What it means to be a ngakpa

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conebeckham
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by conebeckham » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:17 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:53 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:43 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:36 pm
We should understand this.
I understand this, I just believe it is not relevant to the Western context and should not be the primary reasoning/motivation behind us practicing in Ngkapa lineages (or not). The same reasoning could be applied to monastic traditions in the West too, since there is not really a solid financial basis for their survival too.

So what does that leave us with then?
It leaves us with Western Ngakpa hobbyists who have the means and time to pursue their hobby because we live in a more prosperous part of the world than my guru did. And so the economics are less pressing.
Although I think this may be true, I also find that there may be the possibility that some who are ngakpas, or aspiring ngakpas, may be so DESPITE the fact that their "hobby" may be marketable in some parts of the world. In other words, some do it for non-financial reasons. Seems reasonable, and good, to me.
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: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:01 pm
It leaves us with that fact that we do not need to learn rituals to keep from starving in the streets.
That I can agree with.
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"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."
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Tiago Simões » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:56 pm

Out of curiosity, how similar is a Tibetan ngakpa and a Newari vajracharya priest? From what Malcolm says, they seem to occupy the same roles.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by TsultimNamdak » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:17 pm

I agree with Malcolm that it makes sense - at least in part - to view a ngakpa's role in a Buddhist society in terms of the market. He offers certain services and people pay him for said services. But I think that a just as valid way to view the ngakpa's role as a sociological one. The ngakpa (and the monastery as well, for that matter) fulfills an important role in his local society by acting as kind of mediator between members of his society and the environment. As such he is a fully integrated and very important members of his society. But I have a feeling that this specific function won't be much sought after in the West.

I have huge respect for people in the West who take upon themselves to practice seriously as ngakpas, and I am certain that those practices are important for their surroundings as well - although probably unappreciated by most of their neighbours. But I doubt that they ever will be integrated in their local society as ngakpas. I guess that the Western ngakpa with regard to his practice is closer to the image of the lonesome hermit, detached from society - although I'm sure that even they also fulfill an important role in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist society.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by MiphamFan » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:29 pm

pemachophel wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:28 pm
i agree with Loppon-la/Malcolm -- very little demand for ngakpa services where i live. for a number of years i have beeb trying to interest my old-time Dharma friends (and some younger ones) in all the skillful means at our disposal, but there is very, very little interest. i guess no actual belief in these methods. the only thing that regularly draws support and participation is our monthly Naga puja. not sue why that particularly seems to be attractive to my fellow round-eyed practitioners. all the many types of dok-pas/reversals, yang-gug/hooking wealth/fortune, tshe-gug/hooking life-span, tru-sol/washing-cleansing, nol-sang/sang for eliminating pollution ?(and other kinds of sang), lung-ta/raising wind-horse, nay-dren/guiding the dead, recitation of sutras and dharanis, etc., etc., etc., not so much.

oh yeah -- for sure interest in divination, even though, typically, tibetan divinations typically recommend having various ngakpa activities commissioned. problem is, where to find a diviner with real ability?
Pujas are quite popular here in Singapore by contrast.

I believe in the potential of the rituals but then I see all these younger monks who seem to be constantly distracted on their phones just as ordinary people are and I doubt if they really have the abilities to make a puja work.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:43 pm

MiphamFan wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:29 pm
I believe in the potential of the rituals but then I see all these younger monks who seem to be constantly distracted on their phones just as ordinary people are and I doubt if they really have the abilities to make a puja work.
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by PuerAzaelis » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:46 pm

Ooo! Is that the new X?
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by pemachophel » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:36 am

i'm afraid i have to disagree with cone about developing supreme siddhi, i.e., realization, before attempting to develop common or ordinary siddhi. maybe this is a difference in p.o.v. between nyingma and karma kamtsang. various lay-jor are routinely appended to our sadhanas after completing nyen-drub. typically there are results specified to judge whether one has succeeded in gathering some power with that lay-jor. i do agree with cone for sure that, to make lay-jor work, one must have some power. ime, it is not uncommon after doing a lay-jor accumulation practice for one's Teacher to authenticate and authorize one to do that lay-jor for others as needed/requested. this then becomes Bodhisatvic activity.

