The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Adamantine » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:32 pm

Mr. G wrote:
ngodrup wrote:Best to leave the matter open ended unless one has some personal investment.


Hi ngodrup,

However, every Dzogchen practitioner does have a personal investment. Does the potential student "gamble" on an unauthenticated terma, or do they practice termas that have been authenticated and recognized with the history of a lineage behind them. The personal investment is immense since one's liberation is at stake.


I think ngodrup clearly means unless one is contemplating taking teachings or wangs in the Aro mandala. . that is "personal" investment.. if we are not contemplating this in the first place, clearly our liberation is not at stake.
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Mr. G » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:43 pm

Adamantine wrote:
Mr. G wrote:
ngodrup wrote:Best to leave the matter open ended unless one has some personal investment.


Hi ngodrup,

However, every Dzogchen practitioner does have a personal investment. Does the potential student "gamble" on an unauthenticated terma, or do they practice termas that have been authenticated and recognized with the history of a lineage behind them. The personal investment is immense since one's liberation is at stake.


I think ngodrup clearly means unless one is contemplating taking teachings or wangs in the Aro mandala. . that is "personal" investment.. if we are not contemplating this in the first place, clearly our liberation is not at stake.


I see. Understood.
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:44 pm

David Chapman wrote:asunthatneversets, maybe your friend knows something I don't... I've never heard that white=death symbolism, but it could be.


Ha yeah i don't know... I told him that you said the white symbolized the natural state and he texted back...

"BTW: To clarify what I remember saying: Red was pu**y blood: White was semen: And Blue was the central channel i.e. the natural state or politically speaking "the real" state of the union. White is the color of mourning in asian countries like China"

He's a wild man.

But you could be right! If you ever get a chance to ask someone who could verify it's symbolism i'd love to hear what you find out!
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby ngodrup » Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:55 am

Mr. G wrote:
ngodrup wrote:Best to leave the matter open ended unless one has some personal investment.


Hi ngodrup,

However, every Dzogchen practitioner does have a personal investment. Does the potential student "gamble" on an unauthenticated terma, or do they practice termas that have been authenticated and recognized with the history of a lineage behind them. The personal investment is immense since one's liberation is at stake.


Indeed. And the same high stakes apply if we denounce something that later proves to be valid.
Risky business any way you slice it. In my view, better to err on the side of caution than take an extreme view.
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby David Chapman » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:35 am

Red was pu**y blood: White was semen: And Blue was the central channel


Yes, this is the way I've always heard it. I was being euphemistic in saying "white symbolizes bodhicitta"; bodhicitta=semen in the tantras.

Does the potential student "gamble" on an unauthenticated terma, or do they practice termas that have been authenticated and recognized with the history of a lineage behind them.


Well put. Some of us are willing to take a gamble with the Aro Ter, for one reason or another. For anyone for whom certainty is critical, I would recommend avoiding it. It's not the right path for everyone... or for very many people... and possibly for no one; I am uncertain.

Personally, I don't believe certainty can be found in the opinion of any lama, no matter how "high" they are. So there's no path that has an iron-clad guarantee. But clearly intelligent people can differ on that point.
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Kunzang » Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:52 am

There's really nothing "weird" or particularly innovative in the Aro gTér. It's mainstream stuff. Not excitingly odd.


The teaching on nine bardos is not mainstream -- except for aro, it's unheard of.

Also, I'm not sure, but I don't think anyone else has a Longde Dzogchen teaching on "tralam-mé" (khra lam me) http://aroencyclopaedia.org/shared/text ... ar_eng.php. That seems pretty odd, maybe not "excitingly odd" though.

Since I'm not that familiar with Longde, though, maybe someone else knows of any Longde teachings on khra lam me? Maybe Namdrol knows something about this?
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:54 am

ngodrup wrote:
Indeed. And the same high stakes apply if we denounce something that later proves to be valid. Risky business any way you slice it.


Ah, yes. The old "I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of aliens" argument. I am familiar with that one:

    Image

In my view, better to err on the side of caution


This part I can agree with.

David Chapman wrote:
Well put. Some of us are willing to take a gamble with the Aro Ter, for one reason or another. For anyone for whom certainty is critical, I would recommend avoiding it. It's not the right path for everyone... or for very many people... and possibly for no one; I am uncertain.


