How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

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How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Luke » Sun Oct 06, 2013 3:32 pm

My former lama was supposed to be an emanation of a certain deity, but yet, I and other people seemed to surprise him with things we did on many occasions. This seems to indicate that he's not clairvoyant. Are all lamas who are truly emanations of deities clairvoyant? I always thought so, and this was one of the reasons why I lost faith in him.

If a lama who is said to be an emanation of a deity does not seem to possess any siddhis, is it possible that he still really is an emanation or is the term "an emanation of deity XYZ" just a traditional Tibetan honorific without much real meaning?
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby ngodrup » Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:45 pm

How to tell:

You yourself must be omniscient.

What does it mean when others say so-and-so is an incarnation or emanation?
It is their perception based on their phenomena.

Quite possibly, there will be something of that quality apparent to ordinary people
with some small degree of having wisdom eyes open. But you know, even Lord Buddha
was perceived as ordinary by some of his relatives.
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Luke » Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:42 pm

ngodrup wrote:How to tell:

You yourself must be omniscient.

What does it mean when others say so-and-so is an incarnation or emanation?
It is their perception based on their phenomena.

Quite possibly, there will be something of that quality apparent to ordinary people
with some small degree of having wisdom eyes open. But you know, even Lord Buddha
was perceived as ordinary by some of his relatives.

Hmm, that's certainly food for thought...

As big as my ego is, I certainly can't claim to be omniscient! lol

Is a lama who is an emanation of a deity supposed to have all the powers of that deity or just some of them?
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby ngodrup » Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:58 pm

There is no inherently existing deity.
There is no inherently exiting Lama or disciple.
How things appear is a function of interdependence,
causes and conditions. So, what we're talking about
is how seemingly different things reflect each other.

Just like emptiness, mind pervades everything-- so too
what we call deity.

Do you have any quality of deity? Yes, or else tantra couldn't function.
Then from conventional POV, its a matter of degree.
From ultimate perspective, nothing to talk about.
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Caz » Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:21 pm

For me it is simple.

Vajradhara said that in degenerate times he would appear in the form of an ordinary spiritual guide.

:namaste:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Jikan » Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:29 pm

Caz wrote:For me it is simple.

Vajradhara said that in degenerate times he would appear in the form of an ordinary spiritual guide.

:namaste:


Does this mean that any ordinary spiritual guide is, ipso facto, an emanation of Vajradhara? I ask because I'm trying to understand your answer, not because I'm intentionally dense!

thanks
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby philji » Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:41 pm

If the teacher is able to guide me on the path and their motivation comes from a base of loving kindness, and compassion that would be sufficient proof for me.... Very few teachers will display any clairvoyant abilities to a student...
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby smcj » Sun Oct 06, 2013 11:00 pm

Is a lama who is an emanation of a deity supposed to have all the powers of that deity or just some of them?

No.

"Being an emanation" (I believe) initially means having that quality or aspect of the enlightened mind as a character trait. For instance HHDL is said to be an emanation of Chenrezig. That means his particular karmic trait or personality predisposition is compassion. How much he actually embodies the undiminished qualities and capabilities of Chenrezig depends on his personal practice in this life. There are lots of tulkus today that have never pursued their Dharma practice, and they are as opaque as the rest of us--and sometimes even more so! So don't have expectations based on title, position in the lineage, or anything else. You will almost certainly be disappointed.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby disjointed » Sun Oct 06, 2013 11:06 pm

If someone is called an emanation of a deity it doesn't mean anything for 2 reasons:

1. People say lots of things.
There are people in the world right now testifying to the fact that some strung out coke addict is Maitreya.
2. Emanation is a loose term.
A lot of Tibetans say Chairman Mao was an emanation of Vajrapani, Vajradhara, etc.
Are you going to go collect relics from Mao's body or recite the prayers he composed in his red book?

I'm going to warn everyone on this thread right now.
Cults form around this idea of someone being an emanation.
It's how a cult leaders disguise their abuses and incompetence.
This happens a lot with tulkus. While they are young, legitimate teachers say good things about them.
Then for the rest of their life they use some 20 year old letter to prove their cult and the teachings they make up are legit. Meanwhile the old or dead teachers who gave the endorsement are made sad by the bad news they hear but none the less stick to the Tibetanism of not speaking badly of others even if they are in fact monstrous abusive cult leaders.

Westerners unfortunately assume that Tibetans would warn others about these tulku predators. That's just not how Tibetans conduct themselves.
If there is a radical inconsistency between your statements and the position you claim to hold,
you are a sock puppet.
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:12 am

My thinking is that it doesn't matter whether or not your Guru is a Buddha. What matters is that you think he is.

So you can think that he pretends to not be clairvoyant to be less imposing and warmer or something. Is he actually clairvoyant? It doesn't matter.

There is a famous story about some disciples who believed their Guru was a Buddha. Due to this inspiration, they attained Enlightenment, whereupon they discovered that he wasn't Enlightened. So they became his Gurus and he quickly attained Enlightenment.

