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Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use

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Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Avi Craimer 3/14/14 3:51 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use tom moylan 3/14/14 4:18 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Sakari 3/16/14 2:21 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Change A. 3/16/14 3:00 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Avi Craimer 3/16/14 9:15 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Dream Walker 3/16/14 12:06 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Change A. 3/16/14 2:08 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Avi Craimer 3/16/14 3:31 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use . Jake . 3/16/14 6:10 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Shamadhi Sam 5/30/16 10:45 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Jehanne S Peacock 3/18/14 6:44 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Kim Katami 5/31/16 4:15 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Shamadhi Sam 5/31/16 7:51 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Kim Katami 5/31/16 8:20 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Shamadhi Sam 5/31/16 9:12 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use neko 5/31/16 9:17 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Kim Katami 5/31/16 10:14 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Change A. 6/14/16 1:44 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Dream Walker 6/16/16 12:55 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Kim Katami 6/16/16 4:10 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use neko 6/16/16 4:30 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Change A. 6/18/16 9:35 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use C P M 6/18/16 10:43 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Kim Katami 6/19/16 5:21 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use neko 5/31/16 4:52 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Jigme Sengye 5/31/16 6:05 PM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use tom moylan 6/1/16 6:15 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Pål 6/2/16 12:29 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use tom moylan 6/2/16 3:40 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Pål 6/3/16 12:39 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Jigme Sengye 6/1/16 9:43 AM
RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use Pål 6/2/16 12:12 AM
Hey,

I've been looking into information about Vajrayana practices of Deity Yoga. The last post led me to this site: http://dechenlingpress.org/ which has some very interesting looking material. Their store allows one to buy all kinds of "secret instructions" for various tantras. However, they specifically ask the people not purchase some of the books unless they have received official transmission from a tantric master. For example, the page for the book The Extremely Secret Dakini of Naropa says, "The material in this book is restricted. This book may be read only by those who have received a Highest Yoga Tantra empowerment."

I am less concerned about the superstitious aspect of the whole thing; the idea that somehow just reading the book could harm me if I don't have the okay from a lama. However, I am concerned about the ethics of taking sacred information through a means that is lacking in integrity. I don't want to feel as if I'm violating another spiritual tradition's practices. I'm not even planning to practice the specific tantras, but simply to read the instructions in order to get ideas for developing my own eclectic practice.

Also, I can't help but feel that the site is being a little cagey about the whole thing. If the writings were actually so secret, they would presumably not be making them available online for just whoever wanted to order them. Even putting "Extremely Secret" in the title has the air of a marketing pitch meant to generate interest. So I'm not sure how seriously to take the whole thing.

The other perspective is that for too long these traditions have been cloaked in secrecy. Daniel's book revealed many things about Theravada that are considered secrets in the traditional Buddhist world, and I believe it has done great good. Maybe it's time for Vajrayana to undergo a similar opening of the doors.

Any thoughts?

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
3/14/14 4:18 PM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Howdy Avi,
i like reading your thoughtful posts.

i have busied myself in the past with vajrayana practices. it was exactly the secret nature of it that eventually drove me towards the much more open style exibited here. it is diffficult to dissemble rationally all of the reasons for all of the secrecy in vajrayana. some is clearly political / factional and others based on real concerns for the welfare of the practitioners.

i always took the warnings about practicing (or even reading) some teachings without the proper prerequisite practices, blessings and ceremonies and teachers with a grain of salt. many are laden with threats like "eternitiy in the hell realms" if abused or insanity as the certain outcome of such unapproved practice.

as someone with vast experience with "the dark night" i think i can see well the downsides to practice. perhaps some of the more dire warnings come to fruition with the "deeper" diamond way practices but i doubt that.

more to your ethical question; i think its like a copyright. a warning which protects the current owner and not necessarily helping the tradition or the practitioner.

the site offering thi stuff: is it profiting from this distribution? if so, my opinion is that all moral or religious questions are dissolved with that fact alone.

just my thoughts

tom

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
3/16/14 2:21 AM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Hi Avi,

I agree with Tom's sentiment, as well as with your own last two paragraphs. If those selling such books really believed that terrible karma would result from unauthorized use, they would not be taking the suicidal risks involved in selling such books online.

If you had information (such as secret tantras) which you believed could reduce or even eliminate suffering, would you not want to spread this information far and wide? On what basis would you be offended if someone got access to this information without asking for your consent? These books aren't like nuclear launch codes: Seems to me that here the dangers of misuse, i.e. some people going crazy, are far outweighed by the potential benefits, i.e. far more people getting saner. While there certainly are benevolent motives for keeping secrets, one should not ignore the corruptions of power and the inertia of tradition (clinging), no matter how realized a being.

