Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Guru?

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

Post by conebeckham » Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:30 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:56 pm
conebeckham wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:31 pm
Vase Empowerment
It really should be called the "PItcher empowerment."

This is not a vase:

Image

This is a vase:

Image
Fair enough! So, "Bumpa" should henceforth be "Pitcher?" Works for me.
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")

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

Post by Aspiring.Monk » Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:38 pm

Josef wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:24 pm
Aspiring.Monk wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:01 pm
conebeckham wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:31 pm


We've had a few threads regarding this issue in the past. Empowerments are about "tendrel," confluence of circumstances, etc. Place/Location, and time, are included among these circumstances, as are empowerment substances, etc. My opinion has always been that one can learn via video or the internet, and a teacher can make skillful use of such media/communication options to teach the Dharma, but a complete Wangkur cannot be transmitted remotely via such means, IMO. I think "transmissions" can occur via these methods, and there are some "empowerments" that may in fact work this way, but a complete Vase Empowerment just can't be given that way. Also, to be clear, I will point out that empowerments, and many "transmissions," differ from "instructions" regarding how to practice. Wang and Lung are not, generally speaking, "instructions for practice." Tri, on the other hand, could conceivably be given over the WWW or even by video.

But all this is tangential to the main question posed by this thread.
I am fortunate enough to be moving to the Phoenix area in a few months and I have learned that Dharma centers abound there. There are 2 that I am particularly interested in checking out. Emaho Foundation and Phoenix Tara Mandala.

If anyone knows of these centers, any personal experiences would be appreciated.
I'm familiar with both.
They are nice sanghas. I definitely recommend connecting with Tara Mandala. Their programing is something very special and unique in the transmission of dharma in America.
I was researching them and I like how they take the 3 year retreat and spread it to 10 years for people that are not able to drop everything for a whole 3 years.

Thank you for the information.

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

Post by dzogchungpa » Fri Mar 02, 2018 7:06 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:30 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:56 pm
conebeckham wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:31 pm
Vase Empowerment
It really should be called the "PItcher empowerment."

This is not a vase:

Image

This is a vase:

Image
Fair enough! So, "Bumpa" should henceforth be "Pitcher?" Works for me.


Robert Beer seems to use "water-pot" or "flask".
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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

Post by Malcolm » Fri Mar 02, 2018 7:11 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:30 pm


Fair enough! So, "Bumpa" should henceforth be "Pitcher?" Works for me.
Not suggesting we change things at this point, but in reality...
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

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conebeckham
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Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Guru?

Post by conebeckham » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:34 pm

Flask? Meh, I think of either of these:

Image

Image
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: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Guru?

Post by dzogchungpa » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:17 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:34 pm
Flask? Meh, I think of either of these:

Image

Image


It seems that it is not uncommon to call this kind of thing a "ritual flask".
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

pemachophel
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Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Guru?

Post by pemachophel » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:54 pm

many years ago when i lived in india, everyone had a brass version of a tibetan bumpa, but without any feathers or kusha grass. when you went out in the fields to take a dump, you carried this "pitcher" with you. after you had finished your business but were still squatting, you poured a stream of water from such a pitcher down the crack of your buttocks. then used used your left hand to wash your anus. took some getting used to. of course, you then didn't use your left hand for anything that had to do with food. trying to remember the hindi name for. all i'm coming up with is lota.

totally off topic. sorry.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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

Post by WeiHan » Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:24 am

Nosta wrote:
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. :)
You do not need to be close to a Guru all the time. But if the teaching says that receiving an empowerment or reading instructions is a prerequisite, then it cannot be skipped. You may look for an opportunity for an empowerment or a reading instruction for that particular practices. after that, you are free to practice without having to stay close or even in touch with the guru.

jmlee369
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Re: Can you practice Tibetan Buddhism without ever had a Gur

Post by jmlee369 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:01 am

Aspiring.Monk wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:01 pm
I am fortunate enough to be moving to the Phoenix area in a few months and I have learned that Dharma centers abound there. There are 2 that I am particularly interested in checking out. Emaho Foundation and Phoenix Tara Mandala.

If anyone knows of these centers, any personal experiences would be appreciated.
I'll vouch for Emaho, since I'm associated with a sister centre under Za Rinpoche's guidance, but also based on a few brief visits to their old locations in Phoenix. The thing with Emaho is their programme offers just way too much, it can be a bit overwhelming. Rinpoche's teachings and transmissions are generally packaged as workshops, which I recommend if the practice is suitable for you. Both Rinpoche and Geshe Chophel teach in English, and Rinpoche has a unique style of teaching. Rinpoche will be in town soon for around a month or so, not sure if you can catch him then. He has a busy schedule, so it'll probably be another couple of months before he's back. Given your profile, I can say Emaho is a genuine source of transmissions in the Gelug lineage and an opportunity to meet experienced and committed monks.

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

Post by PeterC » Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:56 pm

Nosta wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2015 11:46 pm
... I cannot have teachers (I dont have anyone near me, I live in a non-buddhist country in a area without buddhists at all)...
Don’t be so sure. You don’t need to be close to your teacher or sangha to practice. You only need to have received the practice properly and upheld its commitments. Is it completely impossible that you travel just once to attend a teaching somewhere? And in the meantime, many excellent teachers do webcasts or have online teaching systems. Unless you happen to live in North Korea or somewhere similar, if you really want to receive teachings you will find a way

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

Post by kirtu » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:13 pm

Nosta wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2015 11:46 pm
... I cannot have teachers (I dont have anyone near me, I live in a non-buddhist country in a area without buddhists at all)...
PeterC wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:56 pm
Unless you happen to live in North Korea or somewhere similar, if you really want to receive teachings you will find a way
People have popped in from time to time who live under very dangerous and oppressive circumstances.

