Stuck in practice...

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qwerty13
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Stuck in practice...

Post by qwerty13 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:10 pm

Before I get to the problem I give you a little bit backround: I have been practicing Tibetan buddhism under one year by learning only from books and internet. I have not even been in a formal refuge ceremonoy yet.

Probably many of you remember this topic ----> http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=14135 Its about recordedempowermet ceremonys led by Garchen Rinpoche. 13 deities + Vajrakilaya. Before I found these videos, I had been practicing for few months, by doing simple avalokitehsvara sadhana. I didn’t know anything about initiations and so on, but suddenly there is a chance to take one through a recorded video. Well I ended up taking first Amitabha, later Vajrakilaya and green tara and avalokiteshvara .But I did not end up doing Vajrakilaya. I just focused on mostly on Amitabha.
I did the sadhana practice for months and recited the mantra a lot (quite often 10 malas a day), but I started to think that I probably did not received the empowerment correctly (one reason was probably that I did not visualize Garchen rinpoche as the deity in the video, and i did not visualize myself as deity. But I was beginner, and still am). This goes to Vajrakilaya too. The Amitabha practice was not useless, but considering the time it took to go thorugh sadhana and benefit i felt I gained did not really mach. Many times during the mantra recitation I was wondering, what does this mantra acomplish, really? And even though I tried to cultivate bodhichitta, the deity was not any closer to me.
I also found Guru Yoga of Lama Tsongkhapa from Tsem Tulku rinpoches website. That practice requires no empowerments or certain commitments, just start doing it. Over the months, I became very devoted to Lama Tsongkhapa, and felt great benefit from doing his guru yoga. This guru yoga also includes phowa practice to Tushita. I started doing that practice and felt that it not only works, but is great source of inspiration. My bohichitta became stronger everytime I did the phowa visualization. When I started doing Tsongkhapa, i did not feel that I have to try so much, things began to flow naturally and practice was in general much better. Naturally I felt very drawn to Gelug school. At one point I decided that I did not need to do any other pratices than guru yoga, lam rim and purification practices together with mandala offerings.I got feeling that I should get empowerments properly in person and under guidance, not just haphazardly from internet. And definetly from Gelug.

But, there was these empwerments that i already tried taking from Garchen. I studied more about these subjects and it was only now when I really understood seriousness of empowerments and for example tantric vows. Before Garchen`s empowerments, I knew nothing about guru-disciple realtionship and severity of tantric vows.. I did not even know that I have to view Garchen as a Guru, if I take empowerments from him. When I took empowerments, I just thought him as someone how gives empowerments and that`s it, i dont need to think my relationship to him any further. So I did not regard Garchen as Guru. Also,I did not know how serious samaya is.. And then, finally I found the famous snake in the bamboo tube - allegory :shock: .
The guy from youtube how "advertised" these empowerments did not speak about these things at all, I got impression from him that just try taking some of these, practice while, you don`t need to worry too much about samaya, vows.. and if you dont like it, just drop it then...

Obviously i felt misinformed. Plus really, really freaked out. I felt no connection with Garchen rinpoche and above all, the deity practices where not effectice. This lead me to conclude that mayby the empowement was not really received. But, I tried taking empowerment from him thorugh the recording. So I probably have connection to him as disciple. But I feel no devotion or connection to him or Drikung Kagyu.

I emailed to Garchen intitute and first asked can one receive empowerment from Garchen`s recordings and they said yes. I also explained that I did not feel that the empowerment was properly received and that I should probably take empowerment in person in the future. Not even from drikung lama. And their response was that it is better to do what i feel right. Though they did not consult their centers lamas for this piece of advice…

Well.. For the last few weeks I have not been able to do any spiritual practice.. I am just anxiously wondering, wheter I have already slided in to that famous Vajrayna tube where one point is up towards enlightenment and the other is down towards Vajrahell. Right now, i honestly would be happy to practice sutra-level mahamudra, Tsongkhapa`s guru yoga and lam rim for the rest of my life. And forget about deities. This whole tantra thing has started to freak me out. At the same time I fear that I have some bond to Garchen and I break it if I do what I want to do. And breaking connection to guru again sends you to Vajrahell.

So in short: I am unable to go to direction I would like to go (more sutric oriented path, and drop the deity self generation away) because I fear there will be some karmic backlash from those empowerments. Is this possible even?

