What it means to be a ngakpa

DGA
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by DGA » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:26 am

Mantrik wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:47 pm
Trying soo hard not to show that Aro g'Ter pic ............ desperately not wanting to show it..........damn, failed again! :

Image
I've seen this photo more than a few times over the last dozen or more years. Every time I see it, I react strongly to it, and make some assumptions (not the same assumptions every time) about the people in the photo. I'll notice the facial hair. Or the gazes (which way are they looking?). Or ALL. THAT. BROCADE.

Mostly, I have assumed this is an image of silly people being silly. I've guessed at the silliness in different ways. (Confederacy nostalgia from across the pond? Heavy Horses-era Tull cosplay?)

in recent years I am more and more convinced that I have been the silly one. Why? Because I have strong opinions about others who choose to wear a hectare of brocade about their bodies, or cut their whiskers differently from how I cut mine. The truth is that I don't know these people and their brocade party isn't my problem at all.

I assume I am not the only one about these parts who has responded to this image in more or less the same way.

:shrug:

I bring all this up because the image of the ngakpa, even in what will be described by many as its simulacrum, prompts a strong reaction from anyone with any connection to Vajrayana. It's unsurprising that much of the disagreement in this thread and others on this same topic is at the level of assumption (divergences of assumption) rather than disputes around fact or function.

It would be worthwhile for someone to do an objective study (ethnography or at least participant observation) of what contemporary ngapkas outside of the Tibetan cultural sphere actually do with their time and their practice.

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Malcolm
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:36 am

DGA wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:26 am
It would be worthwhile for someone to do an objective study (ethnography or at least participant observation) of what contemporary ngapkas outside of the Tibetan cultural sphere actually do with their time and their practice.
I have been led to understand from an insider that they do their ganapujas naked. This leads me to wonder if Chogyam didn't do a stint of Gardnerian Wicca.

ImageImage
Image



And I have observed in the past that the Aro crew is most likely having more fun than we are...
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 TharpaChodron » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:05 am

Grigoris wrote:
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:


e76c08920c0c3b963ba53aca4f3ccb56.jpg

26734139_1568027713246355_7052357827431537563_n.jpg
Oh no, you didn't!

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Fa Dao
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Fa Dao » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:44 am

.

ImageImage
Image



And I have observed in the past that the Aro crew is most likely having more fun than we are...
[/quote]

I knew IT!! You were an Aro! I thought I recognized you in that pic...Its ok bro...you can come clean and tell us...we wont judge 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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Mantrik
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Mantrik » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:46 am

DGA wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:26 am
Mantrik wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:47 pm
Trying soo hard not to show that Aro g'Ter pic ............ desperately not wanting to show it..........damn, failed again! :
I've seen this photo more than a few times over the last dozen or more years. Every time I see it, I react strongly to it, and make some assumptions (not the same assumptions every time) about the people in the photo. I'll notice the facial hair. Or the gazes (which way are they looking?). Or ALL. THAT. BROCADE.

Mostly, I have assumed this is an image of silly people being silly. I've guessed at the silliness in different ways. (Confederacy nostalgia from across the pond? Heavy Horses-era Tull cosplay?)

in recent years I am more and more convinced that I have been the silly one. Why? Because I have strong opinions about others who choose to wear a hectare of brocade about their bodies, or cut their whiskers differently from how I cut mine. The truth is that I don't know these people and their brocade party isn't my problem at all.

I assume I am not the only one about these parts who has responded to this image in more or less the same way.

:shrug:

I bring all this up because the image of the ngakpa, even in what will be described by many as its simulacrum, prompts a strong reaction from anyone with any connection to Vajrayana. It's unsurprising that much of the disagreement in this thread and others on this same topic is at the level of assumption (divergences of assumption) rather than disputes around fact or function.

It would be worthwhile for someone to do an objective study (ethnography or at least participant observation) of what contemporary ngapkas outside of the Tibetan cultural sphere actually do with their time and their practice.

There was a meme about Buddhists - what they say they do and what they actually do, which was quite funny. How many wear their full Ngakpa dress at home, or even in a local Sangha? Observing threads on DW my impression is that most wear their ordinary clothes and maybe a Zen at times. How much time a Ngakpa spends meditating, performing rituals etc. I don't know. I get up at 4am and spend 3 hours in meditation, perform my morning pujas and riwo sangcho, integrate my practice throughout the day, six session yoga of course, and a long sadhana every evening, and I hereby confess to being a dreadful liar!:)

Buddhism here in the UK has such variety, there is something to appeal to most tastes, and I'm sure the trappings play their part in recruitment and retention. For some, it may be Japanese dress and ritual, for others Thai, Tibetan etc. I am certainly guilty of treating 'the West' as if it comprises one culture, and of course our upbringing conditions us. I have no factual evidence, but observed in one mass empowerment that there was a very large contingent from 'Catholic' countries - maybe Tibetan ritual, incense etc. is a good fit if you were brought up with Latin chanting, lots of robes, saints etc etc.

