Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Guru?

Forum for discussion of Tibetan Buddhism. Questions specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
User avatar
Nosta
Posts: 877
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:28 pm

Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Guru?

Post by Nosta » Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:23 pm

Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Guru (or master, rinpoche, whatever you call it)?

In every book I find* they always say -somewhere in the book- that you need to receive instructions in order to practice. Its like such books were made only for someone who already had a transmission (or empowerment...I dont know if there is any difference between such words).

But if I am reading a book and understand some ideas, if I understand how is the practice (and sometimes the books speak only about meditative practice) why cant I practice? I feel discouraged, because sometimes I find brilliant books, but I cant practie because they say "you need to receive the instructions"! Isnt enough to receive them by reading? I am reading them! If I understand the words, why not practice??

Sometimes it seems that such practices are running away with people and lead them to other practices (Pure Land, Theravada practices, other Mahayana practices, etc).

Whats your points on this?

*with the exception of "The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep" from Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 27227
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Malcolm » Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:36 pm

Nosta wrote:Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Guru (or master, rinpoche, whatever you call it)?

In every book I find* they always say -somewhere in the book- that you need to receive instructions in order to practice. Its like such books were made only for someone who already had a transmission (or empowerment...I dont know if there is any difference between such words).
You need a teacher. It is really that simple.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[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.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

User avatar
Nosta
Posts: 877
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:28 pm

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Nosta » Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:39 pm

So such books are not useful at all for someone without a teacher??

But I read some interesting things about the resting meditation of a kusulu. Why cant I just do that?

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 27227
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Malcolm » Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:41 pm

Nosta wrote:So such books are not useful at all for someone without a teacher??

But I read some interesting things about the resting meditation of a kusulu. Why cant I just do that?
You can do whatever you like, but no one can guarantee the results.

All the buddhas of the three times had a guru, you are no different.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[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.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

User avatar
Nosta
Posts: 877
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:28 pm

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Nosta » Tue Nov 24, 2015 11:46 pm

I know I am not different. I mean, I am different: I have not the same skills as other people.

But my point is this: since I cannot have teachers (I dont have anyone near me, I live in a non-buddhist country in a area without buddhists at all), can I, at least, practice such teachings? I the feeling that I cant even try some of the teachings without transmission or I will not receive even 0,01% of the benefits.

I hope you can understand my position: I dont want to be superior to others have practice without a teacher. I would love to have a [real] Guru near me, able to teach me. I would love to learn some of the teachings. But the only thing I can do is read some books and learn and practice from them.

Anyway, thanks for your insights on this matter, Malcom. :)

User avatar
conebeckham
Posts: 4732
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by conebeckham » Tue Nov 24, 2015 11:53 pm

I will just jump in here and say that, if you've got the internet, you have access to Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, and can practice according to his instructions.

There may be other "remote" options as well.
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")

Terma
Posts: 163
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:07 am

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Terma » Wed Nov 25, 2015 12:48 am

Nosta wrote:
But my point is this: since I cannot have teachers (I dont have anyone near me, I live in a non-buddhist country in a area without buddhists at all), can I, at least, practice such teachings? I the feeling that I cant even try some of the teachings without transmission or I will not receive even 0,01% of the benefits.

I hope you can understand my position: I dont want to be superior to others have practice without a teacher. I would love to have a [real] Guru near me, able to teach me. I would love to learn some of the teachings. But the only thing I can do is read some books and learn and practice from them.
First of all, I don'the think anyone is trying to discourage you from practicing. Tibetan Buddhism has a very wide scope and there are many Mahayana practices that you could do, as well as shamata (calm abiding meditation), and other practices such as cultivating Bodhicitta .

But any such practice which falls under Vajrayana requires a transmission and at least a little instruction. As Malcolm pointed out, without a teacher this simply is not possible.

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 27227
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Malcolm » Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:54 am

Terma wrote:
Nosta wrote:
But my point is this: since I cannot have teachers (I dont have anyone near me, I live in a non-buddhist country in a area without buddhists at all), can I, at least, practice such teachings? I the feeling that I cant even try some of the teachings without transmission or I will not receive even 0,01% of the benefits.

