Tonglen: For the novice?

General forum on Mahayana.

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Epistemes » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:31 pm

Virgo wrote:No one will teach you Tonglen better than Ribur Rinpoche in the recorded teaching I linked to. He explains the history of the teaching, the lineage, he explains each of the nine steps in detail, all the preperations to the meditation, even sweeping the room first, and so forth It is complete. You can wait 6 months and spend money to go see a teacher and get this Sutra level teaching, which will probably not be nearly as complete as the teaching I provided, and then you will have 6 less months of your life effectively working on Bodhicitta, and have less money to spend on other Dharma teachings which you must get from a teacher, because you spent it on getting this teaching. I am not saying not to get a teacher. I am saying you don't need a live teacher to teach you this. You can start at once.


I'll definitely take notes on what Ribur Rinpoche teaches - but I think I'll still spend some money. I'm very interested in those books by Kongtrul and Chongyam Trungpa on the practice.
Cantankerous Buddha
User avatar
Epistemes
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:30 am
Location: Here

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Virgo » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:32 pm

Epistemes wrote:
Virgo wrote:No one will teach you Tonglen better than Ribur Rinpoche in the recorded teaching I linked to. He explains the history of the teaching, the lineage, he explains each of the nine steps in detail, all the preperations to the meditation, even sweeping the room first, and so forth It is complete. You can wait 6 months and spend money to go see a teacher and get this Sutra level teaching, which will probably not be nearly as complete as the teaching I provided, and then you will have 6 less months of your life effectively working on Bodhicitta, and have less money to spend on other Dharma teachings which you must get from a teacher, because you spent it on getting this teaching. I am not saying not to get a teacher. I am saying you don't need a live teacher to teach you this. You can start at once.


I'll definitely take notes on what Ribur Rinpoche teaches - but I think I'll still spend some money. I'm very interested in those books by Kongtrul and Chongyam Trungpa on the practice.

Excellent.

Kevin
User avatar
Virgo
 
Posts: 1419
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: Globe

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Epistemes » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:41 pm

dakini_boi wrote:I think the key prerequisite for practicing tonglen safely is an understanding of emptiness - at least intellectually, and preferably with some experience of it, even if just for passing instants in meditation. Emptiness seems to be what differentiates tonglen from Christianity's "redemptive suffering," as you describe it. This is an important point, because the view of emptiness will actually make the practice more effective, because then you will not hesitate to take on others' suffering - which is, after all, empty of self-nature. It's a practice really about the inseparability of compassion and emptiness.


"Redemptive suffering" does stress the real, harrowing nature of suffering. There is very little "emptiness" or transcendence involved. Suffering, though, in Christianity is a good thing: it builds character and leads to wisdom.

I can see where somebody might easily get hung up and find themselves entrenched in a great depression or worse. I can see how tonglen could possibily lead to despair and ultimately leaving the path for good.

I realize that my partner is in pain and suffers, but I also realize that the pains never remain the same nor does the suffering.
Cantankerous Buddha
User avatar
Epistemes
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:30 am
Location: Here

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby AdmiralJim » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:45 pm

I recommend 'Path of Heroes' by Zhechen Gyalstab and Padma Namgyal. It is quite a thorough text and over a third of the text is based on preliminaries before moving onto the Tonglen practice. It also has a four month study programme at the end of the second volume to follow if you do not have a teacher.
I don't know where we are going but it will be nice when we get there
User avatar
AdmiralJim
 
Posts: 162
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:11 pm
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Silent Bob » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:55 pm

OP, I must take exception to some of the advice you've been given in this thread. First, the practice of tonglen is easy to learn, deceptively simple in fact, but it is difficult to do at first and takes practice. Second, it's also in no way esoteric and the instructions are given freely and widely.

