Guru yoga not Indian?

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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:19 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Vajrayāna was introduced to China primarily by a single master.


You are mistaken. The three eminent early masters include Śubhakarasiṃha 善無畏 (637-735), Vajrabodhi (671-741) 金剛智 and Amoghavajra (705-774) 不空.



Note, I said primarily. These other two masters did not have the lasting influence Amoghavajra did.


The Chinese court, clergy and economy were in a better position than Tibet to provide the necessary institutions, crafts and so forth to facilitate the transmission of Vajrayāna.

It isn't all about dates.


Samye is a pretty sizable place. The Tibetans were the dominant power in Asia during the 8th century.

The main point however is that the kind of Vajrayāna practiced in Tibet in the late eight century was basically identical that practiced in China during the same time.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby invisiblediamond » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:30 pm

Clearly the pattern with the Indians was the Asians couldn't handle anuttarayoga tantra, at least not en masse. Atisha was stopped from teaching it. So AT came mostly through family lines, like the Khon, Marpa, etc. But Guru Yoga is definitely Indian.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:41 pm

Malcolm wrote:Note, I said primarily. These other two masters did not have the lasting influence Amoghavajra did.


And your basis for postulating this is what?


Samye is a pretty sizable place. The Tibetans were the dominant power in Asia during the 8th century.


Didn't they still have to import paper from China?


The main point however is that the kind of Vajrayāna practiced in Tibet in the late eight century was basically identical that practiced in China during the same time.


That might be more or less true, but it seems Vajrayāna and Buddhism in general was a lot more widespread in China. For one thing, the Dunhuang records indicate Tibet was hardly a Buddhist culture at the time, and the Chinese at the time didn't seem to know of that much Buddhism in Tibet throughout the Tang.

In any case, guru yoga as it is found in Tibet does not seem to have ever existed in East Asia, even in the last period of Vajrayāna transmission into China, which is noteworthy and supports Mayer's idea:

    Clearly then, the guru yoga that we now know developed in Tibet, not in India.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:44 pm

Indrajala wrote:
In any case, guru yoga as it is found in Tibet does not seem to have ever existed in East Asia, even in the last period of Vajrayāna transmission into China, which is noteworthy and supports Mayer's idea:

    Clearly then, the guru yoga that we now know developed in Tibet, not in India.


But this is not true, and I already presented two texts which negate this idea -- which somehow you seem to ignore.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:46 pm

Indrajala wrote:For one thing, the Dunhuang records indicate Tibet was hardly a Buddhist culture at the time, and the Chinese at the time didn't seem to know of that much Buddhism in Tibet throughout the Tang.


The Dunhuang records indicate no such thing.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:46 pm

Malcolm wrote:But this is not true, and I already presented two texts which negate this idea -- which somehow you seem to ignore.


I think the key point here is the guru yoga that we now know.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:53 pm

Malcolm wrote:
The Dunhuang records indicate no such thing.


They don't indicate a strongly Buddhist culture by any means. Let me cite an immediate example that comes to mind:

Songstän Gampo's reign was marked by continual violent expansion and conflict. He inherited the throne from his father Namri Löntsen between 625-627. In the days before his father's reign central Tibet had been controlled by a confederacy of clans including the dBas, Myang and mNon. Namri Löntsen had obtained oaths of allegiance from these tribes with which to expand his territories to the north and east of Lhasa and to Kong Po. Later the Dagpo rebelled and had to be reconquered. Following Namri Löntsen's death these problems mounted. The histories differ on what later transpired.

The Tun-Huang Chronicles state the following:

...the paternal subjects rebelled; the maternal subjects revolved. ... The father gNam ri was given poison and died. The son Srong btsan firstly wiped out the families of the rebels and the prisoners.


Meanwhile Butön Rinchen Drup (Wyl. bu ston rin chen grub) (1290-1364) relates the following:

...Thirteen years of age he ascended the throne and, brought under his power all the petty chiefs of the borderland who offered him presents and sent their messages (of submission).


The History of Tibet Volume I, 338.

The former would be the earlier history from a time before Buddhism had thoroughly penetrated Tibetan culture.

Basically, Tibet under the Yarlung dynasty was hardly a Buddhist culture, nor was Buddhism that widespread as later people would believe when certain kings were understood as being devout Buddhists who introduced the Dharma into the country.

Furthermore, the Chinese as far as my readings from the Tang go seem to have been unaware of much Buddhism being in Tibet. The later histories of Tibet tell a different much more Buddhist-friendly story, whereas more objective historical scholarship would have one believe, in fact, Yarlung Tibet was hardly Buddhist.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby dakini_boi » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:00 pm

Malcolm wrote:
The practice of making use of historical or quasi historical figures for Guru yoga is a Tibetan innovation. It seems in India, gurus were generally imagined in the form of one's devatā.



