Validity of recorded empowerments

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby pensum » Sat May 03, 2014 3:46 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:So from your reply am I to assume that you personally are considering taking an empowerment from a recording? No?

So what is your motivation behind grilling Garchen Rinpoche?

And why do you assume that I am lacking " cool detachment and reason"? Should I have assumed that you are personally considering taking an empowerment from a recording? Would that make me cooly detached and reasonable?

No, obviously, because the only people I see here doubting Garchen Rinpoche's actions are those that do not have him as a guru and will not watch the recordings to receive empowerment anyway.

From scripture it is obvious that one cannot receive empowerment except live and in person. Case closed. So any reply from Garchen Rinpoche will have to be assessed through the filter of faith, since reason has shown otherwise. Like it or lump it.

So you still want a reply from Garchen Rinpoche? Are you willing to "blindly' trust him?


Unfortunately, i don't feel that i am able to explain my motivation any clearer than i have in my previous post. Sorry.

I never assumed that you lacked cool detachment and reason, but in light of the fact that you are a forum moderator just the opposite. This being the cause of my dismay as it is only further evidence of my failing to adequately express the sincerity of my questions and respect for others. Online communications are tricky at the best of times and all the more so in situations like this when people have so much personal and emotional investment. Fortunately, T. Chokyi (to whom my posts were addressed) does not share your impression and instead welcomed my questions, a small but important comfort in this situation.

However, despite your being a forum moderator, as my questions are directed to Garchen Rp and Khenpo Samdrup through the intermediary of T. Chokyi, of course any of them are free to ignore or deny my questions, but i do not understand what right you have to speak for any of them and act as their gatekeeper. In fact, i am sorry to say but many would likely find such an uninvited intervention rather rude and disrespectful in itself. I myself have only ever been encouraged to study, ask questions, think seriously and come to my own conclusions about the Dharma; in fact i don't know of any authentic lama that doesn't encourage intelligent thoughtful dialogue and sincere questions, as they have taken a vow to help all sentient beings, this is not limited to just their personal followers. In fact from the very beginning when Shakyamuni was still sitting in the forest, the teaching of the Dharma has always been premised on the asking of questions, so i have no reason to believe that Garchen Rp. or Khenpo Samdrup would not be happy to see that someone has taken the time and care to think about these things and ask incisive questions, and in return help clarify such important matters as these.

Lastly, the Buddha himself clearly stated that no one should accept on blind faith what he said, but rather investigate it, test it and decide for oneself whether it was true or not. So I would hope that Garchen Rinpoche and Khenpo Samdrup hold the Buddha as a role model and thus welcome the opportunity to go deeper into such a profound matter as empowerment.

with my kindest regards,
pensum
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby heart » Sat May 03, 2014 3:46 pm

Lhasa wrote:When did 'tilting' at Vajra Masters become a wise thing to do? Aren't these the same folks
who are so afraid of vajra hell?
Thanks for drawing a line here, Greg.


While you threaten people with vajra hell for doubting a recording can be a valid empowerment there still seem to be no proof, only hearsay, that Garchen Rinpoche really consider his recordings valid empowerments. There have only been one quote from Garchen Rinpoche that the people of Gar Drolma have provided us with and that doesn't mention recordings but seems to be about streaming. Live streaming isn't questioned in this thread.

/magnus
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby heart » Sat May 03, 2014 3:48 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:The tone of my reply?

According to scripture any empowerment that is not live is not valid.

According to Garchen Rinpoche even a recording is valid.

Is it so difficult to see?

Who is asking "why?" and why are they asking "why?"

If the answer is not ego then what is it?


There is no quote from Garchen Rinpoche saying recordings are valid empowerments.

/magnus
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby pensum » Sat May 03, 2014 3:53 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:If the answer is not ego then what is it?


