Sapan on distinctions and diversity

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passel
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Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by passel » Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:51 am

I’m not a Sakyapa, and don’t practice Sakuapa dharma, but I’ve been reading just a bit to get a little more well-rounded.

Sakya Pandita has never seemed especially sympathetic to me though I know he’s very respected and very great and all that. But my only real exposure to him was from reading D Jackson’s book (like 15 years ago!) about his dispute w Lama Zhang over the latter’s “single sufficient white remedy”- Enlightenment by a Single Means was the name of the book. There, Sapan seemed like the more moral of the two, but also hopelessly stuffy, conservative, and severe.

So I’m reading the intro to Deshung R.’s 3 Levels of Spiritual Perception, and it says that Kublai Khan gave Chogyal Phagpa, Sapan’s nephew, the opportunity to decree that Tibetans could only practice Sakya dharma, but Phagpa declined to take him up on that. Why?

Was Phagpa backing off from Sapan’s stridency? Or is some kind of tolerance implicit in Sakya dharma? What was Sapan’s project, really? What was Phagpa’s?
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

dechenpa
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by dechenpa » Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:38 pm

Sapan's consistent point is to purify corruptions of the dharma by always pointing back to the sutras, sastras and tantras as sources of truth and exposing whatever does not appear in those sources as Tibetan innovations. His criticisms of mahamudra, Vajrayogini blessing bestowal, the distinction of the two systems of the bodhisattva vow, etc. are founded in nothing but his mastery of those Indian sources. It is not a question of being 'stuffy' or 'severe' for any dogmatic reason but it is a question of protecting the transmission of dharma from unnecessary and harmful alteration based on misunderstandings.

Lama Phakpa nowhere contradicts this approach. His resistance to imposing Sakya conformity on Tibet is not a question of a liberal tolerance of innovation or corruption, but a question of conserving established traditions and practices where they are not corruptions or Tibetan inventions, and not harmful to sentient beings. That is in fact the essence of Sakya dharma, and how the Sakyapas came to possess and master so many diverse lineages and traditions, including secular learning.

Now, eight centuries later, some of Sapan's targets have become long-established practices of Tibetan Buddhism, especially in the Kagyu lineages. Nevertheless Sapan's arguments are still worthwhile studying from Kagyupas as they force one to really question the nature of these practices and transmissions and what is really going on. One can learn A LOT from Sapan, especially given the modern Western obsession with progress, novelty and innovation.

My teacher, Lama Jampa Thaye, received both Sakya and Kagyu transmissions from his master, Karma Thinley Rinpoche, who was recognized as a Sakya tulku and a Kagyu tulku. Lama Jampa reported Rinpoche saying to him once, "Sapan's criticisms [of the Kagyu transmissions] are absolutely correct. However, Karmapa's lineage has great blessings, so that's true too." I always liked this!

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Malcolm
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by Malcolm » Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:52 pm

dechenpa wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:38 pm
Sapan's consistent point is to purify corruptions of the dharma by always pointing back to the sutras, sastras and tantras as sources of truth and exposing whatever does not appear in those sources as Tibetan innovations.
One wonders what Sapan would have made of Konchok Chidu, etc. And Lamdre itself is not immune to charges of Tibetan innovation.
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

Pero
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by Pero » Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:50 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:52 pm
dechenpa wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:38 pm
Sapan's consistent point is to purify corruptions of the dharma by always pointing back to the sutras, sastras and tantras as sources of truth and exposing whatever does not appear in those sources as Tibetan innovations.
One wonders what Sapan would have made of Konchok Chidu, etc. And Lamdre itself is not immune to charges of Tibetan innovation.
What's wrong with Konchok Chidu?
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

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Malcolm
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by Malcolm » Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:57 pm

Pero wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:50 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:52 pm
dechenpa wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:38 pm
Sapan's consistent point is to purify corruptions of the dharma by always pointing back to the sutras, sastras and tantras as sources of truth and exposing whatever does not appear in those sources as Tibetan innovations.
One wonders what Sapan would have made of Konchok Chidu, etc. And Lamdre itself is not immune to charges of Tibetan innovation.
What's wrong with Konchok Chidu?