This coming from someone who is all too frequently second-guessing himself, but also from one with confidence in the spirit of science.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
3/16/14 3:00 AM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
I've had good results (up until now*) with deity visualization which wouldn't be possible with anything else. I never received transmission for this.

*Though I can see that it is a delicate balance and things can possibly go wrong. But I started on my own because I thought I had no other choice.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
3/16/14 9:15 AM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
I've had good results (up until now*) with deity visualization which wouldn't be possible with anything else. I never received transmission for this.


That's so good to hear. Which tantras do you use? How did you choose which tantras to use? Where did you get information about the practices? How specifically have they helped you?

As you can see I'm very curious about this : )

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
3/16/14 12:06 PM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Avi Craimer:
As you can see I'm very curious about this : )

Couple of thoughts about this...
Have you visited the "upper" realms in your shamanic practices? I'm sure you could find some spirits/deity that may wish to come into a relationship with you for the betterment of all. From my understanding these entities may teach you things. You may wish to ask your personal guides/helpers if this is to your benefit at this time before doing so.
Shinzen Young has some good perspective on deity practice...it was very interesting...it was the path that he took to enlightenment. I have no idea where I found it as it was years ago. maybe this The "Secret" of Archetypal Deity Yoga ~ Shinzen Young
Good luck,
~D

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
3/16/14 2:08 PM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Avi Craimer:
That's so good to hear. Which tantras do you use? How did you choose which tantras to use? Where did you get information about the practices? How specifically have they helped you?

As you can see I'm very curious about this : )


I gleaned the information about the visualization practices from the book "The Bliss of Inner Fire: Heart Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa by Lama Yeshe".

I tried many deities for visualization and after some time, I could see which one I need to use.

I think it is really important that you have some experience with renunciation, bodhichitta and emptiness before embarking on this journey because otherwise the ride can will get rough.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
3/16/14 3:31 PM as a reply to Change A..
Two replies in one.
***
Thanks Dreamwalker for the Shinzen Video, that was a great summary of the essence of these practices and it helps to stay focused on the basic concept of the practice and not get lost in all the complexity and dire warnings. I haven't found the place where Shinzen describes getting enlightened through Deity Yoga. If anybody knows where he talks about that, I'd love to see it. It was also encouraging to see that he recommends Western deities for Western practitioners. That makes sense since the whole thing is based on a resonance and psychological power to mobilize archetypes.

Regarding the upper world journey idea. I have gone on many journeys to seek guidance on this, and I've gotten some tremendous information. The main reason for interest in the Vajrayana deity yoga practices is to get ideas for taking these big mythical revelations and integrating them into a regular meditation practice. There's obviously lots of material in almost all the world's religions on deity worship, and some of it is very inspiring, but it's also very mixed up with dogma and not clearly related to a set of practical techniques. I always respect the technical soundness of the Buddhist approaches. Buddhism is like the BJJ of the spirit world.

***
Change A.:
I gleaned the information about the visualization practices from the book "The Bliss of Inner Fire: Heart Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa by Lama Yeshe".


Thanks Change A. for the reply. I'm definitely going to start with that book. I wouldn't mind learning to warm myself up either because I'm chronically cold emoticon

Change A.:
I think it is really important that you have some experience with renunciation, bodhichitta and emptiness before embarking on this journey because otherwise the ride can will get rough.


I do have a fair amount of experience with insight practices, and with rough rides. Thanks for the concern.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
3/16/14 6:10 PM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Hi Avi!

I encountered Namkhai Norbu's Vajrayana and Dzogchen teachings over a decade ago on retreat in NYC. He was extremely generous with giving out powerful teachings (his group has a reputation for creating a pretty rugged path for many because of this). We walked away from the retreat with explanations and pamphlets for dozens of practices including visualzation/mantra practices as well as breathing/energy practices. He was very clear and straightforward about the risks and rewards but there was really a sense of, you need to take responsibility for your own path (which is why he transmitted and explained so many practices, so you would have a ton of stuff in your toolbox). I tried to employ a particular energetic/breathing practice without honestly having the experiential basis in terms of insight into empty impermanence but rather tried to deploy the method in a forceful, egoic way, and it resulted in an energetic disturbance that *seemed* to lead to a chronic physical condition (I say seemed... the physical condition was real, diagnosed, and problematic-- still is, 15yrs later-- but although the connection to the energetic practice and my experiences with it seems very plausible and synchronistic of course I have no way of knowing that...).

