Astrology, Divination and Oracles

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Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby thornbush » Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:08 pm

Ok, fellow Vajra brethren...
This topic may have been discussed to death but I still don't get it...
1. What is the role of this thread's title in Tibetan Buddhist context?
2. What is the justification for it?
3. Where is the justification found?

:thanks:
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Heruka » Sat Jun 20, 2009 6:02 pm

justification?
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Luke » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:13 pm

I heard a Drikung lama once say that the advantage of clairvoyance is that if you know that something bad will happen the future, you can act wisely and hopefully avoid or minimize the bad event; if you know that something good will happen in the future, you can work to maximize the benefit from this.

Although this lama was speaking about psychic abilities and not specifically about divination, I think the same principle applies. Used wisely, divination is just another tool which can be used to maximize good karma and minimize bad karma while helping other sentient beings.

On one level, divination is simply a tool. On another level, it's a cultural tradition, just like the I-Ching is part of ancient Chinese culture.

I also found this:
Although means of telling the future were employed in Tibet, before the advent of Buddhism, they are not regarded as an alien remnant outside the Buddhist framework that it is occasionally convenient to call upon. Rather, they are used within the sphere of Buddhist concepts, functioning in accordance with Buddhist principles such as karma. There are no references to divination in the collections of sutras, but many can be found in the tantras.
http://www.tibet.com/buddhism/divination.html
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby thornbush » Sun Jun 21, 2009 2:51 am

Here's my tainted view:
Heruka: justification for those 3 practices in Tibetan Buddhism.
There are other streams of Buddhist Traditions who have clearly mentioned that such are not fit to be practiced by the Ordained nor the Laity and is founded on scriptural injunctions such as the Pali Canon and in Mahayana, Sutras like the Mahayana Brahmajala (Code of the Bodhisattvas). It has even been known as 'low arts'

Indeed Luke, I agree that the I-Ching is a cultural tool but nevertheless discouraged and not used by orthodox Chinese Mahayana Buddhists either.
But some concerns are raised here:
After all the profound Teachings and practices as expounded by the Buddha from the Tibetan Buddhist POV, are those three 'arts' still a necessity?
If say there is a 'failure' to actuate those Teachings, where does the 'fault' lie?
In the practitioner who ought to shape up or has the Buddha Dharma failed per se?
Could resorting to such practices be interpreted as placing the Buddha Dharma as second only when it should encompass all aspects of life, mundane or othewise?

Thank you for all of your patience :namaste:
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Heruka » Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:58 pm

thornbush wrote:
There are other streams of Buddhist Traditions who have clearly mentioned that such are not fit to be practiced by the Ordained nor the Laity and is founded on scriptural injunctions such as the Pali Canon and in Mahayana, Sutras like the Mahayana Brahmajala (Code of the Bodhisattvas). It has even been known as 'low arts'



I see.
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby sraddha » Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:11 pm

Buddha is the "knowing" itself of all knowledge that can be known. In the Avatamsaka Sutra, Buddha fulfills all our aspirations for what ever we want to attain.

One with Buddha knowledge, will understand and attain all other forms of knowledge including "divination, oracles", but does not dwell in such forms of knowledge as it is incomplete knowing.

It is similar to siddhis and other occult powers that can manifest, they are there, a Buddhist acknowledges them, but continues on his journey to attain complete knowing (Bodhi). :anjali:
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Luke » Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:14 pm

thornbush wrote:Here's my tainted view:
Heruka: justification for those 3 practices in Tibetan Buddhism.
There are other streams of Buddhist Traditions who have clearly mentioned that such are not fit to be practiced by the Ordained nor the Laity and is founded on scriptural injunctions such as the Pali Canon and in Mahayana, Sutras like the Mahayana Brahmajala (Code of the Bodhisattvas). It has even been known as 'low arts'

Indeed Luke, I agree that the I-Ching is a cultural tool but nevertheless discouraged and not used by orthodox Chinese Mahayana Buddhists either.
But some concerns are raised here:
After all the profound Teachings and practices as expounded by the Buddha from the Tibetan Buddhist POV, are those three 'arts' still a necessity?
If say there is a 'failure' to actuate those Teachings, where does the 'fault' lie?
In the practitioner who ought to shape up or has the Buddha Dharma failed per se?
Could resorting to such practices be interpreted as placing the Buddha Dharma as second only when it should encompass all aspects of life, mundane or othewise?

