Validity of recorded empowerments

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Malcolm
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by Malcolm » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:55 am

JohnJ wrote:
It might be good to mention that in my personal encounters with Garchen Rinpoche and the lamas that teach through his Institute, empowerment is understood as something that is rarely actually recieved. In other words, the belief seems to be that empowerment only occurs when one has understood the nature of their mind through that empowerment.
This represents a misunderstanding of the nature of empowerments on your part.

An empowerment is something that arranges a profound dependent origination between someone's body, speech and mind and the three kāyas of the result. Therefore, it is not so that one does not receive the empowerment if one does not realize the nature of the mind.

An empowerment is first of all a method for inducing realization, for example, when Indrabhuti I attained Buddhahood by receiving the Guhyasamaja empowerment. Failing that, we have sadhanas, which is the method connected to the empowerment to produce realization. When we receive an empowerment, we agree to follow various samayas until we attain buddhahood. People who do not receive empowerments do not have those samayas.
The real empowerment is much more than a permission to practice various Sadhanas, it is an introduction to the natural state, and only if you do not understand that and remain in confusion should you seek out various Sadhana and yoga practices.
If you did not truly receive an empowerment because you failed to realize nature of your mind, you could not realize the three kāyas through the practice of sadhanas. Therefore, this idea is really not very correct at all.
In that way, most everyone who receives the empowerment is only receiving blessings, not the actual empowerment.
Nonsense. This represents a total misunderstanding of what an empowerment actually is.
My own understanding is that the recorded empowerments are a permission to practice and a receiving of some lineage blessings, since the vast majority who come or stay at home won't receive the empowerment in the way that Garchen Rinpoche (and many others) understand it.
There are a number of problems with this:

One: in any empowerment, there are three mandalas: the front created mandala, the vase mandala and the mandala of the teacher. The teacher arranges the descent of the wisdom being from the front created mandala onto the disciple after he creates each disciple as the form of the deity to be given. If you are not at the empowerment in some fashion during the time it is being given, there is no descent of the wisdom being.

Two: at the end of any empowerment, byin rlabs, or rje gnang there is the dissolution of the mandalas, i.e., the front created mandala, the vase mandala and the mandala of the teacher. One cannot receive initiation into a mandala that has been dissolved by the master. Once the vajramaster has concluded his or her activities, the empowerment is over.

Therefore, watching an empowerment later on is like watching a performance on PBS. It may be interesting, fascinating, and so on. But it is not live, you are not there, you are not participating, you are watching a show. You may be edified, but there is no stream of blessing because the mandala has already been switched off, as it were.

Further, there is the very real likelyhood that unsuitable people will choose to watch such performances on places like youtube resulting in many samaya problems.

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qwerty13
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by qwerty13 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:59 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Further, there is the very real likelyhood that unsuitable people will choose to watch such performances on places like youtube resulting in many samaya problems.
Are you now strictly talking about empowerments in to highest yoga tantra ( like Vajrayogini, Yamantaka, guhyasamaja etc. etc)?
Are these samaya problems (coming from watching recored empowerment) present only in the case of Highest yoga tantra initiation?
Malcolm wrote:Further, there is the very real likelyhood that unsuitable people will choose to watch such performances on places like youtube resulting in many samaya problems.
Do mean by "unsuitable" a person who has no faith in Vajrayana, or even disrespects it?
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Simon E.
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by Simon E. » Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:39 pm

Until Malcolm answers I perhaps might be able to slip my view in.
In this age of floods of data, and many routes for that data's delivery, I think that there is real and growing evidence that numbers of westerners are reading ABOUT Vajrayana and Dzogchen and leaping to the conclusion that a degree of understanding of the underpinning theory, and the terminology employed to express that theory, can substitute for an on-going relationship with a teacher.
Anyone who has, or has had, a relationship with a bone fide Vajra or Dzogchen teacher knows that much of the most vital aspects of that relationship cannot be expressed by verbal formulae.
And that we should not try to find verbal expression for them.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