A desire to understand and overcome doubt, which are nothing less than the basis of the teachings in the first place, for if no one asked questions or sought to understand the statements of the buddhas and lineage masters then there would be no Buddhadharma.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 03, 2014 4:04 pm

pensum wrote:However, despite your being a forum moderator, as my questions are directed to Garchen Rp and Khenpo Samdrup through the intermediary of T. Chokyi, of course any of them are free to ignore or deny my questions, but i do not understand what right you have to speak for any of them and act as their gatekeeper.
I am not being anybodies gatekeeper or speaking on anybodies behalf, I am merely expressing my dismay at the lack of tact in this thread. Near the beginning of the thread I asked: why would people believe that Garchen Rinpoche is trying to scam us? I never really got a stright answer. But it is starting to become clear me that a large portion of this thread is just an attempt to cast aspersions on Garchen Rinpoches motivation. Now I do not know if it is a conscious attempt or not, but it is there.
In fact, i am sorry to say but many would likely find such an uninvited intervention rather rude and disrespectful in itself.
You posed your questions publicly on an open forum, if you did not want to draw public commentary then you could have sent them via PM, or even sent them directly to Garchen Rinpoche himself, in order to clear up any of your doubts. You didn't.
Lastly, the Buddha himself clearly stated that no one should accept on blind faith what he said, but rather investigate it, test it and decide for oneself whether it was true or not. So I would hope that Garchen Rinpoche and Khenpo Samdrup hold the Buddha as a role model and thus welcome the opportunity to go deeper into such a profound matter as empowerment.
Feel free to investigate all you want, nobody is stopping you. I merely pointed out that the outcome is quite clear: Even if Garchen Rinpoche justifies that empowerments can be received via recordings, again you will be basing your decision on faith (or lack of faith) in his reply, since the scriptures are quite clear on the matter. Now if you don't want to admit that this is the reality of the situation...
A desire to understand and overcome doubt, which are nothing less than the basis of the teachings in the first place, for if no one asked questions or sought to understand the statements of the buddhas and lineage masters then there would be no Buddhadharma.
And the vehicle of this doubt is?
"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: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 03, 2014 4:08 pm

heart wrote:Live streaming isn't questioned in this thread.
Yes it is. The conclusion was that live streaming is not a valid method to receive proper empowerment due to lack of access to material supports and problems with the vajra master being able to visualise the viewer as the deity.
"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."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby smcj » Sat May 03, 2014 4:11 pm

pensum wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:If the answer is not ego then what is it?


A desire to understand and overcome doubt, which are nothing less than the basis of the teachings in the first place, for if no one asked questions or sought to understand the statements of the buddhas and lineage masters then there would be no Buddhadharma.

:good:

This isn't a legal matter which can be debated. An empowerment is supposed to functionally work. If it does, then it does, regardless of what the texts say. If it doesn't, it doesn't, regardless of what any given teacher says.

The proof will be in the fast of the pudding, so to speak. If and when someone takes a recorded empowerment, does retreat and gains realization, then it is shown to be valid. If that never happens, then it isn't. Simple.

So this discussion is temporary until such time as that experiment is done. I suggest some advanced yogi do the experiment for us, since us dilettantes would never be able to discern if our lack of progress was simply our own limitation or the ineffectiveness of the empowerment.

In this case Dharma is falsifiable.
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: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 03, 2014 4:14 pm

smcj wrote:The proof will be in the fast of the pudding, so to speak. If and when someone takes a recorded empowerment, does retreat and gains realization, then it is shown to be valid. If that never happens, then it isn't. Simple.
Actually it is not that simple since Malcolm pointed out two pages ago: Siddhis can arise as the consequence of the ripening of past merit too.
"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: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby T. Chokyi » Sat May 03, 2014 4:22 pm

JohnJ wrote:
T. Chokyi wrote:
JohnJ wrote:


My questions centrally revolve around the meaning of the word 'full' in this explanation of empowerment, since I have never thought the teachings and path presented by ChNN was lacking, or "not full".



I just wanted to stress that this idea of "fullness" has to do with going in the essence. Rinpoche says that DI and doing Guru Yoga, which you can learn and get transmission for from Rinpoche during the live broadcast, is indispensable.


Thank you so much for your response, it was certainly helpful in thinking about these matters. Being a member of the Dzogchen Community and taking part in in-person, open and closed webcasts, I thought I had a fairly decent grasp on what ChNN was saying in regards to empowerment and going in the essence. The 4 traditional empowerments being given the label "full" seemed to indicate that other forms of empowerment were incomplete in some fashion, though that inference is likely my mistake.