Thank you for all of your patience :namaste:


I don't think that any Tibetan Buddhist would call divination a necessity, except perhaps for finding the new incarnations of Tulkus. Anyway, only ethnic Tibetans do that stuff, so I don't think that divination has too much importance for westerners who practice Vajrayana. As to your other questions, I don't think any Vajrayana practioner thinks divination is more important than the path of the generation and completion stages which lead toward Enlightenment.

You could poke around in the Tantras and find many things which are prohibited in the sutras, but which the Vajrayana Buddhists have transformed into skillful methods which advanced pracitioners can remain untainted by. Vajrayana can't be logically derived from only Mahayana teachings anymore than Mahayana teachings could be logically derived from only Theravada teachings. Each new vehicle requires some new assumptions for its "higher" point of view (as well as the assumption that the vehicle's point of view is indeed higher than that of the preceding vehicles).

If one does not like puzzles and a few apparent contradictions, it would be wisest to just practice Theravada and to only read the words of the historical Buddha. That is very logical and I respect that point of view. However, if one already accepts the legitimacy of Mahayana sutras and that other emanations of the historical Buddha and other enlightened beings have given additional teachings which are of great value, then what is stopping one from accepting the legitimacy of the Vajrayana tantras as well? This is the deeper question to ask oneself.

I am not enough of a scholar to know the details of how Tibetan Buddhists rationalize each aspect of the tantras which contradicts, or at least seems to contradict, the sutras. However, many of the things which upset the shall we say "more conservative" Buddhists about Vajrayana are in actuality very small parts of Vajrayana (like divination) or are misinterpretations of Vajrayana (such as thinking that depictions of fierce blood-drinking deities in sexual union are unethical when in actuality they have very deep and positive symbolic meanings).

Divination is a great example of a minor aspect of Tibetan Buddhism. I've never heard of any great ancient master like Guru Rinpoche or Milarepa say, "Please practice divination; it's really important." Greater siddhis don't require props, and the attainment of Enlightenment is the supreme siddhi.

I understand your concerns though, Thornbush. There is always the danger that modern practioners of Vajrayana could fall into the deluded view of "Gee, I'm this big, bad, Vajrayana yogi and my attainments are so great that I can do unethical things without any consquences." The ancient Vajrayana masters clearly indicate that this is the wrong view. The need to avoid pitfalls like this is exactly the reason why Vajrayana needs to be learned from an experienced teacher. Without this guidance, it is impossible to understand properly.

If you sense danger in Vajrayana, Thornbush, I think you are correct: if practiced improperly, Vajrayana can be very dangerous indeed.
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Heruka » Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:48 pm

Luke wrote: There is always the danger that modern practioners of Vajrayana could fall into the deluded view of "Gee, I'm this big, bad, Vajrayana yogi and my attainments are so great that I can do unethical things without any consquences." The ancient Vajrayana masters clearly indicate that this is the wrong view. The need to avoid pitfalls like this is exactly the reason why Vajrayana needs to be learned from an experienced teacher. Without this guidance, it is impossible to understand properly.

If you sense danger in Vajrayana, Thornbush, I think you are correct: if practiced improperly, Vajrayana can be very dangerous indeed.


Dear Luke, how did you arrive at these ideas?
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Luke » Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:23 pm

Heruka wrote:
Luke wrote: There is always the danger that modern practioners of Vajrayana could fall into the deluded view of "Gee, I'm this big, bad, Vajrayana yogi and my attainments are so great that I can do unethical things without any consquences." The ancient Vajrayana masters clearly indicate that this is the wrong view. The need to avoid pitfalls like this is exactly the reason why Vajrayana needs to be learned from an experienced teacher. Without this guidance, it is impossible to understand properly.

