Mahamudra in the Modern World

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dharmagoat
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Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by dharmagoat » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:11 am

I have happened upon this interview with Dr. Reggie Ray at BuddhistGeeks: http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2013/03/bg ... ern-world/

Here is some background:
Dr. Reggie Ray is an author, teacher, and the Spiritual Director for the Dharma Ocean Community in Crestone, Colorado. He has forty years of study and intensive meditation practice within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Recently, Dr. Ray published an audio training series through Sounds True titled Mahamudra in the Modern World.

In this episode Dr. Reggie Ray and host Vincent Horn discuss the basics of the Mahamudra tradition and Reggie’s approach to teaching it. He shares his insight into how his personal practice has changed and deepened through teaching, and he answers questions such as: Is a personal relationship with a teacher necessary? And, how does one know when it’s time to start teaching?
I recommend everyone interested in Vajrayāna, and particularly Mahāmudrā, listen to (or read) this podcast in full, as Dr. Ray has many relevant things to say about the student-teacher relationship and Vajrayāna tradition in general.

I do not ask anyone to agree with what he says, but I do request that those here wishing to post criticism of his views have at least familiarised themselves with this interview and can offer an explanation as to why they disagree.

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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by dzogchungpa » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:03 am

:popcorn:
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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:42 am

I like Reginald Ray's books, i've gotten a lot out of them.. but I don't find it surprising he is a controversial figure to some.
I recommend everyone interested in Vajrayāna, and particularly Mahāmudrā, listen to (or read) this podcast in full, as Dr. Ray has many relevant things to say about the student-teacher relationship and Vajrayāna tradition in general.
It sounds like you have opinions about the Vajrayana tradition that you think this interview validates..whether it does, or whether you are reading your own biases into it based on a limited reading of Ray's work is another question.

Ironically, the central point I drew from this interview was that Vajrayana is impossible without a personal relationship with a teacher...even Vajrayana in an modernized/eclectic/whatever form.
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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by dharmagoat » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:49 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:I recommend everyone interested in Vajrayāna, and particularly Mahāmudrā, listen to (or read) this podcast in full, as Dr. Ray has many relevant things to say about the student-teacher relationship and Vajrayāna tradition in general.
It sounds like you have opinions about the Vajrayana tradition that you think this interview validates..whether it does, or whether you are reading your own biases into it is another question.
This may be the case, but is not expressed in the way that I have introduced this topic.

I am interested to hear what other people have to say. This has the potential to be a useful discussion.

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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:55 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:I recommend everyone interested in Vajrayāna, and particularly Mahāmudrā, listen to (or read) this podcast in full, as Dr. Ray has many relevant things to say about the student-teacher relationship and Vajrayāna tradition in general.
It sounds like you have opinions about the Vajrayana tradition that you think this interview validates..whether it does, or whether you are reading your own biases into it is another question.
This may be the case, but is not expressed in the way that I have introduced this topic.

I am interested to hear what other people have to say. This has the potential to be a useful discussion.
I think I can predict exactly where the discussion will go:

People who think aspects of Vajrayana shouldn't need teachers or empowerment, or is somehow full of too much "cultural baggage" will continue to think that.

People who think the above people are mistaken, and think there is no cultural baggage, will continue to think the above people are mistaken.

Someone will discuss Sutra vs. Tantra Mahamudra again.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Ultimately, everyone will only get real answers if they ask their teachers and develop real Dharma relationships..which again, is the real irony.
:cheers: :cheers:

I do think the thing Ray says about large groups of students is an actual issue i..mainly in terms of getting guidance when you need it. It seems to me though the "traditional" Vajrayana world is already handling that in some ways, and will continue to do so.
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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by smcj » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:00 am

I've only seen him speak once. The talk itself was neither insightful or inspiring. But then it was time for the Q&A, which with traditional lamas is when things can really go south. With him it was the opposite, he nailed it. People were asking various question, and some he answered straight. But with others he called people on the mindset with which they were asking the question. He seemed to be reading them like an open book. I've never seen anyone do that before except in private.

So I have a generally favorable feeling about him. I definitely like his books, very clear. If I'd had access to them when I was young I'd have avoided much confusion. But I will stop short of an endorsement. I don't know him well enough.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:04 am

Yeah, I got a ton out of Touching Enlightenment..at first I found the style really cloying, but eventually it became one of the most helpful modern Dharma books i've read.
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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by dharmagoat » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:09 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I think I can predict exactly where the discussion will go:

People who think aspects of Vajrayana shouldn't need teachers or empowerment, or is somehow full of too much "cultural baggage" will continue to think that.

People who think the above people are mistaken, and think there is no cultural baggage, will continue to think the above people are mistaken.

Someone will discuss Sutra vs. Tantra Mahamudra again.

