Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Will » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:36 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote:I have yet to find online Namkhai Norbu's "Dzogchen and Zen" booklet. If anyone knows where it (a PDF?) might be or can summarize his points about the differences or similarities, that would be helpful.



It is a summary of Nubchen Sangye Yeshes position on the gradual path, Chan, Mahayoga and Dzogchen.

N


So Chan is Dzogchen lite? or a needed (or helpful) preliminary to DZ?
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:37 pm

Namdrol wrote:Pure Land, Chan, and Tientai are sutrayana.

Shingon is Vajrayana up to yogatantra.


Is that a problem? Don't they study sutras? Indeed, the Tibetan understanding of sutrayana (and vajrayana) doesn't match exactly the different EA interpretations, plus the difference in taxonomy. But I don't see why that is a hindrance. Actually, because of the differences it might be worth understanding.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:43 pm

Will wrote:So Chan is Dzogchen lite? or a needed (or helpful) preliminary to DZ?


In that text it is said that there is gradual sutrayana, sudden sutrayana (i.e. Zen) and then there is vajrayana. So in that view Zen comes above all other sutrayana but below the lowest mantrayana. Dzogchen is of course the top of all tantra. This is what that text says in brief.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Kyosan » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:56 pm

Astus wrote:Kyosan,

I don't think they should convert to any EA school, that's not really the question I think. But rather the interest in other forms of Buddhism. For instance I've heard about a plan that they translated the Pali Canon to Tibetan. That's great. However, I don't see Tibetan teachers addressing the issue of other Buddhist schools outside of the Tibetan ones. They are good to discuss Hinayana, Mahayana, Kagyu, Sakya, etc. but no mention of Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai or Shingon. Maybe they haven't heard about them? I doubt that, especially as many know English and even Chinese. To give an example, it is not expected at all from a Nyingma master to become a Gelug or Kagyu lama but definitely he should be somewhat familiar with their teachings, especially when they do some comparisons between the teachings.

Perhaps the Tibetan teachers don't know much about forms of Buddhism outside of Tibet because they don't need to know. For them to teach the dharma they don't need to know about every form of Buddhism that exists. But, if they have students from other schools inside of Tibet, I think they'll be able to communicate better with them if they are knowledgeable about those schools. They'll have a better idea what experiences the students have had and what terminology they are familiar with.

The belief that Tibetan Buddhism is superior could be a part of it, but it's not necessary always the case.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Will » Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:20 pm

Astus wrote:
Will wrote:So Chan is Dzogchen lite? or a needed (or helpful) preliminary to DZ?


In that text it is said that there is gradual sutrayana, sudden sutrayana (i.e. Zen) and then there is vajrayana. So in that view Zen comes above all other sutrayana but below the lowest mantrayana. Dzogchen is of course the top of all tantra. This is what that text says in brief.


Thanks Astus; now I need not read it.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Enochian » Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:54 pm

Here is the text in 2 parts
Attachments
Dzogchen & Zen - Norbu Part2.pdf
(410.13 KiB) Downloaded 55 times
Dzogchen & Zen - Norbu Part1.pdf
(336.16 KiB) Downloaded 59 times
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:01 pm

Kyosan wrote:Perhaps the Tibetan teachers don't know much about forms of Buddhism outside of Tibet because they don't need to know. For them to teach the dharma they don't need to know about every form of Buddhism that exists. But, if they have students from other schools inside of Tibet, I think they'll be able to communicate better with them if they are knowledgeable about those schools. They'll have a better idea what experiences the students have had and what terminology they are familiar with.

The belief that Tibetan Buddhism is superior could be a part of it, but it's not necessary always the case.
:namaste:


I don't thing the reason that they don't need to know it is sufficient to neglect other forms of Buddhism. They learn about many forms of Hindu doctrines including those that are not relevant today any more. They study Vaibhasika and Sautrantika teachings that have no followers today. They study Yogacara and Pramana that are in the end serve only to culminate in Madhyamaka what is also put aside as a theoretical thing compared to the practical Vajrayana. They also learn the lower tantric doctrines to be ultimately overthrown by Anuttarayoga.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche explains (source):

