We know some practitioners may do anything and organize a melting pot composed of what they think fit for themself, they even may give any name to this personnal practice ... but that is not subject to discussion nor understanding, and it does not lead to much progress. They are wanderers. If it's about understanding and actual informations to be shared, it is better when it follows shared rules. If it exists classification with path of accumulation, renunciation, transformation or self-liberation, it is because it is so, not to pretend to belong to any label. Therefore, if someone is following a master and practices of Mahayana tradition, he is on the path of renunciation. If someone is following a master and practices of Vajrayana tradition, he is on the path of transformation. And so on.
What you are describing is freewheeler ... not practitioner of a lineage. And we know how important is a lineage.
As for behing mongrels ... analyzing oneself, how can someone have the knowledge to generalize it to all? but perhaps it is just a stylistic device.

Sönam

gregkavarnos wrote:
You see people may belong to the Mahayana tradition and yet their application (based on aspects of the Mahayana teachings) is Vajrayana.

Others may belong to the Theravada tradition and yet have a well developed sense of bodhicitta (which is also supported in parts of their Canon)

Others may belong to the Vajrayana, yet place an emphasis on ethical conduct (again, not the key element of their tradition, but there nonetheless).

Others may belong to any of these traditions and yet not act like Buddhists at all.

And, finally, others may not belong to any tradition at all ,yet act in a manner which is completely in line with any one of the three yana.

I doubt you always play it by the book so I cannot see why you would expect others to do so? I mean, when it comes down to it, [insert term]yana is just a label/descriptor and like any label/descriptor it is bound to fail to convey the full sense of the practical aspect of the theory.

What do you expect? Perfection? Purity? We are all mongrels here in samsara.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:44 am

Sönam wrote:What you are describing is freewheeler ... not practitioner of a lineage. And we know how important is a lineage.
And what you are describing is a stilted and unrealistic orthodoxy. What I am describing is dealing with people where they are at and not trying to squeeze them into a (in)convenient and nicely labled box. Reality is not rigidly defined and nicely labeled. Reality is chaotic. The only thing that matters, ultimately, is if one is acting from a mind free of clinging and aversion (or not). Nothing else. The rest is, quite clearly, window dressing. If you disagree then feel free to take it up with your teacher since that is, after all, what he teaches. ;)
"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: Dealing With Desire

Postby Sönam » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:32 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Sönam wrote:What you are describing is freewheeler ... not practitioner of a lineage. And we know how important is a lineage.
And what you are describing is a stilted and unrealistic orthodoxy. What I am describing is dealing with people where they are at and not trying to squeeze them into a (in)convenient and nicely labled box. Reality is not rigidly defined and nicely labeled. Reality is chaotic. The only thing that matters, ultimately, is if one is acting from a mind free of clinging and aversion (or not). Nothing else. The rest is, quite clearly, window dressing. If you disagree then feel free to take it up with your teacher since that is, after all, what he teaches. ;)


I see! thank you for your precious recommandation.

Sönam
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:55 pm

I think that there is nothing wrong with integrating different approaches- I found my 2 years in Thailand extremely enriching and a good anchor for my practice.

However, I do think that it is good for practitioners who seek to explore an eclectic approach within Buddhism to be under the care of a qualified master who can provide guidance. Otherwise, we could fall into the trap of cultivating many practices simultaneously but not achieving depth in any of them. A qualified teacher will help anchor our practice to make sure it brings pressure to bear on the delusions rather than just being an interesting survey exercise of various Buddhist paths.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:09 am

Sönam wrote:What you are describing is freewheeler ... not practitioner of a lineage. And we know how important is a lineage.


Not being constrained by lineage or hierarchy works well for me. The Buddha himself never appointed a successor. The Dharma, not people, is the true refuge.

I don't think you need a lineage. I also don't think you need a teacher as a prerequisite for liberation. Pratyekabuddhas manage fine without teachers or lineages.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Sönam » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:04 am

Indrajala wrote:
Sönam wrote:What you are describing is freewheeler ... not practitioner of a lineage. And we know how important is a lineage.


Not being constrained by lineage or hierarchy works well for me. The Buddha himself never appointed a successor. The Dharma, not people, is the true refuge.

I don't think you need a lineage. I also don't think you need a teacher as a prerequisite for liberation. Pratyekabuddhas manage fine without teachers or lineages.


