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Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?

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Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? D. 12/16/17 2:32 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Adam M 12/17/17 2:54 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Daniel - san 12/17/17 3:22 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Derek2 12/17/17 4:07 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? shargrol 12/17/17 5:52 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? D. 12/17/17 7:57 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Dream Walker 12/17/17 10:44 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Noah D 12/18/17 7:51 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? shargrol 12/18/17 10:51 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? svmonk 12/18/17 9:50 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? shargrol 12/18/17 6:19 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? JP 12/18/17 10:39 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? svmonk 12/17/17 9:49 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? D. 12/18/17 1:57 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Scott 12/19/17 4:19 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Stirling Campbell 12/19/17 5:16 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Scott 12/19/17 5:41 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Scott 12/21/17 10:38 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Daniel M. Ingram 12/21/17 2:55 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Dream Walker 12/22/17 4:22 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Daniel M. Ingram 12/23/17 5:00 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? An Eternal Now 12/24/17 12:56 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Daniel M. Ingram 12/25/17 11:35 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Change A. 12/26/17 7:46 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? D. 12/27/17 4:38 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Stirling Campbell 12/27/17 8:09 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Dream Walker 12/28/17 11:02 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? D. 12/20/17 8:56 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Stirling Campbell 12/20/17 11:22 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? D. 12/20/17 11:42 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Stirling Campbell 12/20/17 12:25 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Karl Eikrem 12/21/17 10:31 AM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? Scott 12/28/17 12:35 PM
RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada? D. 12/28/17 3:03 PM
Vajrayana Resources Scott 1/1/18 10:43 AM
I've been reading upon on tibetan practises like deity yoga/tummo/dzogchen/mahamudra/chod and they all seem pretty secretive and require the all-knowing guiding hand of a guru to even get anywhere. This is frustrating.

Other practises, that are alot more well known and inspired by the other buddhist lineages, like samatha/vipassana can be picked up by the average person and propel them to awakening without any need for handing yourself over to some shady tibetan charlatan.

Is there even a point to those practises, for the modern western person, when results can be gotten with other far more demystified practises?

The enlightened populace of the world is small, and the section of that population who are willing/can teach meditation is even smaller so if Vajrayana lineages are striving for a world where sentient beings are free of suffering then, surely withholding information about practises that lead to a state that is free of suffering is just selfish and anti-thetical to that goal?

I've always viewed Vajrayana stuff as more 'advanced' than theravadan practises, but it is really just seems like overcomplicated shit that isn't neccesarily faster than the other types of buddhism. (as seen by people who attain stream-entry and beyond with normal samatha/vipassana.)

I guess this is just a meandearing sectarian rant, but the hypocrisy of Vajrayana is astounding.

My beef isn't with the results or the actual tradition really, it's with the obsessive need for secrecy and esoteric initiations.

In my limitted knowledge of these things, I think the Vajra practices may well be quicker than others. Although they can cause people lasting harm. It is a shame to think of all the expertise in various traditions that is being lost as they die out shrouded in secrecy. But it's hard to imagine how these practices would ever have been discovered and contiued for so many years if it wasn't for the culture they were developed in.

But anyway, there are plenty of techniques that are now available to us now and so I'm very glad these traditions exist even if the secrecy can be frustrating.

There is a lot out there to learn about Vajrayana without having a guru.
Check out the book ‘Quintessential Dzogchen’. There’s many more.
I have the same view that these teachings are more advanced and I’m wary of gurus, I also believe they are protected for a reason. When combined with egoistic striving some of the energetic practices can be very dangerous. I believe the intention is to protect the possible corruption of the teachings, and when the student is ready, the teacher appears ✨

D.:
I've always viewed Vajrayana stuff as more 'advanced' than theravadan practises, but it is really just seems like overcomplicated shit that isn't neccesarily faster than the other types of buddhism. (as seen by people who attain stream-entry and beyond with normal samatha/vipassana.)

I guess this is just a meandearing sectarian rant, but the hypocrisy of Vajrayana is astounding.

My beef isn't with the results or the actual tradition really, it's with the obsessive need for secrecy and esoteric initiations.


There have been several books published by Westerners who got into this stuff and ended up severely disillusioned. Here are three:

Christine A. Chandler. Enthralled: The Guru Cult of Tibetan Buddhism.

Donald and Cheryl Lynne Rubbo. Exposing Deeds of Darkness: Becoming Non-Attached to That Which Teaches Non-Attachment.

June Campbell. Traveller in Space: Gender, Identity and Tibetan Buddhism.

D.:
require the all-knowing guiding hand of a guru to even get anywhere
The way I read your post, this clause above is really the heart of your arguement... but it really isn't true. You can make as much progress without a teacher in vajrayana as without a teacher in Theravada. In both cases, a good teacher will help progress, a bad teacher will hurt progress - which is a trite point, but you see what I mean?