"About 100 volumes of what the Buddha, himself, taught, the extensive sutras and the profound tantras, are in print. The commentaries on these, written by the panditas and great masters of the past, also have commentaries written about these commentaries. Some of the commentaries on the sutras, the tantras, and the different sciences and philosophies have innumerable commentaries. In this way, there is a tremendous amount of literature composed by the masters of India and Tibet. It id best if one is able to study all of these and get a complete understanding through learning, personal experience, and practice. The scriptures have great beneficial effects and great blessings. If one is to become a great teacher in a monastic college, one should possess the nine attributes of a noble person or sublime being. For example, one should be skilled in compassion, debate, and elaboration, in study, contemplation, in practice, in wisdom and noble character, and have a pure and excellent attitude. In order to become a great teacher able to expound all these different philosophies, or if one is studying in a Buddhist college, it is indispensable to learn all these things. But, if one is a householder with a family and no time to devote one’s entire life to these studies, then a vast theoretical understanding should not be emphasized. On the contrary, the experience through practice is more beneficial. In such a case it is unimportant to go through this vastly detailed learning, but rather more important to condense all the teachings into a very short and precise one. If one stayed alone in a cave and practiced one-pointedly, then all this vast learning would be inconsequential. Therefore, the pointing out instruction of the old lady means that all the teachings have been condensed into just a few essential lines of text which contain the vital point, the secret or key point, or how the mind is. If one case take such an instruction to heart, then it is more beneficial for one’s mind than all the scriptures."

So it is possible to restrict one's knowledge to just the essentials. But those who have the time and energy should learn a lot more.

It should also be noted that in the Yuan (1271–1368) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties the "official" (imperial) religion in China was Tibetan Buddhism (mainly Sakya and Gelug). Also today the different Buddhist schools come close to each other (esp. in California).
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:51 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Anders Honore wrote:Tibetan Buddhism strikes me as more doctrinally fixed/focused than east-Asian Buddhism. And thus, is probably more reluctant to absorb new input to its doctrinal outlook. And probably doubly so considering such input is informed by the lower sutrayana, itself a fixed lens for analysis that in many ways fails to capture the intricacies of east-Asian Mahayana. And in many cases, Indian Mahayana too, for that matter.

Chinese Mahayana is in many ways a more diffuse entity than Tibetan Buddhism and thus probably more receptive to new influences, of which Tibetan Buddhism present a wealth of to draw from.



Sutra is sutra. It only can carry one so far.

N


Some in Chan suggest Buddhahood in a single lifetime is possible.

That is sutra.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Pero » Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:54 pm

Astus wrote:So it is possible to restrict one's knowledge to just the essentials. But those who have the time and energy should learn a lot more.


A lot more doesn't necessarily mean learn EA Buddhism. I don't know why you think it should. Tibetan Buddhism is vast. A life time is perhaps not sufficient to learn everything there is in it (nor is it necessary), so why would people bother learning other forms of Buddhism? It's a different matter if you have some intellectual curiosity or some other special reason but in general I think there is no need. Better to study one thing and study that well.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:56 pm

Pero wrote:
Astus wrote:So it is possible to restrict one's knowledge to just the essentials. But those who have the time and energy should learn a lot more.


A lot more doesn't necessarily mean learn EA Buddhism. I don't know why you think it should. Tibetan Buddhism is vast. A life time is perhaps not sufficient to learn everything there is in it (nor is it necessary), so why would people bother learning other forms of Buddhism? It's a different matter if you have some intellectual curiosity or some other special reason but in general I think there is no need. Better to study one thing and study that well.


Bodhisattvas, at least in East Asia, vow to study all dharma gates.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:10 pm

Huseng wrote:
Pero wrote:
Astus wrote:So it is possible to restrict one's knowledge to just the essentials. But those who have the time and energy should learn a lot more.


A lot more doesn't necessarily mean learn EA Buddhism. I don't know why you think it should. Tibetan Buddhism is vast. A life time is perhaps not sufficient to learn everything there is in it (nor is it necessary), so why would people bother learning other forms of Buddhism? It's a different matter if you have some intellectual curiosity or some other special reason but in general I think there is no need. Better to study one thing and study that well.


Bodhisattvas, at least in East Asia, vow to study all dharma gates.



gcig shes kun drol, my friend, "knowing one, all are liberated".

And you better get hopping on your studies of Anuttarayoga tantra, and the nyingma inner tantras. Time is passing!
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Pero » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:17 pm

Huseng wrote:
Pero wrote:
Astus wrote:So it is possible to restrict one's knowledge to just the essentials. But those who have the time and energy should learn a lot more.


A lot more doesn't necessarily mean learn EA Buddhism. I don't know why you think it should. Tibetan Buddhism is vast. A life time is perhaps not sufficient to learn everything there is in it (nor is it necessary), so why would people bother learning other forms of Buddhism? It's a different matter if you have some intellectual curiosity or some other special reason but in general I think there is no need. Better to study one thing and study that well.


Bodhisattvas, at least in East Asia, vow to study all dharma gates.


