What it means to be a ngakpa

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MiphamFan
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by MiphamFan » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:27 pm

Greg just has something against the idea of calling it a "market".

A market doesn't mean that the participants are necessarily motivated by profit. It's just a term for a venue (physical or non-physical) of exchanges. I exchange my time and my money for teachings I value. The teacher (ideally) does not just want the money, but wants to benefit his students, and possibly people he is responsible for.

Of course, there have been and still are "puja lamas" who just want offerings, I have a feeling it's not really a model that would work in the West though. Unless they market themselves as occultists/magicians-for-hire.

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Grigoris
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:30 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:20 pm
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 dunno. Maybe when I invite him next year you can come down and visit and ask him personally. :smile:
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.
I consider it a degeneration to be assessing practices (and lineages) on the basis of their market value.
"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 Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:35 pm

market
[mahr-kit]

noun
1.
an open place or a covered building where buyers and sellers convene for the sale of goods; a marketplace :
a farmers' market.
2.
a store for the sale of food:
a meat market.
3.
a meeting of people for selling and buying.

If people want to reduce Dharma to halibut and haggle over it's value, go for it. I am not interested.
"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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Fa Dao
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Fa Dao » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:44 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:35 pm
market
[mahr-kit]

noun
1.
an open place or a covered building where buyers and sellers convene for the sale of goods; a marketplace :
a farmers' market.
2.
a store for the sale of food:
a meat market.
3.
a meeting of people for selling and buying.

If people want to reduce Dharma to halibut and haggle over it's value, go for it. I am not interested.
:thumbsup: I hear you...
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Mantrik » Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:09 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:35 pm
market
[mahr-kit]

noun
1.
an open place or a covered building where buyers and sellers convene for the sale of goods; a marketplace :
a farmers' market.
2.
a store for the sale of food:
a meat market.
3.
a meeting of people for selling and buying.

If people want to reduce Dharma to halibut and haggle over it's value, go for it. I am not interested.
Ah, another straw man. The topic is Ngakpas and their role, not Dharma and its value, but you obviously wish to conflate and confuse. In fact, in the West, the Dharma teaching is the key Ngakpa role and therefore the key. Hardly a degeneration, methinks, but you keep trying to slide past that one.

Must have taken a lot of Googling to come up with that definition.

Here's a more appropriate one for 'market':
''An actual or nominal place where forces of demand and supply operate, and where buyers and sellers interact (directly or through intermediaries) to trade goods, services, or contracts or instruments, for money or barter. ''

You are alone in concluding that what others have said in this thread is in support of some sort of debasement of the Ngakpa role. In fact, I would argue that the role here in the West has been elevated.

I read the exact opposite into their remarks, and my own, of course. It seems you are determined to invent assertions nobody made in order to refute them, and seem to react very tetchily to what you seem to have invented for yourself.

Ah well, must go and earn a crust with a bit of shoulder blade divination. ;)
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Malcolm » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:15 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.
One, Śākyamuni Buddha is the buddha of the Kāli Yuga.

Two, Buddhism has always been commodified. Buddhism has been a big business at all its various points in development in Asia, both in its land of origin and in all lands to which it spread, generated and generates a huge amount of economic activity, and still continues to do so. Originally, Buddhism did not offer rites and so on for lay people. Why? Because as the Buddha said in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the brahmins faithful to the Buddha would be responsible for carrying out such activities. However, over time, in competition with brahmins, Buddhist ritualists began offering rites to compete with nonbuddhist brahmins both for money and influence through the performance of rituals. When Buddhism spread to Tibet, for example, foreign and foreign-trained Buddhist ritualists, exemplified by the archetypal ngakpa, Guru Padmasambhava, immediately began to compete with the indigenous ritualists (which we now call Bonpos) for religious, economic, and social influence. We see the same trend in Southeast Asia, the Far-East, and now, here in the West, where we we have the affluence to import Tibetan ritualists to perform rituals on our behalf and train us to do them ourselves (one reason why ChNN trains us to do all kinds of rites in an essentialized form is so that we won't have to pay others to do them for us through lacking skill in Tibetan language).

The specifics of the kinds of contracts patrons and priests have may continue to be somewhat pre-modern (though this is rapidly changing), but the fact is that an enormous amount of money shifts from the pockets of lay people into the hands of Tibetan religious professionals lay and ordained, all over Asia. For example, remember this?
A Tibetan Leader in India Faces Currency Charges

Delhi — The Indian police have filed criminal charges against one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most important figures in connection with more than $1 million in cash discovered this year at his headquarters in the foothills of the Himalayas...
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/09/world ... rency.html

Some people like to imagine that the commodification of Dharma, a.k.a Buddhism, is brand new. It isn't, it has been there right from the start. Ever since Anathapindika donated his garden to the Sangha, the professional Sangha has been involved in primitive capital accumulation, and has experienced all of the corruption and graft that entails. Evidence of this exists because there are rules governing misappropriation by monastics, which have rather sever penalties, say, as opposed to the total lack of penalty for drinking alcohol, killing animals, or harming plants. Further examples can be seen in the debate between Mahāyāna monastics and their non-Mahāyāna counterparts over the appropriateness of handling money, engaging in trade, and receiving fees for the performance of religious services and so on.