Anyhow, long story short, this is all just to say even with all the formal transmission and solid explanations from an accomplished teacher it's certainly possible to harm oneself with some of these practices. And conversely I am convinced that with the appropriate insight into empty impermanence to start with, one may engage these practices safely, with or without the formal empowerments etc.

One cool thing about Norbu though, as I said he was incredibly generous with these teachings and his explanations and pamphlets were very helpful-- and I didn't ever get the impression that he was selling anything. It was a six day retreat in Manhattan which cost me about $200 including a room to sleep in. Another $40 later I had probably 20 pamphlets containing and explaining various practices which he also explained and transmitted over the course of the retreat. And unlike many other Vajrayana teachers there were no complex committments expected of us (in fact, really none at all)-- other than to use the practices as and when they felt useful.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
3/18/14 6:44 AM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Hi Avi!

I've been also worried about this same issue you mention here. Eventually I found Medicine Buddha practice which according to some sources I was reading at the time, does not require the empowerment/transmission. Problem solved!
I can also highly recommend a related book, Medicine Buddha Teachings by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. It is the most detailed, easily accessible and profound book I have found relating to deity visualization. I have also the inner fire book somebody recommended but I personally prefer the Medicine Buddha Teachings over all other material I've read on the subject. Maybe it's a matter of personal preference, but still I wanted to share this with you! emoticon

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
5/30/16 10:45 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Jake,

I really got a lot out of this thread and your post in particular. Lama Norbu's approach, as you describe it, is quite "enlightening" given the general climate of secrecy around Vajrayana. I am curious to know, what you think the difference would have been, had your received the pamphlets and went about your practice with them, without receiving the empowerment.

Put another way, part of this thread was about deconstructing samaya, I am curious about your thoughts (as well as others' thoughts) on deconstructing empowerment. Just as Jehanne recommended a book on Medicine Buddha sadhana, which does not require empowerment, there are other such sadhanas. For example, the book Vajrasattva Meditation by Yeshe Phuntsok.

I'm curious to hear about people's experiences and what they think can and can't be done with/without an empowerment. I would also be very interested in knowing, what, in retrospect, you feel you could have done differently (knowing what you know now) to avoid the physical injury.

Thanks,

-Sam

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
5/31/16 4:15 AM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Hi folks,

I've pushed the envelope on this two times, meaning ordered restricted books without getting the teachings, just to see 1. what would happen or 2. if anything would happen.

On the first occasion, nothing happened. It's a book on dzogchen trekcho (by Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Ground, Path and Fruition) that I still have and which you can find online in pdf now. I ordered the book several years ago and was keen to get to know what sort of "secrets" they have in that tradition. Turned out it wasn't that special, basic stuff really. Nowadays you can find the same instructions, without the traditional baggage, secrets or threats of he uninitiated going to hell realms, online with few clicks.

On the second occasion, things happened. The moment I got the book on secret dzogchen practices by Namkhai Norbu and started reading it, I was attacked by very aggressive and violent subtle entities. At first I couldn't figure out what was happening. I was under a very violent attack on three consecutive days, until I figured out that these entities were the dharma protectors (dharma palas) of this particular dzogchen tradition and rinpoche. These attacks were so violent that I couldn't see with my physical eyes properly and got bad headaches. My interpretation of what happened was that these beings, dharma palas went after me because they have been programmed to do so if anyone trespassed their territory. It was like being in the ring with a professional heavy weight boxer who is out to finish you and who doesn't stop until you're knocked out. It was very serious. When I figured what was going on I burned the book and instantly carried the ashes out. The attack stopped... which was great because I finally got to recuperate. It was like having to encage in mortal combat for three days, that serious. These "dharma protectors" had attacked me so hard that my vitality had gone very low.

Both times I made a prayer before ordering the books. I promised I'd not misuse or be disrespectful towards the teachings or the lineages or teachers concerned... which is contradictory to the fact that I ordered the books, of course, but other than that my intention was not to misuse the content in anyway.

The first book was a good read, a wonderful little book. I respect the teachings there but honestly there is nothing so special about them that it should be kept secret hidden in vaults from anyone, whether initiated or uninitiated. I find it only shameful on the part of the "lineage holders" that they keep on not really helping the humanity at large, at least in some aspects, as here concerning restricted materials.
The second book and the incident that came with it have raised a few notions in my mind. No deity or dharma protector does these sort of violent things unless they have been programmed or instructed to do so by the "lineage holders". Black magicians, those on the "dark side", do similar things, really trying to harm other people or other beings. I stepped on their territory, fair enough, but even if someone did that to me or the teachings I'm involved with, I'd never go after that person with knifes and guns, i.e. trying to harm him. In the teachings I'm involved with we also work with dharma protectors. After this incident I even asked my master to promise me that no one is ever harmed, even if someone tried to nose around what we do (which actually would be pointless because we are very open about everything and there's a lot of stuff online openly for everyne to read and try). Anyway, this incident lead me to question the motives and knowhow of some of the most respected gurus out there.

