Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

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tomdzogchen27
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Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by tomdzogchen27 »

Good afternoon,

So, I saw that Ligmincha International has a very interesting curriculum teaching Bön Dzogchen. Nevertheless, I was surprised to see that you are introduced straight away in the practices of Tsa Lung, working with different energies and Guru Yoga (all of them through a self-paced online platform). This was very interesting to see, because I have been studying with the wonderful teacher Mingyur Rinpoche and I saw that through his teachings he does not teach these practices until the student has spent at least many years of preliminary practices and has done other Buddhist courses. He even said in an event that working with these energies without direct guidance can be damaging for mental and physical health.

Since I am still a beginner, I was wondering, does Tibetan Buddhism generally teach these practices at very high stages of attainment and Bön otherwise? Could it be damaging to my health to practice Tsa Lung without direct face-to-face guidance? I also saw that through Ligmincha you do not need empowerment to practice Guru Yoga, whereas you do need pointing out instructions and empowerment through Mingyur Rinpoche's teachings.

Thank you.

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

I think the answer is pretty individual, but in my experience Bonpo teachers are far less restrictive than Vajrayana teachers regarding "higher" practices and secrecy. Sometimes shockingly so, from a Vajrayana standpoint.

The Tsa Lung TWR teaches is worth learning, it is totally unrestricted. I wouldn't worry about it injuring you, but it might be good to get some basic instruction in yogic breathing generally, because it involves some "holds" that are good to have basic knowledge of. The book doesn't go into all that much detail and it's easy to labor your breathing too much. I took a weekend class from him on it and felt it was pretty in depth.

With Lingmincha stuff it seems like there are few restrictions on much of anything, whether this is reflected overall in Bon I don't know, but I have seen that other Bon teachers are simply more open about "secrecy" stuff. Like I said, it's sort of culture shock by Vajrayana standards.

My rule of thumb is follow the wishes of the teacher giving the practices as regards secrecy, etc. TWR was asked about this at one of his teachings I attended, he went into some detail on it. The basic gist was that there is no comparison between traditional Tibet and the West because (as one example) people in general simply had a greater respect for the sacredness of the teachings and treated them differently. The idea he conveyed is that he believed that protectors would enforce secrecy without practitioners worrying about it overmuch, and that a big part of secrecy is "self secrecy" where people who are invested, initiatied etc. simply would not understand the practices in the first place and could really do neither particular harm nor good by attempting what they simply do not understand.

This was my understanding of his explanation.
"...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

tomdzogchen27
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Re: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by tomdzogchen27 »

Thank you very much for your insight. I am already grateful to be able to learn meditation through Mingyur Rinpoche, but I am also very interested in Dzogchen teachings and I haven't been able to find any reliable online teachings (I do not have access to face-to-face teachers in my area). Also, I feel like integrating both meditation with more physical exercises could be interesting for me. I will further check out TWR material. I wonder if he or other instructors are available for guidance through the online courses.

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heart
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Re: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by heart »

tomdzogchen27 wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:11 pm
Thank you very much for your insight. I am already grateful to be able to learn meditation through Mingyur Rinpoche, but I am also very interested in Dzogchen teachings and I haven't been able to find any reliable online teachings (I do not have access to face-to-face teachers in my area). Also, I feel like integrating both meditation with more physical exercises could be interesting for me. I will further check out TWR material. I wonder if he or other instructors are available for guidance through the online courses.
Mingyur Rinpoche is a qualified Dzogchen teacher, just so you know.

/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: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by tomdzogchen27 »

heart wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:49 am

Mingyur Rinpoche is a qualified Dzogchen teacher, just so you know.

/magnus
Yes, I am aware that Mingyur is also a Dzogchen teacher. Nevertheless, from what I have seen while studying at Tergar, the curriculum is based on nectar of the path (a short version of a ngöndro)/ngöndro + Mahamudra, plus 6 Yogas of Naropa + Vajrayogini Sadhana if you have done a full ngöndro. I know that Mahamudra would be the pinnacle of the Kagyu teachings, but I haven't seen any mention to direct Dzogchen teachings through Tergar courses. I am not sure if this is because they will teach them in the future, or if they will focus on Mahamudra as their higher teachings. Thanks for the reply!

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Re: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by heart »

tomdzogchen27 wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 8:00 am
heart wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:49 am

Mingyur Rinpoche is a qualified Dzogchen teacher, just so you know.

/magnus
Yes, I am aware that Mingyur is also a Dzogchen teacher. Nevertheless, from what I have seen while studying at Tergar, the curriculum is based on nectar of the path (a short version of a ngöndro)/ngöndro + Mahamudra, plus 6 Yogas of Naropa + Vajrayogini Sadhana if you have done a full ngöndro. I know that Mahamudra would be the pinnacle of the Kagyu teachings, but I haven't seen any mention to direct Dzogchen teachings through Tergar courses. I am not sure if this is because they will teach them in the future, or if they will focus on Mahamudra as their higher teachings. Thanks for the reply!
Every time Mingyur Rinpoche teach there is Dzogchen teachings, even if the name Dzogchen isn't mentioned. Like his father he seems to find it very easy to give direct introduction.