i have seen some western enthusiasts attempt to go right to a lay-jor and try to make it work without doing the preceding nyen-drub and lay-jor accumulations. it doesn't.
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by MatthewAngby » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:54 am

pemachophel wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:36 am
i'm afraid i have to disagree with cone about developing supreme siddhi, i.e., realization, before attempting to develop common or ordinary siddhi. maybe this is a difference in p.o.v. between nyingma and karma kamtsang. various lay-jor are routinely appended to our sadhanas after completing nyen-drub. typically there are results specified to judge whether one has succeeded in gathering some power with that lay-jor. i do agree with cone for sure that, to make lay-jor work, one must have some power. ime, it is not uncommon after doing a lay-jor accumulation practice for one's Teacher to authenticate and authorize one to do that lay-jor for others as needed/requested. this then becomes Bodhisatvic activity.

i have seen some western enthusiasts attempt to go right to a lay-jor and try to make it work without doing the preceding nyen-drub and lay-jor accumulations. it doesn't.
What’s a lay - jor and Nyen - drub ? ( sorry I’m still quite new 😬 )
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by conebeckham » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:13 am

pemachophel wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:36 am
i'm afraid i have to disagree with cone about developing supreme siddhi, i.e., realization, before attempting to develop common or ordinary siddhi. maybe this is a difference in p.o.v. between nyingma and karma kamtsang. various lay-jor are routinely appended to our sadhanas after completing nyen-drub. typically there are results specified to judge whether one has succeeded in gathering some power with that lay-jor. i do agree with cone for sure that, to make lay-jor work, one must have some power. ime, it is not uncommon after doing a lay-jor accumulation practice for one's Teacher to authenticate and authorize one to do that lay-jor for others as needed/requested. this then becomes Bodhisatvic activity.

i have seen some western enthusiasts attempt to go right to a lay-jor and try to make it work without doing the preceding nyen-drub and lay-jor accumulations. it doesn't.
Yes, i agree—and i didn’t mean to imply that lay-jor (activity rituals, or “performing activities”) was off limits. My comments were more a matter of focus.

Nyendrup (approach or accumulation, and accomplishment) are, or should be, the main focus of aspiring ngakpas. But even in Kamtsang we do perform Layjor, at the end of Drupcho or Drupchen, or even in Thuntsam in the latter part of a retreat, for some practices.
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: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:05 am

TsultimNamdak wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:17 pm
I agree with Malcolm that it makes sense - at least in part - to view a ngakpa's role in a Buddhist society in terms of the market.
Well somebody tell these guys they are wasting/wasted their time trying to sell their products in the West since there is no market for them:

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"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: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by MiphamFan » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:10 am

In the West, their market is the Buddhist teachings market, quite different from Asia where pujas etc are the market. If you look at a typical Asian Dharma centre's schedule, you will see a lot of pujas, with fewer teachings; vice versa from the West.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Soma999 » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:17 am

I don't know if there is a "market", but there are people asking for help, and for someone who have efficient use of energy, capacity to "see", heal... there are a lot of demands. There are so many people suffering, which sometime doctors can't help. If they find a real healer, they will RUN after him/her.

I know someone who have amazing results with healing the body, using energy, even without publicity, people come all the time.

I knew someone who could see very well, a clairvoyant, very efficient : without the slightest publicity, people came from even abroad to have readings.

So it's a matter of efficiency. If you have real capacities, don't worry, you will have work to do. If you don't, no need to worry, it just needs time to grow, to mature. Some people works for years, and in an instant, some doors can open to new horizons. No need to hurry.

By practicing with boddicitta, and doing the best one can, things improve.

Accumulations is a way to develop siddhis. But not only. I have personaly met people who developped some real capacity to "see" in a month or two, with proper guidance.

I practiced pujas with people. It's interesting, but the cultural difference can be an obstacle. Some are not confortable with a different langage, with different symbols... It's fully understandable.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Mantrik » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:26 am

MiphamFan wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:10 am
In the West, their market is the Buddhist teachings market, quite different from Asia where pujas etc are the market. If you look at a typical Asian Dharma centre's schedule, you will see a lot of pujas, with fewer teachings; vice versa from the West.
Exactly.

