Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

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Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Camellia » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:55 am

I love the emphasis on compassion in Tibetan Buddhism. I love the variety of meditation techniques (there's a lot, even without going into the tantra side of things). I live about two hours away from a Tibetan dharma center, and the Rinpoche there is an excellent teacher, who explains things very clearly (I've never gotten to talk to him... he travels a lot and often does his dharma talks via video feed... but even over video feed, he's AMAZING)

But I am having a really hard time with the concept of reincarnation and tulkus. I'm not arrogant enough to say it's wrong or impossible (I certainly don't know everything!), but it's something I cannot believe.

Is there a place for someone who says "Whether or not he is someone's reincarnation doesn't matter, this Rinpoche is wise and I will learn from him what I can" to practice sutrayana-only, or is belief in reincarnation/tulkus and Vajrayana practice necessary for this path?
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:05 am

Camellia wrote:Is there a place for someone who says "Whether or not he is someone's reincarnation doesn't matter, this Rinpoche is wise and I will learn from him what I can"...
Of course it is possible to do this.
...to practice sutrayana-only...
Hmmmm... Well, if you have a Vajrayana teacher it is going to be difficult to practice only sutra with them. Not impossible, but difficult. Anyway, reincarnation is a key element of (Sutra and Sutta) Buddhism (too), so it's going to be difficult to avoid.
...or is belief in reincarnation/tulkus and Vajrayana practice necessary for this path?
Reincarnation does not necessarily have to include the Tulku system (a uniquely Tibetan Vajrayana approach). You can choose to be sceptical of reincarnation and the tulku system and still have great perceivable benefit (during this lifetime) from Buddhism.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Anders » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:53 am

Camellia wrote:Is there a place for someone who says "Whether or not he is someone's reincarnation doesn't matter, this Rinpoche is wise and I will learn from him what I can" to practice sutrayana-only, or is belief in reincarnation/tulkus and Vajrayana practice necessary for this path?


Buddhism is not about being in the club of right beliefs. It is fundamentally about offering a path of benefit and happiness to all who wish for it, without qualification or exception.

Part of this part is shaped by right view (right view here is defined as 'right' insofar as it leads to a deeper happiness), but views on rebirth is only a part of this matrix of views. You can still gain tremendous benefit from Buddhist practices without having embraced all aspects of right view (very few practitioners manage such a feat), so if you are one who wants to pursue this there is no reason you shouldn't.

Finally, Buddhism does not ask for blind faith. Belief is a part of Buddhism, but it is not unquestioning. Belief in Buddhism is held to be most skilful when it is a consequence of contemplation, investigation and support from personal experience. I think if you keep an open mind willing to consider how rebirth could be true, you should feel no compulsion to adopt belief in rebirth or bad about not finding the arguments for it compelling enough to accept.

Generally, it is considered that the more you practise and and come to understand the Buddha's teachings through personal experience, the more logical the other parts of the teaching also become, even if you do not yet have personal experience of it. It is this kind of belief through understanding that Buddhism encourages, even as it maintains that belief is only a pragmatic and temporary placeholder for the truth of personal experience and not to be accepted as actual truth.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby ngodrup » Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:59 pm

I would think that you couldn't be a skeptic as a permanent fixed position
in any branch of Buddhism. Your open mindedness would of course include,
and involve skepticism, but would also have to include that maybe my
skeptical paradigm is mistaken... So the door would be open to sincerely
believing. Seems faith is required either way, faith in one's reason as well
as faith in tradition. But, my sense is you'd need at least an equal measure
of both.
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:57 pm

"Don’t worry…

You’re all tulkus … incarnations of beings who have taken the bodhisattva vow to raise all sentient beings to the level of complete enlightenment…

Just because you don’t have an important title attached to your name doesn’t mean that you haven’t appeared in this life to fulfill your bodhisattva vow….

Historically, the term “Rinpoche” referred to a person who is born with a “wealth” or “precious inheritance” of knowledge, whereas nowadays, it often refers to a person born into a wealthy family….

Be grateful that you don’t have a title…and rest assured that you entered this life and have the opportunity to continue in the stream of Buddhist teachings as a result of the vows and practices you engaged in during previous lives."

-Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Heruka » Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:03 pm

anything or person outside the temple, is profane, however you can be made a sacer or sacred, worthy to enter the temple of the gods as such bound by vows and pledges, commitments......you can enter into the inner court chamber of the gods, to be judged and sacer ficed.

lol.

organized religion is a trip.

:rolling:

of course you can practice the sacred sutrayana without all the ritual magic.

good luck
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Jangchup Donden » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:32 pm

I think most westerners who start practical are skeptical of it (even if they don't think so). If you approach it with an open mind then IMO there's no problem. The point is to gain trust in the practice through personal experience, not just to reinforce your blind faith in it without any actual reason behind it.
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby dakini_boi » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:40 pm

Camellia wrote:Is there a place for someone who says "Whether or not he is someone's reincarnation doesn't matter, this Rinpoche is wise and I will learn from him what I can" to practice sutrayana-only, or is belief in reincarnation/tulkus and Vajrayana practice necessary for this path?



Yes, go for it. How wonderful that you want to learn and practice. :anjali:
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:46 am

Greetings,

Camellia wrote:But I am having a really hard time with the concept of reincarnation and tulkus.

How do you feel about the bodhisattva ideal then?

Maitri,
Retro. :)
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby PorkChop » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:58 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Camellia wrote:But I am having a really hard time with the concept of reincarnation and tulkus.

How do you feel about the bodhisattva ideal then?

Maitri,
Retro. :)


Wouldn't that only matter if she took bodhisattva vows?
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby ngodrup » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:29 am

PorkChop wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Camellia wrote:But I am having a really hard time with the concept of reincarnation and tulkus.

How do you feel about the bodhisattva ideal then?

Maitri,
Retro. :)


Wouldn't that only matter if she took bodhisattva vows?


No. Rather, it seems that "Bodhisattva" the specific expression of Bodhicitta
or the Bodhisattva ideal is predicated on the notion of rebirth.
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby PorkChop » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:52 am

ngodrup wrote:
PorkChop wrote:Wouldn't that only matter if she took bodhisattva vows?


No. Rather, it seems that "Bodhisattva" the specific expression of Bodhicitta
or the Bodhisattva ideal is predicated on the notion of rebirth.


I'm still kind of confused about that one.
How does that work with Tantra's selling point of Buddhahood in a single lifetime?
If that goal was reached, couldn't one still manifest bodhicitta and help benefit others in the current lifetime?
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby LastLegend » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:46 am

PorkChop wrote:
ngodrup wrote:
PorkChop wrote:Wouldn't that only matter if she took bodhisattva vows?


No. Rather, it seems that "Bodhisattva" the specific expression of Bodhicitta
or the Bodhisattva ideal is predicated on the notion of rebirth.


I'm still kind of confused about that one.
How does that work with Tantra's selling point of Buddhahood in a single lifetime?
If that goal was reached, couldn't one still manifest bodhicitta and help benefit others in the current lifetime?


I think within one life time or single life time means you will not longer take rebirth in samsara.
NAMO AMITABHA
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NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:18 am

PorkChop wrote:
ngodrup wrote:
PorkChop wrote:Wouldn't that only matter if she took bodhisattva vows?


No. Rather, it seems that "Bodhisattva" the specific expression of Bodhicitta
or the Bodhisattva ideal is predicated on the notion of rebirth.


I'm still kind of confused about that one.
How does that work with Tantra's selling point of Buddhahood in a single lifetime?
If that goal was reached, couldn't one still manifest bodhicitta and help benefit others in the current lifetime?


Bodhicitta is simply the wish to attain enlightenment so one can guide all others to complete enlightenment as well. Or, on the absolute level, it's the nature of oneself and all phenomena. Traditionally, though, according to the gradual sutra model, it takes many, many lifetimes to attain enlightenment. So being a bodhisattva in that context means a commitment that lasts over many lifetimes. But according to tantra, Dzogchen, and Mahamudra, there is the potential to take the vajra shortcut and attain enlightenment in one lifetime, in which case being a bodhisattva means practicing for a comparatively short time (if one keeps one's commitments). It's as simple as that.
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:36 am

Its sticky.the Buddha doesnt take rebirth in samsara but Manifests in samsara (Lotus sutra/Nirvana sutra)
Also from the perspective of the Lotus sutra the Buddha only teaches Bodhisattvas,so the vows are important.