I think it comes back to the old 'motivation' question. It's a bit like the Ngakpa 'hair cutting' - not such a good idea if you just want it as your 'freak flag' (apologies Crosby) or to attract attention as 'holy' person.
Aro aren't far from me and although there seems to be a kernel of sincere practice, the terma controversy and the fancy dress puts me off. Maybe it is just me. I find all group activity stressful, perhaps because I always seem to end up teaching or organising things, not to mention the performance anxiety if I had to work out how to wear those hats. ;)
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:36 am

Just to clarify a point, the Aro dress most of the time in unremarkable western clothes, even when on retreat and when attending teachings.* Most of them hold down jobs. They are a jolly bunch and remarkably relaxed and unneurotic... and uncultic.

Having said all that, their way is not for me.

But I suspect that they do more good than harm.



* In contrast to those western Theravada lay people that attend teachings dressed all in white including white gym shoes...common in UK Theravadin circles.. :smile:
If you use the word 'mind' without defining your terms I will ask you politely for a definition. :smile:
This is not to be awkward. But it's really not self-explanatory.

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Malcolm
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:50 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:36 am
* In contrast to those western Theravada lay people that attend teachings dressed all in white including white gym shoes...common in UK Theravadin circles.. :smile:
The origin of the Ngakpa robes, sans red stripes on the upper robe which is a Tibetan innovation, is actually the white robes of the serious Indian Buddhist upāsaka and upāsikā, generally worn on fast days or when preparing for novice ordination. And of course, during the time of the Buddha, Indians generally never cut their hair unless they were mendicants since long hair was a mark of beauty in their 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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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:55 pm

Or in UK practice at least, worn everytime they go to Wat or Temple by the particularly mirthless. The sort of practitioner who would see this forum as a hotbed of heresy.
If you use the word 'mind' without defining your terms I will ask you politely for a definition. :smile:
This is not to be awkward. But it's really not self-explanatory.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by DGA » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:07 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:55 pm
Or in UK practice at least, worn everytime they go to Wat or Temple by the particularly mirthless. The sort of practitioner who would see this forum as a hotbed of heresy.
am I thinking of Christmas Humphreys, or Christopher Titmuss here?

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by DGA » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:08 pm

and wasn't it Kirkpatrick who was into the nudity thing, with Chogyam playing along for a while?

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by PeterC » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:21 pm

DGA wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:07 pm
Simon E. wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:55 pm
Or in UK practice at least, worn everytime they go to Wat or Temple by the particularly mirthless. The sort of practitioner who would see this forum as a hotbed of heresy.
am I thinking of Christmas Humphreys, or Christopher Titmuss here?
Joking aside, Christmas Humphreys was a great person. A very senior member of the legal community who worked hard to popularise the Dharma at a time when it was little known. He played a huge role in its development in the Uk.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:31 pm

DGA wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:07 pm
Simon E. wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:55 pm
Or in UK practice at least, worn everytime they go to Wat or Temple by the particularly mirthless. The sort of practitioner who would see this forum as a hotbed of heresy.
am I thinking of Christmas Humphreys, or Christopher Titmuss here?
Titmuss maybe, not Humphreys who had the personal style of an Edwardian toff, but was actually open doctrinally to the point of being naive. He was a fan of Blavatsky for goodness sake.. :lol:

I had more in mind a generation of lay Brit Theravadins who are basically fundamentalist. They fetch up at the Ajahn Chah monasteries and are far more literalist than most of the Bhikkhus who are many of them, open to the Mahayana.
If you use the word 'mind' without defining your terms I will ask you politely for a definition. :smile:
This is not to be awkward. But it's really not self-explanatory.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Mantrik » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:33 pm

PeterC wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:21 pm
DGA wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:07 pm
Simon E. wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:55 pm
Or in UK practice at least, worn everytime they go to Wat or Temple by the particularly mirthless. The sort of practitioner who would see this forum as a hotbed of heresy.
am I thinking of Christmas Humphreys, or Christopher Titmuss here?
Joking aside, Christmas Humphreys was a great person. A very senior member of the legal community who worked hard to popularise the Dharma at a time when it was little known. He played a huge role in its development in the Uk.
Wasn't he also someone whose actions led to the conviction and execution of an innocent illiterate and retarded man, and as a Judge let off an armed rapist with a very light sentence - which was the last straw which eventually led to the end of his career as a judge?

Odd for a Buddhist. Maybe not the role model for the modern Ngakpa.
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Malcolm
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:39 pm

DGA wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:08 pm
and wasn't it Kirkpatrick who was into the nudity thing, with Chogyam playing along for a while?
It's possible. I was told this by someone who said they liked the Aro trip, but after a while they found the nudity thing too much.