And it's great if you want and can do that while actually achieving some realization, but I think that in general we should be aware of our condition and be practical.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:17 pm

Pero wrote:A lot more doesn't necessarily mean learn EA Buddhism. I don't know why you think it should. Tibetan Buddhism is vast. A life time is perhaps not sufficient to learn everything there is in it (nor is it necessary), so why would people bother learning other forms of Buddhism? It's a different matter if you have some intellectual curiosity or some other special reason but in general I think there is no need. Better to study one thing and study that well.


I'm not trying to make a policy here that everybody has to learn EA Buddhism. Indeed, EA Buddhism is such a vast subject that there's hardly anyone who is familiar with all of it even on a medium level. What is raised here as a question is the apparent ignoring of it even by modern teachers. A general, introductory level is not a big thing. Of course, it could mess up some traditional ideas about what sutrayana is.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:28 pm

Will wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote:I have yet to find online Namkhai Norbu's "Dzogchen and Zen" booklet. If anyone knows where it (a PDF?) might be or can summarize his points about the differences or similarities, that would be helpful.



It is a summary of Nubchen Sangye Yeshes position on the gradual path, Chan, Mahayoga and Dzogchen.

N


So Chan is Dzogchen lite? or a needed (or helpful) preliminary to DZ?



Any meditation one does will be useful as a preliminary to Dzogchen.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Kyosan » Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:13 pm

Huseng wrote:Bodhisattvas, at least in East Asia, vow to study all dharma gates.

I suspect that the actual number of possible dharma gates far exceeds the number of Buddhist schools in the world. If I'm right about this, a person who studied every Buddhist school in the world still might not know all the possible dharma gates. What are dharma gates? I think that they are expedient methods. There are countless expedient methods.

I suspect that when one achieves a certain level of enlightenment, the dharma gates become clear. I think that the way to learn all the dharma gates is practicing the bodhisattva way. You don't have to study every form of Buddhism.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Kyosan » Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:19 pm

Astus wrote:I'm not trying to make a policy here that everybody has to learn EA Buddhism. Indeed, EA Buddhism is such a vast subject that there's hardly anyone who is familiar with all of it even on a medium level. What is raised here as a question is the apparent ignoring of it even by modern teachers. A general, introductory level is not a big thing. Of course, it could mess up some traditional ideas about what sutrayana is.

I agree with you that Buddhist teachers should learn at least a little about other forms of Buddhism.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Will » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:12 am

Dharma gates or doors are practices that lead toward Buddhahood. The Surangama & Avatamsaka sutras have many passages where a bodhisattva will give the dharma door he used to become what he is.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:04 am

Indeed the EA Buddhadharma doesn't seem to appeal so much to the TB community. I can only speak from my experience, so it doesn't explain the general lack of interest, but community starts with the individual. I can only relate my experience to modern times and western world, obviously.
Maybe the fact that we share a lot of teachings with the Theravadins who preserved the words of Buddha makes it more easy for us to understand each other (respecting the due differences). I find much easier to have a common ground with a Theravada practitioner, that at the basic level shares similar ideas (again with the due differences in sunyata and so on) than with EA Buddhadharma. I find it quite easy to communicate with Theravadins. I know that in terms of doctrine there's a bigger gap between their school and Vajrayana, but we have a lot of common ground. I can't say the same when I talk with some Zen folks. Sometimes what they say doesn't even seem Buddhadharma. Not that such schools don't share similar sutras at some extent. They just don't seem to care. I'll clarify.
For instance, Astus, you are a very learned fellow and very easy to talk to. You have quite extensive doctrinal knowledge and if I talk about a particular teaching you'll easily know what I mean. Ven. Huifeng the same, or Anders. You guys know doctrine and we can talk. If we talk about the sutras, madhyamaka, yogachara, tantra in many instances, it goes fluidly. Now, the problem I find personally when talking with Zen folks or PL Buddhists is that most of what they say seems to come out of the blue. Moment to moment rebirth, karma not being literal, realms as mental states, being in the moment as if this was the only thing Buddha had taught... many haven't studied practically anything and take pride in such approach. It's as if after giving the step and entering Mahayana, then they gone wild. Of course I'm not talking about educated fellows, but the usual practitioner of Zen one finds in an internet forum or a Buddhist gathering of some sort. We know that there's much more to it in Zen tradition, but if its own practitioners seem to lack interest in studying, why should we? We know there's more to it, but if they themselves don't show interest in their doctrine, why should we? (TB buddhists usually are well read; of course I'm not talking about poorly educated tibetans that go to the lama for a blessing and then go to their fields, but of practitioners, tibetans and westerners). I'll confess something to you: when I meet some western Zen practitioners and listen to them, I pity them. So close (they met the Buddhadharma), yet so far (they don't understand it), saying all sorts of rubbish with that "Zen pose". I'm concerned with the evolution of Zen in the West... I don't know how's the Eastern situation. This doesn't mean we don't have our share of problems in TB, but that's a different story.