My understanding, as Malcolm pointed out earlier in this thread, was that Rigpa Tsal Wang is the root of all empowerments, and therefore, according to Dzogchen teachings, the heart of everything 'fullness' could possibly be. If I understood that bit of conversation correctly, for some people a sort of ripening is needed before the Rigpa Tsal Wang can be properly received, and that this is the point of the 4 empowerments in context of HYT. I am just wondering more about the Donwang and its relation to these things.

For instance, next week there is a Guru Amitayus teaching in the DC. I have been informed that the empowerment will not be broadcast. My assumption is that this is the because Rinpoche does not feel that it can be given as a Donwang, or Meaning empowerment. However, the teachings and practice will be broadcast in a closed webcast, seeming to indicate that for those who have received Rigpa Tsal Wang and the tridlung for this practice, it is enough for participation. They are not "partial" practioners, or somehow incomplete, if they truly understand the nature of the Direct Introduction. I hope that I have understood this correctly.


JohnJ

You're welcome. Don't worry to much about HYT or Donwang. Getting into the state of contemplation is what CHNN is genuinely about, he facilitates this for his students. In other words, when one sings the Song of Vajra (which I would recommend getting the lung for and singing everyday), one can enter what Rinpoche refers to as "the state of contemplation" and you can experience and recognize ones nature, you can experience that for yourself. CHNN is singing the song of Vajra with you live during the web cast, this is really a powerful way to transmit because you are opening your experience and have the genuine opportunity to "get into that state" right with Rinpoche and also all the Sangha world wide, you are going in that state, and relaxing into that state of contemplation and all at the same time. Song of Vajra, and the sounds, the syllables, these sounds "assist" or "help" place you there in that state, when you sound them, you are relaxing and just sounding those syllables, you are unifying your capacity to experience the "result" of the practice with the entire Sangha, with Rinpoche who is firmly in the state of contemplation, so this is the main point to feel that and taste that for yourself, this "result" is taken as the path.

If you have not been in a state of contemplation or experienced that yet, then hearing about it can be like someone who has not tasted sugar, for instance, hearing "words" describing all about what sugar tastes like but not knowing what sugar actually tastes like until the actual experience, so Rinpoche is facilitating that practice and "holding" in that state of contemplation so you can get your "taste" and know your nature, this is why you sing/chant the SOV (Song of the Vajra) you enter that "space" at the same time and you can get into that state, being in the state of your own real nature is the main point this is pith meaning of the Rigpa Tsal Wang and getting there for us means we make that effort. Learning to stabilize in that state of contemplation, so you can be in that sate during the day, during the night, while eating, throughout your 24/7, this is what Rinpoche is about, not so much HYT in the sense that you transform, although there are many practices from Rinpoche's teachers, many Ter from Changchub Dorje, and those Ter are primarily passed with the instructions the "secret way" without too much on the net, so they are closed, not so much because anyone is kept from anything, but those instructions for those particular practices are of course Annuyoga level, from Rinpoche's close teacher, and secret, those Ter are passed with pith instructions from teacher to student , but not "protected" or held back because anybody has any more or less of anything than anybody else, anyone can join the DC if they are interested, as you know, you can view the closed retreats or listen to the "re-runs" if you are a member, but with SOV you don't need to transform or generate anything, and CHNN has said that the Guru Yoga of White Ah and Tigle, also SOV gets you into that state so you go with him the same time he's doing that, it isn't considered "transformation" or HYT, and transformation or HYT as you have understood it so far, is not considered "superior" to the experience of getting into your nature or "the state of contemplation", getting into that state is the main point. I hope you understand and I didn't get too "wordy".

:focus:
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Alfredo » Sat May 03, 2014 4:23 pm

Everything I have heard about Garchen Rinpoche has been positive.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby pensum » Sat May 03, 2014 4:32 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote: why would people believe that Garchen Rinpoche is trying to scam us?


