Tai Situpa in Tricycle

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Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby kirtu » Wed May 12, 2010 6:05 am

In another forum a friend posted the following:

Got the summer issue of Tricycle magazine in which there is a very interesting article by Tai Situ Rinpoche titled, "It Takes a Saint: What will it take to establish a truly Western dharma?" (pp.46-47). Here's a snippet:

"What can establish dharma in the West forever? Forever is a long time, but that's how I understand this question. It's a big question, and a big answer will just confuse everyone. So I'll make it simple: One Western person must attain full enlightenment in the same way as Marpa, Milarepa, or Guru Rinpoche...If one Westerner--man or woman, doesn't matter--attains that level of realization, then pure dharma will be established in Western culture...Until that time, dharma can be taught in the West...it can be practiced in the West...and it can be recited in Western languages. But it's not yet one hundred percent complete."


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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Astus » Wed May 12, 2010 12:25 pm

Looking at the history of Buddhism throughout different lands, great supporters made the Dharma flourish, in most cases the king and local lords. That is hardly possible now as in Western countries the state is secular. But companies (Korea, Japan, Taiwan) can still put lot of money into it.

As for the "enlightened master", I believe that those who is remembered by later generations as great teachers are seen that way thanks for many circumstances. Those who were considered great masters of one era may be forgot in a hundred years. Disciples make teachers great. Disciples can persist because of the tradition being supported. Thus it is an important factor to have enough followers made of people in important and powerful positions.

"History is written by the victors"
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Sönam » Wed May 12, 2010 12:43 pm

This is a Tibetan Tulku point of view ... Mila and others are part of a universal culture without border, therefore time will make it ...

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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 12, 2010 12:47 pm

The validity of the author's idea rests on whether or not there really is such a thing as "the West" or "western culture".

I only use the east-west dichotomy provisionally because it is far too general and it especially hardly reflects the present day.

I mean go to Vancouver, Canada. It is a "western city" where close to half if not more of the city is Asian.

Where exactly is the east-west dichotomy to be found in such a place? There are Asian born people, Canadian born people and a lot of younger persons somewhere in between.
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby catmoon » Wed May 12, 2010 1:09 pm

Huseng wrote:
I mean go to Vancouver, Canada. It is a "western city" where close to half if not more of the city is Asian.

Where exactly is the east-west dichotomy to be found in such a place? There are Asian born people, Canadian born people and a lot of younger persons somewhere in between.




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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby kirtu » Wed May 12, 2010 2:53 pm

One response to this posting on another forum (note: I'm nopt trying to cause problems with cross-posting between forums but this is such a valuable and important topic IMO) is in part:

Situ Rinpoche said - at least as quoted - "One Western person must
attain full enlightenment in the same way as Marpa, MIlarepa, or Guru
Rinpoche..." To me, enlightenment such as Milarepa, or Guru Rinpoche, or Marpa attained is a very high level of enlightenment. Consider Milarepa with his butt calloused from sitting in meditation, living for months or years with just a couple of rags for clothing, etc. Or Guru Rinpoche who reached such a level of enlightenment that he attained not the 'simple' rainbow body, but the so called rainbow body of great transformation - in essence, he became light, and is always present.

As far as I understand it, there weren't many in Tibet either who became so highly enlightened. But there were plenty at 'lower' levels. So if I'm reading this correctly, Situ Rinpoche isn't saying no westerner has become enlightened, just that they haven't reached this great level that in turn affects everyone so profoundly. That profound influence is what would fully establish the Dharma in our culture.


However Kunu Rinpoche spoke about an unknown Westerner who Kunu Rinpoche knew in Nepal (?) who did in fact attain the classic rainbow body (people came in to his dweling after a few days and there was nothing left but clothes and little rainbow swirls).

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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Josef » Wed May 12, 2010 4:16 pm

We have to practice, attain the results, and display them through teaching.
I dont doubt that so called "Westerners" have attained the results but so far none have taught or manifested the dharma through activity at the the level of those mentioned by Situ Rinpoche.
If you ask me its only a matter of time, and we certainly dont need political patronage to make it happen.
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Astus » Wed May 12, 2010 6:42 pm

Here's what I meant. Sorry for bringing up a Chinese example but I'm pretty ignorant in Tibetan Buddhism.