About the PL buddhists... I have a hard time accepting that the path can be reduced to the repetition of one text (or few) to gain rebirth in a Pure Land. Why not aiming a little higher and going for Enlightenment right now? Seems a bit defeatist and one doesn't even start to investigate this school. I'm sure there's much more to it (see my ignorance?) than the repetition of a text (or a few), but having in mind the aim of the practice- let's try to achieve Buddhahood in the next life, in this life there's no point so let's only wish for a favorable rebirth- it's a sort of turn of. There's so much to the Noble Path, why reducing its main practice to the repetition of a text? We suspect there's more to it, but...

So it's as I said. When I read you, Anders and so on, I see Dharma in your messages. But if we explore other Zen forums and listen to some PL fellows whose only advice seems to be reciting a text, it's depressing...
I don't want anyone to feel offended. I'm just being as candid as possible and explain my own experience. Usually my point is that the A, B or C school surely have more to it than what first meets the eye, because I've met X,W and Y practitioners and they know what they are talking about. The problem is the rest of the alphabet... and one doesn't deepen the study of those schools.
It's easier with Theravada where everyone seems more informed and don't speak complete nonsense. At least it's much harder to find such people there. My experience is more or less like this: if I meet 10 Zen practitioners, 1 will make sense. If I meet 10 Theravadins, 1 won't make sense. PL practitioners are so few that I couldn't say, really. :shrug: Forget the numbers, which are just a joke, but do you get what I'm saying?

This is my personal experience. At a more institutional level, one would expect some curiosity, but alas, that's the sate of things, pretty much because of what Namdrol said, I guess. I wouldn't know.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:59 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:Maybe the fact that we share a lot of teachings with the Theravadins who preserved the words of Buddha makes it more easy for us to understand each other (respecting the due differences).


The Chinese canon preserved much of early Śrāvakayāna texts including a number which do not appear in the Pali canon. In East Asia these texts are still widely read and studied. Much of the basic standard vocabulary is derived from the Āgama literature in Chinese translation. This is the case for any East Asian language.


I can't say the same when I talk with some Zen folks. Sometimes what they say doesn't even seem Buddhadharma. Not that such schools don't share similar sutras at some extent. They just don't seem to care. I'll clarify.


Fair enough. The transmission of Zen in the west has resulted in books like this being sold:

Image

There are all too many individuals who claim to be practitioners of Zen and think that since they are not to rely on words and letters they can dismiss everything they find unappealing as they carry out their routine zazen. You can't point to sutra because they don't recognize canon as legitimate.

The odd thing, though, is that Zen Buddhists in Japan actually do rely on canon. Texts like the Lotus Sutra among others are key. There are also countless Chan texts that serve as a commonly read and studied literature which provides case examples of notable practitioners who had experiences of realization. This is just as much canonical as sutra in Zen.

I'll confess something to you: when I meet some western Zen practitioners and listen to them, I pity them. So close (they met the Buddhadharma), yet so far (they don't understand it), saying all sorts of rubbish with that "Zen pose". I'm concerned with the evolution of Zen in the West... I don't know how's the Eastern situation. This doesn't mean we don't have our share of problems in TB, but that's a different story.


I'm concerned, too. That's why I'm hoping for the proliferation of Taiwanese Chan in the west to counteract the nonsense adharma that is being sold as Buddhism in western markets. I might have a hand in that proliferation, too.


This is my personal experience. At a more institutional level, one would expect some curiosity, but alas, that's the sate of things, pretty much because of what Namdrol said, I guess. I wouldn't know.


Part of the problem is sectarianism drawn on ethnic grounds. This goes both ways.
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Re: Tibetan Interest in EA Buddhism

Postby Sherab » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:44 am

Namdrol wrote:Then there is the other issue e.g. we are convinced that the highest Buddhist teachings exist in Tibetan Buddhism and nowhere else.

Playing the devil's advocate: :stirthepot:

For the most spiritually gifted, the lowest teaching is sufficient to bring them to Buddhahood. For the most spiritually-challenged, even the highest teachings could not budge them.

Lowest teaching has the least explanation of the ultimate truth and least of method to reach there. So only the spiritually gifted could use it as a vehicle to Buddhahood. The highest teaching has the most detailed explanation of the ultimate truth and the most methods to reach there. So it is vehicle for the least spiritually endowed.

Spiritual triumphantalists, beware. :mrgreen:
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