Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

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Hazel
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Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by Hazel » Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:01 am

Hello,

I am very fresh on the path - only about a year into regular practice (before that it was more of an off and on again curiosity). I have heretofore tried to keep an open mind and not pick a particular tradition, but as time progresses I am increasingly drawn to Tibetan Buddhism (not sure which school - but I figure that will be made obvious by what resources are available to me).

I'd like to go in that direction more in earnest and I'm hoping for some guidance in that regard.

When other people ask this question, typically the main responses are one of the following:

* Get a teacher
* Find a local dharma center... and then get a teacher
* Study and make yourself a proper student... and then you'll get a teacher.

This is great advice! However, for the time being I'm pretty limited to remote resources. Is there a remote approach to these things?

I ultimately plan on attending a local dharma center, but for now that isn't in the cards.

I currently have a spiritual mentor I meet with monthly, but they are not a Tibetan Buddhist (though they are Buddhist). Presumably I will need to find one who is a Tibetan Buddhism practitioner of the school I chose.

Thank you friends!

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PeterC
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by PeterC » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:03 am

Hazel wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:01 am
Hello,

I am very fresh on the path - only about a year into regular practice (before that it was more of an off and on again curiosity). I have heretofore tried to keep an open mind and not pick a particular tradition, but as time progresses I am increasingly drawn to Tibetan Buddhism (not sure which school - but I figure that will be made obvious by what resources are available to me).

I'd like to go in that direction more in earnest and I'm hoping for some guidance in that regard.

When other people ask this question, typically the main responses are one of the following:

* Get a teacher
* Find a local dharma center... and then get a teacher
* Study and make yourself a proper student... and then you'll get a teacher.

This is great advice! However, for the time being I'm pretty limited to remote resources. Is there a remote approach to these things?

I ultimately plan on attending a local dharma center, but for now that isn't in the cards.

I currently have a spiritual mentor I meet with monthly, but they are not a Tibetan Buddhist (though they are Buddhist). Presumably I will need to find one who is a Tibetan Buddhism practitioner of the school I chose.

Thank you friends!
As you've probably guessed, the teacher is important. Far more so than in other traditions, because there is no transmission of Vajrayana practices without a guru, and generally speaking, Tibetan Buddhism practice is mostly Vajrayana.

However there are many excellent teachers who give teachings over a system of interconnected computers, and some have well-developed programs delivered primarily online. I would suggest looking into Mingyur Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche's Triple Excellence program, and since he teaches online a lot, Garchen Rinpoche. There are other good options that I'm sure others will suggest.

It is really important to be very discerning and careful about which teachers you connect with. The easiest way to do that is to start with the most senior lamas in any given lineage. This is a much better criterion than, say, that you have a good feeling about someone, you listened to someone or reach their book and found them inspiring, they're readily accessible, or someone you know recommends them. There's a lot said about this issue on other threads here.

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justsit
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by justsit » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:27 am

Seconding PeterC's suggestions, all are excellent.

If you might be interested in a woman teacher, I highly recommend Khandro Rinpoche. She's fully grounded in genuine dharma, extremely well-educated, her teaching style is very clear and concise.

I must say I owe you a big thank you for this topic, as it sent me in search of a sample video to link and I came across the one posted below. Auspiciously enough, it's exactly what I've needed to hear for a while. Funny how these things work.

[media]https://www.khandrorinpoche.org/teachin ... e-2011-05/[/media]

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Virgo
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by Virgo » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:30 am

Good advices. :thumbsup:

Virgo

avatamsaka3
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by avatamsaka3 » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:32 am

Alex Berzin wrote a book on the teacher-student relationship in Tibetan Buddhism: Wise Teacher Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches To A Healthy Relationship. It's worth checking out. Chapter Six of The Words of My Perfect Teacher deals with finding and relating to a guru. It's a classic, and the previous chapters and subsequent ones are definitely worth reading too. Of course, your actual practice will have to be guided by a real-life guru, who can help you implement what you study.

The Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive distributes a set of their free books. I've found that just about anyone can benefit from those texts, especially Teachings from Tibet. It wouldn't be a bad idea to read the Bodhicaryāvatāra, if you haven't already. One of the mind training texts would be good to study too. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote a commentary on the Seven Points of Mind Training that is highly regarded. Ethics for the New Millennium could serve as a light introduction to certain concepts from a modern perspective.

Garchen Rinpoche is a fantastic example of a compassionate teacher. He teaches remotely, which is great for a lot of people. And his life story is inspiring. But if you can, really try to connect with a teacher in real life. I realize that's hard. In the meantime, there are plenty of opportunities to study aspects of Tibetan Buddhism online. I'd recommend Tara Mandala's online programs. I'd look at online talks from Löpon Chandra Easton. I appreciate her approach to meditation. You're probably aware that the Dalai Lama has a whole archive of teachings on lots of subjects. I'm bringing up a lot of different things here, but all of them can be helpful as you progress. When you pick a specific tradition, you might be more limited in terms of texts and practices.

I'm a flawed practitioner hindered by laziness and doubt, but I know a few things that could help. Let me know if I can offer something else.

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javier.espinoza.t
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:45 am

Hazel wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:01 am
Hello,

I am very fresh on the path - only about a year into regular practice (before that it was more of an off and on again curiosity). I have heretofore tried to keep an open mind and not pick a particular tradition, but as time progresses I am increasingly drawn to Tibetan Buddhism (not sure which school - but I figure that will be made obvious by what resources are available to me).

I'd like to go in that direction more in earnest and I'm hoping for some guidance in that regard.

When other people ask this question, typically the main responses are one of the following:

* Get a teacher
* Find a local dharma center... and then get a teacher
* Study and make yourself a proper student... and then you'll get a teacher.

This is great advice! However, for the time being I'm pretty limited to remote resources. Is there a remote approach to these things?

I ultimately plan on attending a local dharma center, but for now that isn't in the cards.

I currently have a spiritual mentor I meet with monthly, but they are not a Tibetan Buddhist (though they are Buddhist). Presumably I will need to find one who is a Tibetan Buddhism practitioner of the school I chose.

Thank you friends!
if you have limited resources i suggest you to look for a respectable lama (if he/she is also a monk, the better) offer something of your choice and ask for buddhist tantric deity initiation, or if it is a premade event just receive it, it comes with instructions (the how to apply). ask to wich tantric method it belongs to (kriyatantra, yogatantra, mahayoga, etc.), you'll need that for later.

once you have being initiated immediately get a copy/buy of the practice manual that contains the written instructions (to complement the oral instructions from the initiation). now you are ready to cross over.

do the practice following the schedule and way your lama told you to do. it's a method, so be methodical about.

in time, experiences and insights will develop, an then you will want to reach your lama for advice. in modern society, even by email this is possible. do not divulge your experiences to other people unless you know what you are doing.

in time, most probable you'll want to know what in the hell are you doing. then you need to study a bit what is called "the philosophy" about. it is not really philosophy, it is crucial information to straighten your practice and to realize what you are experiencing at that point. things like the 3 "view, practice and behaviour" according to the tantra you are practicing, etc. such thing puts one "in the map of the land of your lama teachings", etc., it's like a compass also, like healthy criteria, etc.

there is much try and error in the process, even if "you catch the ball" from your lama since the beginning, so don't discourage. your resolve to keep up should not be negotiable.

