Two teachers, two different answers

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davcuts
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Two teachers, two different answers

Post by davcuts » Sat Mar 26, 2016 6:52 am

Several years ago I was in a bad place. I sent emails to two teachers asking them for help and advice. The question I asked them was regarding samaya. I wanted to know if I had broke mine. I had been in a cult which left me devastated. I won't name the cult because of TOS of Dharmawheel. As a result I spoke out against the cult and its teacher. I created a group called the Survivors for former members of the cult. The group became a success and in September of last year His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with Survivors and even invited them to attend his teachings in India this year. I have received a lot of thanks from people over the years for creating the group. One man even thanked me for saving his marriage. When I first created the Survivors group I wasn't sure if I did the right thing. We after all where being critical of our former teacher. So when I asked for advice I was surprised to get two different answers. One teacher told me it was the wrong thing to do, and I did break my samaya. He went so far to suggest the result will be hell for me when I die. The other teacher on the other hand said I did nothing wrong. The teacher from the cult I was in had broken his samaya with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and had been expelled from his university. According to the second teacher I had no samaya to break. I have struggled with this for several years and would like to know how others feel about it. Did I do the wrong thing by creating the group? Just in case I did send a letter to my former teacher and begged his forgiveness for speaking so harshly about him. I would like to get past this but I really don't know enough about samaya to know which teacher is correct. So any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,
David

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Konchog1
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by Konchog1 » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:30 am

You might find this page helpful. It answers people with similar questions to yours.

http://www.lamayeshe.com/advice/dorje-shugden

For example:
In addition, if one has received teachings, initiations, and so forth from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso*, including the practice of Dorje Shugden, there is a way of practicing lam-rim in relation to this situation. In the lam-rim, it says that the Buddhas—for example, Buddha Vajradhara, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, and so forth—manifest in ordinary form and guide us to enlightenment. That means they manifest in an ordinary aspect that shows mistakes, such as having delusions, performing mistaken actions, and so on. One can also think in this way about the situation, according to the lam-rim. In reality, there is no mistake here, but the guru is showing the aspect of making mistakes, like a movie actor.
Personally, I believe it is okay to 'play along' with your Guru's pretended faults by warning others, calling the police, whatever. You just must be careful to not degrade the guru and to always remember that he or she is a fully enlightened Buddha.

That said, if the teacher has broken samaya himself that I think that there is no samaya to pass on. Perhaps the more informed can comment.
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

Punya
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by Punya » Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:08 am

I'm sorry you are in this situation davcuts. A current thread canvasses some opinions on this topic http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=21951 but it's not the same as talking to a teacher, is it?

If you are not comfortable discussing this with your current teacher, one option might be to write to Geshe Tashi Tsering of Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London. He is a Gelug teacher I can absolutely recommend.
We abide nowhere. We possess nothing.
~Chatral Rinpoche

davcuts
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by davcuts » Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:44 pm

Thanks Konchog1, and Punya. I really don't know which teacher is correct. I feel more of a connection to the teacher who told me I did nothing wrong. I worry that's because he told me what I wanted to hear. Perhaps there is no right or wrong answer to this. When the Survivors group met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he told them to always speak the truth, but also we need to view out former teacher with respect. That suggest to me we indeed have samaya with him. To what extent we need to speak the truth without being harsh I don't know. The teacher who told me it was wrong to be critical of my former teacher suggested we have samaya with anyone who teaches us Dharma, so even being critical of someone whos sole intention is to abuse Dharma, breaks samaya. He is the only teacher that I have received that advice from. I don't know what to believe. All I know is it would be nice to know I'm not going to spend eons in hell.

