Practices for beginners in each tradition

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Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby Luke » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:16 am

I recently asked my lama in an email which practices he thought were most important for beginners to practice, and his answer was shinay, lojong, and the four thoughts which turn the mind toward the Dharma. My lama is a Karma Kagyu lama.

I was wondering which practices the other schools of Tibetan Buddhism think are the most important for beginners (people who haven't yet begun Ngondro) to practice. And perhaps some different Kagyu schools might have different opinions as well.

I have a feeling that everyone will recommend shinay, but I don't think that everyone practices lojong. I might be wrong, but I think that only the Kagyu and Gelug schools practice lojong.
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby ground » Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:48 am

Hi Luke

I think that the four thoughts are actually a practice to accompany a practitioner during his/her whole life. Also lojong in general is very helpful even if only practiced intermittently.
The so called "higher practices" (mahamudra, vajrayana in general) of course deserve the label "higher practices" but honestly ... who, that is leading a life of a housholder, can say that he/she continuously abides in a "state of mahamudra" or "in the center of the mandala"?

Kind regards
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby tatpurusa » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:30 pm

TMingyur wrote:Hi Luke
The so called "higher practices" (mahamudra, vajrayana in general) of course deserve the label "higher practices" but honestly ... who, that is leading a life of a housholder, can say that he/she continuously abides in a "state of mahamudra" or "in the center of the mandala"?

Kind regards


With all respect... but I have to diagree here.
Was this not possible, there would be no hope for Humankind.

Metta
tp
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby ground » Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:01 am

tatpurusa wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Hi Luke
The so called "higher practices" (mahamudra, vajrayana in general) of course deserve the label "higher practices" but honestly ... who, that is leading a life of a housholder, can say that he/she continuously abides in a "state of mahamudra" or "in the center of the mandala"?

Kind regards


With all respect... but I have to diagree here.
Was this not possible, there would be no hope for Humankind.

Metta
tp


Dear tatpurusa

let's focus on liberation instead. Liberation is possible. This is what the Buddha taught when teaching the 3rd noble truth.
And through his appearance he also taught that it is possible to apply one's liberation for the benefit of others.

Kind regards
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby tatpurusa » Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:13 am

TMingyur wrote:
tatpurusa wrote:
TMingyur wrote:With all respect... but I have to diagree here.
Was this not possible, there would be no hope for Humankind.

Metta
tp


Dear tatpurusa

let's focus on liberation instead. Liberation is possible. This is what the Buddha taught when teaching the 3rd noble truth.
And through his appearance he also taught that it is possible to apply one's liberation for the benefit of others.

Kind regards


That's exactly what I meant by hope.
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby muni » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:33 pm

I am so wondering that nature doesn't seems to exist at all when we cannot elaborate about. Dharmakaya ( not the concept) is mental fabrication?
Are thoughts offering self-liberated wakefulness? Is there nothing when I don't chase behind thoughts or don't keep mental fixations?
Is the state free from attachment only in temporary meditation?

Contemplation. :namaste: _/\_
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby ground » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:00 pm

muni wrote:I am so wondering that nature doesn't seems to exist at all when we cannot elaborate about. Dharmakaya ( not the concept) is mental fabrication?

"Dharmakaya ( not the concept)"?

"Word" (not the word) ;)

The way I see it is: If you can point at a sense perception which is a correlate of "Dharmakaya" and does not have a different conventional label then I would say that "Dharmakaya" is a valid concept.
But if the term "Dharmakaya" points to narratives only then I would say that it is merely a concept. However even if "merely" it may be a skillful one.

muni wrote:Is the state free from attachment only in temporary meditation?

No that would contradict the Buddha's teachings.

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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby muni » Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:06 pm

TMingyur wrote:
muni wrote:
The way I see it is: If you can point at a sense perception which is a correlate of "Dharmakaya" and does not have a different conventional label then I would say that "Dharmakaya" is a valid concept.
But if the term "Dharmakaya" points to narratives only then I would say that it is merely a concept. However even if "merely" it may be a skillful one.


This shows no description through fabrication. When something in narratives, is nature like it is, something newly created in mind.

The empty freshness of pure air must be constructed to can breath.
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby ground » Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:21 pm

Sorry muni, but I do not understand what you want to express.

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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby Luke » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:58 am

TMingyur wrote:I think that the four thoughts are actually a practice to accompany a practitioner during his/her whole life.

Yes, definitely, as is Ngondro once a person gets permission to start it.

TMingyur wrote: Also lojong in general is very helpful even if only practiced intermittently.

Yes, certainly.

Another thing I want to point out is that the term "beginner" does automatically mean a person who is not serious about practicing Dharma. It just means that the person hasn't yet been practicing Dharma for very long. Everyone has to start somewhere. Even Milarepa was a beginner at one point.

I know that on the internet people are willing to fight to the death over very exciting words such as "mahamudra" and "dharmakaya;" however, being helpful to beginners can be just as important because it's a manifestation of bodhichitta, which should always be present in all sincere practitioners.

