empowerments and focus

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empowerments and focus

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:26 pm

What say you:

If you have the opportunity to get empowerments from a High Lama, should you do so simply on the basis of having the good fortune to have that opportunity, or should you only do so if you expect to take on the practice? Basically, if you take on the practice, and it scatters your focus by accumulating too many practices, are you better off not going to such empowerments, or should you take advantage of the opportunity regardless?
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by heart » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:38 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:What say you:

If you have the opportunity to get empowerments from a High Lama, should you do so simply on the basis of having the good fortune to have that opportunity, or should you only do so if you expect to take on the practice? Basically, if you take on the practice, and it scatters your focus by accumulating too many practices, are you better off not going to such empowerments, or should you take advantage of the opportunity regardless?
It is something very personal, impossible to generalise. I left an empowerment of Yamanataka by HHDL because he clearly told us at the beginning of the empowerment that everyone that didn't want to apply the practice for the rest of their life should leave. I had different focus with my practice.

/magnus
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"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: empowerments and focus

Post by conebeckham » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:55 pm

I'm with Magnus; it's hard to generalize an answer.

I personally think it's more important to consider the teacher, and the lineage, than the empowerment. What is one's practice focus? Does the empowerment relate to one's focus?

There are so many different factors to consider.....commitment(s) and samaya are important.
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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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by kirtu » Sat Jan 23, 2016 1:29 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:What say you:

If you have the opportunity to get empowerments from a High Lama, should you do so simply on the basis of having the good fortune to have that opportunity, or should you only do so if you expect to take on the practice? Basically, if you take on the practice, and it scatters your focus by accumulating too many practices, are you better off not going to such empowerments, or should you take advantage of the opportunity regardless?
As with the other respondents, I agree that it depends.

However I was specifically told that in the Sakya tradition one of the practices is actually taking empowerments. Of course it does depend also on commitments, but in general we roll our commitments into one practice. Since you specifically mentioned that the lama is considered a "high lama", then the opportunity for purification and blessing is great. Also see if you have an affinity with the lama primarily or the practice secondarily. If the later is true, then even if you can't practice daily now it may be advisable to take it. If the former is true (and it should be in any case) then you can always go for the blessing and purification.

I regret strongly not being able to take empowerments/teaching from a great Nyingma lama who my intuition told me I would be able to meet only once (this turned out to be true). I was definitely transitioning from Zen to Tibetan Buddhism and out of the blue got an invitation to this event (as did many people). There were obstacles but at the last minute they cleared up and I could have gone. This lama is considered a great modern day lama now. Back then I just knew that I was supposed to take teaching from him.

So intuition plays a role as well.

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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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sat Jan 23, 2016 1:44 am

kirtu wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:What say you:

If you have the opportunity to get empowerments from a High Lama, should you do so simply on the basis of having the good fortune to have that opportunity, or should you only do so if you expect to take on the practice? Basically, if you take on the practice, and it scatters your focus by accumulating too many practices, are you better off not going to such empowerments, or should you take advantage of the opportunity regardless?
As with the other respondents, I agree that it depends.

However I was specifically told that in the Sakya tradition one of the practices is actually taking empowerments. Of course it does depend also on commitments, but in general we roll our commitments into one practice. Since you specifically mentioned that the lama is considered a "high lama", then the opportunity for purification and blessing is great. Also see if you have an affinity with the lama primarily or the practice secondarily. If the later is true, then even if you can't practice daily now it may be advisable to take it. If the former is true (and it should be in any case) then you can always go for the blessing and purification.

I regret strongly not being able to take empowerments/teaching from a great Nyingma lama who my intuition told me I would be able to meet only once (this turned out to be true). I was definitely transitioning from Zen to Tibetan Buddhism and out of the blue got an invitation to this event (as did many people). There were obstacles but at the last minute they cleared up and I could have gone. This lama is considered a great modern day lama now. Back then I just knew that I was supposed to take teaching from him.

So intuition plays a role as well.

Kirt
This is helpful Kirt, thanks. I have had only Sakya empowerments thus far. I have never gotten any particularly strict instructions on commitments at the empowerment, but so far they are not practices which take much time either, so I have committed to doing them. I have also already had one initiation with this Lama, and definitely felt a connection....so I think my decision is swayed now.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by Virgo » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:12 am

All commitments roll into your main practice.

:namaste:

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by conebeckham » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:13 am

Virgo wrote:All commitments roll into your main practice.