I have never thought nor claimed that Garchen Rp. is trying to scam anybody, just the opposite i feel that he has pure motivation. That said, as the statements that have been shared have been rather vague and too general, i am unclear as to what his precise views on the subject at hand are. So my questions are nothing more than an attempt to clarify his views. And though it may seem that i asked a lot of them, i still am barely scratching the surface but one has to start somewhere and lay a foundation for further dialogue. I decided to share my questions publicly in the hope that it might stimulate others to think more deeply about the issue or even help formulate their own doubts or lack of understanding. Sharing questions is what makes a sangha and forums like this so valuable.

You and a few others appear to see this issue as being very black-and-white, however from my own extensive studies and reflections i find the issue of empowerment far more nuanced and subtle. As i have tried to make clear on several occasions, in situations like this you can't just say "empowerment" without specifying what sort of empowerment you are referring to, for example the requirements for a rig pa'i rtsal dbang are vastly different than those for a vase empowerment. Even a single practice may have several empowerment rituals associated with it, for example the Kunzang Tuktig from the Chokling Tersar alone has four empowerment rituals--an outer empowerment for the yidam practice that can be given to most anyone, a separate one for the practice of trekcho and another for togal, and then there is a complete empowerment combining all these into a single ritual—so when someone states "I have received the empowerment for the Kunzang Tuktig." One must be careful to ask them to distinguish exactly which empowerment they received, as many people only receive the outer empowerment never realizing that that is just the beginning and does not give them access to the instructions (tri) associated with trekcho and togal. Malcolm provided another example when he pointed out that there is a distinction between blessings and full empowerments. So at this point so far into the discussion i would have thought that everyone would welcome all carefully considered and thoughtful questions, but sadly that doesn't seem to be the case.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby smcj » Sat May 03, 2014 4:34 pm

Alfredo wrote:Everything I have heard about Garchen Rinpoche has been positive.

Me too.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby pensum » Sat May 03, 2014 4:34 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
heart wrote:Live streaming isn't questioned in this thread.
Yes it is. The conclusion was that live streaming is not a valid method to receive proper empowerment due to lack of access to material supports and problems with the vajra master being able to visualise the viewer as the deity.


This however is limited to those empowerments that require material supports, the creation of a mandala etc.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby heart » Sat May 03, 2014 4:35 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
heart wrote:Live streaming isn't questioned in this thread.
Yes it is. The conclusion was that live streaming is not a valid method to receive proper empowerment due to lack of access to material supports and problems with the vajra master being able to visualise the viewer as the deity.


I also provided quotes from Tsele Natsok Rangdrol saying that he didn't agree with that view (about the necessity of the substances and so on). But again;

There is also the story that the terton Guru Chowang placed a piece of excrement on the top of the head of the Nepalese man, Bharo Vihardhara, and poured urine into his mouth. Through this, Bharo remained in undefiled coemergent wisdom for seven days and was liberated.


/magnus
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby smcj » Sat May 03, 2014 4:38 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
smcj wrote:The proof will be in the fast of the pudding, so to speak. If and when someone takes a recorded empowerment, does retreat and gains realization, then it is shown to be valid. If that never happens, then it isn't. Simple.
Actually it is not that simple since Malcolm pointed out two pages ago: Siddhis can arise as the consequence of the ripening of past merit too.

I poked around a little looking for that post. I didn't find it, but I found this of Malcolm's:

My concern is quite real, since I think that this belief that one can receive an empowerment or even the transmission of a mantra from a recording will do serious damage to Vajrayāna teachings.

Imagine someone claiming they have attained siddhi from only attending a recorded empowerment and doing the retreat, and then seeking to initiate students into that said empowerment.

I agree with Malcolm on this. With this scenario the living transmission of the Vajrayana could die quickly, to be replaced with empty ritual and ceremony. It would be no better than something based on the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

It wouldn't hurt to have a yogi try the experiment. I'm not in the position to make that request however.
Last edited by smcj on Sat May 03, 2014 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby pensum » Sat May 03, 2014 4:42 pm

heart wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:
heart wrote:Live streaming isn't questioned in this thread.
Yes it is. The conclusion was that live streaming is not a valid method to receive proper empowerment due to lack of access to material supports and problems with the vajra master being able to visualise the viewer as the deity.