---

you touched 3 points, so i will go the same way:

tradition is only for picking a "clean" lineage, why? you don't want to receive anything from irresponsible people. you want to be in the pack of good practitioners, not to show off, but to practice something that can actually bring fruits. teacher-student and student-student relationships are a bond that marks the future of the transmission, keep it respectable.

dharma centers are fine to visit, but if people do more social networking there than practice-study, be diligent: occasional visits are fine to watch for the older practitioners that know how to apply method.

you can't be a student without a teacher. most people think that they must read books and then practice, but it is the other way around. it begins with the initiation, and one or two initiations are sufficient.


this is my stupid advice. your question is pretty valuable, i'm sure many here can tell answers. i'd would like to have had someone to whom ask.

fckw
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by fckw » Wed Mar 11, 2020 5:13 pm

As a further advise: skip all the big shot teachers for the start. Search for the unknown ones, with whom you can have a 1:1 discussion every now and then. The big ones generally only give initiations, and only few inner circle students ever receive in depth instructions from them.

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 11, 2020 5:42 pm

You can get plenty of good teachings from many of the sources listed above.

Vajrayana Buddhism, at some point, involves a live, real time, one-to-one relationship with a qualified teacher.
I say “at some point” because many (if not most) students who practice Vajrayana Buddhism, even ‘devoutly’, going to teachings, keeping a regular practice schedule, having personal meetings with the teachers to ask them questions or confide in them, even very few of these develop to a stage of a devoted “guru-disciple” “heart-student” relationship, like Milarepa, or the Karate Kid, or Kung Fu Panda. And that’s totally alright. Not everybody needs that. At least, very few people need it right away.

But there is plenty that you can learn about on your own, and you should, so that you have lots of questions, so that at some point when you meet a teacher you can have regular interactions with, who can give you proper instructions (“training”?) you will be ready for that.

This suggestion may seem to contradict what others say. Actually, everybody is different. If you get a lot of conflicting messages, it’s not that one is right and one is wrong. Rather, everybody has their own experience and that is all they can share with you. All the advice may be good advice, depending on your own karma, what you can connect with best.
I’m merely passing along what I have heard teachers say.
Profile Picture: "The Fo Ming (Buddha Bright) Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

avatamsaka3
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by avatamsaka3 » Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:08 pm

Rather, everybody has their own experience and that is all they can share with you. All the advice may be good advice, depending on your own karma, what you can connect with best. I’m merely passing along what I have heard teachers say.
:good:

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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by Sunrise » Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:43 pm

Hazel wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:01 am

for the time being I'm pretty limited to remote resources.
Tara Mandala has a lot of online courses, FPMT has distance study programs, and there are others. Do you have group you can practice meditation with even if they aren't Tibetan Buddhist? Maybe a Zen or Theravada group? Heck, there might be some mindfulness meditation groups on MeetUp, or elsewhere. Sometimes it's nice to just have a group to meditate with and discuss spiritual things.

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by 明安 Myoan » Wed Mar 11, 2020 7:06 pm

The Vajrayana teachings on bodhicitta are a precious resource for any Buddhist.

Some of my other favorite resources:
* Berzin Archies -- Tibetan Buddhism
* Daily Lojong
* Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Teachings

There are also mantras open to everyone, such as those of Chenrezig, Amitabha, Namgyälma, Medicine Buddha, Green Tara...
These all bestow benefits just from hearing, seeing, or reciting them.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen

avatamsaka3
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by avatamsaka3 » Wed Mar 11, 2020 8:56 pm

The Vajrayana teachings on bodhicitta are a precious resource for any Buddhist.
:heart:

but also

:jedi:

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Hazel
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by Hazel » Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:13 pm

Thank you all so much for your replies! I have referenced them multiple times and I appreciate all of them. I'm going to respond to several, without quoting.

The Triple Excellence program is very tempting because it appears to offer a guided path, which is what I need right now. I need focus and clear direction. However, I am not currently spending money, so will likely have to rely on free sources. Unfortunately all the guided path stuff is not free - which I am not complaining about, but it is a limitation. I also don't have a financial "need" to not spend money (it's a commitment my partner and I have made for this year to live a more fulfilling life) so I don't feel comfortable asking for an exception.

I am suspicious of Tara Mandala and I can't quite put my figure on why. On paper, they're everything I could dream of for a dharma organization - female empowerment and tara focused, what a great gift! But some of the talk of living on site make me feel like it's a bit culty and there's another feeling I just can't shake. I really don't want to have these feelings. I took an online webinar from them and they seem genuine and enthusiastic and also committed to sharing the Dharma. Why am I so averse to what could be an indispensable gem!