(Or. Maybe Vajrahell is just scare tactic in order to keep disciples on their toes so that they accumulate more virtue. I dunno)

I hope my message is not too confusing.

PS: I learned valuable lessons though:
1. Don’t run from one empowerment to another. If there is empowerment available and you are excited about it… better to stay away.

2. There is nothing wrong with following just sutra path. People are just attracted to tantra because it is more exotic.

3. Tantra should be more restricted. No public empowerments.Period.
Who should we turn to for refuge? We should seek refuge in the Buddha. He is the one we weep before
-H.H. 14th Dalai Lama

Andrew108
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Andrew108 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:21 pm

Don't worry. You haven't done anything wrong. Nothing bad will happen. Certainly no Vajra hell. Just take your time. Study some more. Find a teacher who is really knowledgeable. Meet face-to-face. If you are drawn to Gelug then contact Ven Khedrup who posts here occasionally. Ask for his advice.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.

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Grigoris
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Grigoris » Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:36 pm

In all of the empowerments that I have taken from Garchen Rinpoche (by internet, some live, some recorded) he explains what an empowerment is. He also explains that keeping the samaya of one empowerment is the same as keeping the samaya of all empowerments, since the essence of every deity is the same: bodhicitta.

Garchen Rinpoche also stresses that the main samaya is to keep a mind full of love and compassion. If you cannot do this, you are probably going to a lower realm anyway.

As for what, and under which conditions, one should take an empowerment, well, the onus of responsibility is with you too. When you go into a shop do you buy every product that the owner offers you? Obviously not!

If you feel that you did not receive the empowerment properly then take it again.

And what is this talk about benefit? What did you expect to happen? Hey Amitabha, I did 10 mala of mantra, where is my prize?

If you feel a greater connection with the Gelug lineage then go with that. No problem. Avalokitesvara is not going to come down and rip your head off for not doing his mantra, is he?

As for what should be restricted and what should not be restricted, I think that Garchen Rinpoche knows better then us. I, for one, am grateful that he provides us the opportunity to come into contact with such profound teachings, teachings that I believe I would not have had the opportunity to receive (given my location). Anyway, it was your karma brought you into contact with the teachings so you have nobody to "blame" but yourself! :smile: Garchen Rinpoche suffers immensely to bring us these teachings, if you are going to suffer any karmic backlash it will be from feeling ill-will towards him and the teachings.

If the tantric path is not for you then nobody is forcing you to follow it. Any "karmic backlash" will be from your negative mindset. ;)
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

ngodrup
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by ngodrup » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:40 am

The deities do not punish. They do not get jealous.

It is superstition to think that connecting
with compassion and wisdom can be harmful.

There are rules. They are like getting married--
it works best if you both-- lama and student keep
their promises. But you cannot be expected to keep
promises you didn't make. Mainly, you have to have
sincere intention, because the lama definitely does.
It is entirely common, not at all unusual to receive
an empowerment as a blessing. The best thing in
that case is to maintain one practice such as
Vajrasattva. Garchen Rinpoche, himself, supports
that approach. (Just do something-- tara, chenresig,
vajrasattva...)

If you like the Gelug approach, then do consider this fact...
much of Lama Tsongkhapas teaching is sourced from the
Drikung Kagyu tradition, as well as Sakyapa and Nyingma.
So you cannot exclude yourself from these.

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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by smcj » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:48 am

Garchen R. was just here in L.A., and I took the initiation he gave. Technically that makes him one of my gurus. Even so I have no plans on pursuing a relationship with him. If I never see him again, that's fine. As long as I have respect for him and the empowerment, that's sufficient to fulfill any samaya.

Lamas give initiations to large crowds of people all the time. They don't demand that anyone become an acolyte.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

emaho
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by emaho » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:43 am

There's nothing wrong with having multiple teachers and receiving a multitude of empowerments from them.

On the contrary, if somebody should try to tell you that as his disciple you mustn't receive teachings or empowerments from other teachers, I would be highly suspicious of that guy.
"I struggled with some demons, They were middle class and tame..." L. Cohen

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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Reibeam » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:21 pm

Dear qwerty13,

After reading this post and some of your others I thought Although I know extremely little. I should respond as I think I can relate some with your situation.

I think it is very easy for enthusiasm to turn into fear.....fear of whether you are doing something right or doing enough or are you following the right teacher, coupled with being a westerner embarking on a journey in a strange land, driving a foreign vehicle on a road fraught with obstacles , while slowly learning that the vehicle, the road, and the scenery are mirrored reflection of your own mind. Its all very difficult, and today's realization can become tomorrow's obscuration if you concertize it too much.