This makes me think that in Indian Vajrayana, Guru Yoga was more like a practice preliminary at the beginning of a sadhana - is this correct?
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby invisiblediamond » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:08 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:But this is not true, and I already presented two texts which negate this idea -- which somehow you seem to ignore.


I think the key point here is the guru yoga that we now know.


Nope, guru yoga in the five fold path of Mahamudra in fact comes from Lawapa and is practiced in just the same way today. Obviously visualizing Tsonkhapa etc was not done in India. The visualization was of the Vajradhara or Vajrasattva. Two bodhicitta prayers, body is deity, guru in heart...
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:23 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
The Dunhuang records indicate no such thing.


They don't indicate a strongly Buddhist culture by any means. Let me cite an immediate example that comes to mind:



By your post, you must think I am referring to the 7th century Tibet. But I am not. I am referring to 8th century Tibet, namely to the reign of Khri srong lde' bstan. No one disputes that Buddhism was not a presence in Tibet prior to the reign of Srong btsan sgam po.

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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:25 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:But this is not true, and I already presented two texts which negate this idea -- which somehow you seem to ignore.


I think the key point here is the guru yoga that we now know.


What Guru yogas do you have in mind? As I pointed out, the basic bones of the practice was well-established in India.

The practice of turning historical teachers like Padmasambhava into objects of Guru Yoga I agree is a Tibetan innovation, but in terms of the skeleton of Guru Yoga, it is like I said. And further, in traditions like Sakya, they adhere principally to the Indian style of Guru yoga.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Matylda » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:40 pm

I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding concerning Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism in general and might be vajrayana in both countries as well. While Buddhism was introduced to Tibet it was already not only well established in China but was an extreme force in the socety, economy and politics. As I remeber reading some Russian buddhologist at the time of late Tang persecution there were around 9 mln monks and nuns. Not only Han/Chinese but also some 60-70 thousand Indian monks.

So when vajryana arrived in China, it had completely different background for development, also there were many more literati people to accomodate, study or practice compare to rather poorly educated Tibetan socjety at that time. Though we may read history of Tibetan Buddhism one has to ask how far the influence was extended in Tibet? Was it truely Buddhist compare to China exactly at the same time?

As far as I remember 3 esoteric masters earlier mentioned bu Indrajala, were masters who had connection and suport of imperial palace. This rather suggests, that there were many more teachers around available for interested disciples.

There had to be already some forms of esoteric tradition in China before w hear about 3 masters since Kukai/Kobo Daishi, founder of shingon school before he left Japan was already engaged in some forms of esoteric pratices. Of course and most probably he was first to bring two main mandalas but there were already some practices known in Japan, more characteristic to esoteric Buddhism not just to general mahayana, so they had to arrive from China. It means that in China the tradition had to be wide spread.

I also think that guru yoga as it is known today was really developed in Tibet, but as Malcolm pointed, it had source in some tantras known in India, so is probably well justified.

Anyway to compare state of Buddhism in China and Tibet in the mid of the VIII century is rather risky. Background of both was totally different.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:09 pm

Matylda wrote:
So when vajryana arrived in China, it had completely different background for development, also there were many more literati people to accomodate, study or practice compare to rather poorly educated Tibetan socjety at that time.


Just who says Tibetans were poorly educated? They had writing, etc. prior to the 7th century.

[/quote]
Anyway to compare state of Buddhism in China and Tibet in the mid of the VIII century is rather risky. Background of both was totally different.[/quote]

Why? There were Chinese Monasteries in Lhasa. There were Indian monks, central Asian monks. Tibetans traded widely in India as well as China. And they were the bosses of Central Asia until the 840's and the Chinese economic crisis.

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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby smcj » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:39 am

Just who says Tibetans were poorly educated? They had writing, etc. prior to the 7th century.

They did? I thought written language was imported from India around then. You sure? Any existing texts (presumably Bonpo) from that period?
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:55 am

smcj wrote:
Just who says Tibetans were poorly educated? They had writing, etc. prior to the 7th century.

They did? I thought written language was imported from India around then. You sure? Any existing texts (presumably Bonpo) from that period?