I also provided quotes from Tsele Natsok Rangdrol saying that he didn't agree with that view (about the necessity of the substances and so on). But again;

There is also the story that the terton Guru Chowang placed a piece of excrement on the top of the head of the Nepalese man, Bharo Vihardhara, and poured urine into his mouth. Through this, Bharo remained in undefiled coemergent wisdom for seven days and was liberated.


/magnus


But aren't excrement and urine the most material of supports? And as i have said numerous times, it depends on the empowerment being given: if a ritual text is being used that clearly states things like "place the vase on the disciple's head", "drink the water from the vase" and the like, does Tsele Natsok Rangdrol feel that this can be bypassed or skipped, and that specific empowerment still be considered to have been given properly?

While we're on the topic, haven't you ever noticed that when any lamas, tulkus or ordained monks or nuns are in the audience for an empowerment, the vajra master is always careful to ensure that they receive the required bonks on the head and material substances to ingest, first and foremost usually at the proper time in the ritual, while everyone else is left to wait until the end? Even the anointing with the water is given to them individually while the "general audience" gets a symbolic flick or two. Now if it was simply a question of faith and intention, as tulkus, lamas and the ordained obviously have more steadfast faith and pure intention you would think that they would be the ones who didn't require the physical actions and substances, as intention and visualization would suffice which they should be more adept at then the typical layperson, however this is not how it is done but rather the very opposite.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 03, 2014 5:01 pm

smcj wrote:I poked around a little looking for that post. I didn't find it, but I found this of Malcolm's...
cf here.
"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."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby JohnJ » Sat May 03, 2014 5:04 pm

Malcolm wrote:A full empowerment generally takes two days (though it can all be done in one) and has an elaborate version of the vase empowerment, etc. Empowerments that do not have that are called "blessings" according to the new tantras and "meaning empowerments" according to the system of anuyoga because they do not have the preparation phase and the four empowerments are given symbolically.

The Garland of Pearls Tantra, one of the 17 Dzogchen tantras, maintains that for students of lesser capacity all four empowerments are necessary, while students of higher capacity or experience may require only direct introduction. The sgra thal gyur definitely states that empowerments are a necessary requirement and so on.


Thank you, Malcolm. I can see that even within the Tantras themselves this is quite a nuanced issue, but I believe I have a better understanding.

T. Chokyi wrote:You're welcome. Don't worry to much about HYT or Donwang. Getting into the state of contemplation is what CHNN is genuinely about...


Thank for the great reminders! Mostly I follow Garchen Rinpoche and ChNN's teachings, travel to see them when I can, or view them live when that's impossible. I also have a more personal local teacher who I go to for week to week sort of advice in practice. Despite all the empowerments and teachings that I have recieved, I hold the Song of the Vajra as most important, as it is fairly easily integrated into a life ornamented with joys of marriage and children.

I don't mean to get to personal about myself, but I am very grateful that you reminded me of ChNN's teachings on this, and to not get too caught up in all the terminology- or at least to treat that it as secondary to practice.

I am very glad that some on this forum are interested in civil dialogue and encouragement, with the same etiquette as a face to face conversation.

Thanks!
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 03, 2014 5:04 pm

heart wrote:There is no quote from Garchen Rinpoche saying recordings are valid empowerments.
Directly from him? No. He sent his answer via an intermediary. Either way you will get it via an intermediary. I find it unlikely that Garchen Rinpoche will come here and answer directly to us, just to pander our pathetic little egos. I mean, really...

So now you do not trust the intermediaries?
"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: Validity of recorded empowerments

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 03, 2014 5:07 pm

pensum wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:
heart wrote:Live streaming isn't questioned in this thread.
Yes it is. The conclusion was that live streaming is not a valid method to receive proper empowerment due to lack of access to material supports and problems with the vajra master being able to visualise the viewer as the deity.


This however is limited to those empowerments that require material supports, the creation of a mandala etc.
Yup. But that pretty much covers every single empowerment I have ever had. At the very least one receives a sprinkling of dudtsi, so...
"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."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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