And the teachings are now fairly easy to find, explained in normal modern language: unfetteredmind.org

Don't let traditions, whether Theravada or Vajrayana convince you that you can't make progress! 



In a perfect world, what do you want to learn and practice D?

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/17/17 7:57 PM as a reply to shargrol.
To shargrol:


I would ideally practice Samatha + Dzogchen in a perfect world, however the state of 'rigpa' is implied to only be able to be accessed by dharmic transmission from a guru.

I only really feel attraction to Dzogchen/Mahamudra stuff because I believe clear perception of reality in daily life will probably propel my practice all the way to stream-entry.

Hi D.

I can understand your position, but I think there are some teachers, especially Westerners, who don't go in for the initiations/entitlements and all the other cultural baggage. In my experience, the Tibetans have a much more refined language for talking about such topics as kundalini (or prana/lung as it is called by Tibetan pratitioners), meditative states and the relationship between mind and reality. For example, if you look at description of piti in the Vishudimagga, the classical Theravadan meditation text, it sounds like a piece of cake, but for me it was a mind and body wrenching three years. The Tibetans talk about unbalanced lung and have practices for balancing it (lujong for example, a kind of chi gong). Also, for all the misrepresentation and abuse of guru yoga, I've found in my practice that it is helpful to have someone to talk with who has some basic training in the meditative practices and has gone through some of them. W.r.t. Mahamudra, I feel the four realizations which are taught as the basis of Mahamudra sum up the experiential aspect of reality as taught by Nagrajuna from a philosophical or analytic/cognitive standpoint in the Kayrikas, which is the root text of the Mahayana (along with the Prajnaparamita, summed up in the Heart Sutra).

That said, because the emphasis in Tibetan practice is on a deep interpersonal relationship with a teacher, abuse is always possible, but as we are seeing with the #MeToo campaign, it seems abuse is more widespread in society than simply spiritual practice (which kind of surprised me).

So anyway, I would be careful to generalize from specific experiences to the entire tradition.

D.:
To shargrol:


I would ideally practice Samatha + Dzogchen in a perfect world, however the state of 'rigpa' is implied to only be able to be accessed by dharmic transmission from a guru.

I only really feel attraction to Dzogchen/Mahamudra stuff because I believe clear perception of reality in daily life will probably propel my practice all the way to stream-entry.
Here is my 2 cents from researching and mapping out things as best I can

1) Concentration
2) Insight practice
...a) 1st path
...b) 2nd path
...c) 2.5 Path
3) Mahamudra
...a) 3rd path
...b) 4th path
4) Dzogchen

Everyone wants to jump ahead into practices above their level, and there is always some "guru" who will let you....dont do it....follow an optimal path and the slow road is fastest.
Good Luck
~D

4) dzogchen

D.:
I would ideally practice Samatha + Dzogchen in a perfect world...

I only really feel attraction to Dzogchen/Mahamudra stuff because I believe clear perception of reality in daily life will probably propel my practice all the way to stream-entry.

I really empathize with that sentiment. I felt very much the same way a long time ago --- all the more complicated methods seemed to be another layer applied on top of experience. (I've modified that view over time, but I very much get your point.)

My overarching view right now is that almost all meditation methods will hit you at the level you _can_ work. So I'm much more inclined to recommend people follow their interest, do the work they can do with the practice that interests them, and then re-assess every few months. The point is to stay interested and stay practicing. This requires a level of honest however. If someone is merely reading about interesting practices and doesn't have a daily sit -- i.e., if they aren't practicing and just trying to intellectually figure out psychology, adult development, and awakening -- then "following their interests" is really just intellectual entertainment. It's fine, no big deal, but it probably won't lead anywhere...

So loosely speaking:

For Dzogchen... Do you understand the basic idea that mental objects self-liberate? That they are empty displays of mind? Can you simply sit and watch mind objects come and go? Can you mostly let yourself rest in experience? (You don't have to be perfect! emoticon )

For Samatha... Can you notice that when there are resistances to experience, when there is tension not resting, can you accept that they arise as part of habitual patterns? Can you trust that awareness of those patterns -- not applying some kind of antidote, but rather clearly seeing those patterns -- is what will ultimately release those patterns? And so, can you simply accept these flaws and imperfections and let them be disolved in awareness over time without resisting their arising? Can you remember to relax into experience, just as it is? (You don't have to be perfect! emoticon )

It seems like a good pattern of practice would be letting the two methods alternate -- "clear seeing" when you can, "noticing tension and then having the intention to not resist"  when you must.