Thanks,
David

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Malcolm
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by Malcolm » Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:52 pm

Hi Dave, you did just fine.
davcuts wrote:Several years ago I was in a bad place. I sent emails to two teachers asking them for help and advice. The question I asked them was regarding samaya. I wanted to know if I had broke mine. I had been in a cult which left me devastated. I won't name the cult because of TOS of Dharmawheel. As a result I spoke out against the cult and its teacher. I created a group called the Survivors for former members of the cult. The group became a success and in September of last year His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with Survivors and even invited them to attend his teachings in India this year. I have received a lot of thanks from people over the years for creating the group. One man even thanked me for saving his marriage. When I first created the Survivors group I wasn't sure if I did the right thing. We after all where being critical of our former teacher. So when I asked for advice I was surprised to get two different answers. One teacher told me it was the wrong thing to do, and I did break my samaya. He went so far to suggest the result will be hell for me when I die. The other teacher on the other hand said I did nothing wrong. The teacher from the cult I was in had broken his samaya with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and had been expelled from his university. According to the second teacher I had no samaya to break. I have struggled with this for several years and would like to know how others feel about it. Did I do the wrong thing by creating the group? Just in case I did send a letter to my former teacher and begged his forgiveness for speaking so harshly about him. I would like to get past this but I really don't know enough about samaya to know which teacher is correct. So any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,
David
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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Malcolm
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by Malcolm » Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:53 pm

davcuts wrote: All I know is it would be nice to know I'm not going to spend eons in hell.
HHDL already said that you were blameless many times.
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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Grigoris
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by Grigoris » Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:14 pm

Dear Dave,

I would put the whole thing on a set of scales: "Harm I did through my actions" on one side, "Benefit I achieved through my actions" on the other side (just like Yama would).

Which side does it tip towards? I bet I can guess! :smile:

Thank you for saving people from and helping them overcome the damage caused by a pernicious cult.

Please don't ever regret what you did!

If you feel you have violated samaya, instead of sitting around worrying about it, speak to your current teacher to give you practices in order to repair any harm you may have done.
"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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conebeckham
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by conebeckham » Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:45 pm

I personally think you had no samaya to break, and that your actions have benefitted many. But you have already confessed to your prior teacher, so even if there were samaya, you've done everything you can do. Purification practice is good for all of us, I think. A daily VajrasAttva practice is a good thing.

Tantric Samaya is constantly being broken, honestly, by most of us, in some sense. Of the three levels of vows, these are the easiest to mend.
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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heart
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by heart » Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:59 pm

Dear Dave, you already know what is right and what is wrong so why don't you try to relax now.

/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)

jmlee369
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by jmlee369 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 9:39 am

Hi Dave,

First, I think that having received HHDL's advice and support, that is all that you really need. But, knowing the teachings and style of that one lama who mentioned broken samaya, I would like to explain that perspective in some detail.

First, it concerns the nature of samaya. In the Gelug tradition, samaya and tantric vows are established only when you take a yoga or highest yoga tantra initiation from a vajra master. Unless you have directly received such initiations from KG in person, you do not have samaya or vows with him. Having established this kind of connection however, it is important not to disparage that master by being impolite towards and criticising them, because that is the first major tantric downfall. Lama Tsongkhapa's comentary explains: "at issue is not the amount of qualities possessed by masters who have been kind enough to teach us the Vajrayana, but their connection with tantric doctrine." (from Tantric Ethics: An Explanation of the Precepts for the Buddhist Vajrayana Practice translated by Jeffrey Hopkins). Also, to fully commit this downfall, you must disparage this master from the heart repeatedly, enjoy the act, feel no regret, and not repair the fault. It seems that you haven't met all these criteria.

The reason why that particular teacher you consulted was concerned for you was out of his compassion and his personal understanding of the KG situation. It appears to me that at that time, and perhaps even now, that particular teacher still viewed KG as presenting acceptable dharma teachings, and was in error only with regards to the protector issue. Had they known the full extent of the distortions that were happening in KG's teachings, the response might have been different. Nevertheless, if at some point you made a samaya connection with KG, the course of action to take is to distance yourself and cut yourself away from him, and to ignore his instructions which are not in accordance with the dharma. This is as taught in the Kalachakra tantra, and also mentioned by Lama Tsongkhapa, HHDL, and others. In terms of critcisms, they should be focused at the organisational failings and the poor choices and decisions of the leader, without criticising the person.