/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: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by conebeckham »

Mingyur Rinpoche is a Palpung Lama in many ways, so Karma Kagyu externally. In addition, his Tergar organization seeks to reach people who may be put off by more traditional presentations, though he does not withhold or water down the teachings. He presents them to achieve maximum reach, IMO. But of course he is his father's son, as well, and upholds Chogling Tersar as well as Nyoshul Khenpo's tradition but these are perhaps more "internal" or "stealthy" when they make their appearance. For example, he has given MenNgakDe empowerments in the context of weekend retreats with titles about "Death and Dying," or "Life and Death" without specific references to terma cycles, etc. But if you pay attention and ask questions, doors may open. He avoids "Dzogchen" related titles, and teaches from a more gradual point of view, but he also gives Direct Introduction all the time, without making a big fuss.
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: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Maybe it's worth exploring here, my understanding is that Dzogchen as such is really not a wide range of practices, but an approach of view which can involve whatever practice, the state of Dzogchen is not dependent on particular forms or teaching structures. Tsa Lung practices in fact belong typically to the Annutara yoga tantra classification if I'm not mistaken. So, while Dzogchen teachers give a lot of different practices, the "core" of Dzogchen as such is not really about receiving practices in the way that Vajrayana practice might be in Sarma traditions, for example.

So for example, if you've had direct introduction or pointing out instructions from a Lama and understand how to be in a state of contemplation (often via Guru Yoga), then you are practicing Dzogchen, though that's awkward wording, because the actual "practice" does not involve playing with forms, effort or meditative tasks at all. There are ancillary practices like Rushens etc. and then practices which are often taught alongside like Tsa Lungs, Pranayamas etc....but the core Dzogchen "practice" is really pretty simple, and those other practices are given to help you gain confidence in that state - transmission of which does not always have the same bells and whistles as say, a Vajrayana initiation.

This is off the top of my head and based purely on my own experiences, so anyone feel free to correct, but I feel like this is relevant to the subject matter.

So, finding a Dzogchen teacher is about finding someone in whom you have confidence to introduce you to your own state, gain confidence, and continue in that state. You should not (I don't think) look for a Dzogchen teacher based on them teaching this or that practice, or using this or that teaching structure, from my perspective. It should be more...organic maybe. That isn't to say don't be critical, only to emphasize that Dzogchen is not primarily about curriculum, though certainly different traditions have their unique curricula - including Bon Dzogchen.
"...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: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by conebeckham »

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:40 pm
Maybe it's worth exploring here, my understanding is that Dzogchen as such is really not a wide range of practices, but an approach of view which can involve whatever practice, the state of Dzogchen is not dependent on particular forms or teaching structures. Tsa Lung practices in fact belong typically to the Annutara yoga tantra classification if I'm not mistaken. So, while Dzogchen teachers give a lot of different practices, the "core" of Dzogchen as such is not really about receiving practices in the way that Vajrayana practice might be in Sarma traditions, for example.
Sounds true, to a degree--Dzogchen is based on ascertaining the Pointing Out, Rigpai Tsel Wang, or Direct Introduction and maintaining that knowledge along with whatever method one is using. But there are "specific Dzogchen practices"--ShiTro, and Togal, as well as Rushens and Semdzins--these are all really Dzogchen-specific.
So for example, if you've had direct introduction or pointing out instructions from a Lama and understand how to be in a state of contemplation (often via Guru Yoga), then you are practicing Dzogchen, though that's awkward wording, because the actual "practice" does not involve playing with forms, effort or meditative tasks at all. There are ancillary practices like Rushens etc. and then practices which are often taught alongside like Tsa Lungs, Pranayamas etc....but the core Dzogchen "practice" is really pretty simple, and those other practices are given to help you gain confidence in that state - transmission of which does not always have the same bells and whistles as say, a Vajrayana initiation.
it CAN involve playing with forms, winds, appearances, etc. but the understanding of what you're working with differs.
This is off the top of my head and based purely on my own experiences, so anyone feel free to correct, but I feel like this is relevant to the subject matter.

So, finding a Dzogchen teacher is about finding someone in whom you have confidence to introduce you to your own state, gain confidence, and continue in that state. You should not (I don't think) look for a Dzogchen teacher based on them teaching this or that practice, or using this or that teaching structure, from my perspective. It should be more...organic maybe. That isn't to say don't be critical, only to emphasize that Dzogchen is not primarily about curriculum, though certainly different traditions have their unique curricula - including Bon Dzogchen.
I don't disagree, though I think that if one wishes to practice Dzogchen one would look for someone trained in traditional Dzogchen praxis, which would likely involve Kama or Terma cycles containing Ati approaches.
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: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by fckw »

It is true that Bön teachers - for the better or worse - are more open in their presentation of advanced material such as tsa lung, tummo or dzogchen. Whether this difference in approach is beneficial or not is hard to decide. Note however that HH the previous Menri Trizin was explicit about his willingness and plans to making advanced teachings available. He must have had his reasons for that.

