Beginning vajrayana

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Beginning vajrayana

Postby lotwell » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:11 pm

Hi all,

I am beginning to explore Tibetan Buddhism/Vajrayana and its practices. I am lucky enough to have both a Karma Kagyu study group and a Drikung Kagyu dharma center in my town.

From what I have gathered it seems that the starting point for Vajrayana is:

1) Pick a school (Gelug, Sakya, Nyingma, Kagyu, etc.)

2) Find a Guru/lama

3)Do the preliminary practices called ngondro.

After studying and practicing Zen for some while Tibetan Buddhism is very foriegn yet equally intruiging. Any advice for a novice would be appreciated!

With love,

Lotwell
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby TenzinDorje » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:17 pm

Lotwell,

Greetings. I could best say from my own experience and practice that without Guru there is no practice. Until I become the source of refuge, I take refuge. IMHO, have a teacher you can trust and have confidence in and has compassion and skillful means. Others here can elucidate much better than I!

Best,

Tenzin Dorje
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby AlexanderS » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:22 pm

Hi, there is a good book on this "A beginners guide to Tibetan Buddhism" - Bruce Newman

But yeah it seems like you got the gist of it by the main points.
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby pemachophel » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:38 pm

I'd put finding a Guru/Lama first. Then the issue of which sect becomes moot. IOW, you become a member of your Teacher's sect. Since the Lama is the single most important factor in the practice of Vajrayana, there's nothing more important. Case in point, when I started out, I wanted to become a Kagyudpa. However, the Teacher with whom I bonded was Nyingma; so I'm a Nyingmapa. In addition, after you've been practicing for some time, the whole issue of sect becomes less and less important in any case. :namaste:
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby heart » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:32 pm

lotwell wrote:Hi all,

I am beginning to explore Tibetan Buddhism/Vajrayana and its practices. I am lucky enough to have both a Karma Kagyu study group and a Drikung Kagyu dharma center in my town.

From what I have gathered it seems that the starting point for Vajrayana is:

1) Pick a school (Gelug, Sakya, Nyingma, Kagyu, etc.)

2) Find a Guru/lama

3)Do the preliminary practices called ngondro.

After studying and practicing Zen for some while Tibetan Buddhism is very foriegn yet equally intruiging. Any advice for a novice would be appreciated!

With love,

Lotwell


Hi Lowell,

This is my take on your points.

1) Find a Guru

2) Do whatever your Guru tell you to do

3) Don't obsess about schools but respect them all.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:37 pm

lotwell wrote:First Post
1. Guru Yoga of the lineage is essential. Doing a prayer to them daily would be beneficial. Here's a good one for Karma Kagyupa http://www.khandro.net/prayer_Kagyu_lineage.htm

Drikungpa seem to focus their devotion to Lord Jigten Sumgon as the embodiment of the whole lineage http://www.angelfire.com/rings/novice-b ... UMG%C3%96N

2. Don't regard the deities as different from the Three Jewels. Their mind is Buddha, speech is Dharma, and body is Sangha.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby Dharmaswede » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:47 pm

heart wrote:1) Find a Guru



Impeccable advice. Only limitation is that it prescribes what to do, not how do it.

In deep appreciation,

Jens
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby Tilopa » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:16 pm

As a beginner you should spend time taking teachings from different teachers and different traditions in order to develop an understanding of the foundational practices - refuge, bodhicitta, lam rim and lojong. This will help you identify which tradition you have the closest affinity with and bring you into contact with qualified masters. The idea that you have to go out and find your Guru before you can do anything is a bit misguided - when you're ready he will find you - but between now and then you can learn a lot for yourself. After the connection is made you can then get precise advice about what practices to do and how to deepen your engagement with Tantra.
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby plwk » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:59 am

4. Extra $$$ for dharma implements (offering bowls, bell & ghanta, mala), incense, candles, puja offerings, nice and colorful stuff, that occasional visiting teacher and teaching session...
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby heart » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:13 am

Dharmaswede wrote:
heart wrote:1) Find a Guru



Impeccable advice. Only limitation is that it prescribes what to do, not how do it.

In deep appreciation,

Jens


Yes Jens, you are right. It is difficult. My advice is to take teachings widely, following your fancy and curiosity, but be careful with empowerment's in particular those with big commitments. This can take a lot of time sometimes, it seems to me at least, because it is only when the student goes deep enough in the studies that the Guru actually appears. For some of us the Guru appear first, this is just karma and have it own challenges. For a long time I was a bit scared of my Guru because of the impact he had on me. I am still a bit scared of him actually. :smile: Anyway, he is coming Stockholm 6-7 June, you can see him then if you want.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby plwk » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:55 am

...bell & ghanta...

Vajra and Ghanta... :? :mrgreen:
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:21 am

Since Some of Vajrayana practices can seems illogical in the beginning, the component of faith is extremely important. This faith should come from the solid understanding of Mahayana, and or Pali tradition.

I have come across people start with Vajrayana and at the end, they condemn it. The problem is the foundation of Mahayana is not strong.

So if I can suggest, you should study Lamrim Or Lamdre as the backbone of your stability ad faith.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:09 am

DarwidHalim wrote:Since Some of Vajrayana practices can seems illogical in the beginning, the component of faith is extremely important. This faith should come from the solid understanding of Mahayana, and or Pali tradition.

I have come across people start with Vajrayana and at the end, they condemn it. The problem is the foundation of Mahayana is not strong.

So if I can suggest, you should study Lamrim Or Lamdre as the backbone of your stability ad faith.