In any case I had hoped that people in this thread would say things like "In the Nyingma tradition, people usually practice X, Y, and Z before they start Ngondro; In the Sakya tradition, beginners usually practice A, B, and C; etc."
But whatever. I realize that using the word "beginner" doesn't get people as riled up as the titles "intense Dzogchen trivia session" or "top-secret Vajrayogini saddhana revealed!" would.
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby ground » Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:46 am

Luke wrote:In any case I had hoped that people in this thread would say things like "In the Nyingma tradition, people usually practice X, Y, and Z before they start Ngondro; In the Sakya tradition, beginners usually practice A, B, and C; etc."

Dear Luke

I see your intention. However I do not feel authorized and/or capable to speak on behalf of a tradition.
Also my impression is that even within given traditions there is some variability as to approaches. E.g. if you take "Ngondro", even if you do not consider it to be a practice for beginners (imo it could very well be one) "Ngondro" is not even unanimously perceived as a necessary "stepping stone" in one and the same tradition (e.g. Nyingma) considering different teachers.

Also I think that we have to differentiate between the approaches for lay beginners in the west, for lay beginners in the home countries of the traditions and for monastic beginners. It may be that the traditions have significantly modified their approaches for lay beginners in the west wanting them to match specific proclivities of these people.
But with your inquiry you may have referred to the latter group exclusively.

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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby Laurazen » Sun Dec 06, 2009 8:03 pm

TMingyur wrote:Hi Luke

I think that the four thoughts are actually a practice to accompany a practitioner during his/her whole life. Also lojong in general is very helpful even if only practiced intermittently.
The so called "higher practices" (mahamudra, vajrayana in general) of course deserve the label "higher practices" but honestly ... who, that is leading a life of a housholder, can say that he/she continuously abides in a "state of mahamudra" or "in the center of the mandala"?

Kind regards


I've heard that most people (ordinary householders) can only sustain it for several minutes off the cushion. Has anyone else heard that? Or something similar?

:namaste:
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby muni » Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:43 pm

TMingyur wrote:Sorry muni, but I do not understand what you want to express.

Kind regards


Oh yes, I see. I neither.

It was about what already is, need no mental fabrications, need not to be created.

(Dharmakaya = mind's nature is emptiness.)
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby ground » Tue Dec 08, 2009 8:16 am

muni wrote:(Dharmakaya = mind's nature is emptiness.)


Well yes. mind is empty ... like all phenomena.
But why then this additional term "dharmakaya". Mind is empty ... that's all and that should suffice, or not?

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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby muni » Tue Dec 08, 2009 9:52 am

TMingyur wrote:
muni wrote:(Dharmakaya = mind's nature is emptiness.)


Well yes. mind is empty ... like all phenomena.
But why then this additional term "dharmakaya". Mind is empty ... that's all and that should suffice, or not?

Kind regards


When one recognized the unborn mind's aspect, no point to keeping track of conceptualizations, indeed. But very useful in teaching.
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby catmoon » Tue Dec 08, 2009 10:47 am

Just on the side... is Ngondro an exclusively Kagyu thing ?
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby muni » Tue Dec 08, 2009 3:14 pm

catmoon wrote:Just on the side... is Ngondro an exclusively Kagyu thing ?


Each Tibetan tradition. But it is nothing what Tibetan Buddhism only is teaching, even Buddha wasn't talking of Ngöndro or preliminaries.
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby Ogyen » Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:10 am

Last edited by Ogyen on Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby ground » Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:12 am

muni wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
muni wrote:(Dharmakaya = mind's nature is emptiness.)


Well yes. mind is empty ... like all phenomena.
But why then this additional term "dharmakaya". Mind is empty ... that's all and that should suffice, or not?

Kind regards


When one recognized the unborn mind's aspect, no point to keeping track of conceptualizations, indeed. But very useful in teaching.


hmh ... its "usefullness" may be a delusion due to providing the "I" something to grasp.
And so the result may just be another existence ... somewhere in the deva realms.

"may" stands for "maybe or maybe not" ;)

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Re: Practices for beginners in each tradition

Postby kirtu » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:41 pm

muni wrote:
catmoon wrote:Just on the side... is Ngondro an exclusively Kagyu thing ?


Each Tibetan tradition. But it is nothing what Tibetan Buddhism only is teaching, even Buddha wasn't talking of Ngöndro or preliminaries.


Shakyamuni Buddha did not teach ngondro, that's true, but ngondro practices are the extraordinary preliminaries to every Highest Yoga Tantra sadhanas - extraordinary refuge, generation of Bodhicitta, mandala offering (in some form although the brief sadhanas may not mention mandala offering), and Guru yoga.

Some ngondros also have a couple of additional preliminaries.

The whole point of all the preliminaries as actual ngondro practice is to accumulate a lot of merit, some wisdom, but to esp. impress the preliminary practices on the mind.

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