I hope you can understand my position: I dont want to be superior to others have practice without a teacher. I would love to have a [real] Guru near me, able to teach me. I would love to learn some of the teachings. But the only thing I can do is read some books and learn and practice from them.
First of all, I don'the think anyone is trying to discourage you from practicing. Tibetan Buddhism has a very wide scope and there are many Mahayana practices that you could do, as well as shamata (calm abiding meditation), and other practices such as cultivating Bodhicitta .

But any such practice which falls under Vajrayana requires a transmission and at least a little instruction. As Malcolm pointed out, without a teacher this simply is not possible.
My point is that to practice Buddhadharma at all, you need a teacher. Otherwise, you are just left with this sort of vague intellectual idea of what it means to practice. You need a teacher so that you can check your understanding. A book cannot do this for you.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[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.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

Fortyeightvows
Posts: 1807
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:37 am

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Fortyeightvows » Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:35 am

Malcolm wrote:
My point is that to practice Buddhadharma at all, you need a teacher. Otherwise, you are just left with this sort of vague intellectual idea of what it means to practice. You need a teacher so that you can check your understanding. A book cannot do this for you.
that sounds correct to me and it seems like this gets brought up here often.

however we do know that in many mahayana sutras, which are the words of shakyamuni buddhha, that explain the benifits of reading them and listening to them.
the traditions of tibet venerate many of these same sutras.

so while reading these sutras may not check your level of practice, they are still of incredible benefit.
you don't see these same types of promises in some other books or texts.

so should we read the book or text which suggests it only be read under some conditions, even if we do not have those conditions?
or should we read the text which promises mountians of merit to the reader?

if one truely belives in these things........

tyler2
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:45 pm

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by tyler2 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:07 am

did buddha have a teacher though, nope, dont even think there was books at the time

User avatar
Ayu
Former staff member
Posts: 6893
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Ayu » Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:51 am

tyler2 wrote:did buddha have a teacher though, nope, dont even think there was books at the time
For sure the buddha had several teachers.

When I was a Buddhist beginner, I asked a young monk, how to start, where to go. He said: "If you are interested in some relaxation and other personal improvements, you can attend the sangha activities, join courses, read books - as you like. But if your aim is enlightment, you definitly need a guru.
But I cannot be your guru. You have to find a realized teacher."
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

tyler2
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:45 pm

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by tyler2 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:57 am

Ayu wrote:
tyler2 wrote:did buddha have a teacher though, nope, dont even think there was books at the time
For sure the buddha had several teachers.
Buddha is first to reach enlightenment, how can someone teach him about it?
its like me trying to teach you about rocket science but not knowing it at all

people he practiced with they were still "seeking" and even rejected him at one point before he reached enlightenment,
also there was no written language at his time in india so no texts to study, he passed his teachings down by word of mouth after he attained enlightenment.

fckw
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:10 am

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by fckw » Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:09 am

Even from a non-Vajrayana perspective it is commonly accepted that the Buddha had at least two different teachers who taught him concentrative meditation, i.e. absorption and the 8 Jhanas.

From a Vajrayana perspective, the Buddha Shakyamuni had had various teachers before his rebirth as Shakyamuni Buddha.

But whatever you believe: Just ask yourselve whether you think you could learn something like higher mathematics from books alone without anyone's guidance. The difference to mathematics is that in Vajrayana a lot of knowledge about specific meditation instructions is only given orally and never written down. Therefore, even if you were a meditation genius who theoretically could learn only from books you still did not have any access to such books - because they don't exist.

Therefore, yes, you definitely need a teacher.

As a general rule, the inability to accept guidance by other more experienced people in whatever field one wishes to learn demonstrates a lack of maturity.

User avatar
smcj
Posts: 5582
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by smcj » Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:10 am

Buddha is first to reach enlightenment, how can someone teach him about it?
He had several teachers that we might call "Hindu". After his enlightenment he thought about who could understand his profound realization and his old teacher Alara Kalama (presumably of the Kalama people) had the "least dust upon his eyes". So evidently Alara Kalama was close to enlightenment with his own practice. Unfortunately Sakyamuni could not share his understanding with his old teacher because he had already passed away.

