"You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

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dharmafootsteps
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"You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by dharmafootsteps » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:03 am

The title statement is something I heard from one of the most experience practitioners and scholars I know, who is a very close and long term student of one of the most widely well regarded Dzogchen masters. She undoubtedly has a deep understanding of his teachings (and speaks Tibetan). I'm not sure he said this explicitly himself, but I imagine she has a good idea that this is probably his view.

I have heard him emphasise severals times that if circumstances allow, it's important for serious students to learn Tibetan.

Now he mostly teaches through a translator, and part of her point was that it's important to be able to understand your guru directly. That makes sense to me. Not that it is necessary for one to progress on the path, but I can see that it could be necessary in order to achieve the ultimate results based on the guru's instructions.

It got me wondering about ChNN, and other such masters who teach exclusively, or almost exclusively, in English (or some other language) these days. If your master speaks a language you understand directly, does that make it irrelevant whether you know Tibetan or not? It seems even in that case he would still not be able to communicate Dharma in the foreign language as well as he would in Tibetan. Partly due to the fact that the translation of Buddha Dharma into languages other than Tibetan, Sanskrit, Pali and Chinese (and Japanese?), is somewhat lacking, and partly due to the fact that very few Tibetan lamas are nearly as fluent in English or other languages as they are in their native language.

On the other hand, based on my understanding of ChNN's teachings. If your guru can introduce you the the nature of mind, it doesn't seem like language would mater so much anymore, and ChNN is evidently able to do this for his students by speaking in English (or Italian presumably). Once one has recognised the nature of mind, it seems even instructions coming through an (good) translator would be enough. At that point your ability to achieve enlightenment doesn't seem like it would involve communicating difficult concepts, but more just your diligence in following your master's instructions.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

fckw
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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by fckw » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:49 pm

Did Shakyamuni Buddha speak Tibetan?

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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Crazywisdom » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:09 pm

Disagree
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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:11 pm

I have no delusions about reaching enlightenment in this life. Actually, I think that right now, for me, there are much more important things for me to do to reach enlightenment, learning Tibetan doesn't rank highly on the list (though it would be kind of useful).
"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: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Norwegian » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:13 pm

fckw wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:49 pm
Did Shakyamuni Buddha speak Tibetan?
No, but this question is asked in the context of Buddhadharma as taught in the Indo-Tibetan traditions. That means Sanskrit and Tibetan, because those are the primary languages in which these teachings are taught in. Primarily Tibetan, considering the state of Sanskrit as a language.

So, do you need to know Tibetan to achieve Buddhahood in this life? No. Many important teachings are now available in English (and other languages), and so if you receive those teachings from a qualified teacher, and put them into study and practice, you can do that.

Of course, if you learn Tibetan you will be infinitely better off, as you'll have access to the entire vast corpus of Buddhadharma as found in Indo-Tibetan traditions.

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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Jangchup Donden » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:17 pm

Do you need to be able to read the entire Indo-Tibetan corpus if you have access to a teacher and translator who can provide pith practical instructions?

Maybe it’s my Kagyu/Nyingma bias shining through, but I feel like having my butt on the cushion practicing what I’ve been taught is a much better use of my time than learning Tibetan and doing my best to conceptually understand hundreds of volumes... even if it has been taught to me through a translator.

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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by pemachophel » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:45 pm

IMO, while achieving Enlightenment in this life is a noble and worthy goal, an even nobler and worthier goal is working for the benefit (samsaric) and ease (nirvanic) of all sentient beings covered by the sky.

As for learning Tibetan, if one is practicing Tibetan Buddhism, learning to at least read and, even better, learning to read and speak Tibetan has many, many advantages. However, you also need to consider your age. If young and healthy, I think it is very useful to spend the time learning this language. If old and/or unhealthy, maybe not so much.

Can you achieve Enlightenment without learning Tibetan? Of course. But then you should ask yourself, can you practice with great faith, diligence, and determination all day every day your entire life? That's the issue.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by dzogchungpa » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:38 pm

Setting aside "enlightenment in this life" it would be interesting, although perhaps not really feasible, to compile a list of westerners who have actually attained some degree of realization by practicing in a Tibetan lineage and see if there was any correlation with how much Tibetan they had studied. Of the few that I happen to know about, don't ask me who, they didn't study much of it as far as I know. It is in fact much easier to learn Tibetan now than in the past so maybe the correlation will increase in the future. Personally, I think the more important factors are training and attainment in previous lives and diligence in this one.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by conebeckham » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:00 pm

Learning enough Tibetan to practice is quite useful. And it is a far easier goal than “enlightenment,” of course. Being able to read and understand sadhanas and related tri texts is not a huge undertaking, IMO. But if your goal is to study Kangyur and Tengyur, that’s going to take more effort. Still, it’s child’s play compared to “enlightenment,” let’s not kid ourselves.
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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Josef
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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Josef » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:06 pm

The essence of dharma isn’t confined to any language. It’s about the direct realization the trikaya.
Kye ma!
The river of continuity is marked by impermanence.
Ceaseless flowing of appearance.
Beautiful and repulsive.
The dance of life and death is a display of the vast expanse.
With gratitude the watcher and the watched pass through the barrier of duality.

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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:45 pm

dharmafootsteps wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:03 am
The title statement is something I heard from one of the most experience practitioners and scholars I know, who is a very close and long term student of one of the most widely well regarded Dzogchen masters. She undoubtedly has a deep understanding of his teachings (and speaks Tibetan). I'm not sure he said this explicitly himself, but I imagine she has a good idea that this is probably his view.