Buddha Shakyamuni is a special case. I notice your point of view, following is another one. Hierarchy is one thing, lineage another. Lineage is what relates us, through transmission, to the original Bouddha of the transmission. That is what makes initiations vivid in tantrics traditions. For some, Dharma is the only refuge, for others Guru and dakinis is the refuge ... it depends mainly on the practice (and sense of it) itself. For some traditions a Guru is essential ... it is the case in Tantric and Dzogchen traditions.

Sönam
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:34 pm

Sönam wrote:Buddha Shakyamuni is a special case. I notice your point of view, following is another one. Hierarchy is one thing, lineage another.


Lineage entails hierarchy in most cases. You have masters and disciples. There is normally gender differentiation as well where males take precedence in most cases over females. Seniors in a lineage often have the authority to command the juniors.

You can't really divide the two.


Lineage is what relates us, through transmission, to the original Bouddha of the transmission.


Scriptures work just fine for conveying the message of the Buddha. The Buddha never appointed a successor even when asked, or so the Pali scriptures tell us. There's no early canonical basis for lineages or other arrangements for collective in-group identities.


That is what makes initiations vivid in tantrics traditions. For some, Dharma is the only refuge, for others Guru and dakinis is the refuge ... it depends mainly on the practice (and sense of it) itself. For some traditions a Guru is essential ... it is the case in Tantric and Dzogchen traditions.


I think transmission via a guru is a quality control mechanism more than anything else. Like a master smith conveying unto an apprentice all the techniques of blacksmithing. However, it is still not absolutely necessary. People can and do teach themselves.

Lineage, "Dharma transmission" and so forth are all social constructs that serve a function, but are not so necessary in the ultimate scheme of things. Again, pratyekabuddhas manage fine without a guru or even a buddha's teachings present in their world.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby heart » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:54 pm

Indrajala wrote:Scriptures work just fine for conveying the message of the Buddha. The Buddha never appointed a successor even when asked, or so the Pali scriptures tell us. There's no early canonical basis for lineages or other arrangements for collective in-group identities.


Buddha never wrote anything, nor did he ask anyone to write down what he taught. Buddhism is all hearsay and the heart of hearsay is lineage since lineage means the continuous realization of the hearsay, thus validating it. The earliest printed book in the world is the Diamond sutra printed in the year 868. That is as close as you get to canonical.

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Sönam » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:15 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Sönam wrote:Buddha Shakyamuni is a special case. I notice your point of view, following is another one. Hierarchy is one thing, lineage another.


Lineage entails hierarchy in most cases. You have masters and disciples. There is normally gender differentiation as well where males take precedence in most cases over females. Seniors in a lineage often have the authority to command the juniors.

You can't really divide the two.


again my pov (experience) differes. Master and disciples is a specific relation, because of master we can receive the teachings, because of his benediction we can receive the transmission of the lineage. THis is how tantrics means work ... as for males and seniors predominance (command?) I never experienced it in traditions I have followed ... found your obsevation curious?


Lineage is what relates us, through transmission, to the original Bouddha of the transmission.


Scriptures work just fine for conveying the message of the Buddha. The Buddha never appointed a successor even when asked, or so the Pali scriptures tell us. There's no early canonical basis for lineages or other arrangements for collective in-group identities.



If you speak of 4 NT and others sutra recommandations, like how to behave in life, certainly. You will then become a good (people) Buddhist, and perhaps in many eons you will realize more profound teachings. The pov you develop is the one of sravakas, related to the first turn of the wheel ... as far as we are in the Tibetan Buddhism section, I may think we can go a bit further.


That is what makes initiations vivid in tantrics traditions. For some, Dharma is the only refuge, for others Guru and dakinis is the refuge ... it depends mainly on the practice (and sense of it) itself. For some traditions a Guru is essential ... it is the case in Tantric and Dzogchen traditions.


I think transmission via a guru is a quality control mechanism more than anything else. Like a master smith conveying unto an apprentice all the techniques of blacksmithing. However, it is still not absolutely necessary. People can and do teach themselves.


Once more this hinayana point of view ... what then can I say? discussion at this point will be sterile :popcorn:


Lineage, "Dharma transmission" and so forth are all social constructs that serve a function, but are not so necessary in the ultimate scheme of things. Again, pratyekabuddhas manage fine without a guru or even a buddha's teachings present in their world.


Again, if you're satisfied with pratyekabuddhas objectives, fine. Once more this is hinayana view, and once more discussion will be sterile.

Sönam
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby flavio81 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:54 am

Indrajala wrote:I think transmission via a guru is a quality control mechanism more than anything else.


