How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

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How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Ken1969 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:40 pm

Hi all,

I'm fairly new to Buddhism and recently started a two-year foundation course into Gelug Buddhism which is ran by the Jamyang Centre.

I feel I know very little about Buddhism, and just out of interest I wonder what - if any - are the main differences between Gelug Buddhism and from other types of Tibetan Buddhism. I think I've read Gelug Buddhism is a scholastic form of Buddhism, and it certainly feels that way at present. I'm currently trying to get my head around the 12 Links of Dependant Arising. :|

And I thought I'd like to make a first posting and introduce myself too: I'm Ken and I live in Chepstow, South East Wales; UK.

Regards,

Ken
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby plwk » Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:15 pm

I read this awhile ago...if it is of any use to yourself...from another site...
http://www.freesangha.com/forums/index.php?topic=1072.0
Through the enlightened activity of the victorious buddhas,
And the skilful means of their bodhisattva heirs,
May the four schools of buddhist teachings, old and new,
Successfully transmit their perfect methods of awakening!

The authoritative transmission of sutras, the Gendenpa,
The authoritative transmission of mantra, the Nyingmapa,
The authoritative transmission of exposition, the Sakyapa,
And the authoritative transmission of practice, the Kagyüpa.

The Sakyapas are the masters of learning,
The Gendenpas are the masters of discourse,
The Kagyüpas are the masters of realization,
And the Nyingmapas are the masters of spiritual power.

These are the four marvellous transmissions of the teachings:
The Nyingmapas whose view is beyond all extremes,
The Kagyüpas who persevere in meditation,
The Gendenpas with their perfect conduct,
And the Sakyapas with their regular practice of approach and accomplishment.

Although they all possess infinite qualities,
Each one emphasizes a particular practice.

Nyingmapas chant through their noses,
Sakyapas chant with their lips,
Gendenpas create the melodies mainly in their throats,
And Kagyüpas chant strongly from deep down inside.

The Gendenpas maintain the complete path of scriptural study, so they are like the body of the teachings.
The Sakyapas bring together sutra and mantra approaches, so they are like the eyes of the teachings.
The Kagyüpas bring everything together into the single practice of devotion, so they are like the heart of the teachings.
The Nyingmapas possess the profound key instructions of the tantras and sadhanas, so they are like the life-force of the teachings.

Now for a few words in jest:

The Nyingmapas claim they have a path for accomplishing the level of Vajradhara through the practice of clear light Dzogpachenpo, without the need to rely upon an external consort and so on, and yet the lamas say they must take a wife in order to increase their longevity, improve the clarity of their vision, maintain good health, assist in the revelation of termas and accomplish the welfare of beings. They don’t say that in order to benefit the teachings they should teach and practise! That taking a wife could be a way to benefit the teachings and beings, and a substitute for teaching and practice, and at the same time improve clarity of vision and so on, is, I think, incredible!

The Gendenpas claim the antidote to all the pains of existence is the wisdom which realizes selflessness, and yet when they approach the realization of no-self they are so afraid to let go of this sense of identity that they can not sit still upon their cushions. In the past it was said that the attainment of the path of seeing and the clear experience of selflessness that precedes it are marked by special feelings of joy, so I think this must be a symptom of the current degenerate age!

The Sakyapas make the supreme assertion that one should not place too much emphasis on conduct because inner wisdom is the most important thing, and yet when they recite the Lamdü Hevajra sadhana, they maintain the discipline of never leaving their seats, because to do so would transgress their vow. If they ever did need to get up and do something, they would have to drag their seats behind them, such are their rites of purification and liberation based on time and the physical body. I wonder what would happen to them if they did leave their seats!

The Kagyüpas assert that the Great Mudra is the wisdom which pervades all samsara and nirvana, and yet they think of the word ‘mudra’ as referring to one’s hands. I wonder what such an enormous hand would look like!

Ha ha ha! That was all said in jest.
The teachings of the great masters are rich in meaning,
And each school has its own unique vision and key instructions.

Most followers of the Nyingma school shun the taking of life but think that there is no need to give up women. If they are a genuine yogins, I take refuge in them! But in general this ordinary sexual desire is harmful to the Nyingma teachings, so take care, I pray!

Most followers of the Kagyü school dislike classical exposition and logic, preferring the approach that is based purely on mind and meditation. If they are those in whom realization and liberation are simultaneous, I take refuge! But in general this closed-minded attitude is harmful to the Kagyü teachings and must be abandoned!

Most followers of the Genden school do not see any fault in taking life, but their aggression is harmful to the Genden teachings, so take care, I pray!

Most followers of the Sakya school regard as supreme only those empowerments and instructions they themselves have received and the particular branch to which they belong—be it Sakya, Ngor or Tsar—but this strong prejudice and dogmatism is harmful to the Sakya teachings, so it needs to be abandoned!