So, when we take a look at Buddhism as a human phenomena, we see that it also carries with it all human frailties and faults. Why do you think I make a distinction between Buddhism and Buddhadharma? The Ngakpa tradition and ngakpas themselves (being human) are not exempt from human impulses, urges, and practices.
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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Malcolm
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Malcolm » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:26 pm

MiphamFan wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:27 pm
Greg just has something against the idea of calling it a "market".
Yup, it offends his anti-capitalist prejudices.
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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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:44 pm

I don't imagine anything, institutionalised religions are part of society and societies organise around economy too. Tell me something i don't know. My objection has been towards the evaluation of practices in reference to their market value. I believe that this is irrelevant. For me the value of a practice is in it's efficacy to liberate, not in it's attractiveness.

Of course if Buddhism is to take root in the West it has to offer something relevant to us, but, just because something seems relevant to us doesn't mean it is of any value. Pornhub has market value, does it make it more relevant?

No, for me, lack of a market does not signal a lack of relevance. You are making the mistaken assumption that the consumers are informed enough to make an intelligent evaluation.

But here we have a discussion where those that should be informing, so that people can make judgements for themselves, are instead making (negative) value judgements.
"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 Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:46 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:26 pm
MiphamFan wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:27 pm
Greg just has something against the idea of calling it a "market".
Yup, it offends his anti-capitalist prejudices.
Oh look, an ad hom.
"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: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Malcolm » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:10 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:44 pm
My objection has been towards the evaluation of practices in reference to their market value. I believe that this is irrelevant.
And I think you are kidding yourself.
For me the value of a practice is in it's efficacy to liberate, not in it's attractiveness.
Uh huh, but we are not talking about what you personally value. If we were, the thread would be titled, "What Being a Ngakpa Means to Grigoris." Now, certainly that is part of the conversation, but so is "What Being a Ngakpa Means to Bob, Malcolm, Alvin," and so on.
Of course if Buddhism is to take root in the West it has to offer something relevant to us, but, just because something seems relevant to us doesn't mean it is of any value. Pornhub has market value, does it make it more relevant?
It apparently has more value than Ngakpahub, but Pornhub is not relevant to this thread, unless of course it has a secret Vajrayāna section where one can see attractive young Buddhists copulating in full lotus posture very, very slowly to a Choying Drolma soundtrack.
No, for me, lack of a market does not signal a lack of relevance. You are making the mistaken assumption that the consumers are informed enough to make an intelligent evaluation.
That Buddhist consumers lack necessary information to make intelligent choices about their gurus, mentors and choice of traditions is also obvious, given the growing number scandals concerning sexual, emotional, and financial abuse in the Buddhist world.
But here we have a discussion where those that should be informing, so that people can make judgements for themselves, are instead making (negative) value judgements.
It is important to understand everything about a tradition. This is not a thread for recruiting people into white and red uniforms. This is a thread devoted to all dimensions of what it means to be a ngakpa, good and bad.
Last edited by Malcolm on Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:29 pm

And Malcolm believes that the efficacy of a practice is based on it's attractiveness? And yet others here condemn Aro gTer, for example, for increasing attractiveness (a little to kitsch for my taste, I admit).

It seems that: Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

BTW: all of us here are just offering their opinions.
"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 Malcolm » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:47 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:29 pm
And Malcolm believes that the efficacy of a practice is based on it's attractiveness?
I don't think I said that. I think what I said was the success or failure of Ngakpa tradition in the West will be largely dependent on whether there is a need for services provided by ngakpas. Right now, I am pretty sure the demand for doctors, psychologists such as yourself, and social workers will always be much higher than people who have gained expertise in making thread crosses, zors, and playing ritual instruments. Personally, I think there is a massive amount of "spiritual" materialism connected with interest in the Ngakpa tradition, but the same can be said of every tradition within Buddhism, which is a larger point. And it is also one reason why I generally discourage people from "becoming ngakpas." This has nothing to do with feeling that one's performance of Nāga pujas safeguards refugees. One does not need to be a "ngakpa" to do a Nāga puja, though it may seem more impressive when done by folks kitted out in full ngakpa gear.
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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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Mantrik » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:40 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:29 pm
And yet others here condemn Aro gTer, for example, for increasing attractiveness (a little to kitsch for my taste, I admit).
We seem to be offering our opinions..........and then you rewrite them for us so that they fit what you would like to argue against.

For the record, fancy dressing up is great in its cultural context. I've even known martial artists to do it. ;)

I never mentioned condemnation, btw, but responded to Cone's point, immediately preceding mine, about some being overly attracted to the dress of the Ngakpa........and those two Aro g'Ter Europeans seemed to typify that. Anything else is your invention.

That's not an ad hom, but a description, I'm afraid, of how throughout this thread you have preferred to ignore what people actually wrote and their clear meaning and intention, and invented what you wish they had said, then imputed an intention from your invention, and shot them for it.