:namaste:
This depends.
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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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by Terma » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:23 am

heart wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:What say you:

If you have the opportunity to get empowerments from a High Lama, should you do so simply on the basis of having the good fortune to have that opportunity, or should you only do so if you expect to take on the practice? Basically, if you take on the practice, and it scatters your focus by accumulating too many practices, are you better off not going to such empowerments, or should you take advantage of the opportunity regardless?
It is something very personal, impossible to generalise. I left an empowerment of Yamanataka by HHDL because he clearly told us at the beginning of the empowerment that everyone that didn't want to apply the practice for the rest of their life should leave. I had different focus with my practice.

/magnus
Magnus raises a good point. Perhaps it is best to ask about commitments and things of this nature ahead of time. Some teachers may be more strict than others or have a different expectation than others, whereas on the other hand I have heard teachers say that they don't give commitments, but those are often more wide spread and common empowerments in those cases.

One thing that is interesting that I have wondered about though. In a few empowerments while the text is being recited and translated, I have heard the part where it says "by taking this empowerment you are promising to keep this deity for the rest of your life"...or something along those lines. But no commitments are given in such cases. Is this something that is commonly written into the empowerment texts?

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by Virgo » Sat Jan 23, 2016 5:35 am

conebeckham wrote:
Virgo wrote:All commitments roll into your main practice.

:namaste:
This depends.
Hmmm... on what?

K

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by 明安 Myoan » Sat Jan 23, 2016 5:55 am

Even if you don't need the medicine right now, why not accept the gift of transmission for later, or even a future life for when you will need it?
Maybe this isn't how transmission works? :shrug:
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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by Adamantine » Sat Jan 23, 2016 7:03 am

Monlam Tharchin wrote:Even if you don't need the medicine right now, why not accept the gift of transmission for later, or even a future life for when you will need it?
Maybe this isn't how transmission works? :shrug:
Not exactly. Receiving a wang and the accompanying samayas will either become medicine or poison, depending on how you relate with them. It's advised in many texts such as Words Of My Perfect Teacher to study a potential Vajra Guru for a long time—in WOMPT the advice is 12 years—to discern their qualities (not their superficial titles or reputations) and know if you have the confidence and faith to follow their commands (trusting they will bring you to awakening) and to see them with pure vision. If you take the samaya water and then abandon your samayas the nectar turns to poison and the consequences dire. So you may be better off not taking a wang and treading a slower path. This is common knowledge in Vajrayana.

It's said that if you can honestly keep your commitments with many Lamas, and can see them each with pure vision, then it is wonderful to take many empowerments with many Lamas and to study with them as well. However if you don't know if you will be able to do this, or know that you are not able to, it is better to just connect this way with one Lama that you can have total confidence in.

I've seen too many seemingly devout and earnest Western Buddhist converts take very special wangs and then at the slightest friction or discursive thought abandon the Lama and jump to another, speaking badly of the former explicitly or implicitly and thinking little of the tantric commitments they forged. Of course there are exceptions, such as if the Lama was not authentic, or not keeping their own samayas, etc. but these are not the case in the instances I am thinking of. So it is better to not be casual about these things, and to study the 14 root samayas and their downfalls which apply to all authentic Vajrayana wangs and see if you are prepared to commit to them and perhaps much more under a given Lama's command and direction.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by MalaBeads » Sat Jan 23, 2016 1:24 pm

Adamantine wrote:This is common knowledge in Vajrayana.
Oh really? Perahps it is common knowledege for you and your cronnies, now, today but when I started in tibetan buddhism (1984) Words Of My Perfect Teacher had not even been translated yet. And you have said something in this very post that I had never heard before, mainly that an empowerment can become medicine or poison depending on how you relate with it. So be careful with what you think is "common knowledge".

Right now on this very board there is a thread called "First Ever Empowerment at Samye Ling". Read the advice he is given and the replies. No one mentions anything even close to what you just said. "Common knowledge", my foot.
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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:09 pm

In my opinion, irrespective of this or that empowerment, special or not, as long as one remains interested in the path, than all of your samayas are intact, whether or not you do this or that visualization or chant this or that mantra.

Your vows are all rolled up in one question: are you interested in liberating yourself for the benefit of all sentient beings or not? If yes, then you have samaya. If not, then not.

There are acts which can break your path commitments, but these also can be restored. Vajrayāna samaya is not whips and chains.

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by Adamantine » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:46 pm

Yes, bodhicitta is the main samaya, I believe also.. Vajrayana is an extension of Mahayana.