Generally, even if one has attachment to one’s own tradition it is important to avoid any antipathy towards other traditions. If we consider just our own tradition, since we are all followers of the Buddha, we can consider that we are all closely related. The different systems of teachings began at the time of Khenpo Shantarakshita, Guru Rinpoche and King Trisong Detsen, and, following the noble traditions of the past, all the schools in Tibet accept the four seals which are the hallmark of the buddhist teachings. We are all equal in this respect, and what is more we all assert the great shunyata free from conceptual elaboration. Not only that, we all accept the mantrayana with its inseparable unity of bliss and emptiness. This means that we are exceptionally close in terms of our view and our tenets.

Other traditions, non-buddhist outsiders and philosophical extremists, who differ even in terms of outer signs and dress, are as numerous as the stars in the night sky, and by comparison we buddhists are as rare as stars in broad daylight. Now, when the buddhist teachings are on the verge of extinction, all who seek to ensure their survival must view one another as the closest of allies. Any feelings of hostility will bring only ruin, so instead we must regard each other with joy, like a mother seeing her only child, or a beggar discovering a priceless treasure.

Having become followers of the same teacher,
May all who are students of these same teachings,
Abandon any hostility and prejudiced views,
And work together with a sense of joy!

Whoever practises in accordance with the true meaning of the teachings,
Be they from one’s own or another tradition, may they gain accomplishment,
So that the four great buddhist schools here within the Land of Snows,
Come to blaze in dazzling splendour with a wealth of Dharma teachings,
And gain complete success and universal victory!
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby conebeckham » Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:00 pm

The Gelukpas follow the interpretation of Sutra and Tantra laid out by Je Tsong Khapa. There are many subtle, and not-so-subtle, philosophical differences between his interpretation of emptiness and that of other Tibetan masters--in particular, Tsong Khapa asserts emptiness of inherent existence of things. He qualifies the word "existence." This is a useful qualifier, quite frankly, on one level, but there are problems with differentiating the thing itself from the "inherent existence" of the thing, in the end, according to other schools. Many have spent a great deal of time and energy discussing the differences in view on these issues--you can read threads here, and there are book recommendations in those threads, as well. The mainstream Geluk position regarding the "Three Turnings of the Wheel" differs from that of other schools in some respects, as well. In general, the Geluk position regarding "Buddha Nature" is that it is not "inherently existent" in the sentient being, but that it is an expedient teaching, reflecting the "potential" of all sentient beings to attain enlightenment, by purifying habitual patterns and by amassing merit on the paths.

Tsong Khapa and the Gelukpa school, from the point of view of practice, stress "Lam Rim," or "Graduated Stages of the Path," which is a methodology first brought to Tibet by Jowo Atisha Dipamkara. Tsong Khapa wrote his own "Lam Rim" texts and instructions, as did many masters of other lineages, based on Atisha's model, but the Gelukpa stress this method more than other lineages, I think. In addition, Tsong Khapa stressed teachings that, in his view, were verifiable as descended from Buddha Sakyamuni, and from the Indian Siddhas. In this sense, he modeled his system on the "Kadampa" lineage, which had, by his time, been incorporated into the other Sarma Traditions (Sakya and Kagyu) and the Nyingma as well, and largely ceased to exist as a separate school or institution. This is why the Gelukpa have sometimes been called the "New Kadampa" though that name has now been co-opted (and trademarked, maybe?) by a group that has broken away from the mainstream Gelukpas.

In terms of Tantra, Tsong Khapa could actually be seen as the foremost synthesist in Tibetan history. His system relies on the Tantras of Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara, and Vajrabhairava, which are the main Yidam Practices of the Geluk lineage, and he also incorporated the Six Yogas of Naropa, and the Mahamudra, from the Dakpo Kagyu lineages--most specifically, the Drikungpas, I think. He also incorporated practices of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage, in particular the Six-Armed Mahakala and also Kyergangpa's Hayagriva. The Gelukpa lineage has many other practices, as well, chief among them being, perhaps, the Lama Chopa or "Offering to the Guru" and the devotional Migtsema Prayer.

In the past century and a half, or so, some Gelukpas also incorporated or emphasized new elements from other lineages, in particular the Sakya-derived practice of Naro Khachoma/Vajrayogini, which was popularized by Phabongkhapa.

That little quote about all the lineages has great humor, as well as many kernels of truth. It was composed by Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, a great master of the Nyingma School, mainly--he was nonsectarian, though.

The Geluk lineage stresses Ethical behavior--"dge.luks" means "Tradition of Virtue," really. Tsong Khapa placed great emphasis on ethics and monasticism as a means. There have been many great and realized masters of this tradition, and, as you probably know, HH the Dalai Lama has traditionally been associated with this tradition throughout his incarnations.
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Ken1969 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:47 pm

Thanks Conebeckham (and pwlc), for your lengthy and considered reply. I'm pleased that the Gelug tradition is keen on Lam Rim, since it seems to be an extremely clever system that I've been trying to practise for some time; and I do like the analytical meditations.