I learned the technique directly from Ani Pema Chodron when she was my meditation instructor, c. 1980, and I firmly believe that you'd get the same quality of teaching and would benefit just as much by spending time with her dvd of tonglen instructions:
http://www.amazon.com/Good-Medicine-Com ... 561&sr=1-2

Trungpa Rinpoche's little book, "Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness" is a excellent overview of the Lojong system in general and contains detailed instructions on the practice of tonglen in particular.

You might also find this site useful: http://lojongmindtraining.com/default.aspx

And please, all you experts, it's not necessary to get on my case because the above site contains quotes from the infamous Osho, as well as from a number of reputable teachers--even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.

Chris
"All the sublime teachings, so profound--to throw away one and then grab yet another will not bear even a single fruit. Persevere, therefore, in simply one."
--Dudjom Rinpoche, "Nectar for the Hearts of Fortunate Disciples. Song No. 8"
Silent Bob
 
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:12 am

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Epistemes » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:32 pm

Silent Bob wrote:I learned the technique directly from Ani Pema Chodron when she was my meditation instructor, c. 1980, and I firmly believe that you'd get the same quality of teaching and would benefit just as much by spending time with her dvd of tonglen instructions:
http://www.amazon.com/Good-Medicine-Com ... 561&sr=1-2

Trungpa Rinpoche's little book, "Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness" is a excellent overview of the Lojong system in general and contains detailed instructions on the practice of tonglen in particular.


It is reassuring to hear that this practice is not as protected and hush-hush as some have made it out to be. I, of course, can see where many people would urge caution for a professed "novice," though. The cautious path is perhaps better on a internet forum like this so that other readers who may happen to be true novices don't get in over their heads. From this angle, I can understand that a teacher is best to judge whether or not a person is ready.

I have already listened to Pema's audio for "Good Medicine." Would the visual images of the DVD be more beneficial?
Cantankerous Buddha
User avatar
Epistemes
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:30 am
Location: Here

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Silent Bob » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:43 pm

Epistemes wrote:I have already listened to Pema's audio for "Good Medicine." Would the visual images of the DVD be more beneficial?


I don't know. She has a nice presence, but since you already have the audio that's surely enough.

Chris
"All the sublime teachings, so profound--to throw away one and then grab yet another will not bear even a single fruit. Persevere, therefore, in simply one."
--Dudjom Rinpoche, "Nectar for the Hearts of Fortunate Disciples. Song No. 8"
Silent Bob
 
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:12 am

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby conebeckham » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:58 pm

I'm with Chris....those resources are great, and you should study and practice-I see no need to "wait" to get instruction from a living, breathing teacher.....BUT:

Remember a couple key points: "Start with yourself"--i.e., don't forget that when you are practicing taking and sending, you should start with yourself as the focus. And it's good to remember that, in the beginning, this is an aspirational practice--we must have some realistic idea that we cannot, in our present circumstances, and at our present level of development, actually TAKE on the complete sufferings of others, though we should aspire to be able to...I feel this is especially important for you, given your circumstances with a significant other with health problems. I hope you find this helpful, and practical.
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.
User avatar
conebeckham
 
Posts: 2732
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:12 pm

No one can ever take of the sufferings others since no one can take on the karma of others.

The purpose of exchanging oneself and others is develop the courage to deal with helping people in samsara. But there is no danger that one will ever actually take on the suffering of others from this or any other Buddhist practice.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12241
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:26 pm

Namdrol wrote:No one can ever take of the sufferings others since no one can take on the karma of others.


This is a very excellent point, but someone practicing this can experience increased suffering and an increase in the five poisons. This is due to not having properly become familiar with the view. We have apathetic minds that can sense others' suffering, and when we imagine that it might appear more and more in our own mindstreams. This is clearly an illusion, and can become a problem.
deepbluehum
 
Posts: 1302
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:05 am
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:43 pm

Karma is a law. Miracles suspend laws. Do miracles exist pertaining to karma?
Karma Dondrup Tashi
 
Posts: 1014
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:13 pm

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:49 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:Karma is a law. Miracles suspend laws. Do miracles exist pertaining to karma?