If you can do this with consistency, it will feel like psychological "knots" and emotional "confusions" will start bubbling up and will untangle by themselves. This is a very serious yet playful practice -- not much to do, no roadmap to follow, just trusting that your inner wisdom and awareness is enough, that all it takes is time for the knots and confusions to bubble into consciousness and be seen as displays of mind and be self-liberated. Most knots and confusions don't let go the first time you see them, so don't get frustrated or think you are doing it wrong. Things take time.


Before starting this practice, you should definitely consider all the warnings about meditation. This isn't just playing around... it's serious work... which is probably why the idea of having a guru originally was advised. While it seems mostly like a cultural/power thing now, I'll bet it had it's origin in the truth that people should have some kind of person to check in with --- and this board doesn't count --- before doing serious work.


Take your time, find someone you mostly trust that you can check-in with, find a few meditation friends for moral support, have a plan for what you will do if things start going bad and you need professional help... and then start and keep a gentle and consistent daily practice.

Best wishes!

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/18/17 7:51 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
D.:
To shargrol:


I would ideally practice Samatha + Dzogchen in a perfect world, however the state of 'rigpa' is implied to only be able to be accessed by dharmic transmission from a guru.

I only really feel attraction to Dzogchen/Mahamudra stuff because I believe clear perception of reality in daily life will probably propel my practice all the way to stream-entry.
Here is my 2 cents from researching and mapping out things as best I can

1) Concentration
2) Insight practice
...a) 1st path
...b) 2nd path
...c) 2.5 Path
3) Mahamudra
...a) 3rd path
...b) 4th path
4) Dzogchen

Everyone wants to jump ahead into practices above their level, and there is always some "guru" who will let you....dont do it....follow an optimal path and the slow road is fastest.
Good Luck
~D

4) dzogchen

^ This.  +++++1

The main thing I would add is that in points 1 & 2, one may want to do "practices inspired by Mahamudra" or "practices inspired by Dzogchen."  However, it is extremely unlikely that someone is authentically capable of entering the states pointed to by these systems *before technical 2nd path*.  Most of the time, people are instead just getting into the raptures of deep a&p or the pervasive relaxation of mature eq nanas.  It is only after one has experienced all the nanas & jhanas in various permutations that they can begin to get a sense of the qualities of mind that are present *in every single nana, jhana & mind state that occurs within attention*.  This is the transition from attention to Awareness.  This 'A'wareness is not the same thing as the 'peripheral awareness' that TMI talks about & that people have access to before having completed several progresses of insight.

Also, to fill in more technical points, the reason to go with Mahamudra & not Dzogchen after technical 2nd path is because Mahamudra is much more systematized & Dzogchen is more vague.  In contrast, after Awareness is stabilized in most of waking reality, Dzogchen is one of the few systems that goes further & breaks down the remaining walls of duality: the barriers between waking reality, dream sleep, dreamless sleep & the death states.

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/18/17 10:39 AM as a reply to shargrol.
I'm going to second what Shargrol has said about Ken McLeod being a very good entry point to Vajrayana, and would actually recommend reading his book Wake Up to Your Life.  It's does a very good job of laying out how the goal of practice is to undermine our habitual reactive patterns of emotion and perception, as well as providing a clear and lucid explanation of various tantric visualizations and what functions they perform in getting to that goal.   I've been putting it into use in my practice since shortly before stream entry (with mainly the 5 Elements / 5 Dakinis visualizations).  

I also really get where you're coming from with the extreme frustration with the secrecy around Vajrayana.  I found MCTB and pragmatic dharma in the course of a very frustrated search for actual Vajrayana instructions that was prompted by David Chapman's post about how the Vajrayana "windhorse" technique is awesome but he can't tell us what it does.  And so finding clear explanations of the phenomonenology of different meditative states and stages along with clearly explained technique was definitely a breath of fresh air.  But I eventually found that the experience of learning all of that, going through a whole cycle of insight through stream entry into working on second path, and "getting" some perceptual shifts has made the publicly available material much more understandable in both its goals and methods. 

I'd say I'm still doing something more akin to Noah's "practices inspired by Vajrayana" rather than Vajrayana proper.  The practices and visualizations call for a level of concentration and attentional stability that I haven't fully developed yet, and so I can see why it might be normally viewed as something with a preliminary set of requirements.  But if you want to start working with your emotions or more do-nothing/awareness practice, then I'd recommend Ken McLeod, Reggie Ray's recordings, and potentially some of the Aro gTer books like Roaring Silence.

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/18/17 10:51 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
[quote=
]Here is my 2 cents from researching and mapping out things as best I can

1) Concentration
2) Insight practice
...a) 1st path
...b) 2nd path
...c) 2.5 Path
3) Mahamudra
...a) 3rd path
...b) 4th path
4) Dzogchen


btw, I also largely agree with this map, it's a good pointer.

Yeah, I guess it might be best to take it slow until I actually hit some sort of real attainment before attempting Vajrayana practises.