My info is old, so perhaps they do things differently. Never hung out with them at all, so I really would not know what past and present practices may be like.
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 PeterC » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:16 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:33 pm
PeterC wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:21 pm
DGA wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:07 pm


am I thinking of Christmas Humphreys, or Christopher Titmuss here?
Joking aside, Christmas Humphreys was a great person. A very senior member of the legal community who worked hard to popularise the Dharma at a time when it was little known. He played a huge role in its development in the Uk.
Wasn't he also someone whose actions led to the conviction and execution of an innocent illiterate and retarded man, and as a Judge let off an armed rapist with a very light sentence - which was the last straw which eventually led to the end of his career as a judge?

Odd for a Buddhist. Maybe not the role model for the modern Ngakpa.
Are you familiar with his career and his work on behalf of the Dharma, or just citing a few random facts out of context? I would recommend reading a bit more about his contributions before making offhand comments like that.

The conviction and execution was when he worked as a prosecutor. There was no suggestion of improper behaviour on his part, and that was after all his job.

He was absolutely not a model for a modern ngakpa of the type pictured above. He was a member of the establishment and worked very hard to gain society’s respect for Buddhism, including maintaining very conventional conduct. This might sound trivial now but in his day it was a very big deal.

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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Mantrik » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:48 pm

PeterC wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:16 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:33 pm
PeterC wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:21 pm


Joking aside, Christmas Humphreys was a great person. A very senior member of the legal community who worked hard to popularise the Dharma at a time when it was little known. He played a huge role in its development in the Uk.
Wasn't he also someone whose actions led to the conviction and execution of an innocent illiterate and retarded man, and as a Judge let off an armed rapist with a very light sentence - which was the last straw which eventually led to the end of his career as a judge?

Odd for a Buddhist. Maybe not the role model for the modern Ngakpa.
Are you familiar with his career and his work on behalf of the Dharma, or just citing a few random facts out of context? I would recommend reading a bit more about his contributions before making offhand comments like that.

The conviction and execution was when he worked as a prosecutor. There was no suggestion of improper behaviour on his part, and that was after all his job.

He was absolutely not a model for a modern ngakpa of the type pictured above. He was a member of the establishment and worked very hard to gain society’s respect for Buddhism, including maintaining very conventional conduct. This might sound trivial now but in his day it was a very big deal.
Thanks for your concern. I'm British, old and know about him. I related him to Ngakpas as a way of dragging the thread back somewhere near the topic. You have added 'of the type pictured above' and deleted 'role' from 'role model'. My assertion was that he was not a good role model for a modern day Ngakpa to follow; or indeed any Buddhist, but we are discussing Ngakpas.

My apologies for finding someone (who goes easy on armed rape and works to secure the hanging of a retarded man on flimsy evidence) is a poor role model for Buddhists. There were others, like Olcott, who deserve some credit in the saga .......Humphreys was not remarkable. Being a member of 'the establishment', especially in chambers, is certainly one way of mixing with rogues and thieves, and not something of which I am in any awe, having mixed with many. ;)
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:51 pm

Humphrey's was part of the judiciary at the Nuremberg Trials. Which earned him the nickname 'The Hanging Judge' in some parts of the British Buddhist scene.
If you use the word 'mind' without defining your terms I will ask you politely for a definition. :smile:
This is not to be awkward. But it's really not self-explanatory.

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Malcolm
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:09 pm

This is what I love about E-Sangha/DW/Vajracakra, etc. We can have basically civilized conversations about Buddhist hanging judges, that are occasionally soft on rapists, and who condemned Nazis to hang while practicing mindfulness of breathing with their spare time, etc., etc., in the middle of a conversation about whether there is a market for Ngakpa services, or whether it is even appropriate to use such language, the origin of the tradition, and so on. Keep up the good work! And we are evenly occasionally invaded by crazy Malaysian Buddhist scholars who insist that black is white and white is black!
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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Grigoris
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by Grigoris » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:36 am
And I have observed in the past that the Aro crew is most likely having more fun than we are...
I don't know dude, but the idea of hanging out (literally) naked with the two people in the Aro photo, is hardly my idea of having fun. :tongue:
"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."
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Re: What it means to be a ngakpa

Post by dzoki » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:00 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:42 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:36 am
And I have observed in the past that the Aro crew is most likely having more fun than we are...
I don't know dude, but the idea of hanging out (literally) naked with the two people in the Aro photo, is hardly my idea of having fun. :tongue:
Interesting side note - that clown Ngag'phang Rinpoche (as he originally called himself), goes now under the moniker of Doc Togden - a blues/country musician wearing some fancy attire :D

Image

and his "khandro" :D, they sure like cosplay.

Image

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