Anyway, thanks again; I'll probably have a lot more questions in the near future; there was a lot in your post that I didn't understand due to the lack of my basic knowledge; but there was a lot I did understand and I know a little about Tsongkhapa and the Treatise on the Great Stages on the Path.
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:13 pm

I've only two brief things to add to the good info already provided.

First, the most accessible explanation of Lam Rim I have come across is Pabongka Ripoche's 'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand'. I've read the Great Treatise by Je Tsongkhapa and another version whcih was derived from Pabongka's work and reads like a list of lists - heavy going! Pabongka strikes a happy medium of content and readability.

I've heard very positive things about Jamyang, as they offer classes along the M4 corridor as far as Bath. My own group, Lam Rim, is also Gelugpa and operates in Bath, Bristol (and Wiltshire) and Wales - they provide a link to Jamyang on their website.

The Jamyang system offers a wealth of material in English, is a genuine Gelugpa organisation (unlike another I won't mention) and through it's own teachers and the affiliation with the FPMT has a strong lineage and access to the pearls in Lama Yeshe's Wisdom Archive etc. and Lama Zopa's wisdom.

My guru gave me the Dharma Name of Yeshe Zopa, so I may be a tad biased! LOL :)
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Ken1969 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:43 pm

Hi Yeshe,

Thanks for the information; I'm known as Tosh (it's my nickname) on another Buddhist forum and you actually helped me very early on in my Buddhist interest; so thank you! You're very kind. I'll certainly go to Amazon and get a Pabongka Ripoche's Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. Thanks.

Also, if you can, can you stick a link up to your group, so I can have a look at it's website? I may pay them a visit. It would probably be simpler to visit the same Buddhist centre as the course I'm studying (at present I occasionally visit a different Tibetan Buddhist sect).

And thanks!
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:19 pm

Ken1969 wrote:Hi Yeshe,

Thanks for the information; I'm known as Tosh (it's my nickname) on another Buddhist forum and you actually helped me very early on in my Buddhist interest; so thank you! You're very kind. I'll certainly go to Amazon and get a Pabongka Ripoche's Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. Thanks.

Also, if you can, can you stick a link up to your group, so I can have a look at it's website? I may pay them a visit. It would probably be simpler to visit the same Buddhist centre as the course I'm studying (at present I occasionally visit a different Tibetan Buddhist sect).

And thanks!


Hi Tosh! :)


Yes, be delighted to see you. Here's the link:

http://www.lamrim.org.uk/

I attend mainly in Corsham (Wiltshire) where we are blessed with a Lharampa Geshe's personal tuition. His home and main centre is in Bristol.

Yes, sticking with Jamyang as your core is something I would recommend - and I am sure there is no problem attending other Gelugpa groups - in fact for some purposes your guru there may recommend it. :)
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Tilopa » Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:19 am

Ken1969 wrote:Thanks Conebeckham (and pwlc), for your lengthy and considered reply. I'm pleased that the Gelug tradition is keen on Lam Rim, since it seems to be an extremely clever system that I've been trying to practise for some time; and I do like the analytical meditations. .


The lamrim is possibly the easiest, clearest and quickest way to get a good understanding of Buddhism as it's studied, taught and practiced in the Tibetan tradition and it's by no means an exclusively Gelug thing. Whichever way you go familiarity with it will serve you well.
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby ground » Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:13 am

Tilopa wrote:
Ken1969 wrote:Thanks Conebeckham (and pwlc), for your lengthy and considered reply. I'm pleased that the Gelug tradition is keen on Lam Rim, since it seems to be an extremely clever system that I've been trying to practise for some time; and I do like the analytical meditations. .


The lamrim is possibly the easiest, clearest and quickest way to get a good understanding of Buddhism as it's studied, taught and practiced in the Tibetan tradition and it's by no means an exclusively Gelug thing. Whichever way you go familiarity with it will serve you well.

Actually the lamrim is the putting together of a jigsaw puzzle ... the pieces being distributed across a variety of sutras and commentaries. So it is nothing really new but it provides the knowledge how all the different aspects of the path match and is a perfect tool for mind training (lojong) to foster faith and thusly remove the hindrance doubt.

Kind regards
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Tara » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:43 am

plwk wrote:... and may the venerable Mods pls watch this thread ...



Watching!


Regards,
rt
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Tilopa » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:32 am

Yeshe wrote: First, the most accessible explanation of Lam Rim I have come across is Pabongka Ripoche's 'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand'.


