Tibetan Lamas and wealth

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tomdzogchen27
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Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by tomdzogchen27 »

If the Buddha renounced his fortune in search of the true path to the deathless, what is the purpose of surrounding multiple Lamas with incredible wealth and commodities since they are very young? Doesn't that foment attachment?
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by javier.espinoza.t »

tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:41 pm If the Buddha renounced his fortune in search of the true path to the deathless, what is the purpose of surrounding multiple Lamas with incredible wealth and commodities since they are very young? Doesn't that foment attachment?
it depends, renounciation is not the only method. Not all Lamas apply the renounciation methods, even if some of them do not make this disclaimer often enough.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by PSM »

Depends on the lama in question.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

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tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:41 pm If the Buddha renounced his fortune in search of the true path to the deathless, what is the purpose of surrounding multiple Lamas with incredible wealth and commodities since they are very young? Doesn't that foment attachment?
People made all sorts of offerings to the Buddha, including huge tracts of land. He never turned down an offering as that would mean the person making the offering would not benefit from the act of generosity. He didn't even turn down spoiled food.

Attachment and aversion, based on ignorance of the nature of phenomena, are the enemies, not the phenomena themselves.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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tomdzogchen27
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by tomdzogchen27 »

Grigoris wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 7:24 pm People made all sorts of offerings to the Buddha, including huge tracts of land. He never turned down an offering as that would mean the person making the offering would not benefit from the act of generosity. He didn't even turn down spoiled food.

Attachment and aversion, based on ignorance of the nature of phenomena, are the enemies, not the phenomena themselves.
Interesting! Does that mean that if someone would of given a poisonous thing to eat to the Buddha on purpose, he would of had to eat it? Even though his death would of left his sangha without the highest possible way of guidance?
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by tomdzogchen27 »

javier.espinoza.t wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 7:00 pm
it depends, renounciation is not the only method. Not all Lamas apply the renounciation methods, even if some of them do not make this disclaimer often enough.
Don't the yanas teachings build one on top of the other? From my understanding, renounciation towards worldy concerns is a basic must for practitioners. I mean, I sometimes feel confused when a teacher says that we will never find happiness if we focus on exterior wealth, but they are surrounded from early childhood by wealth, praise and fame. I am not saying this to disrespect them, I value so much the teachings I have received from Mingyur Rinpoche! But sometimes there are aspects of Tibetan Buddhism that remind me of the Catholic Church and that confuses me quite a bit.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:41 pm If the Buddha renounced his fortune in search of the true path to the deathless, what is the purpose of surrounding multiple Lamas with incredible wealth and commodities since they are very young? Doesn't that foment attachment?
Prince Siddhartha needed to do renounce wealth, and others (lamas and non-lamas) don’t need to renounce wealth. Prince Siddhartha also left the companionship of his family, but not everyone needs to do that.
Everybody’s path is going to be different because each person’s karmic demands are unique.

I suppose the question was meant to suggest some kind of inconsistency or perhaps hypocrisy, but I think it’s good to keep in mind that the type of attachment that may be difficult for one individual to overcome is not necessarily the attachment that another practitioner has any problems with.
I have a friend who is a lama In Sikkim, but who is quite famous throughout Asia although he stays out of the spotlight. He is supported by many wealthy patrons around the world, yet lives pretty much out of a suitcase, preferring a simple life, and uses whatever is not needed for a number of charitable purposes.
It’s true that higher-up lamas often control huge sums of money, monastic “empires” you might say. My understanding is that this is in fact a terrific burden, because while they have no interest in the wealth for themselves, they have to make sure that these huge fortunes are not squandered, stolen, misused or the cause for all sorts of innner-sangha politics, as those who manage the accounts and properties may themselves be far from “enlightened”. Wherever there is power and wealth there are power-plays, politics, and all manner of samsaric problems. Every teacher I have ever known would just as soon throw it all away and spend their remaining days in solitary retreat, but they can’t. They inherit monastic empires as recognized tulkus, or they are asked to take on various projects to benefit beings. I think it goes with the bodhisattva vow job description.


Yes, there are gurus who are in it for the game and fortune. They prey on the naive and are easily spotted by the experienced.
...
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by tomdzogchen27 »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:31 pm
Yes, there are gurus who are in it for the game and fortune. They prey on the naive and are easily spotted by the experienced.
...
I am not so sure they are easily spotted by the experienced. Sogyal Rinpoche was supported by many high lamas, including the Dalai Lama, for over 20 years and he was one of the most damaging people that I have ever read about in regards to Tibetan Buddhism.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

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tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:16 pmInteresting! Does that mean that if someone would of given a poisonous thing to eat to the Buddha on purpose, he would of had to eat it? Even though his death would of left his sangha without the highest possible way of guidance?
The Buddha died as a consequence of eating spoiled food. He knew he would die because of eating it and yet he still accepted it. Not only did he accept it, but on his death bed he stated that he considered it one of the greatest offerings he ever received.

Go figure...
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by javier.espinoza.t »

tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:24 pm
javier.espinoza.t wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 7:00 pm
it depends, renounciation is not the only method. Not all Lamas apply the renounciation methods, even if some of them do not make this disclaimer often enough.
Don't the yanas teachings build one on top of the other? From my understanding, renounciation towards worldy concerns is a basic must for practitioners. I mean, I sometimes feel confused when a teacher says that we will never find happiness if we focus on exterior wealth, but they are surrounded from early childhood by wealth, praise and fame. I am not saying this to disrespect them, I value so much the teachings I have received from Mingyur Rinpoche! But sometimes there are aspects of Tibetan Buddhism that remind me of the Catholic Church and that confuses me quite a bit.
yeah, some talk of misery of samsara with an abulted belly. However, if i may speak my mind, i think that a Master that is a monk has a chance to be as perfect as outwardly a renountiant, innerly a boddhisatva, and secretly a tantrist: this kind of guy have a general fit into what your parangon of a Lama is.