Very useful is the saying "Treat your Guru like a hungry lion". Stay away as much as possible. Otherwise you'll start focusing on faults and doubting.
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: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:50 am

disjointed wrote:A lot of Tibetans say Chairman Mao was an emanation of Vajrapani, Vajradhara, etc.
Are you going to go collect relics from Mao's body or recite the prayers he composed in his red book?


The Little Red Book is not to be tossed aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force.
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
~Arthur Carlson
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby disjointed » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:38 am

Konchog1 wrote:My thinking is that it doesn't matter whether or not your Guru is a Buddha. What matters is that you think he is.

So you can think that he pretends to not be clairvoyant to be less imposing and warmer or something. Is he actually clairvoyant? It doesn't matter.

There is a famous story about some disciples who believed their Guru was a Buddha. Due to this inspiration, they attained Enlightenment, whereupon they discovered that he wasn't Enlightened. So they became his Gurus and he quickly attained Enlightenment.

Very useful is the saying "Treat your Guru like a hungry lion". Stay away as much as possible. Otherwise you'll start focusing on faults and doubting.


By this logic you can anyone as a Buddha and gain enlightenment by following their instructions.
Also by this logic anyone can be represent the Buddha regardless of what they're doing to another because no qualities are required from their side.
And when none of their students become enlightened you can say it's their fault for not believing hard enough.

Did I mention I'm a Buddha Konchog1? [Sarcasm]
BTW, if you doubt me it will constitute a pernicious wrong view and bar you from enlightenment and cut you off from receiving valid teachings for a long time.

Hahaha, I can see why personality cult leaders love telling their students stories like the one you mentioned.
Just believe hard enough. And when you fail to realize your goal, blame yourself and believe harder because I'm infallible.

Yes, Vajrayana is a faith based practice according to Konchog1: the teachings and practice don't matter. Just accept Buddha into your heart.
If there is a radical inconsistency between your statements and the position you claim to hold,
you are a sock puppet.
Make as many accounts as you want; people can identify your deception with this test.
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:20 am

disjointed wrote:Hahaha, I can see why personality cult leaders love telling their students stories like the one you mentioned.
Just believe hard enough. And when you fail to realize your goal, blame yourself and believe harder because I'm infallible.

Yes, Vajrayana is a faith based practice according to Konchog1: the teachings and practice don't matter. Just accept Buddha into your heart.
Such Enlightened Gurus give valuable teachings. Thoroughly inspect your Gurus before learning from them. Contrast to the good Gurus so we understand and value virtuous qualities. Follow Tsongkhapa's directive (see below) to always compare your Guru's teachings to the Dharma, and if there is a conflict, then to ignore your Guru. Pay more attention to qualities and not charisma. etc.

If your Guru steals for example, it's an act. A play. A game. So you must act your part and play along by reporting him to the police.

Question: We must practice in accordance with the gurus' words. Then what if we rely on the gurus and they lead us to an incorrect path or employ us in activities that are contrary to the three vows? Should we do what they say?

Reply: What respect to this, Gunaprabha's Sutra on the Discipline states, "If the abbot instructs you to do what is not in accord with the teachings, refuse." Also, the Cloud of Jewels Sutra says, "With respect to virtue act in accord with the gurus' words, but do not act in accord with the gurus' words with respect to nonvirtue." Therefore, you must not listen to nonvirtuous instructions. The twelfth birth story clearly gives the meaning of not engaging in what is improper.

-Lam Rim Chen Mo eng v01 pg. 86 tib 48


The twelfth birth story is a recounting of the Buddha of a previous life when he was doing Hindu practices. He was a Brahman and he and his follow disciples were told by their Guru to steal. The Buddha alone refused, stating that the teachings say stealing is wrong. His Guru said: "I said this in order to test you all. He is the one who has actually understood my teaching. He has not been led foolishly anywhere like a rivulet of water, but has examined what his teacher has said, and made his own determination. He is the best among my students."
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: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby disjointed » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:33 am

" ignore your Guru."

"play along by reporting him to the police"

These are very different methods of coping with the inconsistent view on gurus you have presented Konchog1.
Konchog1, you might do well to learn about cognitive dissonance. Here's a good book for you:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Prophecy_Fails

While you may not recognize the fractured and overlapping views you presented for what they are, you should look into their origins. Considering the subject of your cognitive dissonance the origin is almost certainly due to listening to teachings by a Buddhist cult lama.

I hope you gather the internal strength and insistence on (even hard to hear) truth to set your mind straight with a view that is consistent and accords with reality.
If there is a radical inconsistency between your statements and the position you claim to hold,
you are a sock puppet.
Make as many accounts as you want; people can identify your deception with this test.
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:54 pm

disjointed wrote: While you may not recognize the fractured and overlapping views you presented for what they are, you should look into their origins. Considering the subject of your cognitive dissonance the origin is almost certainly due to listening to teachings by a Buddhist cult lama.