I've had a pretty nasty fever the past few days, and so I couldn't practise at all, which probably explains my impatience and anger in the opening post.

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/18/17 9:50 PM as a reply to shargrol.
+1 here too.

The attraction of (Tibetan) Vajrayana is that it offers a huge variety of methods, delivered in a rich artistic package. As David Chapman put it, it's the heavy metal dharma (or baroque dharma if you prefer).

The problem of Tibetan Vajrayana is that it comes with a rich cultural package, not all of which translates well to the current needs and customs of the diaspora Tibetan community, let alone that of Western practitioners. It's survived so far through a heroic effort to translate the corpus over from Tibetan into English, French and other languages, but the next phase is going to be translating the process underlying the transmissions into something that still functions outside of a traditional Tibetan monastic context. We also have to be careful that we're not simply doing an act of cultural appropriation, without paying proper respect and care to its source.

From a Pragmatic Dharma standpoint, a lot of the secrecy is about avoiding the "telephone effect": lineage chains which are short have less noise and error in them. This is important when you have techniques that require following precise instructions. The teachers one is likely to encounter are fairly open to teaching anyone who asks who is also willing and able to make the commitment to take that specific teaching seriously, and to practice it regularly. Likewise, with the guru question, some of it is a cultural thing, but some of it is that it is simply easier to learn or teach difficult subjects face to face, so one can adapt them in real time--this is true for math, so why shouldn't it be true of contemplative techniques--whether or not you believe that there's shakti or wang that passes from teacher to student.

These days, the Never Angry Black Letter Guru (printed matter) takes a lot of the weight, as does the student's Inner Guru. There are a number of accomplished teachers circulating who are willing and able to share whatever techniques one could wish, and the start of a set of techniques and commentaries that could do for (to?) Vajrayana that has been done for Theravada. The good news is that it's a work in progress. The bad news is that it's a work in progress.

If that work can be done, then there's a tremendous amount of potential for the Path of Transformation. Dzogchen and the other techniques D. mentions above do a lot of work on the "stuff" that Daniel mentions needing to integrate after each path, while still being straightforward enough that the superstructure is manageable. The Dhyani Buddha Family model and other systems allow for working from where you are, wherever that may be, and whatever your balance of psychological forces. 

This is where I started, working in Dzogchen - and despite my Zen affiliation still sit that way mostly. Had intermittent teacher/guru access, but some years-long relationships in there. Never had any of the fabled issues with secretive teaching or weird guru crap. Most of that these days is nonsense. Half the teachers are Westerners anyway. Choose your teachers wisely. 

Was always told to let go of any results, not be attached to outcomes, maps, or states of mind, but to report anything truly odd to the teacher. I knew when something odd happened quite clearly.

I agree with much of what is said above about the relative realization level of the Dzogchen teachings and results. I have a feeling that the quality/flavor of SE you get from these practices MIGHT be different from what happens with other practices.

Shargrol,

Loved your summary.emoticon

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/19/17 5:41 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Some resources for those interested in Dzogchen:
  • The recently translated Visions of the Great Perfection by Dudjom Rinpoche, translated by B. Alan Wallace have the whole kit of Dzogchen meditative techniques in them (Samatha, Vipassana, Trekcho, Togal). 
  • Heart Drops of Dharmakaya by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsin, with commentary by Yongdzin Lopon Tenzi Namdak, is the most frequently recommended of the Bon tradition texts, and is very transparent.
  • As It Is 1&2 Contain several Q&A sessions with Tulku Urgen Rinpoche, who was known as one of the most clear teachers of the tradition.

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/20/17 8:56 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
How did you encounter your teachers btw? I might be interested in Vajrayana later on, but I've only ever found thinly-veiled cults and mushroom-culture chucklefucks around where I live.

Especially here in the UK, the only 'authentic' dharma places I know of are from the Thai forest tradition, and even then those are only good for retreats and not for personalised teacher-student contact.

D.:
How did you encounter your teachers btw? I might be interested in Vajrayana later on, but I've only ever found thinly-veiled cults and mushroom-culture chucklefucks around where I live.

Especially here in the UK, the only 'authentic' dharma places I know of are from the Thai forest tradition, and even then those are only good for retreats and not for personalised teacher-student contact.

I have been fortunate to live on the West coast of the US for many years, and dharma centers of most flavors are available everywhere. The first teacher (a Ngakpa) I met was Dzogchen, so that's where I started, and the practice was perfect for me, once beyond the "preliminaries".

I hesitate to say it, but the teachers always found ME when I was ready. I lived in the UK for 6 years (near Salisbury) but would go up to London and go to Rigpa up there, but didn't have a specific teacher in that period.

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/20/17 11:42 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Interesting... I've also heard of the teacher finding you when you are sort of 'karmically ripe' before. 
 I guess I'll just continue practicing and see if I encounter anyone who might be worth learning from.