I think I clarified what a market is in this context, and how exchange in return for services has been around ever since the first full time ritualist.

As I wrote, 'market' is not pejorative, it is how society has operated throughout time; but your response to it as an offensive term is clear, and it isn't an 'ad hom' to point it out.

Malcolm has added a great deal of detail to explain those points for you, so I can now return to redirecting the ley lines with my iron khatvanga and a ring of phurbas - people are paying me to move the energies away from their homes - some place inside a bunch of old rocks called Avebury, I think. ;)
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:47 pm
And it is also one reason why I generally discourage people from "becoming ngakpas."
And I think that this is the tragic mistake you are making: You are confounding the external appearances, with the Ngakpa practices per se. Of course they are related, but... Instead of warning people about getting hung up on the external appearances of being a Ngakpa, you are dissuading them from becoming Ngakpa.

A fatal error.

I remember Garchen Rinpoche's teachings on phurba where he explained the various levels of conception of phurba practice. He concluded by stating that the ultimate phurba is bodhicitta. He explained the significance of the external forms, but made it clear what the phurba actually is. He didn't say: don't do phurba coz it is just a shiny piece of metal. But then, Garchen Rinpoche is a Bodhisattva, so...
"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 Tongnyid Dorje » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:52 pm

well, if you read for example "The Dreadlocks Treatise: On Tantric Hairstyles in Tibetan Buddhism", you find a passage in Yolmo Tenzin Norbu life, when he is in retreat and had a dream, in which he is not dressed as a monk, but like a ngakpa. So, he desided to change from monks robes to ngakpa robes. He describes, how he can feel presence of thousands dakas and dakinis, presenting clouds of offerings just because he changed dress, and that makes such tendrel, that puja is much more effective. :)

:namaste:
Last edited by Tongnyid Dorje on Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:53 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:40 pm
That's not an ad hom, but a description, I'm afraid, of how throughout this thread you have preferred to ignore what people actually wrote and their clear meaning and intention, and invented what you wish they had said, then imputed an intention from your invention, and shot them for it.
Pot meet kettle! :smile:
"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 6:57 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:53 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:40 pm
That's not an ad hom, but a description, I'm afraid, of how throughout this thread you have preferred to ignore what people actually wrote and their clear meaning and intention, and invented what you wish they had said, then imputed an intention from your invention, and shot them for it.
Pot meet kettle! :smile:
Mate, if I disparaged you as a woman I'd have personally clocked up all 14 root downfalls in this thread alone................give or take. ;)
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Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Tongnyid Dorje » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:06 pm

At one point during this retreat, Tendzin
Norbu dreamed of a beautiful fifteen-year-old woman who held his
hands, sang melodious songs, and offered words prophesying the benefit
he would bring to beings in the future. Reflecting on this dream upon
waking, Tendzin Norbu realized that in the dream he had been dressed
not in his monk’s robes but in the white robes of a ngakpa. Taking this as
a sign, he decided to dress in ngakpa’s robes during the next major ritual
performance of his retreat.

On that occasion, hosts of dakas and dakinis26 gathered around him
and piled up enormous heaps of offerings, waving banners of white silk
in the air. About this Tendzin Norbu writes, “At that time, there was a
meaningful coincidence of causal factors [rten ’brel] in my wearing such
accoutrements of a ngakpa.” The “meaningful coincidence of causal
factors” here is demonstrated by the fact that performing the ritual
dressed as a ngakpa produced extremely auspicious results.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:09 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:57 pm
Mate, if I disparaged you as a woman I'd have personally clocked up all 14 root downfalls in this thread alone................give or take. ;)
:smile:
"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 Malcolm » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:26 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:51 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:47 pm
And it is also one reason why I generally discourage people from "becoming ngakpas."
And I think that this is the tragic mistake you are making: You are confounding the external appearances, with the Ngakpa practices per se. Of course they are related, but... Instead of warning people about getting hung up on the external appearances of being a Ngakpa, you are dissuading them from becoming Ngakpa.
When I say I dissuade people from becoming ngakpas. I don't mean that I tell people, "don't take empowerments, don't practice the two stages, don't recite mantras," I mean that when someone comes to me and asks me how they can be "ordained" as a ngakpa (and there is actually no such thing as a ngakpa ordination) by receiving the hair empowerment, etc., I tell them it is a bad idea to receive the hair empowerment because either you cannot cut your hair at all (my tradition) or you have to constantly apologize for cutting your hair through confessions (Dudjom Tersar).

So it is better that people, especially beginners, do not take on this commitment. If someone has done their ngondro, is stable in their practice, has experience of the two stages, and is committed to being the equivalent of a Buddhist sadhu in some respect, then that is fine and they are free to do as they wish.

Basically, if you have to ask someone, "Should I become a ngakpa," the answer from them should always be "No." If you have to ask, you are not ready.

This is completely separate from my evaluation of the pros and cons of the Ngakpa tradition as a socio-economic phenomena in Tibetan culture.
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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