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realistic tibetan buddhism

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realistic tibetan buddhism
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1/6/09 5:40 PM
Author: ngakpakonchuknorbu
Forum: The Big Issues

I was wondering if anyone had ideas on a down to earth western practice of vajrayana buddhism. all traditions have there dogma and some out dated views ( like earth being flat, mount meru etc). the point of this conversation is to weed out unneeded baggage. of course it would be good to have this dialoge about any tradition but vajrayana being such a hybrid it is of particular need of attention. this tradition has a lot of culture mixed in and i would not want to take on any behaviors that might be anti world centric or even a hinderence to insight. For fellow tantric yogis out there, and any one who has an idea or two: what is your view on the benefiets or downfalls of ngondro(especialy guru yoga)? Yidam? The three levels of vows? etc. im not really concerened about dzogchen/mahamudra because its pretty down to earth and every tradition has something very similar. in one of ken wilbers books he speaks of all traditions being so subconciously embedded in culturaly views and inclinations that meditation becomes just the embeddedning and solidifying of beliefs. if anyone thinks this is a useful topic please feel free.

and if you feel like addressing your own tradition or practice please do.

RE: realistic tibetan buddhism
Answer
1/6/09 8:38 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I don´t know if this fits very well but I like tummo/ inner fire meditation. I have started a threat about this some days ago. I tried it and it´s very interesting. It is quite "scientific" and you don´t need to have a special belief in any deities. It also is the foundation of the six yogas of Naropa so special abilities can be derived from it.
I do not know too much about it myself but I thought I´d just post something.
Best wishes,
Martin

RE: realistic tibetan buddhism
Answer
1/8/09 1:43 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Good questions. Well, for me I think the first thing to do is to find a teacher that truly teaches enlightenment is possible in this lifetime. I know a lot of Tibetans will say that, but the way they treat students does not always reflect that nor does the community of westerners that surround him/her.

If you find someone like that, most likely their teaching of the vajrayana will be much more down to earth and direct. At this point in time, I say look for a "good enough" situation because Tibetan Buddhism is a lot further behind in creating a Western form than the Insight and Zen traditions (not that they're perfect).

As for me, I've studied with Namkhai Norbu and the way he teaches is on par with what I'm suggesting, and I find the practices direct. A lot of formality is either thrown out the window or simply recontextualized according to what really matters in practice, and as such, much of the culture and dogma is softened, sometimes removed. As for the practices, Vajrayana uses some interesting practices, as you might knowemoticon The whole body is engaged. Because of that, it might be easy to interpret a certain practice as being completely bizarre and cultural, but actually it would probably be just as strange in a Western form. That's just the style of practice.

Ngondro - well, this is a mixed bag. I think if it's done right, it's very powerful and helpful. If it's done in this idea of "I can't get enlightened", no good, I say. Also, it seems like certain versions of ngondro are more effective than others. Namkhai Norbu doesn't have students do them, but in his training model, you essentially do a version of that, but possibly a more effective way, though I can't firmly claim that.

RE: realistic tibetan buddhism
Answer
1/8/09 4:24 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I would like to hear some of the accomplished member's perspectives on similarities/differences between the path of a disciple and the path of a bodhisattva. For instance could Dan see a future for himself in the bodhisattva business, not in the long run as Dan, of course, but somehow? If not, when would it be best to sort this stuff out? Or is there, as some may argue, only one path within specific determinants and a lot of mushrooms to the left and right?

RE: realistic tibetan buddhism
Answer
1/9/09 9:04 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I like Ryan's reply, as it is practical and real-world based. I don't have that much experience with vajrayana as a living tradition here, so defer to those who do.

As to Triplethink's question on disciple vs bodhisattva, I don't tend to use distinctions like that, and have kept my own way of thinking about the path more straightforward: kindness, concentration, insight, developing those, assuming that awaking is a universal phenomena not a question of parallel or even non-parallel tracks, and that this is just more complexity and artificial conceptual dualities in the face of something is really very straightforward. I would love to hear Hokai's take on this, as these issues are more in his turf.

RE: realistic tibetan buddhism
Answer
1/10/09 2:59 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Wow, this is a tough one. What exactly we mean and how we word it greatly conditions our odds in this matter. Saying "realistic tibetan buddhism" is almost an oxymoron, since either realism or tibetan must go.:-) But "down to earth western practice of vajrayana buddhism" is something else. Now, again, down to earth is a tricky notion, but let''s pretend that it means doing away with everything unnecessary, and staying as close as possible to essential dogma, i.e. the core teachings and practices.

My root teacher is from Shingon tradition, and he has a clear policy on this matter: change that which is clearly out of context, establish clear links to foundational teachings (like e.g. Sutta-nipata), and let inspired/realized lineage holders innovate and even break established boundaries, like they have been doing century after century.

Discussion of any specific subject, like preliminary purification, deity, vow etc. depends on establishing such clear criteria, but once that's done, it's a fairly straightforward process.

RE: realistic tibetan buddhism
Answer
1/10/09 3:47 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Originally, there was the pratyekabuddha somewhere in there. I don't resonate with this logic, as it's essentially a sectarian thing, irrespective of its original historical genesis. There's also the interesting division between monastics (irrespective of vehicle), yogis (irrespective of lineage), and lay-practitioners.

Here at DhO, as in any mandala of awakening, these differences can be given due respect and put into proper perspective. What is re-affirmed as primary, however, is ground-path-fruition (to use vajrayana terms), and therein all models tend to fall into general alignment, while every one of them must shed exclusivity and sectarian bias. Of course, this in no way precludes that some models are richer and that some approaches bring more development to some areas, but we're not living in a static universe - everything alive is developing and changing as we go, and so do the traditions themselves. As this fourth turning which is Western Buddhism procedes, we will see the fall of many ancient walls dividing vehicles and lineages and methods and doctrines. What children come from these cohabitations and even mixed marriages is yet to be seen.

And coming back to the subject of this thread, I'm convinced that an updated view (embracing modern and postmodern developments), a pragmatic orientation, and realization-centered practice is not only possible for WESTERN Vajrayana, but the only meaningful way of staying true to tradition.