Some similar stuff happened to me too, Interestingly like you I have been engaged seriously with Tibetan Buddhism for a little over a year. After doing basic breath meditation and taking a basics of Buddhism class focused on Sutra and foundational Mahayana my enthusiasm exceeded my understanding and I went to and attended a major empowerment for Yamantaka not having any idea of what I was getting into.

I only did the practice a few times afterwards, because I had read about the commitments involved and relationships that are formed when someone takes on these sorts of practices and I thought "I have to find a qualified teacher and quick......and how am i going to do that in Kansas?"

I had also practiced some sadhanas of peaceful deities like Vajrasattva ( I felt like purification would clear the path to finding a teacher) That came with all sorts of interesting experiences or "Realizations" which of course increases one's enthusiasm for the magical possibilities and liberating qualities of deity meditation. But as you have more and more of these experiences they start to saturate the fabric of your life and they become nothing more than what they are, "just experiences to observe and let go" and they are liberated into the natural aspect of consciousness and are no longer perceived as "supernatural" which is really important.

After letting go of the worry about the Yamantaka empowerment (which involved remembering wrathful Buddhas if even perceived as being tangible are limitless in compassion) In that small space on non anxiety i had the inspiration to Google a few key words and I found an old website for a teacher that apparently only lived 40 minutes away and now for the last year a shower of blessings in form of a great teacher and a small dedicated sangha has appeared and now the traditional process of formal tantric initiation and training is being passed down . After frantically searching for months to no avail and only after having some confidence in the auspiciousness of being in my 20's in the middle of redneck America and even being exposed to Buddhism, much less meeting Yamantaka, did a teacher manifest.

Its important to remember.........we have all had countless lives before and even being human is an extraordinary blessing, learning about Buddhism and living in a country where you can freely practice, it is a great boon! Let your enthusiasm be the wind in your sails but don't let it break your boat with worry about things like Vajra Hell. Every vehicle in Buddhism leads to liberation and that liberation is simply pure expansive panoramic awareness, that's why 1000 arm Avalokiteshvara has and eye in the palm every hand and White Tara similarly has seven eyes, they are eyes wide open completely awake.

The idea of keeping samaya with one Buddha keeps the samaya with all Buddhas is maintaining that very awareness, your Buddha Nature. Keep practicing what you feel truly comfortable with, whether it be Sutra, Mahayana, or Peaceful Deity Sadhana. Let your experiences, however magical or profound, be like nothing more than clouds in the sky. Rest in that awareness, decide that is your practice for now, have profound confidence in that and your true teacher with eventually appear. That is one way of calling the Lama from Afar.

Another thing to do is make a list of qualities you want in your teacher (obviously your needs will change, and what you need need may not be what you want to begin with), this helped me a lot and what i wrote down is pretty much what I got. Even superficial things for the time being can make a difference. Like westerner or Tibetan, English speaking or uses translator? local or not? Gelug, Nyingma ect?. Emphasis of practice.......Vajrakilaya, Tsongkhapa, Tara, Chenrezig? And how personal do you want your connection to be, to live near you like mine or do they visit Finland occasionally? These are just simple things to think about that put the energy of what your looking for into the world.

Much Luck and Many Blessings to You and Your Journey,

R

Pero
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Pero » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:14 pm

qwerty13 wrote: So in short: I am unable to go to direction I would like to go (more sutric oriented path, and drop the deity self generation away) because I fear there will be some karmic backlash from those empowerments. Is this possible even?
Like others said I think that until you've been more seriously on the Vajrayana path and if you don't harbour some kind of negative thoughts towards Vajrayana and Garchen Rinpoche then it's no problem.
PS: I learned valuable lessons though:
1. Don’t run from one empowerment to another. If there is empowerment available and you are excited about it… better to stay away.