Just recently I had a chat about this "lineage holder secrecy vs. modern people online" topic with Lama Tony Duff. As he is not here discussing I will not say or quote what he said but I'll just say that he as a orthodox vajrayana lineage holder was of the opinion that as the teachings are openly given to anyone without discrimination, these teachings will eventually loose their juice, so to speak. He added that lineage holders have said to keep their teachings secret which I think is just 1. nonsense of the church fathers, that is, the power establishment and 2. "secret" is not to be taken literally here. He also gave a Longchenpa quote, where the old master said, "The tantra that clearly reveals the enlightened body, speech and mind secrets is Mahayogatantra. It is not to be shown to those engaged with the vehicles beneath it who have rational minds strongly clinging to conceived things, so it is secret." I asked other quotes from the mahasiddhas but this was the only one he gave... which is off the actual point.

Just recently I bought a copy of Yeshe Lama by Jigme Lingpa, translated by Keith Dowman. I saw it at Amazon and ordered it without thinking it at all. On my first reading I was both amused and disappointed to see the same religious farce there on the first few pages:

"Page of boundless restriction

The view presented in the following pages is unlimited, boundless and universal. It can only bring benefit to human beings - but some require protection. In order to optimize the benefit, please observe the following precepts.
For Vajrayana Dharma Practitioners: If you are committed, either formally or informally to a graduated Dzogchen path, please do not read this text without the recommendation of your mentor...
For Dzogchen Chatterers: Know that talking or writing about Dzogchen on the web to similarly intellectually and socially motivated people who attempt to know it intellectually rather than existentially, dilutes or corrupts it and acts as a slow poison.
For the Curious: If you find this text in book form it would be wise to wrap it up and place it in an inaccessible place above the evel of the head and remember it as the magical efflorescence of the heart. If you have it in digital form, delete it with a prayer: OM A HUNG.
Please do no reproduce this text in any way, distribute it or pass it on, and by doing so infringe the moral copyright."


While on the next page, quote from Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava can be found:

"At the end of the kaliyuga, Dzogchen will burgeon and flourish while the lower vehicles will wane."

As the people of theravadan pragmatic dharma have respect for the teachings of their original lineages, I also respect the orthodox Tibetan Buddhism, even though I am not formally involved with it. However, it is evident to me that there are "mushroom culture" factors here, where 1. people are kept in the dark (because of whatever lineage, power, money concerns) and 2. are fed shit (under the label of dharma).

Tantric buddhism and ati yoga/dzogchen, the fastest and most essential of all buddhist vehicles, has on many connections become mere religious hoax that wastes peoples time and merely keeps them in the hope of getting enlightened yet not knowing how and when exactly because their lamas 1. don't actually know or 2. won't tell them. Over the years I have received enough emails from people all over the world, who have devoted a lot of time, effort and money to their orthodox vajrayana practice, at some point figuring out that they are victims of  mushroom dharma, hoax of religious people. They've kept hearing the same stuff of emptiness and compassion for years without ever getting proper understandable explanations because their lamas simply don't know. I keep hearing the same story from many people from many vajrayana or dzogchen lineages. It breaks my heart everytime.

There are tantric practices that can be done without initiation and there are practices that require initiation from a teacher. However, I don't consider tantric techniques should be kept secret. Why really? If taken up they need to be properly learned from someone who knows what the practices are about but this also isn't the reason to keep the instructions secret. I am a tantric teacher myself so I'm saying this from first hand point of view.

I think that when ati yoga or dzogchen is said to be the pinnacle of all dharma systems, it is often thought of something that you will eventually get to when you first do 10-20-30 years of these, these and these practices, spend time in retreat for a number of months or years and so on... Some even say that ati yoga is not for most at all. This is all backwards. In actuality it is the other way around. You should first get to try ati yoga/open awareness properly, get the best possible introduction to it and then if needed, take up supplementary practices, whether sutra-type or tantra-type. Ati yoga is not about accumulation or preparation, it's just about being aware of knowing and living awareness. That's it. To say that this is the property or priviledge belonging to some initiated group, is a huge misunderstanding.

Sorry for such a long post.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
5/31/16 4:52 AM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Secret = copyrighted.