More generally, there is a certain level of respect that needs to be given to dharma teachers. General dharma teachers do not need to be seen as Buddhas; developing that level of pure view is only necessary in tantra. Nevertheless, that kind of respect and view is not saying that they actually are Buddhas, but rather advice for the sake of your mind training. This is why HHDL advised you to maintain some level of respect for KG, not because of samaya, but because you have received at least some kind of dharma teaching from KG. This can be seen from the example used elsewhere by the teacher you e-mailed: "For example, Garchen Geshe Kyaltsen left out his ga-ka [alphabet] teacher from the merit field. This teacher had disrobed, stolen things, and apparently was a terrible person. However, because Geshe Kyaltsen let him out of the merit field, he was unable to generate lam-rim realizations despite meditating for a very long time. Then, he was advised to make this teacher the central figure of the merit field. After doing this, realizations came. Whatever a teacher does or does not do, it is the disciple’s responsibility to cultivate and maintain proper devotion." The point of that example is that objectively, the teacher is a terrible person. But for the sake of the student's own practice, regardless of the actual status of the teacher, the student should maintain respect in their minds. Having this respect does not mean following that teacher's instructions, doing as they ask, or worshipping them in actual life.

In general, as others have mentioned, we are almost constantly breaking samaya. As the teacher you e-mailed said elsewhere: "Those who have taken vows are constantly creating negative karma by constantly breaking the branch vows, and also the root vows." It is not the case that you're alone in committing these actions. That's why teachers also emphasise the need for purification practices, such as Vajrasattva. That particular teacher emphasises the need for everyone to do at least 21 long Vajrasattva mantras everyday to purify our broken samaya. That's also why Gelugpas have the daily commitment to practice six session guru yoga. It is not uncommon to speak about birth in hells in the context of the negative karma we accumulate in relation to highest yoga tantra, but it is also the case that these things can be purified. In fact, my own teacher has said during an initiation that by receiving the initiation, we are quite likely to create causes for being born into the hells. Nevertheless, we are better off in the long term. So the mention of hells should not frighten us, and we should also utilise the purification practices that are available. One such purification method that was mentioned by the teacher you e-mailed was simply seeing this mantra: Image

It may also be worth remembering another one of the tantric vows (sourced from Berzin Archives): "(10) Being loving toward malevolent people:
Malevolent people are those who despise our personal teachers, spiritual masters in general, or the Buddhas, Dharma, or the Sangha, or who, in addition, cause harm or damage to any of them. Although it is inappropriate to forsake the wish for such persons to be happy and have the causes for happiness, we commit a root downfall by acting or speaking lovingly toward them. Such action includes being friendly with them, supporting them by buying goods they produce, books that they write, and so on. If we are motivated purely by love and compassion, and possess the means to stop their destructive behavior and transfer them to a more positive state, we would certainly try to do so, even if it means resorting to forceful methods. If we lack these qualifications, however, we incur no fault in simply boycotting such persons." If you have taken a HYT intiation outside of the cult, I highly recommend Berzin Archives as a resource for learning more about the details of what samaya (he calls them bonding practices) and tantric vows entail. As you may already know, he also has a great work on healthy teacher-student relationships called Relating to a Spiritual Teacher: Building a Healthy Relationship. and writings like this

My personal advice is for you to do a purification practice like 21 recitations of the Vajrasattva 100 syllable mantra, then put your concerns to rest. Moving forward, mentally maintain some respect for KG as a person, but continue with the survivor's group, criticising the problems of the organisation, the impact on survivors, holding counter-protests etc, but refrain from personal attacks on KG. As I see it, there is no contradiction between the advice you received from HHDL and the two lamas.

davcuts
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by davcuts » Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:40 am

Thank you Malcolm, Sherab Dorje, Conebeckham, Heart, and Jmlee369. Your words of wisdom have helped me a lot. I am going to try and put this behind me, and focus on starting my practice again. There is a new Buddhist center near me called Urban Dharma. They are the same people who own and operate tibetanspirit.com I've checked them out online and they look legit. I look forward to practicing with a sangha again. Thanks again for all your help!

newbie
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by newbie » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:42 am

Beware: it might not raise to the level of comments I had before or to the level of the discussion.
Having followed the topic, I felt inspired by the idea of acting with gentleness. Next, I tried applying this gentle approach and lost the night taking screenshots of the work done and hoping that somewhere at the end of the effort I will find myself disentangled from the cult.
But it might not be so after all.

I wanted to tell early that morning thank you and that I tried.

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Ayu
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Re: Two teachers, two different answers

Post by Ayu » Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:42 am

I hope, the OP's question was answered sufficiantly now.
:namaste:
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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