2. There is nothing wrong with following just sutra path. People are just attracted to tantra because it is more exotic.

3. Tantra should be more restricted. No public empowerments.Period.
I also think that these "valuable lessons" of yours are pretty poor lessons. While it's good not to just run from one empowerment to another, it doesn't mean if you're really looking forward to one that you shouldn't go, that's just silly. I think you're just saying that (and the rest) now in a reactionary way since you got scared. I suppose some people may be attracted to tantra because it's exotic but others are attracted to it because it is meaningful to them (us). And even if you originally get attracted to it because it's exotic it doesn't mean you can't become serious about it later, it can become meaningful to you later on. As for your third point perhaps yes perhaps no, certainly no "period". If it was more restricted then many of us wouldn't have come in contact with it in the first place.
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

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Konchog1
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Konchog1 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:47 am

Don't worry about it. You only have the vows and commitments if you received the empowerment and you only break the vows and commitments if you knowingly break them without regret. Also Garchen Rinpoche always says that love and Bodhicitta cover all the vows and commitments so just do that. As for the guru thing, Atisha had fifty. Just respect him, that's it.

It sounds like you're doing fine. Just continue doing what you're doing. Btw would you send me a link to the Guru Yoga you're using, thanks?

“In short, it is said that when you are motivated by this mind [Bodhicitta], any virtue you create will provide you with the same benefit as the total number of sentient beings.”
-Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand pg. 558

“If you have developed bodhicitta in your mind-stream you will succeed in all the things ordinary people fail at, the knowledge mantras or tantric spells described in the sutras and tantras, in certain anthologies and so on to make it rain, stop hail, and so forth. Blame this on ordinary people’s lack of bodhicitta. Thus, if you want to rid yourself and others of sickness, etc. and want to have greater abilities, you must develop this mind. It is wrong to think an instruction taught on some tantric spell is at fault if it does not work for you.”
-Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand pg. 560

“No Buddha of the three times became a Buddha without developing bodhicitta. A Buddha not needing bodhicitta is something unheard of. Therefore, someone without any bodhicitta will not receive the Buddhahood they want; they haven’t a hope of achieving Buddhahood if they lack this. So you must take it seriously.”
-Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand pg. 575
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."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

plwk
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by plwk » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:14 am

Atisha had fifty
Plus one hundred and seven to that...

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Konchog1
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Konchog1 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:04 am

plwk wrote:
Atisha had fifty
Plus one hundred and seven to that...
I thought 150 at first but then I corrected myself thinking the number was too high.
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."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

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qwerty13
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by qwerty13 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:47 am

Thank you for answers, advices, and general support. I was reciting tara`s mantra and "gathering myself" and actually feel much better already. I think I will be able to continue my way pretty soon. But thank you all for support.
Who should we turn to for refuge? We should seek refuge in the Buddha. He is the one we weep before
-H.H. 14th Dalai Lama

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Kaccāni
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Kaccāni » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:06 pm

You cannot be stuck. You'd have to stop change to get stuck. You cannot do that, even in practice.
Who observes being stuck and how does being stuck feel?

Best wishes
Gwenn
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Vajraprajnakhadga » Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:44 am

qwerty13 wrote: PS: I learned valuable lessons though:
1. Don’t run from one empowerment to another. If there is empowerment available and you are excited about it… better to stay away.

2. There is nothing wrong with following just sutra path. People are just attracted to tantra because it is more exotic.

3. Tantra should be more restricted. No public empowerments.Period.
Others have addressed other aspects of your post quite well, but I wanted to touch on these three things.

1. The only empowerments that are really worth taking are those that you feel connected with somehow. That may manifest as excitement or some other emotion, but generally I would say empowerments that don't cause a reaction in you are generally not something that will be very useful to you.

2. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Sutrayana. That said you seem to be operating under a misconception. Tibetan Buddhism is Vajrayana. Guru yoga and phowa are Vajrayana practices. Also the statement that people are attracted to tantra because it is more exotic is true for some, but it is very ignorant to assume that that is the universal reason that people to pursue tantra.

3. Do you really think you know better than Vajra masters when it comes to such a matter?

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qwerty13
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by qwerty13 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:45 am

Vajraprajnakhadga wrote:
qwerty13 wrote: 3. Tantra should be more restricted. No public empowerments.Period.

3. Do you really think you know better than Vajra masters when it comes to such a matter?
Of course not. I trust completly in that Garchen Rinpoche knows what he is doing. It is just that I myself probably dont know what I am doing. Even if there is no problem in attending to public empowerment without sufficient understanding, the disciple might afterwards get all kinds of "funny" ideas afterwards or get confused, just like I did. Then there will a lot of confusion and commotion over nothing. And because you cant meet this lama personally, and ask advice face-to-face, things will get worse in one`s own head over the time. Then you end up looking for advice from other websites, and you will never find the answer or, whats even worse, you find some answers, but they dont really fit to your situation. Then you will have more misunderstandings, confusion and agitation, even though in reality there is no reason to be worried.