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Re: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by lelopa »

fckw wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:55 am
It is true that Bön teachers - for the better or worse - are more open in their presentation of advanced material such as tsa lung, tummo or dzogchen. Whether this difference in approach is beneficial or not is hard to decide. Note however that HH the previous Menri Trizin was explicit about his willingness and plans to making advanced teachings available. He must have had his reasons for that.
This is what I've heard:
his teacher Sangye Tenzin said Bön could decline if not teached more openly
हूं हूं हूं
फट् फट् फट्

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Re: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by Dharmaswede »

TWR is part of the liberal wing. Not all Bönpo teachers, especially some old times, share that open approach to the dissemination of the teachings.

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Re: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by tomdzogchen27 »

Dharmaswede wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:54 pm
TWR is part of the liberal wing. Not all Bönpo teachers, especially some old times, share that open approach to the dissemination of the teachings.
I was very surprised to see how TWR explained that he had done a 49 day dark retreat when he was a teenager. From what I learned from Alan Wallace, before atempting something like that one must have a very advanced shamatha and vypashana practice or you could go out of your mind from all the visions that show up while in the dark.

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Re: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by tomdzogchen27 »

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:40 pm
Maybe it's worth exploring here, my understanding is that Dzogchen as such is really not a wide range of practices, but an approach of view which can involve whatever practice, the state of Dzogchen is not dependent on particular forms or teaching structures. Tsa Lung practices in fact belong typically to the Annutara yoga tantra classification if I'm not mistaken. So, while Dzogchen teachers give a lot of different practices, the "core" of Dzogchen as such is not really about receiving practices in the way that Vajrayana practice might be in Sarma traditions, for example.

So for example, if you've had direct introduction or pointing out instructions from a Lama and understand how to be in a state of contemplation (often via Guru Yoga), then you are practicing Dzogchen, though that's awkward wording, because the actual "practice" does not involve playing with forms, effort or meditative tasks at all. There are ancillary practices like Rushens etc. and then practices which are often taught alongside like Tsa Lungs, Pranayamas etc....but the core Dzogchen "practice" is really pretty simple, and those other practices are given to help you gain confidence in that state - transmission of which does not always have the same bells and whistles as say, a Vajrayana initiation.

This is off the top of my head and based purely on my own experiences, so anyone feel free to correct, but I feel like this is relevant to the subject matter.

So, finding a Dzogchen teacher is about finding someone in whom you have confidence to introduce you to your own state, gain confidence, and continue in that state. You should not (I don't think) look for a Dzogchen teacher based on them teaching this or that practice, or using this or that teaching structure, from my perspective. It should be more...organic maybe. That isn't to say don't be critical, only to emphasize that Dzogchen is not primarily about curriculum, though certainly different traditions have their unique curricula - including Bon Dzogchen.
Thank you for this, very interesting read. I researched a bit more about Ligmincha and it seems to be a reliable place to learn. I like TWR's teaching style.

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Re: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by Dharmaswede »

tomdzogchen27 wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 4:48 pm
Dharmaswede wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:54 pm
TWR is part of the liberal wing. Not all Bönpo teachers, especially some old times, share that open approach to the dissemination of the teachings.
I was very surprised to see how TWR explained that he had done a 49 day dark retreat when he was a teenager. From what I learned from Alan Wallace, before atempting something like that one must have a very advanced shamatha and vypashana practice or you could go out of your mind from all the visions that show up while in the dark.
If you have Lopön Tenzin Namdak leading the retreat, which he did, and have proper training and karma, it is a different ball game.

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Re: Tsa Lung and Guru Yoga in the Bön tradition vs Tibetan Buddhism

Post by tingdzin »

tomdzogchen27 wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 4:48 pm
I was very surprised to see how TWR explained that he had done a 49 day dark retreat when he was a teenager. From what I learned from Alan Wallace, before atempting something like that one must have a very advanced shamatha and vypashana practice or you could go out of your mind from all the visions that show up while in the dark.
It is difficult for some people to accept that there are not only cultural differences but also personal capabilities that are important in determining what practices are best for an individual. Most Westerners, or Americans at least, seem to take for granted that we are all equal in terms of spiritual capability (a pernicious assumption) and that anything Tibetans did, Westerners can do, and maybe even improve on. However, a Tibetan who grew up in a family of spiritual practitioners in a culture that valued spiritual practices and is accustomed to dealing with potholes in the road is probably going to have the jump on most Westerners. This is definitely not to say that Tibetans are spiritually "superior", but on the other hand, Westerners should not blindly assume that what is good for Tibetans is good for us.

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