Negative, Captain.
deepbluehum
 
Posts: 1302
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:05 am
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:59 pm

deepbluehum wrote:
Namdrol wrote:No one can ever take of the sufferings others since no one can take on the karma of others.


This is a very excellent point, but someone practicing this can experience increased suffering and an increase in the five poisons.


I don't agree with this claim.

Sending and receiving is an inherently virtuous act. There is no way that this practice can increase one's own suffering since the wish to relieve others of their suffering is inherently virtous and and a negative result can never stem from a virtuous act.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12241
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Silent Bob » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:57 pm

As my teacher, Thrangu Rinpoche, has explained on many occasions, tonglen is "mind-training" and practiced correctly will make the boundaries between you and others more permeable. Exchanging ourselves for others in this way will stand the "me first" logic of ego on its head; it will not increase our own suffering or cause us to get sick.

http://www.quietmountain.org/links/teac ... onglen.htm

Chris
"All the sublime teachings, so profound--to throw away one and then grab yet another will not bear even a single fruit. Persevere, therefore, in simply one."
--Dudjom Rinpoche, "Nectar for the Hearts of Fortunate Disciples. Song No. 8"
Silent Bob
 
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:12 am

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:18 pm

Namdrol wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:
Namdrol wrote:No one can ever take of the sufferings others since no one can take on the karma of others.


This is a very excellent point, but someone practicing this can experience increased suffering and an increase in the five poisons.


I don't agree with this claim.

Sending and receiving is an inherently virtuous act. There is no way that this practice can increase one's own suffering since the wish to relieve others of their suffering is inherently virtous and and a negative result can never stem from a virtuous act.

N


I agree that tonglen is good karma, but I don't agree that initially one cannot experience suffering if they have not entered the bhumis for the following reason. There is the story of Ananda who gave his eye to someone who asked for it, before Ananda had reached the first bhumi. Then, the person just squished it. And Ananda asked why he did that? He answered he likes the squishing sound. This caused the increase in Ananda's poisons.

An act is not a paramita without some experience of the view. Each paramita needs the view of the sixth paramita or it is not a paramita and not liberative. One needs to give up the view the three spheres of actor, action and recipient. If someone practices tonglen with a dualistic view, then it can cause an increase in suffering because they already must contend with past negative karma. Envisioning the negative karma of others in one's own body can lead to the sense of one's own suffering increasing. This of course is illusory, but that is the sense people get.

There are people who are very sensitive have said they felt overwhelmed by the suffering of all sentient beings, feeling a weight on their hearts, etc. This is aversion and pain. Sure with perseverance, one will get past this and begin to experience happiness, but this initial negative sensation can cause one to regret the path, and that is serious negative karma.

I am only putting this out there for consideration and reflection, it is not intended to persuade someone to adopt my view.
deepbluehum
 
Posts: 1302
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:05 am
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby swampflower » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:49 am

In my own practice, Tonglen is what brought me to Buddhism.
I am unsure why Tonglen is considered to be a practice that could turn someone from the path.
Tonglen is not merely taking on the suffering of self and others but is the transformation of these sufferings to a power of good for all sentient beings.
Look to the positive, not to the negative.
There have been excellent resources presented. Take up the study and pursue Tonglen if this is in your heart to do.
Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Svāhā
User avatar
swampflower
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:18 pm
Location: Bellefonte, PA

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby not1not2 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:10 am

Epistemes wrote:
Virgo wrote:
Epistemes wrote:Yet again, esotericism trumps Buddhism.

Chaz has good advice. A CD is no sub for a teacher. Yet, I respectfully disagree with him on this point. For a practice like this, there is no rule that one must receive from a teacher. All you need is a text or a good book that explains it in some detail.