If you sense danger in Vajrayana, Thornbush, I think you are correct: if practiced improperly, Vajrayana can be very dangerous indeed.


Dear Luke, how did you arrive at these ideas?


There are lots of ideas in that paragraph. Okay, I'll go through them.

Some western lamas (I'm not going to name any names) have done unethical things while trying to imitate some of the ancient mahasiddhas. The stories and practices of Vajrayana can easily excite the ego if looked at from the wrong point of view. There are lots of stories of ancient mahasiddhas enlightening women by having sex with them and drinking large amounts of alcohol.

The basic practices of Vajrayana are pretty harmless. Nothing horrible is likely to happen if you do shinay incorrectly or if you mess up some recitations at a Tara puja. However, the advanced practices of Vajrayana can be dangerous if done incorrectly and this is why they are kept secret.

Doing things like Tummo or Dzogchen incorrectly can cause physical and mental problems because of energy disorders. Also, people might simply get off on the bliss and power that some meditations can generate and forget their bodhichitta motivation. Another thing is that a lot of negative karma is created if an advanced practioner does something which breaks his/her samaya (a set of high-level tantric vows).

If practiced correctly, all levels of Vajrayana are wonderful Buddhist practices. If practiced incorrectly, some of the advanced practices can be dangerous.
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Heruka » Sat Jun 27, 2009 12:11 am

Is practicing mahayana or hinayana dangerous?
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Luke » Sat Jun 27, 2009 5:20 pm

Heruka wrote:Is practicing mahayana or hinayana dangerous?


Not at all. Those do not involve any tantric techniques. However, I would recommend using the word "Theravada" instead of "Hinayana" to avoid offending our Dharma brothers and sisters who practice that path.
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Heruka » Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:57 pm

Luke wrote:
Heruka wrote:Is practicing mahayana or hinayana dangerous?


Not at all. Those do not involve any tantric techniques. However, I would recommend using the word "Theravada" instead of "Hinayana" to avoid offending our Dharma brothers and sisters who practice that path.



So why would a technique be dangerous? whats dangerous about it? I dont really understand what you mean? Can I assume that you mean that the vajrayana techniques deliver enlightenment within a short few lifetimes, or even in one lifetime? If that is the case are these techniques superior or inferior to a longer, slower, i.e. a lesser path? Does that fact make calling a lesser path, a lesser path not right to do? Should we become PC and not make that distinction as to not offend any sensitivities?
And why using language, or changing its use, helps or hurts truth searchers stuck in samadhi?
Hope you could share you intimate understanding about the base path and fruit.

:thanks:
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Heruka » Sat Jun 27, 2009 7:03 pm

Luke wrote: However, I would recommend using the word "Theravada" instead of "Hinayana" to avoid offending our Dharma brothers and sisters who practice that path.


Is it not a double standard then to call astrology, divination etc lesser or lower practices, should we not also apply your logic and not call vajrayana "dangerous?"
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jun 28, 2009 1:02 am

Greetings all,

Luke wrote:However, I would recommend using the word "Theravada" instead of "Hinayana" to avoid offending our Dharma brothers and sisters who practice that path.


Heruka wrote: Does that fact make calling a lesser path, a lesser path not right to do? Should we become PC and not make that distinction as to not offend any sensitivities? And why using language, or changing its use, helps or hurts truth searchers stuck in samadhi?


First and foremost this a Mahayana/Vajrayana board and Mahayana/Vajrayana views must be allowed to be expressed. If people find it necessary to use the term "hinayana" in doing so then I believe this should also be respected in the appropriate contexts. For example, it's apt in the Mahayana/Vajrayana context to use the term "hinayana" to describe a path with a destination other than Buddhahood, but it's not allowable to use the term as a means of insulting others, as that actually would violate the Terms Of Service.

