Dechen Norbu wrote:
Chogyam Trungpa talks a lot about "grasping at abhishekas", or "collecting abhisekas", which he calls "spiritual materialism".
There is immense grasping at "mere ritual", I feel. At the same time I do not deny that tantra and vajrayana exist and function. In the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni "one should become free of dependence on rules and rituals", how do you understand this ? Or does it not apply anymore when you are a tantrika ?
Do you accept that people who met Shakyamuni and discussed with Him, sometimes became enlightened as a consequence of this discussion? Or do you demand some "ritual authorisation" for them? Because otherwise their enlightenment is not acceptable to a true tantrist !?
On this ground I understand Gelongma Rinchen's teaching about initiation.
Teaching a meditation practice to a person is in accordance with the meaning of the english words "to initiate" and "intiation". Initiation also means "to reveal something that people did not know before". This definition accords with the buddhist tradition, I think.
Buddha Shakyamuni did not hold back anything when teaching the Dharma. He boasts this several times, about Himself and about His teaching. Tantrikas and vajrayanists do not seem to understand this statement, which is a great pity.
You complicate what is simple. Receiving empowerments doesn't mean becoming depend on them. If you become dependent, then you've misunderstood the view you should have developed when you received the empowerment. People have different capacities. Some benefit from receiving empowerments while others don't. Buddha taught a path that leads to Nirvana. There are many ways of traveling that path. There were further developments on the method taught by Buddha according to the needs of those practicing. We don't have the historical Buddha around any longer. Vajrayana is the essence, perhaps the refined essence, of what Buddha taught.
Buddha's direct disciples had great capacity and didn't need fancy empowerments. Just imagine the tremendous amount of merits one would have to take birth near the Buddha and actually being his disciple. I'd say that's not our case. So we need all the help we can get. For some that help comes in the form of empowerments. For others it doesn't. There are indeed people who collect empowerments like they were "medals". That's the wrong attitude. A surgeon uses a blade to save a life. A murderer uses a blade to take one. The blade is not to blame. Some practice Vajrayana with right intention while some just add a new layer to their ego. Others do both and it's a mess, but can still manage to go in the right direction.
The word initiation is not a very good translation. Even if it was, one word says always little, so maybe we should go beyond the face value of words and understand the meaning of what goes on during an abhisheka. Namdrol already explained it.
I think that blanket statements as "Tantrikas and vajrayanists do not seem to understand... [insert whatever you want]..." aren't very useful, if not by the simple fact you don't know all tantrikas and vajrayanists, right?edited for clarity purposes... I wish my English was a little better.
There are different views about the Mahamudra, whether it is the so called sutra mahamudra or tantra mahamudra. Tsele Natsok Randrol ( in Lamp of Mahamudra
) and Karma Chagme ( author of Spacious Path to Freedom
) don't make this distinction.
Karma Chagme talks about Mahamudra, throughout his book he quotes many sutras, sometimes also tantras and other tantric texts, but these are minority. Would this then be condemned by the "true tantrics"?
Tsele Natsok Rangdrol equates the Five paths & Ten bodhisattva levels with the the 37 Bodhi-factors and the stages of Mahamudra Ngodro. This is very interesting. He says that Four mindfulnesses correspond to the Four ordinary Ngondro Practices; Four right efforts equal Taking Rafuge, Generating Bodhicitta, Mandala Offering and Vajrasattva recitation; he further says that the Four Bases of Miraculous Powers correspond to the Four Aspects of Guru Yoga, in which receiving the four initiations equals one of the Four legs of Miraculous powers!! And so on...
( then follow Five Spiritual Faculties, Five Strenghts, Seven Bodhyangas, and the Noble Eightfold Path, which he puts on a very advanced level.)
If you are interested, I'll find the page numbers in the book of Natsok Rangdrol.
A somewhat similar table of correspondences is in Bokar Rimpoche's book Opening the Door to Certainty
, which is based on the Ninth Karmapa's mahamudra book Ocean of Certainty
I apologize for "unthinking rashness" in categorizing vajrayanists ...
I think initiation
is a good word per se, it is latin derived, I think. There have been several systems of initiations in ancient roman, egyptian and greek cultures, for example,...