Your candor is appreciated David.
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Tilopa » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:20 am

David Chapman wrote:Personally, I don't believe certainty can be found in the opinion of any lama, no matter how "high" they are. So there's no path that has an iron-clad guarantee. ..

So you don't have complete confidence in Ngakpa Chogyam or the Aro Ter path?
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:22 am

Tilopa wrote:
David Chapman wrote:Personally, I don't believe certainty can be found in the opinion of any lama, no matter how "high" they are. So there's no path that has an iron-clad guarantee. ..

So you don't have complete confidence in Ngakpa Chogyam or the Aro Ter path?


He's just saying the authority of whatever "it" is you believe to be authentic or true is never inherent in "that thing" itself. It's ultimately YOUR OWN belief and opinion that it's authentic. Although most will never admit that and they'll usually even refute it. If you told a Christian that there was no authority in the biblical scriptures themselves, but truly it's his own opinion that it's authoritative he'd most likely scoff and declare blasphemy. If the authority was inherent in the thing itself... Everyone would succumb to it. That is why beliefs and opinions have to be defended, because they don't have any power or value aside from what is projected onto them. Usually you get mass amounts of people projecting truth or falsity onto beliefs and opinions, and the sheer number of people behind the position being taken seems to validate the position to those involved. But fundamentally it's the same principle only on a collective and macrocosmic scale. It ultimately is your own judgement... Validity is lifeless apart from yourself.
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Dharmaswede » Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:21 am

David Chapman wrote:I've never found any contradictions between the Aro gTér and other Nyingma Dharma.

There's really nothing "weird" or particularly innovative in the Aro gTér. It's mainstream stuff. Not excitingly odd.


To my (albeitly very ignorant) mind, this assessment is confounded by your – at times – seemingly untraditional understanding of Nyingma doctrines. I am thinking of the link on karma that Magnus provided, but also of the recent podcasts on http://www.buddhistgeeks.com that featured you and where you discussed "new forms of tantra" and "consensus buddhism". I understand that there is a difference between your personal views, and the particulars of the Aro lineage. But one of the major points in the podcasts is that you are an dissenting (or however you want to word it) voice, with deviating views, on matters that lie at the heart of the Vajrayana tradition.

You have obviously read many more books than me about Nyingma, but even from a purely intellectual understanding of discourse analysis I hope you understand my problem here.

Thank you.

Best Regards,

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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:48 am

This has to be the longest running advertisement on DharmaWheel that I have seen to date. When are we getting back to the feature show?
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Alex Hubbard » Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:27 pm

Greetings everybody. It look as though this might the right time for me to post a little of the story of my relationship with the Aro gTér tradition and forums such as this one, e-sangha for example. I became interested in the Aro gTér tradition before I knew of any criticisms of its authenticity. I enjoyed very much the articles I’d read on the internet by the Lineage Holders. I attended an Open Retreat and enjoyed it immensely; there was much humour and the sangha were very down to earth. Further, I found Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen impressive in a variety of ways. Afterwards on deciding to do some research into the tradition I came up with a big fat zero; that is to say when I tried to find anyone else talking about the tradition there was nothing, no reference to Khyungchen Aro Lingma on any other web page whatsoever. That made me suspicious.

Then I found e-sangha (Tricyle was already defunct I think) and that made me more suspicious, although in both directions, so to speak. Some of the criticism seemed on the level, genuinely concerned and serious. Some of it was purely ad hominen, and, to be frank, some of it was pretty crazy. I had different reactions to these different types of criticisms and the reason I’m writing today is because I did have a serious reaction to the serious criticisms and addressed them to Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen, and had to work this stuff through for myself. (At this point in the story I was a probationary apprentice in the Aro gTér tradition having applied to be a student. Probationary means that I was testing to see if I wanted to stick around, that I liked the tradition basically, and also that my Lamas could see if they thought I was a good fit for them and the Lineage.) Also, I’m not the only person who’s been affected by such forum conversations. Most people though, it seems, change their minds upon interacting with the Lamas and the sangha, that is to say that even if they don’t become students, or end up leaving for other reasons, they quickly realise that most of what’s been said is way off the mark. A lot of other people have no issue at all with this stuff.