The three most famous Zen teachers of all time are Bodhidharma, Huineng (the so called 6th patriarch) and Linji (Rinzai in Japanese). They're considered people who attained sudden enlightenment and reached buddhahood. What do we actually know about them that can be historically attested? Almost nothing. What we know is that their stories and teachings are mostly the products of later ages. For instance, the fame of Huineng (who was illiterate according to the story) is primarily because of a monk called Shenhui, who claimed to be the Dharma-heir of Huineng, and was a controversial figure of his time. While some of Shenhui's teachings could survive, in the last 1300 years nobody really cared about those, unlike things attributed to Huineng which were not taught by him at all.

Waiting for a "greatly enlightened master with a rainbow body" is like waiting for Maitreya to come. Actually, the single person respected by all Western Buddhists and many non-Buddhists is His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Indeed, if we look around in Europe and America, Tibetan Buddhism is thriving. On the other hand, Zen and Theravada is doing quite well too, even if they have no universal celebrity.

It sounds good to name a single person responsible for something awesome like establishing Buddhism in a country. But in fact, even Shakyamuni Buddha couldn't make Buddhism a major religion in India single-handedly, so there were his disciples who he sent out to spread the word, and the disciples of disciples, etc., and there was Ashoka, so on and so forth.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby kirtu » Wed May 12, 2010 9:14 pm

Here is a link to the Tai Situpa article: http://www.tricycle.com/feature/it-takes-saint

It may be the entire article (I haven't compared it to the print version).

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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Astus » Thu May 13, 2010 1:12 pm

"Until that happens, Tibetan dharma for Westerners remains inseparable from Tibetan culture and language, Tibetan ways and mentality."

Maybe he meant only Vajrayana transmission? As I can see, there are only a handful of Mantra teachers who are Westerners, unlike in Theravada and Zen. On the other hand, Tibetans have left their homeland so they're here to teach.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby kirtu » Thu May 13, 2010 1:36 pm

Astus wrote:"Until that happens, Tibetan dharma for Westerners remains inseparable from Tibetan culture and language, Tibetan ways and mentality."

Maybe he meant only Vajrayana transmission?


Yes he is referring primarily to Vajrayana transmission.

As I can see, there are only a handful of Mantra teachers who are Westerners,


That's true ... the actual teacher transmission has only recently begun ...

unlike in Theravada and Zen. On the other hand, Tibetans have left their homeland so they're here to teach.


Mostly Tibetans are here for safety. Some Tibetans come to teach. However, what is the quality of Western Theravadin or Zen teachers?

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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Astus » Thu May 13, 2010 2:15 pm

I think there are some really good Theravadin teachers around, same goes for Zen teachers. Of course, not everyone is top class - in my opinion - but people like Bhikkhu Bodhi and the late Daido Loori are admirable teachers. Theravada has already a considerable number of monasteries around with Western monks and some nuns. It appears to me Theravada in quality and ordained members are pretty beyond any other Buddhist tradition - in the West.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 13, 2010 2:52 pm

Astus wrote:I think there are some really good Theravadin teachers around, same goes for Zen teachers. Of course, not everyone is top class - in my opinion - but people like Bhikkhu Bodhi and the late Daido Loori are admirable teachers. Theravada has already a considerable number of monasteries around with Western monks and some nuns. It appears to me Theravada in quality and ordained members are pretty beyond any other Buddhist tradition - in the West.


The reason for this comes down to economics.

In Theravada for there to be a bhikku there must be community support (think financial) because bhikku are not permitted to earn any income or even have some kind of savings. I gather that Thai, Sri Lankan and other SE Asians are ready and willing to financially support the sangha as a kind of religious obligation, so funding is not so much an issue.

In Tibetan traditions this kind of community support in western countries doesn't exist yet (I don't know if it ever will), so one needs a sponsor or be independently wealthy (the two Canadian nuns I know qualify as the later). For them, unlike in Theravada communities, there isn't necessarily a large financial base from which to work with when it comes to maintaining ordained members in monasteries.