So thats why I am saying that there should not be public empowerments where anyone can attend. To avoid confusion.To make sure that people who take empowerment really know what they are doing.

Well, ofcourse there are resposibilities from the side of the student too to make sure that one has enough understanding. But still, there is a chance that you think that you know what you are doing but in reality you dont.
Who should we turn to for refuge? We should seek refuge in the Buddha. He is the one we weep before
-H.H. 14th Dalai Lama

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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Motova » Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:52 am

"Is it true that Garchen Rinpiche teaches that it is possible to receive empowerments from recorded videos and that one may practice the White Tara - Stream of Nectar sadhana with Garchen Rinpoche’s blessing from said videos?" Me.

"Here is what Rinpoche has said about receiving empowerments from him via the online videos:

H.E. Garchen Rinpoche’s Teachings on How to Receive an Empowerment Online

The touching of the vase to the crown of the head is the outer empowerment. The inner empowerment is to visualize yourself as the deity. The real empowerment is to realize the nature of your mind.

When you cultivate bodhicitta, that is the real deity, and when you do this, that is when you actually receive the empowerment over the internet.

If you live near the temple and think, “Oh, I don’t need to go to the temple; I can just receive the empowerment over the internet,” that is not the right motivation. If you have the opportunity to come to the temple, then you should come.

If you don't live nearby and cannot come, but with all your heart would like to, that is the right motivation for receiving the empowerment over the internet.

Whoever has faith and devotion will receive the empowerment regardless of where they are, because the dharmakaya pervades like space. Even if you come to the temple to receive an empowerment, if you have no devotion you still will not receive it.

To quote Lord Jigten Sumgon, “You receive the empowerment only when you understand the meaning of the empowerment.”

Rinpoche has actually said no empowerment is needed to practice White Tara, as long as one cultivates bodhicitta. So it would be fine to practice whichever of the White Tara sadhanas you wish after receiving the online empowerment." GBI.

Maybe you can practice White Tara if you are anxious, this is what I plan on doing - I just ordered the practice, a White Tara tsa tsa, and a hand-held prayerwheel. I'm very excited! I've been only "into" Tibetan Buddhism for a year now and haven't gone for refuge yet as well. Hopefully, if I practice White Tara well enough I'll live long enough to take refuge! Not that I'm sick, but I could die at any moment!

:namaste:
To become a rain man one must master the ten virtues and sciences.

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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by qwerty13 » Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:49 pm

Motova wrote: Rinpoche has actually said no empowerment is needed to practice White Tara, as long as one cultivates bodhicitta. So it would be fine to practice whichever of the White Tara sadhanas you wish after receiving the online empowerment." GBI.
Maybe you can practice White Tara if you are anxious, this is what I plan on doing - I just ordered the practice, a White Tara tsa tsa, and a hand-held prayerwheel. I'm very excited! I've been only "into" Tibetan Buddhism for a year now and haven't gone for refuge yet as well. Hopefully, if I practice White Tara well enough I'll live long enough to take refuge! Not that I'm sick, but I could die at any moment!
:namaste:
Actually I have been practicing green Tara recently. I was anxious and distressed and just decided to recite green Tara`s mantra and see if it will calm my nerves. Well it worked incredibly well! first I calmed down and then I was smiling. Almost laughing. Also, compassion towards all beings spontaneusly manifested. I didn`t have much devotion or interest in Tara practices before, but now I see the great potential in green Tara. Her energy is amazing. Playfull and skillful compassion.
Who should we turn to for refuge? We should seek refuge in the Buddha. He is the one we weep before
-H.H. 14th Dalai Lama

Motova
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Motova » Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:56 pm

qwerty13 wrote: Actually I have been practicing green Tara recently. I was anxious and distressed and just decided to recite green Tara`s mantra and see if it will calm my nerves. Well it worked incredibly well! first I calmed down and then I was smiling. Almost laughing. Also, compassion towards all beings spontaneusly manifested. I didn`t have much devotion or interest in Tara practices before, but now I see the great potential in green Tara. Her energy is amazing. Playfull and skillful compassion.
I've been reciting Green Tara's 10 syllable mantra for over a year - the mantra is very powerful and I only have great things to say! :bow:
To become a rain man one must master the ten virtues and sciences.