However as others have noted, there is often a way to take teaching from authentic masters even under these circumstances.

Hopefully it has been noted that people can do basic sadhanas privately without taking empowerment although even these are usually introduced in a group setting. So by basic sadhanas I mean a Shakyamuni Buddha practice or Green Tara or Avalokiteshvara. Medicine Buddha is sometimes also grouped in here. These sadhanas technically also require empowerment but many lamas (from different lineages) will just suggest beginning their practice and get the empowerment later.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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

Post by kirtu » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:36 pm

kirtu wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:13 pm
Nosta wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2015 11:46 pm
... I cannot have teachers (I dont have anyone near me, I live in a non-buddhist country in a area without buddhists at all)...
Hopefully it has been noted that people can do basic sadhanas privately without taking empowerment although even these are usually introduced in a group setting. So by basic sadhanas I mean a Shakyamuni Buddha practice or Green Tara or Avalokiteshvara. Medicine Buddha is sometimes also grouped in here. These sadhanas technically also require empowerment but many lamas (from different lineages) will just suggest beginning their practice and get the empowerment later.
So to clarify my comment, as noted one cannot practice Buddhism without a teacher. This is true in all schools of Buddhism. However some people have difficult circumstances. One can practice Manhayana and Theravadin teachings even if one has only learned them from a book if there is no other option.

The problem is that people can get strange ideas and can lead oneself astray, away from even a higher worldly rebirth much less toward full Enlightenment.

One can guard against this by focusing on universal lovingkindness and compassion for all beings. And secondly by never doing, saying or thinking anything that is harmful for beings (so never creating heavy negative karma). And thirdly by creating merit whenever possible (so always do virtuous actions - but in some cultures, the United States , for example, many people would say that killing people is a virtuous thing [America used to be very big on killing "evil doers" - thankfully this is diminishing. Some other countries are still even worse on this point) So virtue is considered from the standpoint of the Buddha's teachings, not from the POV of worldly teachings.

However actually putting this into practice is difficult. It may not also be apparent how to put this into practice. But basically, as HHDL has taught, try to never do anything that harms oneself or another being, no matter how small (like insects). Then whenever possible try to help beings when they need help. And train in loving all beings no matter the circumstances.

So this is the beginning of the sutric tradition. In this context one could begin practicing using a brief Shakyamuni Buddha or Avalokiteshvara sadhana if one wished to accumulate blessings and merit and develop devotion and as a good means of training the mind in concentration and wisdom.

So this is really the sutric side of Tibetan Buddhism.

You still need a teacher though. But proceeding in this way has a way of developing good karma so that the circumstances can manifest in order to meet and take teaching from an authentic teacher at least once.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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

Post by Terma » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:12 pm

WeiHan wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:24 am
You do not need to be close to a Guru all the time. But if the teaching says that receiving an empowerment or reading instructions is a prerequisite, then it cannot be skipped. You may look for an opportunity for an empowerment or a reading instruction for that particular practices. after that, you are free to practice without having to stay close or even in touch with the guru.
While it is certainly ideal to have the circumstances to be given regular guidance from one's Guru, I think that otherwise this is correct. We need to connect to an authentic guru and receive empowerments, transmissions and instructions for the practices we wish to do. However I don't really agree with last sentence in the paragraph that I quoted. I think at the very least it is important to be able to rely on a master to provide answers or clarification from time to time regarding the practices we do.

I am lucky to see my own Guru's once a year and sometimes not even that, depending on travel schedule. When an empowerment is given that is a pre-requisite for my own practice I do my best to travel and attend. I request any lungs at that time, the blessing of implements or statues, etc., and try to ask for any pertinent instructions or questions that I have. I try to treasure any other time I might be fortunate to have with my Guru until I see them again.

After this, it is up to me to practice what has been given and to realize that the Guru is always close, despite the number of km's or miles between us.

As an aside, in my experience important questions can be relayed by phone or email and often senior students are asked to help with this sort of thing.

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

Post by WeiHan » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:46 pm

Terma wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:12 pm
WeiHan wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:24 am
You do not need to be close to a Guru all the time. But if the teaching says that receiving an empowerment or reading instructions is a prerequisite, then it cannot be skipped. You may look for an opportunity for an empowerment or a reading instruction for that particular practices. after that, you are free to practice without having to stay close or even in touch with the guru.
While it is certainly ideal to have the circumstances to be given regular guidance from one's Guru, I think that otherwise this is correct. We need to connect to an authentic guru and receive empowerments, transmissions and instructions for the practices we wish to do. However I don't really agree with last sentence in the paragraph that I quoted. I think at the very least it is important to be able to rely on a master to provide answers or clarification from time to time regarding the practices we do.

I am lucky to see my own Guru's once a year and sometimes not even that, depending on travel schedule. When an empowerment is given that is a pre-requisite for my own practice I do my best to travel and attend. I request any lungs at that time, the blessing of implements or statues, etc., and try to ask for any pertinent instructions or questions that I have. I try to treasure any other time I might be fortunate to have with my Guru until I see them again.

After this, it is up to me to practice what has been given and to realize that the Guru is always close, despite the number of km's or miles between us.

As an aside, in my experience important questions can be relayed by phone or email and often senior students are asked to help with this sort of thing.
This issue is probably not as simple as I wrote. I intended it for a person that find it even difficult to receive the prerequisite empowerment and transmission from an authentic guru. So what i meant was that receiving the prerequisite empowerments and transmission is the minimum requirement.

If there is no Guru near one, then connecting with a useful circle of like practitioners is also helpful. One may connect with more than one teachers as many of the teachings are generic in nature and helps with understanding the practices we are doing. And then, forum like this maybe helpful too if you have already gotten the requisite empowerment and transmission.

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