Legally, in most jurisdictions,  copyright wends some 50-70 years after the death of the author. Ethics is subjective, but personally I think that even that is much too long.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
5/31/16 7:51 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim,

Thanks for your reply, I appreciate the thoroughness. The part about your experience with Lama Norbu's Dzogchen book is fascinating, especially in that it gives teeth to the idea empowerment has real meaning and value outside of cultural and hierarchical concerns.

The moment I got the book on secret dzogchen practices by Namkhai Norbu and started reading it, I was attacked by very aggressive and violent subtle entities.

Norbu seems to be a generally well liked and well regarded lama. I am curious as to your theory, as to why he would publish a book on Dzogchen, if he knew how dangerous it was. Is it possible that a "high lama" does not know the risks involved or fully understand the safeguards that where placed on practices for which he is a lineage holder? Do you think he was taking a calculated risk in publishing the materials? That he thought that the potential benefits outweighed the fallout that might occur to you and others.

Is it possible that he was being downright irresponsible?

-Sam

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
5/31/16 8:20 AM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.
Shamadhi Sam:
Kim,

Thanks for your reply, I appreciate the thoroughness. The part about your experience with Lama Norbu's Dzogchen book is fascinating, especially in that it gives teeth to the idea empowerment has real meaning and value outside of cultural and hierarchical concerns.

The moment I got the book on secret dzogchen practices by Namkhai Norbu and started reading it, I was attacked by very aggressive and violent subtle entities.

Norbu seems to be a generally well liked and well regarded lama. I am curious as to your theory, as to why he would publish a book on Dzogchen, if he knew how dangerous it was. Is it possible that a "high lama" does not know the risks involved or fully understand the safeguards that where placed on practices for which he is a lineage holder? Do you think he was taking a calculated risk in publishing the materials? That he thought that the potential benefits outweighed the fallout that might occur to you and others.

Is it possible that he was being downright irresponsible?

-Sam

I think Norbu is a wonderful character and OK teacher, based on some videos and few webcasts. He is a very highly regarded lama by many of his students to the extent that it doesn't seem reasonable to me, on behalf of the students (go to DharmaWheel-forum to see their view of him).

I have emailed with Norbu a few times. Now that you asked this question whether he knows that such a thing can happen, I thought of emailing him, at least he could read it and become aware of it, if he isn't. I think it is possible that he doesn't know what his/their dharma protectors do out there. I'd assume other people have ordered the book as well, without initiation.

I don't think anyone with such exposure to teachings of compassion while being a lama would allow such violent activity. So my assumption is that Norbu simply is not aware of it.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
5/31/16 9:12 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim,

It seems absolutely mind-blowing that Lama Norbu would not be aware of the safeguards placed within his own lineage. Being a high profile lama and given the large distribution of his materials, I am guessing that the chances you are the only one to have had an adverse reaction are somewhat small. I am sure that the experience you went through was not pleasant at all and I can empathize with fallout from practice. Major fallout well and truly sucks!

That having been said, I wonder if there are other viable interpretations to the question of why you experienced that fallout. It would be very interesting to find out what Lama Norbu's thoughts are on the subject, if you do wind up reaching out to him by email. I would also be curioius to now if the sadhana that Jake belives caused his injury was the result of a practice he picked up at the Lama Norbu retreat and whether he recieved empowerment for that particular practice.

On another note, I'm also quite confused as to the concept of Dzogchen having "guardian deities" associated with it. With tantra, the idea of guardians makes sense to me. I know very little about Dzogchen (and Mahamudra for that matter), but what little I do know revolves around experiencing and abiding in rigpa.

From what little I've been able to gather in regards to these practices, they seem to be very direct practices involving the "ground of being". I'm having a hard time reconciling techniques for accessing the "ground of being", being guarded by hostile spirits. This my stem, in part, from the fact that my background with rigpa stems from Vedanta-based experiences. But given my limited background in Dzogchen, it seems as strange as if someone where to say to me, "be careful of this technique for accessing the 4th jhana, if done improperly, it may cause malevolent entities to attack".

I'd be very interested in learning more in regards to what about the nature of Dzogchen allows for such an "interface" with guardians.

-Sam

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
5/31/16 9:17 AM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.
Shamadhi Sam:

I wonder if there are other viable interpretations to the question of why you experienced that fallout. 

Nocebo effect and confirmation bias come to mind as definitive possibilities to test against.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
5/31/16 10:14 AM as a reply to Shamadhi Sam.
Shamadhi Sam:
Kim,

It seems absolutely mind-blowing that Lama Norbu would not be aware of the safeguards placed within his own lineage. Being a high profile lama and given the large distribution of his materials, I am guessing that the chances you are the only one to have had an adverse reaction are somewhat small. I am sure that the experience you went through was not pleasant at all and I can empathize with fallout from practice. Major fallout well and truly sucks!