In reverse order: the crazy criticism were just obviously wrong; they said all sorts of stuff took place behind closed doors like wild parties on retreats, women dancing for the Lama’s pleasure, and people being systematically distanced from their families, other stuff too which was just not my experience at all. The crazy criticism was pretty absurd to be honest; way off the mark and seemed like a lot of it was just made up. Our tradition encourages family life as a central part of practice in relation to being an ordained non-monastic sangha, for example. The crazy stuff made it all sound so insane and ‘culty’ (not a word I’m sure), but the reality was very different, not only were the sangha down to earth they generally seemed like pretty well rounded types, to me. I’ve never seen the Lamas being anything other than down to earth, kind, and reasonable.

The ad hominen criticism was, like most ad hominen argument, pretty silly and weak, and thus ineffective as a tool to warn people. For example, and please remember this is not a personal attack on whoever has said this, when it is said that ‘these folk just like dressing up as Tibetans’ it’s obvious that that opinion isn’t based on any personal contact with the tradition because nothing could be further from the truth. The robes have a very specific purpose and only those who have tested the Lama and Lineage for a minimum of around seven years can make that sort of commitment. Some of the other ad hominen attacks were also inaccurate and so I felt safe in dismissing them.

The serious criticism. This was different, this made me question my involvement. I knew the importance placed upon the continuity of transmission in terms of lineage, and so I asked one of the ordained in the sangha who (which Root Lama) had transmitted the Aro gTér to Ngak’chang Rinpoche and she said that none of them had. She then mentioned a little about Ngak’chang Rinpoche’s early experience and how he related it all to Dud’jöm Rinpoche and so on. (If you want to hear more you should check out David Chapman’s Approching Aro website). She also mentioned the online criticism and said that I should check it out, though I already had. Still being sceptical I continued to look further, at the nature of determining authenticity for example and to see which Lamas were accepting of either the Aro gTér and/or Ngak’chang Rinpoche. The former was far more difficult than the latter; and the latter was really quite easy.

I should mention at this point that I wrote to Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen to ask them about the issue and to ask for their advice on how to proceed. Basically they said they couldn’t really help me. They suggested that if they tried to in some way influence me this could always be interpreted by me as coercion on their part. Instead they suggested that I talk to one of their disciples who was veteran of the web, so to speak, and thus of the various criticisms. This I did and it opened up the whole question of how the student attempts to figure out if their Lama and the tradition are kosha. It opened up some aspects of the process of legitimisation which are interesting to me still, such as to what extent is my own opinion worthy of attention, how useful traditional guidelines are, and, other aspects which aren’t generally discussed, such as the dynamic of what can be said in public and that which is said in private, namely, politics.

On this last point I should say that several Nyingma Lamas have privately encouraged students to study with Ngak’chang Rinpoche. Privately, I should repeat. This doesn’t mean that they, or others, haven’t also privately (or publically) dissuaded people from studying with Ngak’chang Rinpoche, I don’t know. This list includes: Chhi’med Rig’dzin; Lama Tharchin; Dung-sé Thinley Norbu; Künzang Dorje, Rinpoches. What such encouragement amounts to is up for debate I suppose. As far as I am aware they haven’t explicitly endorsed the Aro gTér in these conversations, merely said yes, Ngak’chang Rinpoche, do it, or praised him in some other way. For example, I asked an apprentice how they came to become an apprentice and she mentioned how she’d seen Ngak’chang Rinpoche at Pema Ösel Ling (in the 1990’s), and afterwards asked Tharchin Rinpoche if they should study with him and Tharchin Rinpoche encouraged them to go and do so. It was also Tharchin Rinpoche who suggested that students should refer to Ngak’chang Rinpoche by that name.

A couple of other points in relation to what other Lamas have said about this issue. First off Löpon Ögyen Tanzin Rinpoche composed the Aro gTér Lineage Invocation (which has been presented to Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche incidentally; I don’t know what he thought of it). In it he describes all of the lineage figures including those I couldn’t find any trace of on the internet. He also praises Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen. He is also a Lineage Holder, of Pema Lingpa’s tradition I believe (and perhaps others). Is he a ‘major lineage holder’, I don’t know. It’s interesting that it has been mentioned that it would need to be a major lineage holder and not just any lineage holder to confirm either the teachers or the lineage; why is that? Is it because their status holds sway or because of other reasons? I’m curious. In further relation to people outside of the Aro gTér confirming stuff, I do know that a student of another Nyingma Lama was told by Künzang Dorje Rinpoche that out of the very few people in his lifetime, Ngak’chang Rinpoche was one of those to whom he gave transmission of Dzogchen men-ngak-de. So I guess that might mean that Ngak’chang Rinpoche was in fact a student of Künzang Dorje Rinpoche.