I sort of agree with you here; in some way, to receive transmission via a guru which in turn is supported/praised/validated by a long lineage, is a sort of "Seal of Quality"

Indrajala wrote:However, it is still not absolutely necessary. People can and do teach themselves.

Lineage, "Dharma transmission" and so forth are all social constructs that serve a function, but are not so necessary in the ultimate scheme of things.


It is necessary in Vajrayana. Otherwise it's not Vajrayana anymore... Or at least that is what i've understood.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:15 am

flavio81 wrote:I sort of agree with you here; in some way, to receive transmission via a guru which in turn is supported/praised/validated by a long lineage, is a sort of "Seal of Quality"


It doesn't work though.

Look at all the crazies running around with lineage sanction harming and exploiting others. There are plenty of fully accredited Lamas who go around sucking money out of people to build their massive monasteries or shrines which more or less just benefit their own people (Tibetans or related folk), which displays grotesque nepotism. Then there are the cases of sexual exploitation and so forth.

The same goes for Chan and Zen. You can see twenty-something year olds with "Dharma transmission" that they got from their father. That's just a bureaucratic necessity. Even in the case of practitioners how often do we see people "with transmission" not really displaying wisdom or competence?


It is necessary in Vajrayana. Otherwise it's not Vajrayana anymore... Or at least that is what i've understood.


I don't deny that. But as far as liberation from suffering goes lineage is unnecessary. You don't need anyone's permission to study the Buddha's teachings and employ them.

As a Buddhist, in my view, I'm aiming first and foremost for liberation and then at that point I can make strategic decisions about the future. Anything else is really just speculation.

Once you're at the level of an arhat, then you can maybe seriously consider the cosmic aspects of full Buddhahood and so forth. Otherwise it is just speculative.

So let's just start with identifying the causes for saṃsāra and then eliminating them. In other words, let's be practical rather than speculative about a cosmic level of attainment. If you're still suffering down here and bound for another life on the wheel of saṃsāra, then better to address your immediate circumstances.

I know someone could say that their tantric practice is a means of rapid progression to Buddhahood, but this is just speculation on their part and an article of pure faith. I'm under no obligation to accept their claims. I find most people who make such claims unconvincing. They'll say their lineage is "churning out" fully enlightened beings, but where are these buddhas? Show me. If their lineages were really doing that, why do they display all the signs of any human organization which is subject to corrupting influences, nepotism and infighting?

So let's deal with real life suffering as the Buddha taught, first and foremost. This does not require lineage or anyone's permission.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:26 am

heart wrote:Buddha never wrote anything, nor did he ask anyone to write down what he taught. Buddhism is all hearsay and the heart of hearsay is lineage since lineage means the continuous realization of the hearsay, thus validating it. The earliest printed book in the world is the Diamond sutra printed in the year 868. That is as close as you get to canonical.

/magnus


This isn't the idea of lineage we're discussing here. We're talking about a designated group identity, not the transmission and development of texts.
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Re: Lineage and Individual Approaches to Practice

Postby Dorje Shedrub » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:39 am

Vajrayana requires a guru and tramission without exception. The fact that lamas are not perfect is not a reason to condemn a lineage system. All Buddhist traditions have had individuals in authority who have not always acted with the best intentions.
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Re: Lineage and Individual Approaches to Practice

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:53 am

Dorje Shedrub wrote:Vajrayana requires a guru and tramission without exception. The fact that lamas are not perfect is not a reason to condemn a lineage system. All Buddhist traditions have had individuals in authority who have not always acted with the best intentions.


I'm well aware of that. There's just the problem that power has a tendency to corrupt. Acton in 1887 famously stated, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

That's why Vajrayāna should be kept secret and not made part of an institutional apparatus.

I'm not really condemning lineage systems so much as I am saying they are ultimately unnecessary for liberation. You might find it helpful. You might enjoy the feeling of belonging and being part of a community. But at the end of the day you need to drink the water for yourself.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby heart » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:22 am

Indrajala wrote:
heart wrote:Buddha never wrote anything, nor did he ask anyone to write down what he taught. Buddhism is all hearsay and the heart of hearsay is lineage since lineage means the continuous realization of the hearsay, thus validating it. The earliest printed book in the world is the Diamond sutra printed in the year 868. That is as close as you get to canonical.

/magnus


This isn't the idea of lineage we're discussing here. We're talking about a designated group identity, not the transmission and development of texts.


There is no early canonical basis for receiving the Buddha's teachings by scriptures as you state above. Scriptures are nothing without living examples, making lineage and teachers vastly superior to your idea reading scriptures as a way of transmission of the Buddha's teaching.