There's a couple of versions but the one published by Wisdom and translated by Michael Richards is extraordinarily beautiful.
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:38 am

Tilopa wrote:
Yeshe wrote: First, the most accessible explanation of Lam Rim I have come across is Pabongka Ripoche's 'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand'.


There's a couple of versions but the one published by Wisdom and translated by Michael Richards is extraordinarily beautiful.


Yes, that is the text we use:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Liberation-Palm ... 287&sr=1-4

My guru teaches from the Tibetan text but teaches that this one is the best English rendition in terms of readablity, and as you say contains some beautiful Dharma.
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Ken1969 » Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:04 pm

Thanks, guys, book ordered and I'm looking forward to receiving it. Some interesting comments too; I enjoy an opposing view-point. I'll probably be asking more bone questions as time goes on; so thanks for the help so far.
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Tsongkhapafan » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:02 pm

If you're looking for a great translation of Je Pabongkhapa's lamrim teachings, I thoroughly recommend the three volume set, 'Liberation in Our Hands', translated by Geshe Lobsang Tharchin - it's incomparable.

http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=641
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:23 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:If you're looking for a great translation of Je Pabongkhapa's lamrim teachings, I thoroughly recommend the three volume set, 'Liberation in Our Hands', translated by Geshe Lobsang Tharchin - it's incomparable.

http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=641


I've not come across that one. 'Liberation in the Palm of your Hand' is (I seem to remember) over 900 pages - is the 3 volume set more extensive in its analysis or does it extend beyond the Lam Rim into other teachings from Pabongka?
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby ground » Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:53 am

If one does not rely on worldly views but on right view only then one cannot go wrong.

One should carefully differentiate between persons and their qualities and what they say. One should never rely on hearsay but on one's own perpection only. As to perception what can be perceived are the actions of body and speech but motivations (actions of mind) are not perceptible.

If teachers are already dead and one can rely on hearsay conditioned by worldly views only then one should not pay attention to this hearsay. Why? Because it is conditioned by worldly views.

If teachers are already dead and one can rely on witness about their failure in the context of general buddhist ethics/precepts only but this witness is unequivocal then one should put these persons aside and not excuse the wrong behaviour of these person even if these persons delivered conducive teachings.


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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby mudra » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:32 am

My own direct experience, from two different occasions:

I have heard HHDL himself say in regard to Phabongka Rinpoche that he was an extraordinary teacher, but then at a certain point the HH the 13th distanced himself from Phabongka Rinpoche due to the protector story.

However HHDL emphasized that Phabongka's teachings on Lam Rim were excellent, and in fact should be listed amongst the 8 or 9 Lam Rims in the Gelug tradition, no question.
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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby ground » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:14 am

mudra wrote:However HHDL emphasized that Phabongka's teachings on Lam Rim were excellent, ...

Not being a Gelug student myself I can nevertheless confirm this with reference to his "liberation in the palm of your hands".

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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby ground » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:53 am

Coming back to the title of the thread and interpreting "Gelug Buddhism" to mean "the Gelug approach to the path" I feel that one may say that a bit more emphasis is put on study in the Gelug school.

Having said this I would like to attach a bibliographic guide of Lama Tsongkhapas Works (English Translations). His writings are certainly a source of great inspiration and knowledge.

bibliographic guide Tsongkhapa.pdf
(395.22 KiB) Downloaded 51 times



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Re: How does Gelug Buddhism differ from other types of Buddhism?

Postby Ken1969 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:11 am

It's okay; no impressions formed here; I don't even fully understand what you guys are discussing to be honest, but it sounds interesting.

For the past year, I've been using a meditation handbook based on Lam Rim and trying (with some success) to do a daily Lam Rim meditation and then to follow the brief advice during my 'meditation break'.

A heftier 900 page tome at that point may have been to daunting to stick with it; but I feel I'm ready for something more challenging. Besides, I'm a few months into this course:

The Foundation of Buddhist Thought is a two-year course which most students study by correspondence. Its special quality is that Geshe Tashi draws upon the depth of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy to show how Buddhism can make a real difference to the way we live our lives today. For this reason the course is structured into six four-month modules:

The Four Noble Truths
The Two Truths
Buddhist Psychology and Epistemology
The Mind of Enlightenment (Bodhicitta)
Emptiness According to Prasangika Madhyamaka
An Overview of Tantric Paths and Grounds


So I've plenty to keep me busy. And just out of interest, there is also a two-year course ran by the Jamyang Centre that covers Lam Rim Chen Mo:

The Lamrim Chenmo Correspondence Course is a two and a half-year seven-module course structured in the same way as the Foundation of Buddhist Thought Course (FBT). It is designed especially for students who have completed the Foundation of Buddhist Thought and would like to take their studies further.


So maybe I'll do that after? Due to work, family and financial constraints, these correspondence courses work for me; and hopefully you lot will form part of my sangha.

Thanks for your help and interesting discussion.
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