It would be wrong of me not to mention David Chapman’s Approaching Aro website in relation to many of the issues in question here. For example, only recently he published a long-life wish path written by Chhi’med Rig’dzin Rinpoche in which he confirms that he recognised Ngak’chang Rinpoche as a tulku, one who figures in the history of the Aro gTér. One of the reasons why I became particularly dissatisfied with the criticism on internet forums was that even when David published certain material no response was forthcoming, even though the material was highly significant, including written praise from Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and others.

In terms of my own involvement I have now been an apprentice for seven years (I’m 33 this month, and just completing a masters in philosophy, I have a partner with two children, just in case you’re curious about me), and I have never had or found any reason to believe anything negative about Ngak’chang Rinpoche or Khandro Déchen. In fact quite the opposite. I have my own experience of asking them practice questions, receiving tantric empowerments and dzogchen transmission, seeing their seemingly inexhaustible kindness, asking students who have studied with them for over twenty years what their experience is and, all in all, I could not wish for better examples of what it means to be a demonstration that realisation is possible. I trust them. In terms of the authenticity of the Aro gTér perhaps I’ll have to wait (a decade or three or four, after some more solitary retreat, maybe my next life) to say with real conviction that yes, you can gain liberation through these practices, and yet, so far, I’m happy to say that at least some of my negative habits and neurotic responses to the world have diminished, and my practice has deepened. I only mention this because I’m presuming that such evidence does count in testing the Lamas and Lineage, at least it does for me. Overall I’ve been glad of the push from forums to examine the Lamas and the lineage because, despite the mostly private support from various Lamas, it has made me question the extent to which I was willing to rely on my own judgement, in combination with that of others and traditional texts.

O.k., that’s all folks (and probably far too much),
all the best,
Alex.
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby heart » Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:35 pm

Alex Hubbard wrote:A couple of other points in relation to what other Lamas have said about this issue. First off Löpon Ögyen Tanzin Rinpoche composed the Aro gTér Lineage Invocation (which has been presented to Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche incidentally; I don’t know what he thought of it). In it he describes all of the lineage figures including those I couldn’t find any trace of on the internet.


Hi Alex, that is an amusing history. What would have been the reason to present that prayer to CNR? I am CNR student, that is why I wonder.

In general I think you have to understand that Ngakpa Chögyam had an other profile in the 90's, there was no termas or talk about being a Tulku. I happen to meet and receive teachings from Chimed Rigdzin a few times and a friend of mine was a close student of him until he died. He was not the most consequent Lama I ever met, to put it mildly. He also publicly refuted that Ngakpa Chögyam was a Tulku. Ngakpa Chögyam also used to say that Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche recognized him as a Tulku and recognized his termas, but that disappeared from his website. Ngakpas like Lama Kunzang Dorje, Lama Pema Dorje, Lama Tarchin, Lama Dawa, Löpon Ögyen Tanzin and so on are all close Dharma brothers of Ngakpa Chögyam since they were all students of Dudjom Rinpoche. I am sure some of them were asked to teach and give the empowerment's and so on by Dudjom Rinpoche but the main lineage holders of Dudjom Tersar is people like Chatral Rinpoche, Thinley Norbu and so on. Having a big website don't make you a major lineage holder.

I found Ngakpa Chögyam quite interesting in the 90's with his Ngakpa clothes and rather entertaining attitude. I still see a lot of pictures of facebook were he and his students dress up as cowboy that are pretty funny. The look like they are enjoying themselves. Nothing bad with that. But I am pretty sure if you received Dzogchen teachings from Dudjom Tersar, Longchen Nyingthik, Chokling Tersar or any other major tradition you would see that there is a big difference in the way the teachings are taught and applied as well as the blessing you receive from them. But who knows, maybe I am all wrong about that. :smile:

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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:05 pm

My greek lama (Lama Giorgos) always says to me:
" Άλλο είναι ο λάμα και άλλο είναι το κλάμα!"
Transliteration: Allo ine o lama kai allo ine to klama!"
Translation: A lama is one thing and crying/weeping is another thing!