The eight chapter tantra in the Konchok Chidu root texts asserts that Padmasambhava's treasure teachings are better than translations from Sanskrit since they are the direct voice of the sambhogkāya in Tibetan language.
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

Pero
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Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:54 pm

Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by Pero » Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:04 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:57 pm
Pero wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:50 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:52 pm


One wonders what Sapan would have made of Konchok Chidu, etc. And Lamdre itself is not immune to charges of Tibetan innovation.
What's wrong with Konchok Chidu?

The eight chapter tantra in the Konchok Chidu root texts asserts that Padmasambhava's treasure teachings are better than translations from Sanskrit since they are the direct voice of the sambhogkāya in Tibetan language.
Interesting, thanks.
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

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passel
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by passel » Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:56 pm

dechenpa wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:38 pm
Sapan's consistent point is to purify corruptions of the dharma by always pointing back to the sutras, sastras and tantras as sources of truth and exposing whatever does not appear in those sources as Tibetan innovations. His criticisms of mahamudra, Vajrayogini blessing bestowal, the distinction of the two systems of the bodhisattva vow, etc. are founded in nothing but his mastery of those Indian sources. It is not a question of being 'stuffy' or 'severe' for any dogmatic reason but it is a question of protecting the transmission of dharma from unnecessary and harmful alteration based on misunderstandings.

Lama Phakpa nowhere contradicts this approach. His resistance to imposing Sakya conformity on Tibet is not a question of a liberal tolerance of innovation or corruption, but a question of conserving established traditions and practices where they are not corruptions or Tibetan inventions, and not harmful to sentient beings. That is in fact the essence of Sakya dharma, and how the Sakyapas came to possess and master so many diverse lineages and traditions, including secular learning.

Now, eight centuries later, some of Sapan's targets have become long-established practices of Tibetan Buddhism, especially in the Kagyu lineages. Nevertheless Sapan's arguments are still worthwhile studying from Kagyupas as they force one to really question the nature of these practices and transmissions and what is really going on. One can learn A LOT from Sapan, especially given the modern Western obsession with progress, novelty and innovation.

My teacher, Lama Jampa Thaye, received both Sakya and Kagyu transmissions from his master, Karma Thinley Rinpoche, who was recognized as a Sakya tulku and a Kagyu tulku. Lama Jampa reported Rinpoche saying to him once, "Sapan's criticisms [of the Kagyu transmissions] are absolutely correct. However, Karmapa's lineage has great blessings, so that's true too." I always liked this!
Thanks for your post, it was informative to me- it also helped me understand how a person might fruitfully join a Sakya and a Kagyu practice- which I’d been scratching my head about for a while. I don’t have time or resources to mount a full study of teachings that I don’t practice myself, but I would like to develop a less stereotypical view of Sakya dharma, so if you can recommend any resources, please do. Thanks
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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passel
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by passel » Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:01 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:57 pm
Pero wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:50 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:52 pm


One wonders what Sapan would have made of Konchok Chidu, etc. And Lamdre itself is not immune to charges of Tibetan innovation.
What's wrong with Konchok Chidu?

The eight chapter tantra in the Konchok Chidu root texts asserts that Padmasambhava's treasure teachings are better than translations from Sanskrit since they are the direct voice of the sambhogkāya in Tibetan language.
Do Sayapas practice Konchok Chidu? I thought it was a Nyingma terma cycle, so wonder what the problem would be for a Sakyapa- wouldn’t they just expect that non-Sakya teachings would not meet Sakya criteria for authorship?
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Malcolm
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by Malcolm » Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:09 pm

passel wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:01 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:57 pm
Pero wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:50 pm


What's wrong with Konchok Chidu?