This is one of the places that I learned the practice:

http://www.lamrim.com/riburrinpoche/


Kevin,

I appreciate your comments; however, the feedback I've gotten is quite varied. Perhaps that variance is due to the impersonal nature of these forums and my own personal characterization of "novice." How much of a novice am I, really? That word really doesn't make any sense. We're all novices until the day we die and then we rinse and repeat.

I asked about tonglen because my partner suffers. I can't say she suffers more than other people - but sometimes it seems like she can't catch a break. When she was 2, she was diagnosed with leukemia, relapsed, and beat a .01% chance of survival. Her latter medical history is complicated as a result of the radiation and chemo she received as a child. Needless to say, there is almost always physical discomfort of some sort whether mild or somewhat intense. Recently, she just got past a pretty bad bug bite which had all of her joints inflamed, leaving her unable to walk or move. For the past week, she's woken up with sore muscles, swollen digits, and more nausea.

She's not an abstract thinker - not in the least. I think it's more of an inability than an inclination. And she has some psychological issues accepting aging and death given the fact the leukemia almost killed her. She was almost deprived of life at an early age - so she's reluctant to accept that a day will ever come.

Our relationship is built on a sense of balance. I talk to her about some of the more basic premises of Buddhism, but she's not a particularly religious or spiritual person. I try to live by example more than anything else. She's a good person, though, with good karma, I believe.

I want to help her. I wish there was a way I could give her all my good karma so that she'd end the cycle of samsara (even though I understand that nirvana entails escaping all karma). I want her to be happy and to stop suffering. I want her to catch a break.

Realizing her suffering, I better understand the suffering of all beings.

During my days as a Catholic, I tried to be mindful of a important practice known as "redemptive suffering." Where I see lojong and tonglen encapsulating the heart of the dharma, redemptive suffering was Christianity (especially Catholic Christianity) in a nutshell. Redemptive suffering is an "offering up" of one's own sufferings for the welfare of other people who suffer just like one's self (or worse) with the prayer that they will eventually be redeemed and set free. At the heart of the practice is loving-kindness, compassion and equanimity - for the very intention of "offering up" one's suffering for the suffering of others entails all three virtues.

So, tonglen seems like a natural dharmic extension of a principle with which I am already familiar. It also seems like the best way that I can help my partner and, by extension, all beings.

I mean, if Pema Chodron can travel around the country and teach tonglen on the spot and then feel conscientiously secure in releasing these talks on CD for the benefit of the public, what's to be protective or hush-hush about?

I wouldn't concern myself with the exactitude of method as much as I would intent/aspiration. If you learn the basic approach to tonglen and wish to practice it in such a manner that it opens your heart a bit more to be able to witness her suffering and to reflect back to her a greater compassion, what's the harm? Metta to you both, Earl
not1not2
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:40 am
Location: Kansas

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Virgo » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:13 am

deepbluehum wrote:[Envisioning the negative karma of others in one's own body can lead to the sense of one's own suffering increasing. This of course is illusory, but that is the sense people get.


It removes cherishing ones own person over others, which increases ones happiness immensely. If the instructions are practiced properly, there will be no problem.

Kevin
User avatar
Virgo
 
Posts: 1419
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: Globe

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:24 am

Virgo wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:It removes cherishing ones own person over others, which increases ones happiness immensely. If the instructions are practiced properly, there will be no problem.

Kevin


Okay. But different lineages don't all approach this teaching in the same way.
deepbluehum
 
Posts: 1302
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:05 am
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Tonglen: For the novice?

Postby Virgo » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:35 am

deepbluehum wrote:
Virgo wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:It removes cherishing ones own person over others, which increases ones happiness immensely. If the instructions are practiced properly, there will be no problem.

Kevin


Okay. But different lineages don't all approach this teaching in the same way.

I'm sorry, but that begs a question; is there some lineage that teaches it in a way that you believe will cause harm?

Perhaps you are worried about if one meditates on emptiness or not?

Kevin
User avatar
Virgo
 
Posts: 1419
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: Globe

Previous

Return to Mahāyāna Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: gentle_monster and 16 guests

>