That having been said, I wonder if there are other viable interpretations to the question of why you experienced that fallout. It would be very interesting to find out what Lama Norbu's thoughts are on the subject, if you do wind up reaching out to him by email. I would also be curioius to now if the sadhana that Jake belives caused his injury was the result of a practice he picked up at the Lama Norbu retreat and whether he recieved empowerment for that particular practice.

On another note, I'm also quite confused as to the concept of Dzogchen having "guardian deities" associated with it. With tantra, the idea of guardians makes sense to me. I know very little about Dzogchen (and Mahamudra for that matter), but what little I do know revolves around experiencing and abiding in rigpa.

From what little I've been able to gather in regards to these practices, they seem to be very direct practices involving the "ground of being". I'm having a hard time reconciling techniques for accessing the "ground of being", being guarded by hostile spirits. This my stem, in part, from the fact that my background with rigpa stems from Vedanta-based experiences. But given my limited background in Dzogchen, it seems as strange as if someone where to say to me, "be careful of this technique for accessing the 4th jhana, if done improperly, it may cause malevolent entities to attack".

I'd be very interested in learning more in regards to what about the nature of Dzogchen allows for such an "interface" with guardians.

-Sam
I don't think I'd ever get an answer should I tell/ask this from him. I didn't when I asked something similar, controversial, from him some time ago, don't remember what it was about anymore.

All I can say is that the attack started literally the moment I opened Norbu's book about yangti and ended the moment the book was burned up.

I've also been in a similar situation when considering and purposefully playing with the thought of ordering restricted materials by Mingyur Rinpoche (which don't seem to be available online anymore). When playing with the intention of making the order, I could feel I was included within the attention of the concerned dharma palas. After the mentioned bout I had no interest in going further. Fortunately Loch Kelly put his book and cd out which covers everything Mingyur teaches (sutra mahamudra), according to Loch himself. Again, simple stuff.

Info about dzogchen protectors can be found from the web. There are stories of malevolent entities being vowed to serve dharma by different yogis and masters. I'm not a specialist on the history of this but as far as I know, within the Tibetan tradition, there is only one dharma pala who according to the legend was not malevolent before turning to dharma. That's Simhamukha. All others have been naughty.

So what we have are beings who have caused harm to humans and others kinds of beings in various extent, probably enough to realise that living like that is a dead end. This has brought them to dharma and gurus who in turn have vowed them to serve dharma purposes. But these beings too accumulate negative karma and therefore, even though they serve dharma, they can be as deluded and unskillful as anyone else, just doing what they have been told, sometimes completely blindly it seems. But what's new? People also follow their gurus blindly and do whatever they tell them... Why this couldn't be the case with external dharma protectors? This is my understanding of these external dharma palas, also in regards to my case with them.

There are internal dharma palas as well, but that is a different topic. By external I mean beings who are external to your and mine mind. By internal I mean beings who are within our mind.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
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5/31/16 6:05 PM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
About Daniel revealing secrets of Theravada, I was under the impression that Theravada doesn't have any secrets. The stuff about the progress of insight and the powers is in the Visuddhimagga. What am I missing?

About practicing Vajrayana without empowerments and without even the briefest transmission or the most tenuous relationship with a lama, my question to those who do it is why bother? Getting the transmission from a lineage holder who is a reputable lama is extremely easy these days and potentially pretty cheap, considering how much time you're going to end up spending on the practice if you take it seriously. The instructions for every practice I've seen require that you get a teaching or transmission, even if the practice doesn't require an empowerment (most diety practices require an empowerment). There are lamas who travel to many major Western cities on a fairly regular basis. At most, it requires a few hours of travel to see one. I'm all for breaking useless rules, but in this case, I don't get it. Why not practice according to the instructions and get the practice from a teacher along with the empowerment when it's required?

As for secrecy, in my experience, the Tibetans will happily teach the core secret practices of their lineage and give the required empowerments if you do the prerequisites for that practice. Why is this seen as an obstacle?