Yes, this is what western scholars would like people to be believe. But this is based on an improper reading of what early Tibetan texts actually say about the issue. It is true that Thonmi Sambhota adapted Gupta script to the Tibetan language. But there is sufficient evidence that the court of Zhang Zhang was using writing during the reign of Srong btsan sgam po. We have for example Ligmincha's seal.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:46 am

Malcolm wrote:
Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:But this is not true, and I already presented two texts which negate this idea -- which somehow you seem to ignore.


I think the key point here is the guru yoga that we now know.


What Guru yogas do you have in mind? As I pointed out, the basic bones of the practice was well-established in India.

The practice of turning historical teachers like Padmasambhava into objects of Guru Yoga I agree is a Tibetan innovation, but in terms of the skeleton of Guru Yoga, it is like I said. And further, in traditions like Sakya, they adhere principally to the Indian style of Guru yoga.


Hey, I don't know enough to follow but 50% of the conversation here, but I was wondering if you could further elaborate on how Sakya guru yoga is the same as the indian guru yoga. Sorry to interrupt the thread, PM me if it keeps the flow and you don't mind explaining.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:51 am

Malcolm wrote:Just who says Tibetans were poorly educated? They had writing, etc. prior to the 7th century.

Why? There were Chinese Monasteries in Lhasa. There were Indian monks, central Asian monks. Tibetans traded widely in India as well as China. And they were the bosses of Central Asia until the 840's and the Chinese economic crisis.


Well, but how far the society was literati? Was it restricted to the court or some priviladged groups what could be rather limited representation? And as for the seal, is one seal enough to prove wide spread written language, or was it just fancy property of the court? I have no idea if there is enough evidence of written language used by majority of Tibetans. In case of China written language was predominent in all parts of China already for ages. Yes military Tibet was very strong and occupied western parts of China, and Chinese misssionaries were in Lhasa, however not only there, but in many countries outside of China. Including many monks who traveled to India since II century...

Tibet was in the VII and VIII century just entering the Buddhist way. In China it was predominent religion at that time with history of seven hundered years.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:43 pm

Matylda wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Just who says Tibetans were poorly educated? They had writing, etc. prior to the 7th century.

Why? There were Chinese Monasteries in Lhasa. There were Indian monks, central Asian monks. Tibetans traded widely in India as well as China. And they were the bosses of Central Asia until the 840's and the Chinese economic crisis.


Well, but how far the society was literati? Was it restricted to the court or some priviladged groups what could be rather limited representation? And as for the seal, is one seal enough to prove wide spread written language, or was it just fancy property of the court? I have no idea if there is enough evidence of written language used by majority of Tibetans. In case of China written language was predominent in all parts of China already for ages. Yes military Tibet was very strong and occupied western parts of China, and Chinese misssionaries were in Lhasa, however not only there, but in many countries outside of China. Including many monks who traveled to India since II century...

Tibet was in the VII and VIII century just entering the Buddhist way. In China it was predominent religion at that time with history of seven hundered years.


Tibetans had long term contact with India and Buddhists. They were surrounded by Buddhist countries for a thousand years. Buddhist yogis, as well as Hindu Yogis frequented the region around Kailash.

Zhang Zhung was a kingdom bordering India. Every evidence points to the fact that while Tibetans themselves may not have developed writing, their ethnic cousins, Zhangzhung people, had done so, and that Tibetans, in a sort of culural fealty to Zhang Zhung, adopted their writing, customs, etc.
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:58 pm

Yeah Zhang Zhung... it was the closest. By still it was not Tibet in the sense of history, though they could pick up so much from previous kingdoms. It is just natural, that close nation, ethnically and in terms of language have some mutual exchange and influence... But I meant Tibet proper, not by whom it was influenced.

But GY? was it really spread widely and accepted in India? Even in AYT texts? You mentioned only Hevajra, what about other AYT lineages in India?
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Re: Guru yoga not Indian?

Postby Karma Dorje » Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:17 pm

Elaborate Guru Puja is well established in tantric and pauranic Hinduism going back many years. The Guru Gita of the Skandha Purana is a very long song and adoration to the guru visualized as Dattatreya and also as one's personal guru. There is both physical worship with the 16 articles (shodashopacara) and mental worship (manasa puja). There is also the famous Guru Paduka puja-- worshipping the sandals of the guru. It's very difficult for me to believe that the Tibetan "innovation" found its way back to India and had such a profound impact on such a central figure in the Hindu experience. In all of these, the mind of the student is mixed with the mind of the guru visualized in the heart or on the crown of one's head.

While figures like Padmasambhava, Jigten Sumgon, Tsongkhapa, etc. are obviously Tibetan and their sadhanas are specific to the Tibetan context, the general architecture of guru yoga has been intrinsic to the Indian experience of religion for millennia.
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