In Zen ordination doesn't mean becoming a bhikusu(ni), so living an ordinary life with a career and savings account is not an issue. Becoming ordained requires little effort and it doesn't demand a change of lifestyle. I think in Japan it might just include yearly membership fees -- I'll actually ask about that tomorrow if I get the chance.

If you think about Foguangshan as another good example they have many many fully supported bhiksuni (not so many bhiksu in FGS compared to the bhiksuni :rolling: ) because the laity is ready and willing to finance the community. Unfortunately Tibetan groups are not so well funded, so we don't see anything on the scale of FGS or the various Theravada groups.
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Astus » Thu May 13, 2010 3:55 pm

Huseng,

Indeed, as I said, support is very important. Shakyamuni had wealthy friends, no wonder he could obtain some groves and parks already in his life.

I think Vajrayana is quite appropriate for lay people, espeically looking at the mahasiddhas. So there shouldn't be too much need for monastics to have Western teachers. There are some who teach, like James Low, Shenpen Hookham, Keith Dowman, Myrdhin Reynolds, Surya Das, the very famous Ole Nydhal, etc. It may not be the whole curriculum, but some essential practice. However, it could be that such people don't look as authentic as Tibetans.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 13, 2010 4:24 pm

Astus wrote:Huseng,

Indeed, as I said, support is very important. Shakyamuni had wealthy friends, no wonder he could obtain some groves and parks already in his life.

I think Vajrayana is quite appropriate for lay people, espeically looking at the mahasiddhas. So there shouldn't be too much need for monastics to have Western teachers. There are some who teach, like James Low, Shenpen Hookham, Keith Dowman, Myrdhin Reynolds, Surya Das, the very famous Ole Nydhal, etc. It may not be the whole curriculum, but some essential practice. However, it could be that such people don't look as authentic as Tibetans.


As I understand it from my venerable guru, in Gelug-pa to be a qualified teacher you need to be a geshe which requires many years of study in addition to the diploma issued by the monastery.

We just don't have very many qualified western Geshe-la to begin with. If we had them then they could lead both monastic sanghas and lay communities with the same qualifications as held by any Tibetan coming out the monastery.
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Astus » Thu May 13, 2010 4:53 pm

What I meant is that not everyone has to be a Geshe or Khenpo level teacher, which means lot of textual and philosophical knowledge. Look at the Zen teachers (in the West), most of them know only a couple of texts but still can teach meditation and the necessary things. Same goes for Tibetan yogis, I believe. You don't have to know everything from Asanga to Zendo (Shandao) to teach hundreds of people how to do bowing and sitting. And if a teachers knows one or two sadhanas, that's OK, that's something people can learn and gain enlightenment with.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Jangchup Donden » Tue May 18, 2010 8:47 am

I think this will happen in the west within my lifetime, if it hasn't happened already. I know of more than a few western Kagyu practitioners who are totally devoting their life to practice, as in life-long solitary retreat. There are others who have done extensive retreat and who are starting to teach. Most of them have still have decades ahead of them. I wish I could be one of them, but I'm a pretty horrible Buddhist and even worse meditator :P
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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby kirtu » Tue May 18, 2010 4:09 pm

Astus wrote:What I meant is that not everyone has to be a Geshe or Khenpo level teacher, which means lot of textual and philosophical knowledge.... And if a teachers knows one or two sadhanas, that's OK, that's something people can learn and gain enlightenment with.


In the article HE Tai Situpa basically said that he thought that something closer to mahasiddha practice would be taking place in the West.

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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby kirtu » Tue May 18, 2010 4:12 pm

Jangchup Donden wrote:I think this will happen in the west within my lifetime, if it hasn't happened already. I know of more than a few western Kagyu practitioners who are totally devoting their life to practice, as in life-long solitary retreat.


How are they able to do this?

I wish I could be one of them, but I'm a pretty horrible Buddhist and even worse meditator :P


But luckily the teachings and esp. tantra are very powerful and very transformative.

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Re: Tai Situpa in Tricycle

Postby Astus » Tue May 18, 2010 4:17 pm

kirtu wrote:In the article HE Tai Situpa basically said that he thought that something closer to mahasiddha practice would be taking place in the West.


Didn't notice that part. But that's good news, I guess.

Like, just something I've heard of, Keith Dowman's idea of the "urban yogi".
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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