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
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6/1/16 6:15 AM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Hi Jigme,
there are in fact a lot of western schools which discourage even questioning where one is on the path nevermind teaching specifically things like the progress of insight.  daniel ruffled a lot of feathers with the rational, practical and evidence based information in MCTB.

as to your points about secret teachings and empowerments, they are really valid points.

another VERY important point about these teachings is that the transmissions are really just that:  a direct lineage transmission from the realized teacher (guru) down to his student.  this is perhaps the most important reason why one should get actual transmissions and empowerments.

if one believes this to be unimportant then i repeat your question to them: why bother?  why not just buy a thanka , look at the pretty (unintelligible) pictures, read a meditation sadana and go for it? (tip: it wont work)

mahayana / vajrayana teachings RELY on this point.  guru yogas are an essential component of their bodhisattva model of enlightenment. making your teacher the central devotional object in ones visualization / mantra / emptiness practices is key.

in the past, i have had a personal problem with devotional practices which is probably more common in the west and is certainly an ego based prejudice.  i am an anti-authoritarian type which mixes poorly with the heirarchical necessities of guru yoga amoung other things.  seeing this flaw in myself has allowed me to approach vajrayana with a fresher and (hopefully) more productive mindset than i did the first time around.

cheers

tom

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
6/1/16 9:43 AM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Avi Craimer:


I am less concerned about the superstitious aspect of the whole thing; the idea that somehow just reading the book could harm me if I don't have the okay from a lama. However, I am concerned about the ethics of taking sacred information through a means that is lacking in integrity. I don't want to feel as if I'm violating another spiritual tradition's practices. I'm not even planning to practice the specific tantras, but simply to read the instructions in order to get ideas for developing my own eclectic practice.


The ethical problem is that those warnings are partly there to prevent exactly what you're planning on doing. Setting aside whether you're going to suffer any consequences or not, the tradition basically asks that you not invent a practice of your own based on their text. There are other systems where you can just come up with your own invented ritual, Western Chaos Magic being a good example. Vajrayana has warnings that the tradition will degenerate and die if people do that with it. Since there are practices that encourage adaptation and personalizing the practice, why do that to a practice that wants to avoid that at all costs? If it's due to the perceived authenticity of the Vajrayana tradition as a tradition, wouldn't it make sense to respect its wishes and either engage in it on its own terms or leave it alone?

If you are serious about adapting the practice, here's a challenge: describe that new practice and what your practice goals are to a reputable Tibetan lama and see what they say.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
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6/2/16 12:29 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
Are you into those western traditions? What you mention about them sounds familiar. Why do you think they discourage wondering about where one is on the ladders?

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
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6/2/16 12:12 AM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
I agree with this. Chaos Magic is awesome anyway though.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
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6/2/16 3:40 AM as a reply to Pål.
howdy Pai,
no, i am not into that mindset nor those "traditions" although i do understand their reasoning.  places as famous as the insight meditation society do not encourage talking about ones experience or focusing on where one is on the maps if they even acknowledge or speak of the maps.  they see this type of discussion as a fault and hinderance to progress.  there is also the possibility that it is a power game which is intended to keep acolytes in the dark and on the leash.

these conversations are also generally discouraged in the goenka tradition too, at least at the ten day courses in my experience.

i am here in large part due to the open nature of the discussion.  knowing the maps is liberating and empowering.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
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6/3/16 12:39 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
Ah, I thought you were talking about western esotericism. They have models but seem to discourage dharma diagnosis. 

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
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6/14/16 1:44 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Just wanted to let everybody who might have interest in secret practices know that I got the yangti book Kim is talking about without any harmful attacks of any kind. On the contrary, it's been useful to me.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
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6/16/16 12:55 AM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
Just wanted to let everybody who might have interest in secret practices know that I got the yangti book Kim is talking about without any harmful attacks of any kind. On the contrary, it's been useful to me.
Change A. are you -
  1. Advertising yourself as a teacher?
  2. Claiming special psychic powers?
  3. Teaching information without the permission of the lineage holders?
  4. Teaching information that might not be accurate?
  5. Making claims about yourself that might not be completely true?
  6. Name dropping to lend credibility to yourself?
Perhaps the dharma protectors have some kind of criteria of some sort - http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5765570#_19_message_5765570

~D

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
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6/16/16 4:10 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Perhaps the dharma protectors have some kind of criteria of some sort - http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5765570#_19_message_5765570

~D

Thanks for that list. I had seen it years ago, was fun to see it again. In reg. to the last posts, have nothing to comment.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
6/16/16 4:30 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Change A.:
Just wanted to let everybody who might have interest in secret practices know that I got the yangti book Kim is talking about without any harmful attacks of any kind. On the contrary, it's been useful to me.
Change A. are you -
  1. Advertising yourself as a teacher?
  2. Claiming special psychic powers?
  3. Teaching information without the permission of the lineage holders?
  4. Teaching information that might not be accurate?
  5. Making claims about yourself that might not be completely true?
  6. Name dropping to lend credibility to yourself?
Perhaps the dharma protectors have some kind of criteria of some sort - http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5765570#_19_message_5765570

~D


So I was travelling in Tanzania with a conservation biologist. In this village next to a natural reserve, the locals club chameleons to death on sight, believing them to be venomous. So this biologist let himself be bitten by a chameleon, to show that they are not dangerous. Guess what? He didn't drop dead --- chameleons have no fangs, so they'd have no way to administer this imaginary venom in the first place.