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dzogchungpa
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:38 pm

Malcolm wrote:One: in any empowerment, there are three mandalas: the front created mandala, the vase mandala and the mandala of the teacher. The teacher arranges the descent of the wisdom being from the front created mandala onto the disciple after he creates each disciple as the form of the deity to be given.
OK, this is interesting. Is there anything that can be said about how the teacher arranges the descent of the wisdom being from the front created mandala onto the disciple, and what it means to create each disciple as the form of the deity to be given?
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

smcj
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by smcj » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:10 pm

dzogchungpa wrote: OK, this is interesting. Is there anything that can be said about how the teacher arranges the descent of the wisdom being from the front created mandala onto the disciple, and what it means to create each disciple as the form of the deity to be given?
You seem to have a knack for asking the right questions. Just FYI, if you get answers that are unsatisfactory, it may be because the correct answer is politically incorrect, and there is some obfuscation. Keep going.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
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Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by conebeckham » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:21 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:One: in any empowerment, there are three mandalas: the front created mandala, the vase mandala and the mandala of the teacher. The teacher arranges the descent of the wisdom being from the front created mandala onto the disciple after he creates each disciple as the form of the deity to be given.
OK, this is interesting. Is there anything that can be said about how the teacher arranges the descent of the wisdom being from the front created mandala onto the disciple, and what it means to create each disciple as the form of the deity to be given?
Visualization, mainly. But the details should in all likelihood remain unsaid. If you can read Tibetan, read the empowerment texts....
One thing I will say: In a true HYT Wangkur, the Vajra Master has to "see" the disciple.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

Malcolm
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by Malcolm » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:25 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:One: in any empowerment, there are three mandalas: the front created mandala, the vase mandala and the mandala of the teacher. The teacher arranges the descent of the wisdom being from the front created mandala onto the disciple after he creates each disciple as the form of the deity to be given.
OK, this is interesting. Is there anything that can be said about how the teacher arranges the descent of the wisdom being from the front created mandala onto the disciple, and what it means to create each disciple as the form of the deity to be given?
During an empowerment, there are two sections: the self-empowerment conducted by a qualified master which includes such things as preparing the the space, and so on, which culminates in the master conferring the empowerment upon himself into the mandala and the creation of the front mandala as well as the vase mandala.

Second, when all this is done, then the master again repeats the sadhana, creating each disciple as the mandala they into which they are to be initiated: this stage is called creating the samayasattva, the commitment being. Then, when this has been done, the master summons the jñānasattva, the wisdom being, into each disciple who is present. In a very serious empowerment this is done one by one, i.e. the master visualizes each disciple separately as the deity, and is the reason why the most serious and proper way to give empowerments is to give them to one, three, seven or no more than twenty-five disciples at a time. In other words, if he or she is giving the initiation to 3 people, he or she must visualize three separate mandalas. If he or she is giving the empowerment to twenty five people, they must visualize 25 separate and complete mandalas. For example, the Kalacakra Mandala in the full form has 648 deities, if I recall correctly. Each deity must be separately visualized for each person during that empowerment.

Even in a Jenang, where there is only a body, speech and mind "blessing" (i.e. the form of the deity, the mantra and introduction to the deity's wisdom continuum) the master must visualize everyone present as the form of the deity individually.

As you can now understand, in order to be a Vajramaster one must have extraordinary powers of samadhi.

M

Malcolm
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by Malcolm » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:27 pm

qwerty13 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Further, there is the very real likelyhood that unsuitable people will choose to watch such performances on places like youtube resulting in many samaya problems.
Are you now strictly talking about empowerments in to highest yoga tantra ( like Vajrayogini, Yamantaka, guhyasamaja etc. etc)?
Are these samaya problems (coming from watching recored empowerment) present only in the case of Highest yoga tantra initiation?
Malcolm wrote:Further, there is the very real likelyhood that unsuitable people will choose to watch such performances on places like youtube resulting in many samaya problems.
Do mean by "unsuitable" a person who has no faith in Vajrayana, or even disrespects it?
As for question one; in general, yes. However, even among kriya yoga deities, those of the Vajra family have samayas to observe which involve secrecy and so on.

