Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

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Malcolm
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connec

Post by Malcolm » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:44 pm

Norwegian wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Predictably, I will tell you that Father Tiso's book, while interesting, is not to be taken seriously by practitioners.

It is a mishmash, at best. However, his account of Khenpo Acho is quite nice.
That is what I expected...

How long is the part about Khenpo Acho? Worth buying the book just for that?
Yes.
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

Norwegian
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connec

Post by Norwegian » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:46 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Norwegian wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Predictably, I will tell you that Father Tiso's book, while interesting, is not to be taken seriously by practitioners.

It is a mishmash, at best. However, his account of Khenpo Acho is quite nice.
That is what I expected...

How long is the part about Khenpo Acho? Worth buying the book just for that?
Yes.
Great to hear. Thanks!

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dzogchungpa
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connec

Post by dzogchungpa » Mon Feb 01, 2016 1:44 am

Malcolm wrote:Unfortunately, I will have to argue with people inspired by his syncretism and uncritical acceptance of some western academic bloviators for the rest of my life.
You know you love it. :smile:
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Virgo
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connec

Post by Virgo » Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:12 am

Malcolm wrote:Predictably, I will tell you that Father Tiso's book, while interesting, is not to be taken seriously by practitioners.

It is a mishmash, at best. However, his account of Khenpo Acho is quite nice.
Thank you for the review.
Malcolm wrote:Unfortunately, I will have to argue with people inspired by his syncretism and uncritical acceptance of some western academic bloviators for the rest of my life.
Well it will give the rest of us substantive Buddhist posts to consider.

Virgo
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Ivo
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connec

Post by Ivo » Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:18 am

shanehanner wrote:
Ivo wrote:
tingdzin wrote:Thanks Ivo -- very interesting.
Yes it is. The knowledge of these shrunken bodies was very common when I grew up. It was even taught in school as a normal part of the Ortodox tradition and everyone was very comfortable with the idea as everyone had seen these relics as they are all over our monasteries. I have seen them numerous times when I was a kid. Almost every major monastery has one - either a full body or a limb, or fingers, etc. They are all the size of an infant. The isihast tradition was very deep, they practiced only in caves, the teacher-disciple connection was of paramount importance and it was all oral transmission. From what I herd during my childhood they definitely had some thogyal-like practices using postures and light.
Wow, thats fascinating. I did a quick google for images of St. Ivan Rilski remains but couldnt find any. That would really be something to see.
The remains are kept in the Rila Monastery (Links: HERE and HERE). They are shown to the public only on special days (mostly October 19-th) and generally taking photographs is forbidden, as they consider these one of the most important 10-th century church relics in Bulgaria. Here is a picture, although on this one the body is covered. They do uncover it on very special occasions, and I have seen it uncovered as a child, but I could not find such a picture either:

Image

There is no scale on the picture but the whole coffin is less than a meter in length.

climb-up
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Post by climb-up » Thu May 24, 2018 8:16 pm

Apologies for the thread necromancy.
I'm not clear, etiquette wise, if it is more appropriate to start a new thread or continue this one (suggestions welcome).

Have more folks read this book and, if so, what did you think?
I finished it last night and I was kind of disappointed. It might have just been too late, but:

I loved the stories of the travels in Tibet, the rainbow body and the interviews with the monks and nuns.
I liked the explanations of the Christian contemplative practices, good pointing out of some more varieties than a lot of folks suspect.
I also liked some of the Tibetan history.

In the end I didn't really see the point (like I said, I was tired last night and may have been unfairly critical). There are some parallels between some dzogchen practices and some Christian contemplative practice, no surprises. There may have been some direct or indirect inspiration or alterations through interactions between these, and other traditions. So?
A few times it felt like it was coming to an "a ha!" moment, but seemed to end with two parallel stories and some thoughts and guesses.
Don't know precisely what I was expecting, but I didn't find anything directly relevant to my practice, or even to my understanding of my practice.

I would be interested in seeing any comparable, or especially contrasting, opinions.

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Spelare
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Post by Spelare » Thu May 24, 2018 9:28 pm

I got about halfway through Tiso's book, before setting it down a couple of months ago. Not because it was uninteresting, but because I had other things to study. I wish it had an index, I'll say that!

One point to note is that Tiso's focus is not as broad as the Eastern Orthodox Church or its hesychast tradition more generally. He is more specifically looking at the Evagrian strain (i.e. stemming from the Desert Father Evagrius of Pontus) that was developed by hermit mystics, who sought to discover the nature of reality experientially through ascetic praxis and contemplation. They had a subtle psychology that involved contending with demons; as an aside, there is a notion of befriending one's demons in Evagrius that reminds me vaguely of chöd. Also, the key point was to rest beyond conceptual thought. This was presented as an inner teaching for the experienced, in a system of three levels: ascetikos (beginner), praktikos (intermediate), and gnostikos (advanced).