It seems to me that this whole situation is just sad and tearful.
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby David Chapman » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:14 pm

For a Buddhist system to work, it has to have accurate teachings, and authentically effective practices, and it needs to package those in a presentation style that is comprehensible and attractive for its students.

In my Buddhist Geeks podcast, which Jens mentioned, I rail against mainstream "Consensus" American Buddhism. In a well-intentioned attempt to package Buddhism in a way attractive to Americans, I think it threw away most of the effective practices, and added some inaccurate teachings. The baby was lost with the bathwater.

The function of terma is to mainly to repackage existing teachings and practices in a new style that is appropriate for new times. Termas also may contain some "new" material that has never been revealed before, but generally those are variations on a theme.

For example, different termas have different collections of bardos. There are systems that have three bardos, four bardos, five bardos, six bardos, and seven bardos. There are at least two quite different systems of six. There's a page about this on my Aro site, which also explains why these apparent contradictions are a non-problem.

So I see the nine bardos described by the Aro Ter as within the legitimate scope of "variations on a theme". There's no rules about how different a terma is allowed to be, so this is a judgement call.

I am pretty sure if you received Dzogchen teachings from Dudjom Tersar, Longchen Nyingthik, Chokling Tersar or any other major tradition you would see that there is a big difference in the way the teachings are taught


Yes. I have received Dzogchen teachings in several lineages, and in terms of style, Aro is an outlier. (Although it's much closer to the style of Chogyal Namhkai Norbu Rinpoche, whose teaching is also very unlike that of most Tibetans. I have had the great good fortune to attend several retreats with him.)

Since the job of terma is to re-present the Dharma in a style that fits particular social circumstances, it is not surprising that recent termas would be quite different from those that were revealed a couple centuries ago. We live in a very different society from the Rime lamas of the 1700s and 1800s (who revealed all the ones on your list).

Tilopa, I think asunthatneversets gave a good answer to your question about confidence. Personally, I see no way to be absolutely confident about anything. All I can do is go with what seems most likely to work for me, and that's Aro. However, TOTAL confidence is invaluable on the tantric path, and if you can manage that, great!

But one of the major points in the podcasts is that you are an dissenting (or however you want to word it) voice, with deviating views, on matters that lie at the heart of the Vajrayana tradition.


Hmm. Could you be more specific? I don't think I said that... I suggest only that new presentations are possible and desirable.

In the 1980s, there were several new termas (Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche's, Tarthang Tulku's, and Aro) that addressed current Western needs. That was a good thing. I believe that such innovation in presentation was actively suppressed for about 15 years. There now seems to be an opening for other new presentations. That may also be a good thing--so long as they really are new presentations of Dharma, rather than deviations into psychobabble or something.
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Jikan » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:36 pm

http://aroencyclopaedia.org/shared/text ... 01_eng.php

I"m not familiar with this one outside of the Aro context. An example of an innovation?
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Jikan » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:52 pm

This may be a too-small-detail kind of question, but I'd like to know (and might as well be public) what the Aro gTer take on Kali Ma of California's gold country might be: http://www.kalima.org/bio.php I know she used to claim some kind of connection to Aro gTer, as did "Traktung Rinpoche" out of Michigan. More broadly, it may be worth the time to sort out the comings and goings of affiliate teachers to this sangha if we're interested in understanding how said sangha works, yes?
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby Adamantine » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:01 pm

David Chapman wrote:\
The function of terma is to mainly to repackage existing teachings and practices in a new style that is appropriate for new times. Termas also may contain some "new" material that has never been revealed before, but generally those are variations on a theme.


It is meant to reveal teachings more relevant to a specific time, yes, but also to renew fresh lineage-streams from Guru Rinpoche that have pure blessings uncontaminated with broken samaya. I'ts not really about repackaging.



Since the job of terma is to re-present the Dharma in a style that fits particular social circumstances
not exactly

We live in a very different society from the Rime lamas of the 1700s and 1800s (who revealed all the ones on your list).
Dudjom Lingpa crossed over into the 1900's and as you know Dudjom Rinpoche was purely a 20th century terton and lived until the same year as Chogyam Trungpa, revealing far more terma, and Dudjom Lingpa's speech emanation Dzongter Kunzang Nyima revealed even more in Tibet. These Tertons, along with the late Kusum Lingpa, Kunzang Dechen Lingpa, and the living Namkha Drimed Rinpoche all revealed terma that was packaged in quite traditional style. However, the blessings are fresh and profound.. We know this for instance from students of both Dudjom Lingpa and Dudjom RInpoche who attained rainbow body upon their
parinirvana, among many other disciples signs of realization..