The Khandro Rinpoche video was great! She seems like a very well qualified teacher.

I have a Tibetan Buddhist center I can attend, but I am waiting for the smoke to clear on COVID-19 and I've had difficulty getting out there (or anywhere) previously, so I thought it best not to wait to take action. I definitely plan on attending. I am also waiting to see how the FPMT concludes a certain circumstance I really don't want to get into in this thread.

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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by avatamsaka3 » Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:16 pm

But some of the talk of living on site make me feel like it's a bit culty
Usually in serious retreats people live "on site". I'm not sure what this refers to. Cults should be avoided, but we'd have to think about exactly what one is.

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Hazel
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by Hazel » Fri Mar 13, 2020 8:40 pm

dolphin_color wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:16 pm
But some of the talk of living on site make me feel like it's a bit culty
Usually in serious retreats people live "on site". I'm not sure what this refers to. Cults should be avoided, but we'd have to think about exactly what one is.
I feel like I'm just looking for reasons to have a problem with them. I'm not sure what the antidote is for that since everyone seems to recommend them and they seem on my wavelength in terms of philosophy.

Maybe I should make a separate post? I also don't want to damage their reputation with chatter.

Simon E.
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by Simon E. » Fri Mar 13, 2020 8:54 pm

I think you will find a strong consensus on the forum among experienced Vajrayana students who are aware of her that Lama Tsultrim Allione is the real deal.
Whether she is the right teacher for you, and whether you are the right student for her, is of course another matter.
“The difference between us and Tara is that she knows she doesn’t exist”.

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Hazel
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by Hazel » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:55 pm

Putting aside Tara Mandala for a bit (I appreciate all your responses)...

How does one even determine how to start out with what practices one is doing? I read, watch dharma talks... and do some kind of meditation, but am always unsure as to what is level appropriate for me and on track.
Simon E. wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 8:54 pm
I think you will find a strong consensus on the forum among experienced Vajrayana students who are aware of her that Lama Tsultrim Allione is the real deal.
Whether she is the right teacher for you, and whether you are the right student for her, is of course another matter.
Thank you! I think this is an opportunity for me to practice trust.

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Hazel
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by Hazel » Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:05 pm

I'm really really tempted to go ahead and spend money on the Tara's Triple Excellence program.

avatamsaka3
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by avatamsaka3 » Sat Mar 14, 2020 12:58 am

Thank you! I think this is an opportunity for me to practice trust.
Assess the individual carefully, look at all the information you can find, and have lots of direct interaction before you can begin to trust someone. People have to earn your trust. And it can take years.

avatamsaka3
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Re: Getting Started with Tibetan Buddhism (Remotely?)

Post by avatamsaka3 » Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:12 am

How does one even determine how to start out with what practices one is doing? I read, watch dharma talks... and do some kind of meditation, but am always unsure as to what is level appropriate for me and on track.
I'm no expert, but if you haven't already I'd seriously look at Recovery Dharma. Their sangha support page has examples of common meditation instructions. Check out Recovery Dharma Online. They meet daily to meditate and discuss the guide for the program. You've been open about your struggles on this site, so the suggestion seems appropriate.

The Tergar community has a lot of awesome resources and suggestions. If you just want to meditate, they can facilitate that with good advice. If you then want to do serious Tibetan Buddhist practice, that too.
How does one even determine how to start out with what practices one is doing?
Traditionally, there is a very concrete path: taking vows, doing ngondro, then dedicating yourself to some kind of "advanced" practices. Study will either play a very small or very huge role in all of that. The basics remain the same across traditions & lineages, but the specific practices and texts and certain doctrines might differ.

So at that level, there isn't much to choose. But, at a deeper level, you can choose spiritual friends and teachings based on what you are trying to cultivate. What spiritual goals do you have?

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