That is the Dharma Wheel policy as it stands. If anyone wishes to discuss it further and put forward a case for what they believe is a more optimal position on this issue, please feel free do so in the Suggestion Box.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Live in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes

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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby Luke » Sun Jun 28, 2009 2:24 am

Heruka,

First of all, I never claimed to have an "intimate understanding about the base, path, and fruit." I've stated quite clearly in other places that I'm simply a beginner. However, if I were to become less kind as I advance, I would take it as a sign that I had taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Perhaps you are bristling at the fact that Thornbush's initial post might seem to be critical of Vajrayana if looked at from a certain point of view. Initially, my defenses were up as well, but then I thought that Thornbush may have simply been curious and was attempting to stimulate some discussion. If you feel the need to "fight back" (assuming that there was actually something to fight against) by using words like "Hinayana" which antagonize other Buddhist schools, then that's your choice.

One of the Dalai Lama's main missions is to promote religious harmony. I see it as one of my own as well. Pushing other sects down doesn't bring me up.

As far as some techniques being dangerous goes, I think it's common knowledge that it would be unwise to learn tummo from a book or from someone who isn't fully qualified to teach it because it can cause wind disorders if it's done incorrectly. Other advanced techniques which manipulate the winds and channels could cause similar harm if done improperly.

But of course, when these things are done correctly, they are wonderful spiritual techniques which can lead to Enlightenment more quickly than other methods. My desire to eventually learn these techniques is one of the reasons why I practice Vajrayana.

Sure, like the Dalai Lama, I believe that Tibetan Buddhism is the greatest form of Buddhism. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't have bothered with it. At the same time, I don't think that showing respect and kindness to Buddhists of other schools of Buddhism is prohibited by Tibetan Buddhism. In fact, I think this is very much in accord with it.
Last edited by Luke on Sun Jun 28, 2009 3:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby thornbush » Sun Jun 28, 2009 2:56 am

Ah well, perhaps I may need to go onto another Forum or dig for myself the specs and mechanics of my own question here. Thank you very much to all who have made this thread an interesting discussion.
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Re: Astrology, Divination and Oracles

Postby sraddha » Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:45 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings all,

Luke wrote:However, I would recommend using the word "Theravada" instead of "Hinayana" to avoid offending our Dharma brothers and sisters who practice that path.


Heruka wrote: Does that fact make calling a lesser path, a lesser path not right to do? Should we become PC and not make that distinction as to not offend any sensitivities? And why using language, or changing its use, helps or hurts truth searchers stuck in samadhi?


First and foremost this a Mahayana/Vajrayana board and Mahayana/Vajrayana views must be allowed to be expressed. If people find it necessary to use the term "hinayana" in doing so then I believe this should also be respected in the appropriate contexts. For example, it's apt in the Mahayana/Vajrayana context to use the term "hinayana" to describe a path with a destination other than Buddhahood, but it's not allowable to use the term as a means of insulting others, as that actually would violate the Terms Of Service.

That is the Dharma Wheel policy as it stands. If anyone wishes to discuss it further and put forward a case for what they believe is a more optimal position on this issue, please feel free do so in the Suggestion Box.

Metta,
Retro. :)


I always understood Hinayana to mean the "small minded" school, or any school/person that promotes small mindedness.

There are so many meanings of Hinayana that I have read -- in the Hevajra Tantra, it is also called this because it is our elementary understanding -- it is like elementary school, Mahayana is like PhD.

For example, as I started Buddhism, I was a Hinayanist -- I didn't know who Buddha was, or the teachings.

But having read the Tipitika, Mahayana sutras -- I am learning to be a mahayanist -- as we progress in our understanding we become "big minded" or Mahayanist. I no longer feel threatened by other religions, because faith is grounded and solid.

ultimately, we all begin as Hinayanists -- with doubt, with doubt on Buddha, his teachings, etc...than we slowly gain faith with practice.

If Faith is the seed, hinayana is the seedling, Mahayana the fully grown Bodhi tree. :smile:
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