...there are a number right here. emoticon

This is a good question. 

Yeah, the way I see it, the tibetans have in many ways fucked up how Vajrayana is viewed and practiced around the world. What was once very simple practices, based on the simple universal principles of dharma, have over the centuries of patriarchical monasticism become complex and lenghty rituals with so much cultural baggage that it's hard to figure out exactly what's what. In that sense, and toghether with the whole secrecy thing, it seems that Theravada has more appeal to the rational western mind and thus the largest potential to contribute to "mass enlightenment" than Vajrayana. 

However, I would like to point out that there is one major problem when it comes to equating Vajrayana and Theravada, and that is that in general the two systems do not seem have the same goal. In Vajrayana the goal is to realize full buddhahood in this very lifetime, while the Theravadins, as far as I can tell, have settled for arhathood (a lesser attainment than buddhahood) as their goal (correct me if I am wrong), and seem to have no idea how to properly deal with with the territory that comes after that.   

The problem is that before arhathood one works primarily with gross objects of mind such as gross emotions, feelings and thoughts, all of which can be dealt with through basic vipassana, investigating objects in three-dimensional space. After arhathood, however, one enters the area of what Tibetans call "kun gzhi" (skt. alaya vijnana). Kun gzhi can be translated as something like substrate consciousness and produces states like stupor, gross bliss/euphoria, depression states etc. What all the states related to substrate consciousness have in common, is that they  do not behave as those objects of the previous levels, yet they still very much cloud the mind.

Because of this lack of solidity, lack of object-ness, and the fact that they can be a real bitch to notice for the practitioner, studying them through basic vipassana does not seem to be very effective. Therefore, in tantra, there are specialized wrathful meditation deities that help make substrate consciousness visible to the practitioner, as well as help clearing it out so that the truly non-dimensional space of the natural state can be recognized. 

So, in this sense it seems Theravada, in its present state, due to its lack of effective practices needed to cover the complete path to enlightenment, cannot contribute to mass enlightenment at all. 

Regarding the problems of old systems in general, my teacher, Kim Katami, wrote about thisa week or so ago: 
Started my Winter break by listening teachers from different buddhist traditions. A few things, all classics, caught my attention.

1. People are really skilled in making themselves believe they got everything right and going on well when in reality it might be all backwards and filled with holes. I got thinking this when seeing several zen teachers from different lineages talk convincingly about "just sitting" and "buddhanature" when, some of them with three or four decades of practice, are not even awakened. Some of the most famous zen teachers of the last century haven't been awake. But it doesn't work like that. No one can abide in buddhanature or just sit, without ever having at least a single big blow of an irreversible insight or as Hakuin and Ta Hui talked a whole bunch of major insights and many smaller ones. Bringing up this point has been done again and again for over thousand years by practitioners of the rinzai/linji-school of zen, as well as dzogchen-masters. When I see these people, so enthusiastic about the way they have become experts in, talk about their path in more or less the same phrases as all others from the same tradition, I can't help thinking how unfortunate they actually are in having the opportunity for a life long practice, health, basic safety and all that, and yet practicing according to mistaken instructions and guidance. Have seen this in vajrayana and dzogchen too. If that is not a disaster, I can't think what is.

2. Old traditions carry loads of things that they say is important and necessary which when you start thinking about it is just cultural, social or religious baggage. I often think of someone who reads his or her first buddhist book perhaps about Gautama the Prince who realised his true nature and became Shakyamuni Buddha. Then I think of this person coming across some buddhist "master" with "authority", perhaps coming to town every now and then. So this person who wants to become a buddha like Shakyamuni, goes to this teacher and tells his wish. The teacher then tells this person that yes, yes, in order to get there you have to do these practices, take these vows, not do this, not do that, learn these philosophies, study these books, bodhisattva this, preliminary that, and so on, and so on, and before you know it, the person has spent 5-10-20 years doing this stuff, forgot his initial motivation, is now glad in foreign clothes, speaking fluent phrases in Asian languages, has exercised all these things with sincerity and diligence and yet, in reality, is not much closer to his initial goal than years before when he first started... If one is fortunate, one day it dawns or better hits like thousand volts, that all this time and effort, mostly sheer waste... I was one of these people and have received emails from many who experienced the same, some with much longer commitment with orthodox traditions than I.