/magnus
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby flavio81 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:41 am

Indrajala wrote:
flavio81 wrote:I sort of agree with you here; in some way, to receive transmission via a guru which in turn is supported/praised/validated by a long lineage, is a sort of "Seal of Quality"


It doesn't work though.

Look at all the crazies running around with lineage sanction harming and exploiting others. There are plenty of fully accredited Lamas who go around sucking money out of people to build their massive monasteries or shrines which more or less just benefit their own people (Tibetans or related folk), which displays grotesque nepotism. Then there are the cases of sexual exploitation and so forth.


That is just your perception. Where you see "plenty" of such lamas, I see "plenty" of lamas and tibetan buddhist masters that benefit a lot of people.
We all have perceptions.

Indrajala wrote:
It is necessary in Vajrayana. Otherwise it's not Vajrayana anymore... Or at least that is what i've understood.


I know someone could say that their tantric practice is a means of rapid progression to Buddhahood, but this is just speculation on their part and an article of pure faith. I'm under no obligation to accept their claims. I find most people who make such claims unconvincing. They'll say their lineage is "churning out" fully enlightened beings, but where are these buddhas? Show me. If their lineages were really doing that, why do they display all the signs of any human organization which is subject to corrupting influences, nepotism and infighting?


That is just... your opinion, you know? Through meeting and having some experience with a few tibetan buddhism masters, i find such claims valid, and highly convincing. You find their claims unconvincing, that's perfectly fine with me too.

Indrajala wrote:So let's deal with real life suffering as the Buddha taught, first and foremost. This does not require lineage or anyone's permission.


Well, dealing with real life suffering is also what is done in the Vajrayana tradition, but with methods that are plentiful in number (to suit different circumstances), and powerful when certain conditions are met.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:43 am

heart wrote:There is no early canonical basis for receiving the Buddha's teachings by scriptures as you state above. Scriptures are nothing without living examples, making lineage and teachers vastly superior to your idea reading scriptures as a way of transmission of the Buddha's teaching.
/magnus


Nonsense. Oral transmission of teachings occurred for a little while and then they were put down in writing. That's different from lineage systems as they exist in, say, Tibetan Buddhism or Zen, where as a prerequisite for liberation you need a master to train you and tell you what to do. That's different from an elder simply reciting a teaching which you memorize for yourself.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:57 am

flavio81 wrote:That is just your perception. Where you see "plenty" of such lamas, I see "plenty" of lamas and tibetan buddhist masters that benefit a lot of people.
We all have perceptions.


Sure, I know some Tibetan lamas who benefit others, too, but the system and individuals are still subject to a lot of human failings and corruption.

If you look at things historically, Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet itself was a terrifying feudal order despite all their doctrines talking about compassion and kindness.

It is best not to place your faith in human institutions because humans, Buddhist or otherwise, at the end of the day are generally self-serving and predatory. In groups these tendencies are only amplified.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby flavio81 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:07 am

Indrajala wrote:If you look at things historically, Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet itself was a terrifying feudal order despite all their doctrines talking about compassion and kindness.


"A terrigying feudal order", only if you believe certain accounts of life in Tibet. You know that there is a country called China with his own propaganda to justify their cruel invasion of Tibet.

Indrajala wrote:It is best not to place your faith in human institutions because humans, Buddhist or otherwise, at the end of the day are generally self-serving and predatory. In groups these tendencies are only amplified.


Well, but aren't you ordained ? You know... something achieved through an institution?
If this is a virtual sangha, do we achieve virtualization instead of realization?
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby flavio81 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:12 am

Indrajala wrote:
heart wrote:There is no early canonical basis for receiving the Buddha's teachings by scriptures as you state above. Scriptures are nothing without living examples, making lineage and teachers vastly superior to your idea reading scriptures as a way of transmission of the Buddha's teaching.
/magnus


Nonsense. Oral transmission of teachings occurred for a little while and then they were put down in writing. That's different from lineage systems as they exist in, say, Tibetan Buddhism or Zen, where as a prerequisite for liberation you need a master to train you and tell you what to do. That's different from an elder simply reciting a teaching which you memorize for yourself.


Yes, you can memorize or read a scripture, but you will then interpret it in your own way, for good or for bad. While in Vajrayana the lineage system makes sure there is a teacher next to you that will clarify you the real meaning of and reasons behind every writing.

Otherwise one becomes similar to an evangelical Christian reading his Bible and interpreting it in a way that suits his own tendencies, preconceptions, preferences, and aversions.
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