This was further developed by the Syriac Church of the East, whose great luminaries like Isaac of Nineveh and John of Dalyatha taught of visions of a formless, primordial light. And there was a teaching about how the body could itself become purified and incorruptible, the perceivable physical manifestations reflecting more subtle levels of transformation at which obscurations had been purified.

The Eastern Orthodox Church has preserved the teachings of the Desert Fathers and Syriac Fathers, though they are a bit obscure and rarefied nowadays if you try to talk about them with most Orthodox. The aspects everyone knows about are keeping attention in the heart during contemplation and the Jesus Prayer (used similarly to mantra; other formulas can also be used). The monks cultivate stillness, silence, and solitude. They do teach that one goes beyond formal, verbal prayer to contemplation free of conceptual proliferation. Also, they teach that there's a seed of goodness in you unstained by sin, and that sin is an adventitious defilement covering your true divine nature. When this is purified, the divine radiance shines forth from within your inner heart. The process by which you do what our tradition would call purifying obscurations and accumulating merit and wisdom is called deification. So, for them, sin is more like karmic traces and salvation comes through an experiential realization of a recognition.

If you want to read the Kephalaia Gnostika of Evagrius, a more precise English translation than the one Tiso refers to is now available:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1628370394/

I have no conclusions about any of this or its implications. I would need to finish the book and make my own study of the Kephalaia at least. There are some compelling similarities, but whether they are attribuable to actual cross-traditional encounters or not is unclear to me. It could also be that it's because all sentient beings share the same innate potential, which multiple lineages have managed to make manifest using very different but parallel practice langauges.
Last edited by Spelare on Thu May 24, 2018 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Post by Fortyeightvows » Thu May 24, 2018 9:34 pm

Some christian sects like the orthodox sects your talking about here, the catholics and even the novus ordo sect all have monastic traditions.

My question is, how does the merit created by supporting and sponsoring these monastic christian contemplatives compare to sponsoring buddhist monastics?

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Virgo
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Post by Virgo » Thu May 24, 2018 9:36 pm

Spelare wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:28 pm
One point to note is that Tiso's focus is not as broad as the Eastern Orthodox Church or its hesychast tradition more generally. He is more specifically looking at the Evagrian strain (i.e. stemming from the Desert Father Evagrius of Pontus) that was developed by hermit mystics, who sought to discover the nature of reality experientially through ascetic praxis and contemplation.
They were mostly influenced by Neoplatonists. They were carrying on Christian forms that Constantine tried to eradicate at the Council of Nicea in 325 CE.

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


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Spelare
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Post by Spelare » Thu May 24, 2018 9:50 pm

Virgo wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:36 pm
They were mostly influenced by Neoplatonists. They were carrying on Christian forms that Constantine tried to eradicate at the Council of Nicea in 325 BCE.

Kevin...
Indeed, there was a strong Neoplatonic influence via Origen. However, he was considered basically orthodox until Justinian convened the Second Council of Constantinople in 553. Some later Origenists who were considered to have gone too far contributed to the anathematization of Origen himself and of Evagrius, his devoted disciple.

To be more precise, only certain teachings were condemned, not Origen or Evagrius entirely; the Church was deeply indebted to them, as foundational to its theology and monasticism. So, for example, the Church suppressed Evagrius's Kephalaia, which had insight teachings they suspected were heretical. However, they propagated his Asketikos (monastic ascetic practice), which was considered safe and inoffensive; that was his outer teaching, remember.

But in private, some of the hesychast monks preserved the inner, secret teachings. They were especially associated with hermits on the Holy Mountain of Athos, moreso than with big monasteries. Often one would train formally in a large monastery and then go practice in solitude, or with a smaller group of fellow practitioners. Many of the writings of Evagrius were also preserved under safer pseudonyms. Or, they survived in the hearts and minds of the Syriac Fathers, who were never condemned, and gave them new forms of expression as poetic eloquence. Some of these can still be found in the Philokalia, the collection of the hesychast writings compiled in the 1700s by two monks of Mt. Athos.

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Wayfarer
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Post by Wayfarer » Fri May 25, 2018 12:05 am

Spelare wrote:To be more precise, only certain teachings [of Origen's] were condemned
As a casual student of these subjects, I had the idea that the main cause for Origen's condemnation was the rejection of his 'doctrine of the pre-existence of souls' as 'a monstrous heresy'. This has been famously, if incorrectly, interpreted as being the point at which Christianity formally anathematised the idea of reincarnation (called in that context 'metempsychosis'.) That idea is also present in Platonism (probably from Orphism, of which Plato was an initiate, although Pythagoras also believed in reincarnation.) But I think that specific point marks a watershed in the formation of subsequent Christian orthodoxy. (Other gnostic sects such as the Cathars continued to preach 'metempsychosis'.)
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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