I hope you gather the internal strength and insistence on (even hard to hear) truth to set your mind straight with a view that is consistent and accords with reality.


Yes Konchog1, now please see the companion thread: How to tell if a poster on Dharmawheel is a troll?

(P.S. Don't feed them.)
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
~Arthur Carlson
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Caz » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:03 pm

Jikan wrote:
Caz wrote:For me it is simple.

Vajradhara said that in degenerate times he would appear in the form of an ordinary spiritual guide.

:namaste:


Does this mean that any ordinary spiritual guide is, ipso facto, an emanation of Vajradhara? I ask because I'm trying to understand your answer, not because I'm intentionally dense!

thanks



The person that is a qualified Spiritual guide can be viewed as Vajradhara :twothumbsup:
Seeing as there will come a time when we view everything purely and all beings as Hero's and Heroines there is no reason why we should not view our own spiritual guide purely now.
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby dakini_boi » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:44 pm

Luke wrote:My former lama was supposed to be an emanation of a certain deity, but yet, I and other people seemed to surprise him with things we did on many occasions. This seems to indicate that he's not clairvoyant. Are all lamas who are truly emanations of deities clairvoyant? I always thought so, and this was one of the reasons why I lost faith in him.


I think it's normal for even highly realized lamas to not demonstrate clairvoyance at all times. So I wouldn't take this as a sign that he's not an emanation of a deity. Even if he has total accomplishment, he is still manifesting as a human being. It makes me think of one of the stories from Blazing Splendor. I think it was about the 16th Karmapa, but I might be wrong - anyway, it was someone generally regarded as a very high lama, and sometimes when another lama died, the disciples would go to the first lama to ask where the tulku of their master would be found. The high lama was known for his clairvoyance and could usually tell them, and he would be right. However, sometimes, if the disciples' samaya was weak, the high lama wouldn't be able to get a clear vision and answer the question.
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby smcj » Mon Oct 07, 2013 5:38 pm

Does this mean that any ordinary spiritual guide is, ipso facto, an emanation of Vajradhara? I ask because I'm trying to understand your answer, not because I'm intentionally dense!

This is my own take on it, not to be confused with an actual reliable answer. I offer it for your entertainment:

If by "an ordinary spiritual guide" you mean someone that has the basic minimal qualifications as defined by their tradition, yes. The way I look at it is, if they have lineage, they are like an extension cord back to the generator of enlightenment, The Buddha. Even if all you are getting out of the extension cord is 1 volt, that means it is somehow connected back to the generator. So if you distill away all the dross of the teacher's personality and such (which is what your samsaric mind can see) you still have pure Dharma being presented to you--as long as the teacher is not distorting or modifying it with his opinions. That is why the traditions should not be altered, unless by it is done by an enlightened being. Steven Batchelor doesn't seem to get that.

Anyway, let us switch analogies to seeing lineage like passing the Olympic Flame: one runner lights the next runner's torch. As long as the first runner has at least a smoldering ember, he can light the next runner's torch. If the flame goes completely out, he can't. But even if he only has a smoldering ember, that can light your practice, and you can, with effort, make it into a roaring bonfire. You need not have a lama that is totally enlightened, but you do need one that has lineage and at least some minimal experience of Dharma so that your practice can be lit. Of course if you have no faith then it is like your practice is soaked in water. Even a roaring flame from an enlightened master cannot light it.

Hope you're ok with the mixed analogies!
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Punya » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:53 pm

Luke wrote:My former lama was supposed to be an emanation of a certain deity, but yet, I and other people seemed to surprise him with things we did on many occasions. This seems to indicate that he's not clairvoyant. Are all lamas who are truly emanations of deities clairvoyant? I always thought so, and this was one of the reasons why I lost faith in him.

If a lama who is said to be an emanation of a deity does not seem to possess any siddhis, is it possible that he still really is an emanation or is the term "an emanation of deity XYZ" just a traditional Tibetan honorific without much real meaning?


This is an approach that seems doomed to disappointment. I also prefer to rely on the lineage and the teachings the lama is carrying forward along with checking, as best I can, that they are not, through some personal failings, corrupting the teachings (I've had a couple of narrow escapes in the past). Tibetan lamas seem to do their best to conceal their clairvoyance and other signs of attainment anyway. In my opinion their ability to convey the teachings to you and your faith in them to do this are more important.

I think it was Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro who said, when his students started commenting on some extraordinary power he was displaying, "Hey, you guys, don't get distracted!".
Unless the inner forces of negative emotions are conquered
Strife with outer enemies will never end.
~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: How to tell if a lama is an emanation of a deity?

Postby Jikan » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:21 pm

disjointed wrote:cognitive dissonance the origin is almost certainly due to listening to teachings by a Buddhist cult lama.


Hi disjointed,

Would you please enlighten us with some examples of "Buddhist cult lamas" and if you like some personality cults that may be relevant to this discussion as you understand it? it's hard to follow your argument at the level of abstraction you present it.
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