Luke wrote:As for me, I'm a bit obsessive about details, so I found it very frustrating to practice tantric meditations which had so many details and I hated the feeling of never being entirely confident that I was practicing them correctly. I could ask lamas questions, but still I was never very confident about my practice. All the complicated details were very distracting for me. ("Who is this guy in the deity's retinue? What's the meaning of this mantra? What's the meaning of this term? etc.)
“I must stress here that visualize does not mean you should try to paint a picture of the refuge tree in your mind; that would be impossible. Visualization is very like thinking about the person who is closest to you in this life-your mother, for example. Try imagining her standing in front of you right now. As you do so, I’m quite sure you are not thinking about the exact shape of her ear. Or whether or not her toes curl. Or how many moles she has on her back. In fact, that kind of detail has probably never even occurred to you. At the same time, I am equally sure that you have created a strong sense of your mother in your mind and that you are completely confident it really is her. This is how you should visualize the objects of refuge, and the confidence you feel in your visualization is of utmost importance.”
-Not for Happiness pg. 103-104
Luke wrote:Being around people who are always eager to throw themselves on their faces for their lama and who are always scurrying around to get him just the right teas and tasty treats and to make sure that they have arranged every detail in the precise way that will make him/her happy might be annoying for some people.
That's just people being silly. Lamas often recommend the 50 Stanzas on Guru Devotion
as the manual on Guru Devotion, but they rarely explicitly state that that's it. Nothing more than what is stated in the text needs to be done. If the Guru is a Buddha, he has no need or want for praise, stuff, service, etc.
Often nowadays people enjoy playing the disciple game. But that has nothing to do with Guru Devotion.
But I agree, I understand that the complexity of most TB rituals is why a lot of people prefer Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Zen, etc. Also, personally I hate reciting the Tibetan text for the same reason that you said.
"it is very important to be able to differentiate clearly between the essence of tantra and the cultural forms in which it is currently wrapped. What I mean by this is that there is no benefit in a Westerner's pretending to look or act like a Tibetan, or any other Asian for that matter. Learning to say prayers in a foreign language, for instance, is not in itself the way to fulfill our highest human potential; there is nothing of transcending value to be gained from substituting one set of cultural conventions for another. People whose practice remains on this superficial level end up with nothing but confusion, not knowing who they are or what they should do."
-Introduction to Tantra pg. 15
"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
"You must experience that the various thoughts, in whatever form they arise, are an empty appearance and not a definable entity."
-Clarifying the Natural State pg. 33