Lingpupa wrote:We are of almost one mind, as it happens.gregkavarnos wrote:Suffice to say that the whole "three year retreat" deal has more to do with the standardisation of a monastic curriculim than the substantial or intrinsic quality of the practices themselves.
I couldn't agree more.
Well....that's PART of it, I am sure. But the three year retreat ALSO has to do with the substantial or intrinsic quality of the "practices themselves," folks. The "standardization" point is a good and a relevant one, for sure.....but....
Lingpupa wrote:gregkavarnos wrote:The whole idea of the retreats seems to have originated with the back-flip that the Kagyu lineage made when it transformed from a bunch of dirty roaming yogis to gompas and shedras. The stories of the 84 mahasiddhas are testimony to that fact.
Again I second you entirely.gregkavarnos wrote:...many of the mahasiddhas never left their day-to-day life in order to practice and reach extraordinary levels of realisation and capacity.
I know, I know, and I would be really happy if this approach was more honoured these days.
Well....the world is a different place these days. Back in "the day," heh heh.......in the time of the Mahasiddhas, things were "simpler" in many respects. And, as is said, merit was greater......until relatively recently, markets and schools didn't start until 10 am in India....people would get up before dawn, attend to their devotions, etc.
Lingpupa wrote:gregkavarnos wrote:I would say that there are definitely benefits to the three year retreat: time being one of them, pressure to complete the practices, a more stable practice environment, direct daily access to a teacher, etc...
I have to quote you slightly out of sequence here, but I don't think it changes what you say. The above sentence is, I believe, almost obvious, and I expect most of us would agree with it. But you preface it with:gregkavarnos wrote:So I am going to have to disagree that there is a glass-ceiling,
I suspect that the reason you disagree is that we have understood this phrase differently. I am not saying (or at any rate I did not intend to say) that there has to be, needs to be or should be a glass ceiling. What I wanted to say is that the tradition as we have it now tends to insert a glass ceiling, and tell students that "Well, this much you can do, as a kind of preparation, but if you want to do the Six Yogas then maybe that will come at the end of your first three year retreat, or maybe not". (I'm using the Six Yogas merely as an example, because they are well known.)gregkavarnos wrote:But (and this, for me is the crux of the matter): is it really necessary to complete all those practices if one is not going to be a lama, or is the yidam (more than) enough?
Once again I agree entirely, although there is the question of whether its the outer version of the yidam practice, or the inner version, or the secret version, or the ultimate version or the ultimate secret version, or... Well, I'm being humorous there (or trying to be), but that kind of structure also has, I suspect, a political/institutional purpose as much as a spiritual one.
"Yidam Practice" is a vast subject, and it actually entails the stages of Creation and Completion. I think that, by and large, the TharLam, or Path of Liberation, which is the path of Mahamudra as the unity of Samatha and Vipassana, with guru yoga, can be a complete path. Ngondro is the basis of this path.
When we talk about the ThabLam, though, the Path of Means, which is the extensive and profound path of the two stages, I have to say it's the rare person who can actualize these practices without a strict and lengthy retreat. Whether one wishes to be a Lama is tangential--if one really wishes to practice the Two Stages in their complete forms, and especially the Completion Stage practices, retreat is a requirement.