As far as practicing Tantra to become Enlightened in one lifetime,If I honestly 100% seeked to become enlightened in this lifetime,I would renunciate everything in this world and take up the robes and bowl.and dedicate every single waking moment toward the goal.

So to the OP,if Tantra is the path to enlightenment in one lifetime.
the question to ask is ,are you trying to become enlightened in this lifetime?(of course we would ALL want to become enlightened today or in this lifetime,but truth to tell how much of our time here is spent trying to become Enlightened,and how much time is spent enjoying Samsara?)

personally me and many others only follow the sutrayana path,and many great teachers have also become Enlightened in one lifetime by solely following the Sutrayana path also.

may you have peace and love
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:45 am

My suggestion would be for now to just focus on the teachings that are benefitting you. Different lamas will have different opinions about whether one "must" practice tantra. In the Gelug tradition several of my teachers have said that while the practice of tantra is very effective and special, that for those with no affinity it is absolutely possible to rely on a sutric practice with the Lam Rim as the basis. The Gelug is the most "sutric" of the Tibetan schools, though.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:21 am

Son of Buddha wrote:Also from the perspective of the Lotus sutra the Buddha only teaches Bodhisattvas,so the vows are important.
I am not a Bodhisattva yet I receive Buddhist teachings so how does the Lotus Sutra deal with that then?
As far as practicing Tantra to become Enlightened in one lifetime,If I honestly 100% seeked to become enlightened in this lifetime,I would renunciate everything in this world and take up the robes and bowl.and dedicate every single waking moment toward the goal.
You don't need to be a monk and renounce everything to practice tantra, actually it is quite the opposite.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:36 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:Also from the perspective of the Lotus sutra the Buddha only teaches Bodhisattvas,so the vows are important.
I am not a Bodhisattva yet I receive Buddhist teachings so how does the Lotus Sutra deal with that then?


From the perspective of the Lotus sutra there are 3 vehicles(all buddhists fit in these vehicles)
But the Buddha only teaches Bodhisattvas(all students end up Bodhisattvas)

(SOB) As far as practicing Tantra to become Enlightened in one lifetime,If I honestly 100% seeked to become enlightened in this lifetime,I would renunciate everything in this world and take up the robes and bowl.and dedicate every single waking moment toward the goal.


(GREG)You don't need to be a monk and renounce everything to practice tantra, actually it is quite the opposite.
:namaste:

never said you did need to be a monk,im also not saying a person can sleep with his wife,watch the lakers games,and work a Samsaric job for 8 hrs while he only practices 1 hr a day,and still thinks he will reach that Enlightenment in one lifetime.
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:50 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:never said you did need to be a monk,im also not saying a person can sleep with his wife,watch the lakers games,and work a Samsaric job for 8 hrs while he only practices 1 hr a day,and still thinks he will reach that Enlightenment in one lifetime.
Masters of Mahamudra
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Can a respectful skeptic practice sutrayana-only?

Postby ngodrup » Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:03 pm

PorkChop wrote:
ngodrup wrote:
PorkChop wrote:Wouldn't that only matter if she took bodhisattva vows?


No. Rather, it seems that "Bodhisattva" the specific expression of Bodhicitta
or the Bodhisattva ideal is predicated on the notion of rebirth.


I'm still kind of confused about that one.
How does that work with Tantra's selling point of Buddhahood in a single lifetime?
If that goal was reached, couldn't one still manifest bodhicitta and help benefit others in the current lifetime?


"Tantra's selling point of Buddhahood in a single lifetime" is exemplified by Longhcenpa and Milarepa.
Saying it is possible, and doing it are rather different things. And although in the Sarma schools
Tantra is seen as a branch of the Mahayana, it is sen as a distinct vehicle(s) in the Nyingma.
If Sutra is hard to swallow, how will one practice Tantra? And practice it all one's life with the
sincerity and tenacity of those few who actually did accomplish Buddhahood in the single lifetime.
That also raises the question, are these examples really beginners on the path?
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