3. Trusting old traditions and their ways of doing and expressing things just because they are old and hence "authentic", is a mistake because very often those who continue the tradition are specialists on the ways of the tradition, but not their own mind. A few examples. Some time ago I saw a couple of Westerners, Tibetan buddhist lamas with 40+ years of history, practice what they said was "dzogchen". Observing these highly rewarded teachers was one of the most embarrassing moments of my whole dharma career as in both of their cases it was a mixture of forcing, getting distracted, trying too hard, going into mild trance states and in general, not at all knowing how to practice correctly. They could not understand the difference between gazing the air (shamatha without support) and dzogchen, nonmeditation which they really should being nyingma-teachers teaching a course of dzogchen. It was extremely awkward. Another example, a kagyu teacher, praised by the head lama of their sect, who had done 4½ years of meditation retreat and then taught in the West for 15 years, was literally like a restless 5 year old boy, sitting next to the head teacher for two days of teachings. I observed this "retreat master" constantly scratch his head, his ears, his stomach, his shoulder, finger this, finger that, yawn and yawn again, constantly drum his fingers restlessly and flounder whatever he could see around him. He was being bullied by subconscious restlessness the moment he sat down until the moment he stood up. How can this be? How can you defend any of this? I could go on with similar examples from all the possible "time tested" and "trust worthy" traditions.

Us people, we get tricked so easily, if not by others, then by ourselves. Want to find hustlers? Find people.

 

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/21/17 10:38 AM as a reply to Scott.
If you're interested in getting a Dzogchen transmission, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu gives them via webcast three times per year. The next one is coming up March 11th/12th.

DreamWalker’s simple map mirrors my own general views on the subject in terms of teachings that are likely to make more sense as one progresses along the path, except that, in the end, when seeking arahatship, I personally went back to the most basic, simple, fundamental Theravadan vipassana instructions: six sense doors, three characteristics, and found that this simple framework, practiced well and understood well, was as profound as any more elaborate or seemingly refined teachings.

Similarly, while there are elaborate and specific techniques of great interest that have been developed over the years to address various stages of the path, the notion, mentioned above, that the Theravada has no idea what to do past arahatship is not true, as the first two trainings are actually elaborate and deeply transformative if practiced thoroughily. I continue to notice profound teachings in the old Pali and related commentarial texts that I had totally missed the first (and often second and third...) time I read them regarding how to do the relative work of integration and maturation of the implications of awakening. Teachings about karma, rebirth, the Jataka birth stories, magic, the politics of the early Sangha, the Vinaya, the stories of the great disciples of the Buddha, the dealings with beings from other realms of existence: all of this and more, which is often overlooked as we read from our post-post-modern vantage point still wriggling out from under the thumb of scientific materialism, can contribute to a much deeper appreciation of the path and view, so I am noticing again and again.

The typical disparragement of arahatship as leading to some dull low-brow state or whatever is some of the worst Tibetan propaganda, clearly based on some long-ago dogma created by someone who didn’t know any arahats but wanted to promote their own tradition by means of toxic comparison. May this noxious habit vanish immediately from the planet and thus may all beings benefit from increased appreciation of the wisdom traditions.

I agree that nowadays much that was once secret is now available for download and on paper. Looking for profound teachings? I still find the exceedingly pithy book Clarifying the Natural State to be remarkable in its wisdom.

Anyway, great discussion.

Practice well!

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/22/17 4:22 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
DreamWalker’s simple map mirrors my own general views on the subject in terms of teachings that are likely to make more sense as one progresses along the path, except that, in the end, when seeking arahatship, I personally went back to the most basic, simple, fundamental Theravadan vipassana instructions: six sense doors, three characteristics, and found that this simple framework, practiced well and understood well, was as profound as any more elaborate or seemingly refined teachings.
I do not wish to put any words in Daniels mouth and this is strictly my understanding -
If I may be so bold as to deconstruct Daniels experience a bit for better or worse - I wish to clear up that what happened was not remedial in any way and indeed it was not actually vipassana in the strictest sense.

Within my understanding of "mahamudra inspired teachings" there is the final practice that seemingly gets one to 4th path.
I discuss it a bit here - https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5800908#_19_message_5800955
But let me add a bit to it from experiences I've had since this initial writing.
The six sense doors have "walls" between them. This I have seen very clearly just once in a preview that let me see attention moving from door to door with a bouncing motion....so within each door that category has been emptied but the walls between the doors keeps all the emptyness from merging into one continous field.
Clear goal - Remove the walls between sense doors

The three characteristics merge to become emptiness practice.
The speed at which you do this is NOT vipassana, that is too slow. This is done at the speed of awareness.

Recipe - notice the 6 senses as they arise at the speed of awareness. Notice that they are empty AS they arise. Keep up the speed and what happens is that you will start drilling thru the walls instead of hopping over them.


Results - The sense doors merge into one unified field.

This may seem highly metaphorical and indeed it is. If it is somehow useful to you then great! If not, find another clear goal, recipe, and predicted result that resonates better with you.
Good luck
~D

p.s If this practice does not get the complete result desired, there is one more cleanup of holdout processes that are standard that allows this practice to complete. So as always, your experiences may vary.