The "snake in the bamboo tube" analogy is one of the first
emphatic teachings I received on Vajrayana back in 1994 from a Gelugpa geshe at the
Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS) a Rimé school inclusive
of teachers from various lineages. I've since heard the same analogy hundreds of times
so it seems like it's common knowledge to me, in my experience, and it's another way to
express "medicine or poison". The snake in the bamboo tube (in case anyone's never heard of it)
illustrates that once you've entered the Vajrayana path and taken Samaya you can either go
straight up-to liberation, or straight down, to the intensified samsaric state
described as "vajra hell". There's no horizontal third option. This depends on ones ability to keep commitments.
If one sincerely tries to keep them, but doesn't succeed, and does purification practice
of Vajrasattva regularly with awareness, this is expected (and part of the process since
many samayas are not easy to keep until one is already quite advanced). But if one believes these commitments don't really matter, and takes them lightly, and ignores or scorns the Lama without remorse, this will orient you in the wrong direction.


An excerpt from this article by Lama Jampa Thaye: http://www.tricycle.com/blog/vidyadhara ... -vajrayana:
Unfortunately, there is, nowadays, some confusion about Tantric vows and pledges. One instance of this is the mistaken assumption entertained by those who believe that they have a Tantric master – disciple relationship with teachers from whom they have not obtained initiation. On the other hand there are many who do not realize that they do indeed have such a relationship with each master from whom they have received initiation. This is made explicit at the end of virtually all initiations, when the disciple repeats the verses promising to maintain whatever vows and pledges he has been given by that master and requesting to be accepted as a disciple.

Incidentally, one should note that mere ignorance of the fact that one has vows and pledges does not provide immunity from the severe consequences of breaking them. Of course, the benefits of keeping the Vidyadhara vow and the Tantric pledges are correspondingly great. Indeed it is said that those, who are unable to practice the deity yoga and other Tantric meditations but nevertheless maintain their vows, will be able to achieve enlightenment within sixteen lifetimes.

Over the last four decades hundreds of thousands of people in the USA alone must have taken Tantric initiations. However, I guess that many would be surprised to learn of the importance of vows in such initiations let alone that they have actually taken them. So, as some kind of antidote to this mixed- up confusion, it seems appropriate to close with the words of Sakya Pandita:

‘The Buddha has declared that, even if one practices the profound skilful path of Vajrayana, if one doesn’t possess the virtue arising from vows, enlightenment will not be obtained.’
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by dzogchungpa » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:12 pm

Possibly of interest, from Garchen Rinpoche: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php? ... 6416691093
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by MalaBeads » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:20 pm

Thank you Malcolm.

It interesting that you use the example of the bamboo tube, Adamantine. I have encountered this metaphor before, when I was a young zen student but I was told it mean something different. I was told it meant you couldn't move.

Obviously, we have all been told different things.
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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by Adamantine » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:26 pm

MalaBeads wrote:Thank you Malcolm.

It interesting that you use the example of the bamboo tube, Adamantine. I have encountered this metaphor before, when I was a young zen student but I was told it mean something different. I was told it meant you couldn't move.

Obviously, we have all been told different things.
Zen is not Vajrayana so it was clearly a different analogy to illustrate
a different context using a similar object as its reference. So yeah, I'm sure Zen students are told
different things than Vajrayana students, as it should be-- they are not learning about
Vajrayana.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by heart » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:35 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:Possibly of interest, from Garchen Rinpoche: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php? ... 6416691093
I agree with this,but it don't really cover the situation mentioned in my previous post.

/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: empowerments and focus

Post by dzogchungpa » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:46 pm

heart wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:Possibly of interest, from Garchen Rinpoche: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php? ... 6416691093
I agree with this,but it don't really cover the situation mentioned in my previous post.

/magnus
Fair enough.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: empowerments and focus

Post by narraboth » Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:00 pm

Virgo wrote:
conebeckham wrote:
Virgo wrote:All commitments roll into your main practice.

:namaste:
This depends.
Hmmm... on what?

K
On the teacher and the tradition.
Not every teacher and lineage allows students to merge commitments into one main practice, especially when the practice is from different school/lineage.
In magnus case, Gelug tradition yamantaka require a certain daily practice, you can not replace or merge it with Nyingma or sakya daily practice. Even if it's the same deity, different masters can give a tighter or looser definition on commitments. I've heard that someone has to do a deity practice from both Sakya and Gelug lineage everyday because he received both from different masters, even the practices are just a little bit different in details.

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