As for two, yes.

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by qwerty13 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:41 pm

^ Ok thanks, Malcolm
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by Grigoris » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:55 pm

Malcolm wrote:
qwerty13 wrote:Do mean by "unsuitable" a person who has no faith in Vajrayana, or even disrespects it?
As for two, yes.
I don't really see how physical presence is any guarantee of this though, I've been to empowerments where many present did not know what they were getting themselves involved in and left with a negative attitude regarding the Vajrayana methods.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
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"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."
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by Malcolm » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:02 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
qwerty13 wrote:Do mean by "unsuitable" a person who has no faith in Vajrayana, or even disrespects it?
As for two, yes.
I don't really see how physical presence is any guarantee of this though, I've been to empowerments where many present did not know what they were getting themselves involved in and left with a negative attitude regarding the Vajrayana methods.
Again, this is the fault of the master. There are two things that must happen; the master must examine the student, the student must examine the master. If the master does not examine the student and the student walks away thinking the Vajrayāna is bullshit, whose fault could it possibly be other than the master's for not checking the student?

Unfortunately in this day and age we have a "try it before you buy it" culture. This really does not work well in a Vajrayāna context, since it ruins both masters and students.

This is why ChNN repeatedly says there is no such thing as taking an empowerment as a blessing, and forgoing the commitments. It is actually impossible, and when you are told "You can take this as a blessing", and you think this means you do not have samaya, or a vajra relationship with that teacher, or the practice and so on, you don't understand anything. If you are not serious about a practice or a teacher, then it is better you don't go.
Last edited by Malcolm on Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by Grigoris » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:05 pm

Malcolm wrote:During an empowerment, there are two sections: the self-empowerment conducted by a qualified master which includes such things as preparing the the space, and so on, which culminates in the master conferring the empowerment upon himself into the mandala and the creation of the front mandala as well as the vase mandala.

Second, when all this is done, then the master again repeats the sadhana, creating each disciple as the mandala they into which they are to be initiated: this stage is called creating the samayasattva, the commitment being. Then, when this has been done, the master summons the jñānasattva, the wisdom being, into each disciple who is present. In a very serious empowerment this is done one by one, i.e. the master visualizes each disciple separately as the deity, and is the reason why the most serious and proper way to give empowerments is to give them to one, three, seven or no more than twenty-five disciples at a time. In other words, if he or she is giving the initiation to 3 people, he or she must visualize three separate mandalas. If he or she is giving the empowerment to twenty five people, they must visualize 25 separate and complete mandalas. For example, the Kalacakra Mandala in the full form has 648 deities, if I recall correctly. Each deity must be separately visualized for each person during that empowerment.

Even in a Jenang, where there is only a body, speech and mind "blessing" (i.e. the form of the deity, the mantra and introduction to the deity's wisdom continuum) the master must visualize everyone present as the form of the deity individually.

As you can now understand, in order to be a Vajramaster one must have extraordinary powers of samadhi.

M
Thank you for this info.
"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

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by Grigoris » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:06 pm

Malcolm wrote:Again, this is the fault of the master. There are two things that must happen; the master must examine the student, the student must examine the master. If the master does not examine the student and the student walks away thinking the Vajrayāna is bullshit, whose fault could it possibly be other than the master's for not checking the student?
Seriously now: when was the last time you ever heard of this happening, either in the "East" or the "West"?
"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

Malcolm
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by Malcolm » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:13 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Again, this is the fault of the master. There are two things that must happen; the master must examine the student, the student must examine the master. If the master does not examine the student and the student walks away thinking the Vajrayāna is bullshit, whose fault could it possibly be other than the master's for not checking the student?
Seriously now: when was the last time you ever heard of this happening, either in the "East" or the "West"?