The eight chapter tantra in the Konchok Chidu root texts asserts that Padmasambhava's treasure teachings are better than translations from Sanskrit since they are the direct voice of the sambhogkāya in Tibetan language.
Do Sayapas practice Konchok Chidu? I thought it was a Nyingma terma cycle, so wonder what the problem would be for a Sakyapa- wouldn’t they just expect that non-Sakya teachings would not meet Sakya criteria for authorship?
I am saying that Sapan would have a problem with this assertion.
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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passel
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by passel » Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:17 pm

Ok. Wouldn’t he have a problem w any assertion that didn’t observe his criteria for canonicity? So any terma? Why limit the criticism to the KC?
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Malcolm
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by Malcolm » Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:08 pm

passel wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:17 pm
Ok. Wouldn’t he have a problem w any assertion that didn’t observe his criteria for canonicity? So any terma? Why limit the criticism to the KC?
I didn't. But the KC is the only terma that I have read that addresses the issue of the authenticity of termas in general in the way that it does.
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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passel
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by passel » Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:12 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:08 pm
passel wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:17 pm
Ok. Wouldn’t he have a problem w any assertion that didn’t observe his criteria for canonicity? So any terma? Why limit the criticism to the KC?
I didn't. But the KC is the only terma that I have read that addresses the issue of the authenticity of termas in general in the way that it does.
Excellent. Thx.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

dechenpa
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by dechenpa » Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:29 am

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:52 pm
One wonders what Sapan would have made of Konchok Chidu, etc. And Lamdre itself is not immune to charges of Tibetan innovation.
He does say on the Three Vows

Many religious traditions abound, hailed
As whispered and single recipient traditions.
They are acceptable if they agree with the tantras
But otherwise they are compilations of falsifications.


That would seem to give a pass to the Sakya Lamdre 'disciple' transmission, as far as I know, although I am not familiar with its contents. It would maybe give a pass most or all of the Konchok Chidu cycle too, which one might argue has more in common with the Sakya Nyingma inheritance than the Kagyupa treatment of Vajrayogini has in common with Naro Khacho. We know that Sakya Trichen and the present Sakya Trizin have both given Dudjom terma initiations of Guru Rinpoche.

The claim that gter ma is superior to bka' ma is very interesting, I did not know about that - it would probably shock a lot of Nyingmapas, let alone Sakyapas, to hear such a claim!

dechenpa
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by dechenpa » Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:33 am

passel wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:56 pm
I don’t have time or resources to mount a full study of teachings that I don’t practice myself, but I would like to develop a less stereotypical view of Sakya dharma, so if you can recommend any resources, please do. Thanks
Lama Jampa Thaye's Rain of Clarity: The Stages of the Path in the Sakya Tradition is a good overview of the Sakya path and easy to read. It has a preface by Sakya Trichen.

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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by kirtu » Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:44 am

dechenpa wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:29 am
The claim that gter ma is superior to bka' ma is very interesting, I did not know about that - it would probably shock a lot of Nyingmapas, let alone Sakyapas, to hear such a claim!
The usual Nyingma claim is that terma "reinvigorates the lineage" rather than directly asserting that terma is superior to kama. The problem with kama is that practices can be lost. And the promise of terma is that practices have been hidden or set aside for a specific group or historical moment in order to bless fortunate beings with direct transmission from an enlightened source.

Kirt
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"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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passel
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by passel » Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:46 am

kirtu wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:44 am
dechenpa wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:29 am
The claim that gter ma is superior to bka' ma is very interesting, I did not know about that - it would probably shock a lot of Nyingmapas, let alone Sakyapas, to hear such a claim!
The usual Nyingma claim is that terma "reinvigorates the lineage" rather than directly asserting that terma is superior to kama. The problem with kama is that practices can be lost. And the promise of terma is that practices have been hidden or set aside for a specific group or historical moment in order to bless fortunate beings with direct transmission from an enlightened source.

Kirt
I like it, thanks. Though I'm not categorically opposed to innovation!
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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passel
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Re: Sapan on distinctions and diversity

Post by passel » Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:47 am

dechenpa wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:33 am
passel wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:56 pm
I don’t have time or resources to mount a full study of teachings that I don’t practice myself, but I would like to develop a less stereotypical view of Sakya dharma, so if you can recommend any resources, please do. Thanks
Lama Jampa Thaye's Rain of Clarity: The Stages of the Path in the Sakya Tradition is a good overview of the Sakya path and easy to read. It has a preface by Sakya Trichen.
I'll keep an eye out for it, thanks
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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