It isn't that the market for teachings and empowerments isn't thriving elsewhere, but in the West that is the main product being sold, often the only product on offer. One of my teachers gives empowerments very very rarely. He hasn't said so, but I suspect he doesn't want people attending who are just after that alone. I think the Lam Rim is actually a good template for such gradual training, so he has that advantage - a tried and tested product which works in the West.

Across the globe, people would turn up in their thousands to hear the Dalai Lama read a breakfast menu, but for the most part the other Lamas seem to build a small core following, each empowerment leading to a few more long term students. I recall Dzogchen Rinpoche saying that in India if he gives teachings a few people attend, but if it is an empowerment he will draw quite a large crowd, including families who see it as a day out with the kids, there to receive blessings.

I wonder, in the West, how many Lamas slowly build a group of followers attending classes and offer them empowerments when the relationship is ripe, and conversely, how many build their core following from empowerments, each one adding a few new long terms students. Perhaps it is a bit of both.
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Miroku » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:46 am

I think the "market" can slowly open in the west and maybe it is slowly opening. Many teachers do rituals for deceased even in the west. That I think has the potential to develop into some sort of "market" for support of ngakpas. But of course it might take time to develop and it won't probably ever be like in Tibet.
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:32 pm

You know you are in Kali Yuga when a discussion about "What it means to be a ngakpa" devolves into a debate about the marketability of the practices, the commodification of the Dharma. It is especially telling that it is an Acharya instigating this line of thought. That is some seriously sad shit.

Thankfully I have learned to ignore such nonsense and just keep to the task of practice. Other more impressionable people will unfortunately be turned off from Buddhism and practice, by this type of talk.
"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: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Soma999 » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:20 pm

I don't know a lot about the dos and don'ts of a ngakpa, but when someone want to be seen as such, it puts you into a role, and then there are things you can do, some you can't, you are supposed to act in such and such a way... a way which may not be suited to your personality and your country.

I find very relevant to know what do ngakpa in tibet, and then how this can be applied in an occidental context.

This is the same with saddhu in india. In india, well not so much now, but before, if you are a saddhus, the community provide the material necessities for you.

Is it possible in such a form in america ? Clearly no. But can you be a saddhu in america ? Certainly, but it implies a capacity to adapt to the context, and to know how to swim in america's water. Cleraly that implies efficiency to earn money, have a lot of time and practice a lot. Being a sadhus in america is different. But it's possible.

I would say for aspiring Ngakpa in occident, they are creating a new way. What they received and how the world react to what they have to offer, will suggest a way of being. Then, they will have to find their way. or maybe a new way.

But i am quiet optimist there is a place for everyone. There can be ngakpas in occident, but they will have to adapt the form to switch occidental mindset.

Maybe they will work and outside of their work will practice and offer their service. Maybe one moment if they are real good and are requested to, they will perform service full time.

What is quiet sure is that if you are a source, those who are thirsty will be interested by what you offer.

The form should be transformed to adapt to occidental soils. The essence should be kept intact.

A last word about an important subject : motivation. The more your vibration synchronise with compassion, boddicitta, the more powerful your action will be. If you practice with the primary intention of getting money, you will put an obstacle for the efficiency of your action. When you practice, do it for the other, like if the other is you. The money should be completly put out of your mind at this moment. Then, there is no problem to ask for money then, not as a primary intention, but because it is a fair exchange, and empower you to keep doing what you are doing.

Some healers ask for money. If they didn't, they would have to stop or practice only a little. If their primary intention was money, they would get low results compared to what they could get. They practice for the others, and it does not mean they can't be paid for that.
Last edited by Soma999 on Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Mantrik » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:22 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:32 pm
You know you are in Kali Yuga when a discussion about "What it means to be a ngakpa" devolves into a debate about the marketability of the practices, the commodification of the Dharma. It is especially telling that it is an Acharya instigating this line of thought. That is some seriously sad shit.