"Chameleons are venomous, but you have strong blood!", said the locals.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
6/18/16 9:35 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
1. No
2. No, because there are none whatsoever.
3. There was no teaching in my post at all. Even in the book, there isn't much.
4. Because there was no teaching, so there's no question of it being inaccurate.
5. I didn't get harmed one wee bit because of reading this book. But if anyone who doesn't know their own mind well enough, they might start to buy their own stories and start warning others.
6. Reason for me posting this after a long hiatus was that if somebody is interested, they may not stop because of the false information.

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
6/18/16 10:43 PM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
1. No
2. No, because there are none whatsoever.
3. There was no teaching in my post at all. Even in the book, there isn't much.
4. Because there was no teaching, so there's no question of it being inaccurate.
5. I didn't get harmed one wee bit because of reading this book. But if anyone who doesn't know their own mind well enough, they might start to buy their own stories and start warning others.
6. Reason for me posting this after a long hiatus was that if somebody is interested, they may not stop because of the false information.
I wasn't understanding Dream Walker's post at first, but I think I do now.  The key is in the last part of the post "Perhaps the dharma protectors have some kind of criteria of some sort".  In that you didn't meet the criteria where attack is required. (Or I may still be misunderstanding DW's intent).

RE: Ethics of adapting "secret" practices for one's own use
Answer
6/19/16 5:21 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Change A.:
Just wanted to let everybody who might have interest in secret practices know that I got the yangti book Kim is talking about without any harmful attacks of any kind. On the contrary, it's been useful to me.
Perhaps the dharma protectors have some kind of criteria of some sort - http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5765570#_19_message_5765570

Change A.:

5. I didn't get harmed one wee bit because of reading this book. But if anyone who doesn't know their own mind well enough, they might start to buy their own stories and start warning others.

C P M:
I wasn't understanding Dream Walker's post at first, but I think I do now.  The key is in the last part of the post "Perhaps the dharma protectors have some kind of criteria of some sort".  In that you didn't meet the criteria where attack is required. (Or I may still be misunderstanding DW's intent).

OK. It's been a while since I've made puzzles, and I might get the suggestion completely wrong (which is the downside of saying things  unclearly).

I have no idea whatsoever why these beings came after me while Change A. was affected none. All I know is that it all started, like I said, literally when I opened the book and stopped when I burned it, while meanwhile being bombarded with big guns, so to speak. Have any of you had similar experiences?

There was a connection with this book and obviously me. I've thought about different options why this could have happened like if were they dharma protectors of my own (which is not the case because they came from outside my body) or options like if they were just other malefic beings who came by coincidence timed together with the book (which is also not the case because the type of power these beings had was unique, no demons or black magicians I've met have such power). Could the cause of the attack be some negative karma between myself and this master or his lineage? I don't know. I have no negative thoughts about them and I respect Norbu's work, although I've never felt attracted to him or his teachings.

The possibility of me being a psychopath guru never crossed my mind, if that's the chain of thought above. I have no idea who or how experienced Dream Walker is and I tend not to take things that seriously by people I don't know but if this is what you meant, in between the lines, it would be nice if you could clarify. Like I said I have no idea at this point why I was affected and CA was not but to draw the line from here to the most serious of mental health issues is, well, pretty creative. And again, I might have gotten this completely wrong.

Now, in reg. to knowing one's own mind. That is a fair suggestion. I am not a buddha so there is the possibility of making mistakes. However, it should be known that these sort of attacks do happen. I've read about similar stories of demonic and black magician attacks from books of highly realised yogis, like Shakya Shri or Machig Labdron, for example, with the outcome of taming them. I've had many of such meetings and attacks along the years. I say "meetings" and attacks because demons don't always come to harm. Sometimes they come for help and guidance. I am saying this to make distinction between the attack of a dharma protector and a demon/malefic being. These are two different things, although as the stories tell most external dharma protectors are ex-demons who were converted and vowed to protect the dharma of some lineages. If one has no first hand experience of this, I suppose it is difficult to understand, or perhaps even see the relevance of all of this.