Not only had Sakyamuni been a student of Alara Kalama, but he had been a close disciple and had his own students among the Kalamas. Then Sakyamuni abandoned them to further his search on his own. That's why my take on the famous Kalama Sutta has that as a backstory. The Kalamas had been abandoned by Sakyamuni before, and were basically asking him in polite-speak why they should trust him again. His polite-speak answer was that he had to go find things out for himself. They accepted his answer and at the end of the sutta took Refuge in him. If the sutta had the normal interpretation taking Refuge would have been an inappropriate thing to do.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

User avatar
Ayu
Former staff member
Posts: 6893
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Ayu » Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:29 am

tyler2 wrote: Buddha is first to reach enlightenment, how can someone teach him about it?
its like me trying to teach you about rocket science but not knowing it at all
I heard of a tibetan saying: "The student has to surpass the teacher, otherwise the studies are without success." (Only my memory, not textual.)
There wouldn't have been any Einstein without teachers - even if he was the first one to invent the theory of relativiy.
people he practiced with they were still "seeking" and even rejected him at one point before he reached enlightenment, ...
Quote? I never heard of this - but that doesn't mean much.
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

tyler2
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:45 pm

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by tyler2 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:47 am

smcj wrote:
Buddha is first to reach enlightenment, how can someone teach him about it?
He had several teachers that we might call "Hindu". After his enlightenment he thought about who could understand his profound realization and his old teacher Alara Kalama (presumably of the Kalama people) had the "least dust upon his eyes". So evidently Alara Kalama was close to enlightenment with his own practice. Unfortunately Sakyamuni could not share his understanding with his old teacher because he had already passed away.
ok hindu teachers but none are responsible for his enlightenment, they shared some knowledge but none were certain on how to attain enlightement, werent they all ascetics.

tyler2
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:45 pm

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by tyler2 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:49 am

Ayu wrote:
tyler2 wrote: Buddha is first to reach enlightenment, how can someone teach him about it?
its like me trying to teach you about rocket science but not knowing it at all
I heard of a tibetan saying: "The student has to surpass the teacher, otherwise the studies are without success." (Only my memory, not textual.)
There wouldn't have been any Einstein without teachers - even if he was the first one to invent the theory of relativiy.
people he practiced with they were still "seeking" and even rejected him at one point before he reached enlightenment, ...
Quote? I never heard of this - but that doesn't mean much.
the ascetics he first practiced with originally rejected him, they were gonna reject him againa but then he drew close (the deer park) and they were drawn to his aura after reaching enlightenment, , he was shining with nirvanic peace and they became his students.

User avatar
Nosta
Posts: 877
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:28 pm

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Nosta » Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:43 am

fckw wrote: As a general rule, the inability to accept guidance by other more experienced people in whatever field one wishes to learn demonstrates a lack of maturity.
Not my case. I am not denying a master. Life is. I dont have any master near me.

About the idea of Namkhai Norbu, not bad. But the last time I tried, my shedule didnt allow me to get in the session from the beggining until the end (only some 20 minutes) and I really didnt get anything at all of what was happening there: only chants that I didnt undertsand; he didnt spoke any words, any speech at all, only the chants. I was unlucky because I couldnt get any teaching at all.

Do you guys had transmissions in the past??

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 27227
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Malcolm » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:51 pm

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
My point is that to practice Buddhadharma at all, you need a teacher. Otherwise, you are just left with this sort of vague intellectual idea of what it means to practice. You need a teacher so that you can check your understanding. A book cannot do this for you.
that sounds correct to me and it seems like this gets brought up here often.

however we do know that in many mahayana sutras, which are the words of shakyamuni buddhha, that explain the benifits of reading them and listening to them.
the traditions of tibet venerate many of these same sutras.

so while reading these sutras may not check your level of practice, they are still of incredible benefit.
you don't see these same types of promises in some other books or texts.

so should we read the book or text which suggests it only be read under some conditions, even if we do not have those conditions?
or should we read the text which promises mountians of merit to the reader?

if one truely belives in these things........

Mahāyāna sūtras themselves extol the benefit of relying on a teacher.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[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.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

User avatar
Virgo
Posts: 2685
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: Globe

Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by Virgo » Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:12 pm

Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Guru (or master, rinpoche, whatever you call it)?
No lineage, no blessings.

Kevin
I may have made some mistakes, but I am just a person doing his best.

http://caretoclick.com/save-the-rainfor ... orestation

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: lisehull, Tiago Simões and 71 guests