Wash, rinse, repeat.
I have more confidence in Dharma Wheel posters than that.

Let's see if we can collectively escape that rut. I have started by introducing this topic as objectively as I can.

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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by smcj » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:09 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Yeah, I got a ton out of Touching Enlightenment..at first I found the style really cloying, but eventually it became one of the most helpful modern Dharma books i've read.
Haven't read that one. What's it about ?

I was thinking "Indestructible Truth" and "Secret of the Vajra World". The second one's title is deceptive, but other than that recommended reading.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:14 am

smcj wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:Yeah, I got a ton out of Touching Enlightenment..at first I found the style really cloying, but eventually it became one of the most helpful modern Dharma books i've read.
Haven't read that one. What's it about ?

I was thinking "Indestructible Truth" and "Secret of the Vajra World". The second one's title is deceptive, but other than that recommended reading.

Its on meditation..mostly with a somatic bent. I think it was the first thing he wrote after he was mistakenly diagnosed with cancer, and thought he was going to die etc. and starting teaching meditation. So it has a much different flavor..it almost reminded me of reading a slightly more new-agey sounding Trungpa at first. Like I said the style didn't sit with me at first, and I imagine that for some people it would be "beginner" stuff..but it pointed out some real issues in practice to me and re framed sitting in a beneficial way.

Part of his contention is that many westerners are intuitively trying to do "thinking meditation", and kind of block out somatic experience, which messes things up..that's a very brief idea of what the book is about.
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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by smcj » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:17 am

He is devoted to Trungpa but seems to have distanced himself from Trungpa's organization, and well as the Karma Kagyupas in general. Time will tell if that is a good thing or not.
Part of his contention is that many westerners are intuitively trying to do "thinking meditation", and kind of block out somatic experience, which messes things up..that's a very brief idea of what the book is about.
Lol, guilty as charged. But I'm working on it.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:21 am

smcj wrote:He is devoted to Trungpa but seems to have distanced himself from Trungpa's organization, and well as the Karma Kagyupas in general. Time will tell if that is a good thing or not.

Yeah, that's why I said I can see how he's controversial...I like some of what he teaches, but it is quite a departure from traditional practice it seems like.
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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by smcj » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:56 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
smcj wrote:He is devoted to Trungpa but seems to have distanced himself from Trungpa's organization, and well as the Karma Kagyupas in general. Time will tell if that is a good thing or not.

Yeah, that's why I said I can see how he's controversial...I like some of what he teaches, but it is quite a departure from traditional practice it seems like.
Seems pretty traditional to me at the core. Not on the organizational level though. That itself would be a source of disapproval in many quarters, the 8 worldly dharmas and such. He's definitely on my "wait and see" list.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:02 am

smcj wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
smcj wrote:He is devoted to Trungpa but seems to have distanced himself from Trungpa's organization, and well as the Karma Kagyupas in general. Time will tell if that is a good thing or not.

Yeah, that's why I said I can see how he's controversial...I like some of what he teaches, but it is quite a departure from traditional practice it seems like.
Seems pretty traditional to me at the core. Not on the organizational level though. That itself would be a source of disapproval in many quarters, the 8 worldly dharmas and such. He's definitely on my "wait and see" list.

I think i'm on the same page.
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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:42 am

I read a lot of his book on Tibetan Buddhism whilst doing Buddhist Studies. I delved into his website last year and was very impressed with the content and approach. The only thing putting me off is that his organisation is in the US - long way from here, even regardless of global communications. But everything I've seen about his work, I like.
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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by dzogchungpa » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:30 pm

From the interview:
They don’t need to know 8th century Abhidharma from India. They don’t need to spend three years studying that. In fact it would be, in my opinion, a complete waste of time.
:jawdrop:
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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by DesertDweller » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:51 pm

Well, that's an interesting point. Why do you think he might feel that way?

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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by dzogchungpa » Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:19 pm

DesertDweller wrote:Well, that's an interesting point. Why do you think he might feel that way?
I don't know, maybe Malcolm can explain it to us. :smile:
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by Malcolm » Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:37 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
DesertDweller wrote:Well, that's an interesting point. Why do you think he might feel that way?
I don't know, maybe Malcolm can explain it to us. :smile:
He probably means it is not necessary to become an expert on scholastic arguments in the Kośa.
Buddhahood in This Life
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[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

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Re: Mahamudra in the Modern World

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:37 pm

Doesn't seem odd to me, it seems to be accepted that people don't need to be scholars to attain realization.

However, what he didn't say is that people don't need a Dharma education, and i'm guessing he wouldn't. It seems to be a criticism of how education in Dharma is approach by some traditionalists, and again, not really controversial as a statement..there are already Tibetan teachers and have been for a while (Duh, his own teacher was one) that have taught Dharma in a somewhat innovative way.
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