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/23/17 5:00 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker,

When I say that they are practiced well and understood well, by that I mean total comprehension, 100% of sensations, noticed exactly in perfect flawless detail throughout the entire field of sensations without exception and without failing to comprehend the nature of every single one of them from the first hint of their beginning to the last phase of their ending. That is the explicit end-point of vipassana, and, if actually achieved, which is a rarity, is transformative and revealing.

It is true that the "one sense door" frame works well for this, but, really, when going that fast and that completely, notions of sense doors break down, but they are still a good start as one attempts to power up to that level of pristine and comprehensive sensate perceiving perfection.

The notion that vipassana could be "slow" only refers to the beginning stages of beginner practice.

Vipassana at its best is as mentioned in the first part of this post, whose speed is as you mention, at that of manifesation in all of its intricate high-res glory. At that level, vipassana cannot be distinguished from the best of any of the other very direct approaches, including the aspects of Mahamudra and Dzogchen that involve taking on suchness as it is and doing this flawlessly and completely.

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/24/17 12:56 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Looking for profound teachings? I still find the exceedingly pithy book Clarifying the Natural State to be remarkable in its wisdom.
I like that book a lot and Mahamudra in general.

Another pithy Mahamudra book that's great:

https://www.amazon.com/The-Royal-Seal-Mahamudra-Realization/dp/1559394374

Excerpts:

...Similarly, regarding whatever is in the field of the tactile sense organ,
such things as fabrics that are soft or rough to the touch, this tactile
sensation itself is your own mind. Avoid slipping into grasping or rejecting.
Whether soft or rough, do not try to find the mind anywhere apart
from the softness or roughness itself, but rest at ease right there without
distraction. If a pleasant or an unpleasant feeling arises, recognize it
and rest mindfully.

Likewise all thoughts arising in the field of the mental sense organ—
right or wrong, good or bad, subtle or coarse—are also your own mind.
Avoid liking the right ones and spurning the wrong ones. No matter
what thought arises—good, bad, or neutral; subtle, tangible, or gross—
recognize its identity through awareness and sustain it naturally. If any
fixation arises, such as thinking of this and that in regard to thoughts
of right and wrong, that itself is a fixating thought. So identify that
grasping thought and rest on it at ease. In short, even when it is not the
case of good or bad thoughts but is one of stillness and movement, avoid
making choices. Do not taint with blocking or pursuing. If the mind is
still, relax on the identity of that stillness. When it is dispersed, let loose
in the identity of that dispersion. When still or when anything arises,
relax on that. Keep to the very identity of what occurs, and sustain its
continuity without clinging elsewhere to good or bad.

In fact, no matter what perception of good or bad arises in the six
sense fields—forms in the field of the eyes, sounds in the field of the
ears, smells in the field of the nose, tastes in the field of the tongue,
tactile sensations in the field of the body, or thoughts in the field of
the mind—don’t judge as good or bad, and don’t indulge in likes and
dislikes. Whatever appears, whatever arises, first identify it, then relax
and rest in that state, and finally let it be released by itself.

For us, who have been in beginningless samsara all our lives due to
very strong habits formed long ago, there is no way for thoughts of
passion and aggression not to arise; these thoughts will no doubt occur!
Determined not to slip into delusion, you must identify these thoughts
and let go directly on them. Rest in the state of knowing the nature of
the very thoughts of attachment and aversion. 

Lord Gotsangpa said:

"In general, the apparent myriad of phenomena is one’s own
mind. Since phenomena and emptiness have never been
abiding as two separate entities, there is no need to restrain
cognizance within."

Also:

"When there is an appearance of a form in the field of the eyes,
that appearance of form itself is one’s mind; the apparent
form and emptiness are not two. By resting gently right on
the form without grasping, subject and object become naturally
liberated. The same applies to sounds, smells, tastes,
textures, as well as mental occurrences: by resting on the
occurrence itself, it becomes self-liberated. That is to say,
instead of meditating on cognizance, by meditating without
grasping right on the outer objects of the six sense perceptions,
the six senses arise as meditation and enhancement
will ensue."

Siddha Orgyenpa said:

"Static or mobile things of the outer world that may be seen,
including any possible inanimate object—such as earth,
stones, mountains, rocks, houses, and estates—or the diversity
of beings, both high and low, in the three spheres of
existence—such as gods and asuras, and those in the three
miserable realms—no matter what is perceived, none of these
things has even a single hair of existence as an outer entity.
They are the natural luminosity arising from the radiance of
one’s own mind.