I know of quite a bit of difficulty encountered by both masters and students because this does not happen. Masters driven by blind kindness or even by selfishness (to gather large retinues to pay for things "for the dharma") and students driven by greed and egotism because they are going to "become buddhas" etc.

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by conebeckham » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:15 pm

I also know of masters who have actually dismissed students from empowerments. It does happen. But true, complete Wangkurs are relatively rarely given.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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dzogchungpa
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:20 pm

Malcolm wrote:During an empowerment, there are two sections...
...
As you can now understand, in order to be a Vajramaster one must have extraordinary powers of samadhi.
OK, thanks. If that is (part of) what is necessary to enter a HYT mandala correctly, I kind of wonder how often that happens.
Is there any way to "verify" that one has indeed done so?
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by supermaxv » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:24 pm

Malcolm wrote:This is why ChNN repeatedly says there is no such thing as taking an empowerment as a blessing, and forgoing the commitments. It is actually impossible, and when you are told "You can take this as a blessing", and you think this means you do not have samaya, or a vajra relationship with that teacher, or the practice and so on, you don't understand anything. If you are not serious about a practice or a teacher, then it is better you don't go.
Yes! I find the comments / assertions to the contrary in this thread really, really off putting.
Last edited by supermaxv on Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Malcolm
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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by Malcolm » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:27 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:During an empowerment, there are two sections...
...
As you can now understand, in order to be a Vajramaster one must have extraordinary powers of samadhi.
OK, thanks. If that is (part of) what is necessary to enter a HYT mandala correctly, I kind of wonder how often that happens.
Is there any way to "verify" that one has indeed done so?
Were you awake during the activities of the disciple? Did you recite the prayers understanding what they meant and why? Did you try to follow the visualizations sincerely as best you could? If so, then you entered the mandala.

Even though your master is not the most realized person, as long as he satisfied his responsibilities in doing the basic approach retreats and fire offerings, etc., and performed the empowerment rites correctly, still you took the pledges of samaya, still you received the empowerment. Still you need to regard that person as a real Buddha. If you do so, then you will achieve buddhahood. Even if the Buddha were to give you an empowerment, if you think he is an ordinary shmoe, then like Sunakṣatra, you might be swallowed up by the ground before you even die. :jawdrop:

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by heart » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:29 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Again, this is the fault of the master. There are two things that must happen; the master must examine the student, the student must examine the master. If the master does not examine the student and the student walks away thinking the Vajrayāna is bullshit, whose fault could it possibly be other than the master's for not checking the student?
Seriously now: when was the last time you ever heard of this happening, either in the "East" or the "West"?
It definitely happens to this day both in the west and the east.

/magnus
"We are all here to help each other go through this thing, whatever it is."
~Kurt Vonnegut

"The principal practice is Guruyoga. But we need to understand that any secondary practice combined with Guruyoga becomes a principal practice." ChNNR (Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja)

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Re: Validity of recorded empowerments

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:21 pm

Malcolm wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:Is there any way to "verify" that one has indeed done so?
Were you awake during the activities of the disciple? Did you recite the prayers understanding what they meant and why? Did you try to follow the visualizations sincerely as best you could? If so, then you entered the mandala.

Even though your master is not the most realized person, as long as he satisfied his responsibilities in doing the basic approach retreats and fire offerings, etc., and performed the empowerment rites correctly, still you took the pledges of samaya, still you received the empowerment. Still you need to regard that person as a real Buddha. If you do so, then you will achieve buddhahood.
OK thanks, but I was also wondering if there are supposed to be "signs" indicating that you have really "received the empowerment"?
Malcolm wrote:Even if the Buddha were to give you an empowerment, if you think he is an ordinary shmoe, then like Sunakṣatra, you might be swallowed up by the ground before you even die. :jawdrop:
Oh dear.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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