Most Lamasare very much concerned about generating income, that also annoyed me for a time, but i realized that the few that are important to me are, in general, pursuing reasonable and feasible dharma-related projects. And i don't give a frak about the rest.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:26 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:31 pm
Yes, there are gurus who are in it for the game and fortune. They prey on the naive and are easily spotted by the experienced.
...
I am not so sure they are easily spotted by the experienced. Sogyal Rinpoche was supported by many high lamas, including the Dalai Lama, for over 20 years and he was one of the most damaging people that I have ever read about in regards to Tibetan Buddhism.
He was damaging in terms of using his students sexually but he still had the personal knowledge and experience of a qualified teacher. I was referring to those who are not qualified to teach at all, but who are just total phonies.
This is not unlike a fully trained doctor who has been found abusing patients, compared with someone with no medical training at all, pushing quack medicine.
Not trying to excuse misbehavior. Merely clarifying a distinction.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

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tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:26 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:31 pm
Yes, there are gurus who are in it for the game and fortune. They prey on the naive and are easily spotted by the experienced.
...
I am not so sure they are easily spotted by the experienced. Sogyal Rinpoche was supported by many high lamas, including the Dalai Lama, for over 20 years and he was one of the most damaging people that I have ever read about in regards to Tibetan Buddhism.
He also was one of the most beneficial conecting many people with many realizes beings and creating conditions for a lot people to enter the teachings and even do intensive practice.

Personally i dont have a problem accepting both facts at the same time
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by tobes »

I think we have to be frank and say that this has been a very real problem that has thoroughly corrupted the Dharma in Tibet in so many ways.

However, it also highlights the great ones who are far removed from the 8 worldy concerns.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by Charlie123 »

tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:24 pm
javier.espinoza.t wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 7:00 pm
it depends, renounciation is not the only method. Not all Lamas apply the renounciation methods, even if some of them do not make this disclaimer often enough.
Don't the yanas teachings build one on top of the other? From my understanding, renounciation towards worldy concerns is a basic must for practitioners. I mean, I sometimes feel confused when a teacher says that we will never find happiness if we focus on exterior wealth, but they are surrounded from early childhood by wealth, praise and fame. I am not saying this to disrespect them, I value so much the teachings I have received from Mingyur Rinpoche! But sometimes there are aspects of Tibetan Buddhism that remind me of the Catholic Church and that confuses me quite a bit.
Not necessarily, each yana can also be practiced separately as a complete path in and of itself.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by Charlie123 »

tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:41 pm If the Buddha renounced his fortune in search of the true path to the deathless, what is the purpose of surrounding multiple Lamas with incredible wealth and commodities since they are very young? Doesn't that foment attachment?
Well the tulku system is largely a cultural thing. It's a sort of Tibetan power structure. It is not something that was intentionally designed to accomplish a specific purpose.

That being said, it is completely fine for a qualified guru to have lots of wealth. For the students, it is a great accumulation of merit. For the guru, there is no problem because they can enjoy their wealth without attachment.
Last edited by Charlie123 on Fri Apr 24, 2020 3:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by Charlie123 »

Tom, many of these questions you are raising were actually answered in the big Sogyal Rinpoche threads from the past couple of years. You should try checking there.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

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tobes wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 1:47 am I think we have to be frank and say that this has been a very real problem that has thoroughly corrupted the Dharma in Tibet in so many ways.

However, it also highlights the great ones who are far removed from the 8 worldy concerns.
This, precisely.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by tomdzogchen27 »

mandog wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 3:09 am Tom, many of these questions you are raising were actually answered in the big Sogyal Rinpoche threads from the past couple of years. You should try checking there.
Thank you all for your answers, it was very helpful. I will check out that thread 🙏🏻.
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by heart »

tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:41 pm If the Buddha renounced his fortune in search of the true path to the deathless, what is the purpose of surrounding multiple Lamas with incredible wealth and commodities since they are very young? Doesn't that foment attachment?
Actually it corresponds to the path of Tantra, in particular the highest Tantra. Not invented by Tibetans but imported from India. You can read about king Indrabhuti among the 84 mahasiddhas.

Wealth of course attract all kinds of problems, people who want a less problematic style of practice can also practice Tantra as a monk or nun. But I don't think you are a monk, right? So you should consider your own situation. If you have a job, money, a partner and kids and you needed to renounce all of that to practice Tantra then you wouldn't even be able to start. Personally I can't stop feeling so grateful for the path of Tantra that enables an ordinary man like me to enter in to enter and practice the most wonderful and profound teachings of Tantra.

/magnus
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Re: Tibetan Lamas and wealth

Post by Danny »

tomdzogchen27 wrote: Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:26 pm
I am not so sure they are easily spotted by the experienced. Sogyal Rinpoche was supported by many high lamas, including the Dalai Lama, for over 20 years and he was one of the most damaging people that I have ever read about in regards to Tibetan Buddhism.
There is a story about historical Buddha, where during the rain season there was a controversy about sangha staying in more than one place for longer than a few days, one monk had taken up residence in a lady's home who was know to be a woman of some social ill repute, i.e. a dancer and what's called these days a sex worker. There was a real concern from sangha that said monk could lose all his vows etc. I paraphrase a little here but the Buddha said was ok, why? Because he reportedly said that meant that the woman had a more powerful dharma than the Buddha, if that was the case perhaps he should stop what he was doing and go himself and stay with the woman since she had stronger dharma that could turn his sangha away from his dharma.

Of course that did not happen, but the meaning is around personal choice and individual responsibility.

Regards
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