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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:44 am

Qwerty & Motova,

I feel it's necessary to raise a point here which has thus far gone unmentioned. Both of you have said that you've yet to take refuge, yet Refuge is universally acknowledged as being a necessary prerequisite for one to even take an empowerment. Back when I was first starting upon the path, this was a major concern for me, as some will say that any empowerments you receive without having taken refuge are somehow invalid.

Here I want to make the point that what we usually associate the phrase "to take refuge" with in our minds (i.e. the formal Refuge ceremony) isn't the only method for taking refuge. Everytime you do a practice, you should be reciting some sort of Refuge prayer or another and generating bodhicitta. As one of my kindest friends explained to me back then, if you are sincere when you recite this and truly mean your words with all your heart, then you have gone for refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

Also, when you take refuge you are affirming that you will follow the Buddhist path, not aligning yourself with one sect or another. So when the time comes that you are able to participate in the formal ceremony, don't worry about pledging allegiance to the wrong crowd. The only part that may be specific to the presiding lama's tradition is the Tibetan name your are given (a.k.a. your Dharma name or Refuge name) --- most Karma Kagyu lamas give names starting with "Karma," most Drikung Kagyupas give names starting with "Konchog," etc.

Personally, I think the Refuge ceremony is very beautiful and a meaningful way to connect to a lama, so I've made it a point to participate on multiple occasions. It gives me the sense of a stronger connection to my various lamas.

As for you doing Guru Yoga and Phowa, qwerty, many of those practices are further down the line in the practice curriculum than you likely realize. I point this out not to be a stick in the mud, but merely to try and help prevent you from jumping ahead and feeling regret later on, as has already happened to you before. I've skipped around a bit myself over the years, and I can assure you that it's much more beneficial and satisfying to go about things in the intended sequence. Not only does it feel less fabricated, but you can have far greater confidence because it's the path that generations of practitioners before you have trodden. This is where knowing what tradition and which guru you're following come in very handy, because knowing those things will help you map out what your path of practice is supposed to look like and how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

Admittedly, my experience is limited to the Kagyu & Nyingma way of going about things, so your results will vary. But Guru Yogad is usually the last section of Ngondro, precede by the sections of 1) Refuge & Bodhicitta, 2) Vajrasattva purification, and 3) Mandala offering. Phowa is becoming more widely taught and increasingly popular, but that is an even more advanced practice, generally speaking. Sometimes it even requires its own empowerment, and certainly one shouldn't engage in it unless they've received sufficient instruction, lest they actually eject their consciousness prior to death and cut this life short in the process! Drikungpas visualize Amitabha sticking his big toe into opening at the crown of our heads precisely to prevent this from happening...

Consider emailing Tsem Tulku and asking him about the specifics, since his site is where you're getting much of your information. He seems to be pretty easily reached, and is quite diligent in responding to his audience from what I can tell.
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"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

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qwerty13
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Re: Stuck in practice...

Post by qwerty13 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:21 pm

Karma Jinpa wrote:Qwerty & Motova,
Phowa is becoming more widely taught and increasingly popular, but that is an even more advanced practice, generally speaking. Sometimes it even requires its own empowerment, and certainly one shouldn't engage in it unless they've received sufficient instruction, lest they actually eject their consciousness prior to death and cut this life short in the process! Drikungpas visualize Amitabha sticking his big toe into opening at the crown of our heads precisely to prevent this from happening...
Well here I must say that Tsem Tulku himself said that this phowa requires no empowerments and there is no danger that you might shorten your life accidentaly. He has said anyone can do this type of phowa safely and has widely encouraged peopel to do this.

He explains all that in this short youtube video: [Edit]
If this was really something potentialy someting hazardous, he would not be so open about this thing.

But this Phowa is not my main practice at all, that I can assure you. Its just that it happens to be part of the guru yoga. But it seems that you are implying that I should not yet do the guru yoga, right? Well I totally understand your point, in that case. Guru yoga is the last part in Gelug ngondro too. And doing refuge and purification practices first is only logical, and more effective too.
I dont know if I`m interpeting your message right, but it seems that you are suggesting me to not choose which traditions/schools to follow just yet.
Last edited by Ayu on Sun Jan 31, 2016 11:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed Tsem video
Who should we turn to for refuge? We should seek refuge in the Buddha. He is the one we weep before
-H.H. 14th Dalai Lama

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