At the time of practicing this, proceed as follows. When
inanimate things such as earth, stones, mountains, or rocks
appear, don’t go into the fixation of perceiver-and-perceived
in relation to the inanimate object. No matter how it appears,
relax loosely right on it. Avoid tainting it with hopes for good
experiences and fear of bad ones. No matter what appears,
apply the central practice on that itself. Uninterrupted by any
other thought, in that state rest loosely and at ease. Resting
in this way, you do not need to block appearances, try to
accomplish emptiness, or search elsewhere for an antidote. A
vivid union of the inanimate object and awareness is what is
called “using phenomena as the path,” “merging phenomena
and mind into one,” and “seeing the essence of indivisibility.”
By doing so you are capturing the key point of practice.
If you don’t know how to relax right on phenomena in this
way, but instead indulge by means of thought activity in a lot
of corrections intended to improve the situation, phenomena
will not arise as meditation.

Also when seeing any of the six kinds of beings—high or
low, good or evil, happy or sad—whoever it is, practice as in
the case of an inanimate object. Recognize whoever appears,
and in a state of nonmeditation, barely undistracted, rest
loose right on it. By this, phenomena and mind are indivisible.
Do not regard present appearances in terms of fault or
virtue. Avoid fabricating or modifying. Do not taint with the
intention to reject or accomplish. Take them as the practice
exactly as they are."

The method of resting should not be limited just to what we have
seen. Using the six sense perceptions as the path should be carried
out all the time as the main practice. Otherwise, although you may
somehow maintain composure during formal meditation, later when
encountering outer desirable objects of form, sound, smell, taste, or
touch, you will respond with a total lack of determination, enjoy the
sense pleasures in an ordinary way, and slip into delusion. If you turn
the wheel of passion and aggression or hope and fear, the training we
discussed will not show up when needed. You would then be neglecting
the great objective, so the crucial point and main purpose would be
absent. Rather, during the main practice of meditative composure, and
especially at all times, you should learn to use all perceptions as they
are in their own nature.

To use the six sense perceptions as the path has many purposes. The
initial effect is that you will cease to slip under the influence of the six
senses thus giving them free rein, and phenomena will no longer negatively
affect your meditation; later, phenomena will arise as ornaments;
and finally, there will be no duality between phenomena and mind, and
you will have arrived at the expanse of the great pervasiveness of the
dharmakaya.

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/25/17 11:35 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
@AnEternalNow:

That’s great stuff! Like sweet gentle rain on a hot summers day. Thanks!

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/26/17 7:46 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Thanks AEN for mentioning the book. I've bought it.

RE: Does Vajrayana contribute 'less' to mass enlightenment vs Theravada?
Answer
12/27/17 4:38 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Might be a bit late, but as a highly realized practitioner: do you think you would need any sort of teacher contact to access stuff like 'rigpa' ?

D.:
Might be a bit late, but as a highly realized practitioner: do you think you would need any sort of teacher contact to access stuff like 'rigpa' ?

Dependent on your skill level. You need someone who knows how to verify that you are seeing it correctly.

Just found out there is an open, live webcast of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu's retreat with Ati Yoga (Dzogchen) practice this weekend at http://webcast.dzogchen.net/index.php?id=live-stream


Schedule can be found at the bottom of this page: https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=4052&sid=e7c12c83b1031d5ae7941e77267a805e&start=4760

D.:
Might be a bit late, but as a highly realized practitioner: do you think you would need any sort of teacher contact to access stuff like 'rigpa' ?
That is a dang fine question.
What is "stuff"
What is rigpa?
I no longer like using the word rigpa unless there has been a long discussion to make sure we are talking about the same thing and have the same understanding that we are talking about the same "level" of attainment.
So in this case, unless you have "it" then you need instruction on what "it" is.
Books seem to confuse people into thinking they have something before they really have it.
So... Could someone write it up in a western way that could make sense for something that is beyond cognative understanding?
Yes, I like to think so but has it been done well enough yet? I dont know.
~D

Scott:
Just found out there is an open, live webcast of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu's retreat with Ati Yoga (Dzogchen) practice this weekend at http://webcast.dzogchen.net/index.php?id=live-stream


Schedule can be found at the bottom of this page: https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=4052&sid=e7c12c83b1031d5ae7941e77267a805e&start=4760

Hm... thank you, this should be pretty interesting to watch.

Vajrayana Resources
Answer
1/1/18 10:43 AM as a reply to D..
You may also want to listen to some of B. Alan Wallace's Dzogchen retreats/classes. 

Start here: https://archive.org/details/IntroductionToDzogchenRetreatWithAlanWallace2012/

Then swing over to the Wisdom Publications site for his Dzogchen series, culminating in the restricted classes (you can fulfill the requirements by taking the two prereq courses first). These deal with Dudjom Lingpa's Visions of the Great Perfection, which Wallace translated. https://learn.wisdompubs.org/academy/courses/restricted-dzogchen-1/

Wallace's approach treats Samatha, Vipassana, and Mahamudra/ Dzogchen Trekcho and Togal as a complete meditation cycle. Lots of emphasis on mindfulness of breath, four close applications of mindfulness, and four immeasurables as foundational practices.