I have heard him emphasise severals times that if circumstances allow, it's important for serious students to learn Tibetan.

Now he mostly teaches through a translator, and part of her point was that it's important to be able to understand your guru directly. That makes sense to me. Not that it is necessary for one to progress on the path, but I can see that it could be necessary in order to achieve the ultimate results based on the guru's instructions.

It got me wondering about ChNN, and other such masters who teach exclusively, or almost exclusively, in English (or some other language) these days. If your master speaks a language you understand directly, does that make it irrelevant whether you know Tibetan or not? It seems even in that case he would still not be able to communicate Dharma in the foreign language as well as he would in Tibetan. Partly due to the fact that the translation of Buddha Dharma into languages other than Tibetan, Sanskrit, Pali and Chinese (and Japanese?), is somewhat lacking, and partly due to the fact that very few Tibetan lamas are nearly as fluent in English or other languages as they are in their native language.

On the other hand, based on my understanding of ChNN's teachings. If your guru can introduce you the the nature of mind, it doesn't seem like language would mater so much anymore, and ChNN is evidently able to do this for his students by speaking in English (or Italian presumably). Once one has recognised the nature of mind, it seems even instructions coming through an (good) translator would be enough. At that point your ability to achieve enlightenment doesn't seem like it would involve communicating difficult concepts, but more just your diligence in following your master's instructions.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?
nah.. however might be very useful to learn the-languge-of-dharma istead of tibetan-colloquial-language. you see this are different things.

also if you want to do like more mantra, the correct pronounciations are at hand and for that almost only the alphabet is needed. prayers and invocations are more complicated haha

im on the road of learning, and until here that's what i learned :shrug:
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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:07 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:00 pm
Learning enough Tibetan to practice is quite useful. And it is a far easier goal than “enlightenment,” of course. Being able to read and understand sadhanas and related tri texts is not a huge undertaking, IMO. But if your goal is to study Kangyur and Tengyur, that’s going to take more effort. Still, it’s child’s play compared to “enlightenment,” let’s not kid ourselves.
I am sure you know plenty of people that know Tibetan and are nowhere near enlightenment in this lifetime! :)
"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: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by conebeckham » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:22 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:07 pm
conebeckham wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:00 pm
Learning enough Tibetan to practice is quite useful. And it is a far easier goal than “enlightenment,” of course. Being able to read and understand sadhanas and related tri texts is not a huge undertaking, IMO. But if your goal is to study Kangyur and Tengyur, that’s going to take more effort. Still, it’s child’s play compared to “enlightenment,” let’s not kid ourselves.
I am sure you know plenty of people that know Tibetan and are nowhere near enlightenment in this lifetime! :)
Indeed. But who am I to tell someone’s state? As far as Non-Tibetan practitioners, the ones I would trust have a working knowledge of the language, at the very least. I can’t tell where their heads are at, but I value their knowledge and experience over pretty much any student who has ignored the language.
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: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Sherab Rigdrol » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:30 pm

Oh well, better luck next life then......

Learning Tibetan for me would be like learning nuclear physics.

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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:46 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:22 pm
Indeed. But who am I to tell someone’s state?
I am sure your discerning wisdom is not that underdeveloped. ;)
...but I value their knowledge and experience over pretty much any student who has ignored the language.
I will agree with the knowledge aspect, but not necessarily with the experience part. I don't think knowing Tibetan is any guarantee of experience.
"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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Malcolm
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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Malcolm » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:49 pm

If you are only going to practice, no, it is not necessary. If you are going to be teacher, however, then some command Of Tibetan is necessary.
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: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by conebeckham » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:06 pm

Knowledge is that which can be communicated, as far as the “means of practice,” or the methods. I think wisdom can be “communicated” but it doesn’t rely so much on language, verbal expression. I think that wisdom is that which one discovers for oneself, in oneself, by practicing methods and also by having one’s wisdom pointed out. However, in order for the pointing out to succeed, one needs some informed interest at the least, or some genuine unfeigned devotion.

But my perspective is limited, and there are likely now circumstances where methods exist entirely without need of any Tibetan language. These days, much is available that was not 20 years ago. There are retreat centers where students are practicing the complete path with no Tibetan knowledge, I think. I was trained, and continue to be trained, in a pretty traditional Tibetan fashion and trying to chant in English, etc. Feels unnatural to me. But those are just my circumstances, and who am I to say that my path was better or more complete, without knowing the specifics of another’s path?
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: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:21 pm

I think that's a silly statement. however, In order to study texts etc. knowing Tibetan can only help, even the small amount I've picked up from people in the know has been exceptionally helpful.
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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by Virgo » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:39 am

dharmafootsteps wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:03 am

Anyone have any thoughts on this?
You need to learn three languages actually.

The language of your own body, the language of your own speech, and the language of your own mind. If you can also learn Tibetan, that is good.

Kevin...
ངོ་རང་ཐོག་ཏུ་སྤྲད། །
ཐག་གཅིག་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅད། །
གདེང་གྲོལ་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅའ། །


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Re: "You need to know Tibetan to achieve enlightenment in this life"

Post by dzogchungpa » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:50 am

Virgo wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:39 am
dharmafootsteps wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:03 am

Anyone have any thoughts on this?
You need to learn three languages actually.

The language of your own body, the language of your own speech, and the language of your own mind. If you can also learn Tibetan, that is good.

Kevin...

I think most people know the language of their own speech already.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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