Though this won't be true for everyone, I think it is nonetheless very true for a great many people. Abidharma is also very important to get a grasp of.
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby TenzinDorje » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:56 pm

After everything is said, in Vajrayana, it comes to Guru. Do your own reading and investigation.

http://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Guide-T ... 1559392118
http://www.amazon.com/What-Makes-You-No ... 590305701/
http://www.amazon.com/The-Words-Perfect ... 300165323/

There are dramatic, heartfelt and sometimes hilarious stories about finding your Lama (hint: the Lama will not tell you they are your guru; you decide for yourself). I've lived them and heard them directly from others. Ultimately, seek your own counsel in your determinations. Do not listen to anyone here about what school of Vajrayana or what Lama to go to. If there is someone in DW that you resonate with, you can direct message them.

Be well and May all Beings Benefit!
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby Paul » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:26 pm

DarwidHalim wrote:Since Some of Vajrayana practices can seems illogical in the beginning, the component of faith is extremely important. This faith should come from the solid understanding of Mahayana, and or Pali tradition.

I have come across people start with Vajrayana and at the end, they condemn it. The problem is the foundation of Mahayana is not strong.

So if I can suggest, you should study Lamrim Or Lamdre as the backbone of your stability ad faith.


This is a very good book that clearly explains the Mahayana abhidharma: http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Enlightenmen ... roduct_top

Also, this is a great vajrayana book, and has been mentioned by others: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beginners-Guide ... 912&sr=1-1

(IMHO, it's not actually just for beginners...)

heart wrote:This is my take on your points.

1) Find a Guru

2) Do whatever your Guru tell you to do

3) Don't obsess about schools but respect them all.

/magnus


This is excellent advice in my experience. Once you have found a teacher you completely trust, do anything they say to the letter and the results will be incredible.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

-Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby zerwe » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:07 pm

Practice developing a strong understanding of the Three Principal Aspects of the Path within the Mahayana first.
Shaun :namaste:
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby Dharmaswede » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:57 pm

heart wrote:Yes Jens, you are right. It is difficult. My advice is to take teachings widely, following your fancy and curiosity, but be careful with empowerment's in particular those with big commitments. This can take a lot of time sometimes, it seems to me at least, because it is only when the student goes deep enough in the studies that the Guru actually appears. For some of us the Guru appear first, this is just karma and have it own challenges. For a long time I was a bit scared of my Guru because of the impact he had on me. I am still a bit scared of him actually. :smile: Anyway, he is coming Stockholm 6-7 June, you can see him then if you want.

/magnus


Brilliant, in my ignorance I can only wholeheartedly agree. This is an endeavor where intuition, heart and intellect all can be enlisted although I gather you never know what karmic connection will actually lead you home. Interesting idea, that the Guru will appear when the student's studies go deeply enough – I imagine that for some it is a leap of faith to take Dharma studies seriously enough without a Guru. It does make good sense (if it is true).

Being a closet wanna-be-Buddhist I rarely get out, but I will definitely not miss your Guru in June for sure!

Yours in Dharma,

Jens
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby Paul » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:21 pm

Dharmaswede wrote:
heart wrote:Being a closet wanna-be-Buddhist I rarely get out, but I will definitely not miss your Guru in June for sure!


Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is an incredible teacher and I've seen him teach on those texts - they are very, very profound. It will be an amazing retreat.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

-Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:17 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
DarwidHalim wrote:Since Some of Vajrayana practices can seems illogical in the beginning, the component of faith is extremely important. This faith should come from the solid understanding of Mahayana, and or Pali tradition.

I have come across people start with Vajrayana and at the end, they condemn it. The problem is the foundation of Mahayana is not strong.

So if I can suggest, you should study Lamrim Or Lamdre as the backbone of your stability ad faith.


Though this won't be true for everyone, I think it is nonetheless very true for a great many people. Abidharma is also very important to get a grasp of.

Agree. As with everything, people should know what they are doing, so they should research what's Vajrayana and tantric methods all about. The hows and whys of the things they'll hear and practice. If they solidify their intellectual knowledge, then it's more likely that practice will bring insight. If they don't, the result varies.They may get lucky and progress or things may become problematic- for a myriad of motives usually quite mundane and "ego-related", ours or not- at some point and due to a lot of reasons, most being misunderstandings, all may crumble in a nasty way.

Some people can arise great faith out of thin air (good karma) while others are pestered with nagging doubts (good karma or bad karma, since great doubts also may bring great realizations).
As a general advice, it's always best to hit the books and ask questions to lamas and senior students. However, there's no on-fits-all recipe. Some people are driven by faith alone and manage, but I suspect these are rarer.
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Re: Beginning vajrayana

Postby Dharmaswede » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:49 pm

TenzinDorje wrote:After everything is said, in Vajrayana, it comes to Guru. Do your own reading and investigation.

http://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Guide-T ... 1559392118
http://www.amazon.com/What-Makes-You-No ... 590305701/
http://www.amazon.com/The-Words-Perfect ... 300165323/


Great recommendations. For me, there is a "class" between senior students and gurus that has been very helpful: Western teachers (where Bruce Newman of course belong). They can point out cultural gaps and constitute inspiring examples in their own efforts but also in their personal style of teaching and transmission (regardless of whether they are traditional or innovative). So I would suggest to beginners to look into that class too, be it Namdrol, Alexander Berzin, John Reynolds, Lama Jinpa, Ken McLeod etc. Most of them have written books and have websites. I am very grateful to them all for sharing the fruits of their hard work. And of course, Dharmawheel is an invaluable resource and community – a deep bow of respect to all moderators and thanks to the rest of you contributors. You make a real difference.

Jens
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