In the 1980s, there were several new termas (Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche's, Tarthang Tulku's, and Aro) that addressed current Western needs. That was a good thing.
I never heard from any source that Tathang Tulku is a terton. He certainly wrote volumes of texts that attempted to communicate elements of Dharma into a modern approach in the English language. But this is not considered terma. Many of Chogyam Trungpa's innovations, although brilliant, are not considered terma either... though certainly Dilgo Khyentse is said to have authenticated some terma of his..I don't know the details but it seems clear DKR thought highly of his Sadhana of Mahamudra revelation (fairly traditional in form) and possibly his Shamabala cycle. The Shambala Vajrayana teachings are not really public so most of us can't comment on them. Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche's termas all seem pretty traditional in form from what I've seen.

I don't know where your confusion between "repackaging" and terma is coming from, but that is not really the tradition of terma. . . although certainly different termas have different styles of language.... some of this could be the filter of the terton when translating from dakini script or "downloading" from the Dharmakaya...
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby David Chapman » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:08 pm

I"m not familiar with this one outside of the Aro context. An example of an innovation?


Yes, it's quite possibly unique to Aro. Hybrid yidams are a typical form of variation between termas. For example, in one of Chogyam Trungpa's termas, there is a yidam that that is fundamentally Padmasambhava, but who appears simultaneously as Karma Pakshi, Rangjung Dorje, and Mikyo Dorje (three of the Karmapas). That's symbolic of the union of Dzogchen [Padmasambhava] and Mahamudra [Karmapa]. I'm reasonably sure that hybrid doesn't occur elsewhere. However, the pattern of Padmasambhava-appearing-as-X, and Yeshe Tsogyel-appearing-as-X, is common.

The Aro gTér is unusual (possibly unique) in that ALL of the yidams have that form—they are all fundamentally either Padmasambhava or Yeshe Tsogyel. In this case, it's Yeshe Tsogyel appearing as a garuda. The garuda, in Dzogchen, is symbolic of spontaneous self-liberation (http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/garuda.htm).

I said "possibly unique" because in most cases we don't know. Several times I've asked Rinpoche "is this unique to the Aro Ter?" and he's said "I don't know, but I can't think of any other system that has it." And then a few years later I've found it somewhere else. Usually in some similar Nyingma system. However, there was a startling case recently where a philosophical statement that, as far as he or I knew, was unique to Aro, turned up verbatim in an obscure Pali Sutta. That was seriously odd.
David Chapman
 
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Re: The Aro gTér: some answers and questions

Postby David Chapman » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:29 pm

Kali Ma is an Aro student, but not an Aro teacher. She teaches other things. I like her very much as a friend and vajra sister. From what little I know about the material she teaches, I don't think it would appeal to me. But she has many devoted students, so she must be an excellent teacher.

There has been no connection between Traktung Rinpoche and Aro for the past decade. Unfortunately, I probably can't say more about that.

also to renew fresh lineage-streams from Guru Rinpoche that have pure blessings uncontaminated with broken samaya


Yes, also that! And for this reason, many authorities consider that newer termas are better. On the other hand, there's a trade-off; older termas have been examined and practiced by more great lamas, and so one may have more confidence that they are valid. Different lamas weigh the two factors differently.

These Tertons, along with the late Kusum Lingpa, Kunzang Dechen Lingpa, and the living Namkha Drimed Rinpoche all revealed terma that was packaged in quite traditional style.


Yes, all excellent (from what I have heard—I have no personal experience). For those who find that style accessible, these could all be good choices.

I never heard from any source that Tathang Tulku is a terton.


Sorry, yes, I think you're right about that. Rather, he did an innovative re-presentation. Plus his Time-Space-Knowledge system may have some new stuff in it. I know very little about it.

I don't know where your confusion between "repackaging" and terma is coming from, but that is not really the tradition of terma. . . although certainly different termas have different styles of language....


I don't think we disagree here. "Different styles" is all I meant by "repackaging".
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