Thankfully I have learned to ignore such nonsense and just keep to the task of practice. Other more impressionable people will unfortunately be turned off from Buddhism and practice, by this type of talk.
I don't think anyone else has posted in support of your rather odd perspective, which seems not to accord with Ngakpa history.
Clearly, spiritual services have always been in the marketplace for as long as there have been records.
The 'village Ngakpa' would have been supported that way.

I would say that if the market in the West is primarily for teachings and empowerments, rather than amulets and blessings, it is a sign of improvement.

Being accountable for their teachings and behaviour and measured on that, rather than if they managed to make it rain, would seem to me to be another sign things are getting better if you see the Ngakpa path as primarily spiritual.

Far from turning people off, that access should encourage people, and that transparency, as evidenced here on DW, also enables the market for teachings to work better, as we are informed of fakers and abusers very quickly and easily compared with a more insular society.

I think LOTR, as pictured by you, would agree; or do you think he would be happier satisfying people's needs by selling charms and blessings, and see his current role as a degeneration?
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:45 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:22 pm
I don't think anyone else has posted in support of your rather odd perspective, which seems not to accord with Ngakpa history.
Clearly, spiritual services have always been in the marketplace for as long as there have been records.
The 'village Ngakpa' would have been supported that way.

I would say that if the market in the West is primarily for teachings and empowerments, rather than amulets and blessings, it is a sign of improvement.

Being accountable for their teachings and behaviour and measured on that, rather than if they managed to make it rain, would seem to me to be another sign things are getting better if you see the Ngakpa path as primarily spiritual.

Far from turning people off, that access should encourage people, and that transparency, as evidenced here on DW, also enables the market for teachings to work better, as we are informed of fakers and abusers very quickly and easily compared with a more insular society.

I think LOTR, as pictured by you, would agree; or do you think he would be happier satisfying people's needs by selling charms and blessings, and see his current role as a degeneration?
I think he would (rightly) look at me like I was an idiot if I talked to him about the market value of the Dudjom Tersar in the West. He would probably send me off to track down a left handed vajra for him, or to translate the collected works of his belching sounds into Greek, just to keep me occupied.
"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: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Mantrik » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:20 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:45 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:22 pm
I don't think anyone else has posted in support of your rather odd perspective, which seems not to accord with Ngakpa history.
Clearly, spiritual services have always been in the marketplace for as long as there have been records.
The 'village Ngakpa' would have been supported that way.

I would say that if the market in the West is primarily for teachings and empowerments, rather than amulets and blessings, it is a sign of improvement.

Being accountable for their teachings and behaviour and measured on that, rather than if they managed to make it rain, would seem to me to be another sign things are getting better if you see the Ngakpa path as primarily spiritual.

Far from turning people off, that access should encourage people, and that transparency, as evidenced here on DW, also enables the market for teachings to work better, as we are informed of fakers and abusers very quickly and easily compared with a more insular society.

I think LOTR, as pictured by you, would agree; or do you think he would be happier satisfying people's needs by selling charms and blessings, and see his current role as a degeneration?
I think he would (rightly) look at me like I was an idiot if I talked to him about the market value of the Dudjom Tersar in the West. He would probably send me off to track down a left handed vajra for him, or to translate the collected works of his belching sounds into Greek, just to keep me occupied.
How about answering my question rather than the one you just invented? ;)

Do you think he would regard making his living teaching dharma to Westerners as a degeneration, compared with the diverse role of Ngakpas of old in Tibet where he may have been called upon to perform much the same tasks as the village shaman and have much less time for teaching Dharma?

I am astounded that you see the spread of Dharma to the Western spiritual market, and a greater focus on that role for Tibetan Ngakpas, as a Kali Yuga degeneration, when compared with the market for potions and pujas they may formerly have satisfied as a major part of their business.

Yes, I use 'market' and 'business' because they are not pejorative in any way, and this discussion about it is not a sign of degeneration - more that maybe you do not understand the terms?
We all trade to live unless we have the wealth not to need anything from others. It still amazes me that people get scared about 'fees' instead of 'donations' in the spiritual services sector - it is a voluntary payment whatever label you slap on it, and Ngakpas teaching in the West need it. This is the reality of what it means to be a Ngakpa teaching in the West.
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