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Postby madhusudan » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:09 pm

Hi All, I'm new here. I am interested in Tibetan Buddhism, and specifically 'graduating' from the Mahayana to the Vajrayana practice.

Currently my practice involves sitting in the 7 point posture, taking refuge, cultivating bodhicitta, shamatha meditation, and dedication. Purely Mahayana, from my understanding.

I am lucky to have a Kagyu center in town, since I feel great devotion to Milarepa's lineage. Long ago I visited a similar center in another town and wasn't exactly inspired by the group Chenrezig practice, which is the one open to the public.

I am a bit confused by the actual practice at these centers, as it does not match what I read in books. In the 100,00 songs, people receive "initiation and instructions" and then go off to practice on their own. When they have some experience, they speak with Mila. It seems like modern practice involves group puja, group meditation and going to empowerments. I'm kind of a loner when it comes to these things, though hopefully not a 'solitary realizer'. It's just so private and beautiful I must do it in pre dawn darkness.

Can someone explain that apparent discrepancy, or are these things the same and I just do not know?

I intend to contact the local lama for initiation and instructions after I have a working memorization of The Jewel Ornament of Liberation. I wouldn't want to bother him before doing that, and it is a way to prove my intentions. How can I go about doing this appropriately? Can I just bring a khata and ask sincerely?

Thanks for any help with these questions.

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Re: Basic

Postby smcj » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:22 pm

Cone, do you want to reply? You're sort of the senior Kagyu around here.
My posts are for entertainment purposes only. Please don't take anything I say seriously unless you confirm it with a traditional teacher first.

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Re: Basic

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:31 pm

It's excellent you are taking this seriously.

Group Pujas are just a thing. Real practitioners practice four times a day. It isn't possible to have a dozen or more people to come to the temple four times a day every day.

The usual way to practice is by yourself after receiving initiation and instructions. Occasionally visiting your guru to share your process or lack of it and ask questions and receive advice. This is method taught in the Songs of Milarepa, the Stories of the Eighty Four Mahasiddha, and others, such as this verse from Tsongkhapa's Three Principles of the Path, which was a letter to one of his disciples:

(14) When you have understood the points of these three
Principal aspects of the path [Renunciation and the two Bodhicittas], as they are,
Rely on solitude and,
by generating the power of joyful perseverance,
Quickly realize, my son, your immemorial goal.

On that theme: rather than memorizing a bunch of words, isn't it better to memorize the meaning? Rather than memorizing the meaning, isn't it better to understand the meaning? Rather than understanding the meaning, isn't it better to live the meaning?

It is essential for you to only receive initiation from people you will respect for life. So meet and learn the character of possible Gurus first. Then request initiation and instructions.

I hope you attain Enlightenment quickly.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

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Re: Basic

Postby lobster » Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:21 am

madhusudan wrote:Can I just bring a khata and ask sincerely?

Asking sincerely is sufficient to start. If unable to connect locally consider going further afield for initiation, on a retreat. Physical proximity is not required, beneficial as it is, if the capacity and intent is in place. :smile:

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Re: Basic

Postby madhusudan » Wed Oct 02, 2013 3:24 am

Thanks for the replies. That's what I needed to know. Very helpful.

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Re: Basic

Postby smcj » Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:10 am

A working knowledge of the Jewel Ornament is a good thing. You're not by any chance looking at Guenther's edition are you? That's just an awful translation.

By your post it wasn't clear that you understood that "initiation" and "empowerment" are synonyms. Mila didn't have any monasteries or institutions, so his students were not encumbered. There is more of a group culture in the Kagyus these days, although the lone yogi is still a meme and respected. Plus since Mila's time there have been established "Preliminary Practices" that I don't think Mila gave his students. Your local lama may or may not steer you in that direction, depending on your interests and inclinations.
My posts are for entertainment purposes only. Please don't take anything I say seriously unless you confirm it with a traditional teacher first.

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Re: Basic

Postby ClearblueSky » Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:11 am

Group practice is not a modern thing, as monasteries have been doing group puja for quite some time. Even the tanric practice of ganachakra would be considered a group practice, and that goes way back. For me group practice and solo practice have a bit of a different energy, and I like them both for their own reasons. One needs to practice on their own, but sometimes group practice can be nicely motivating, and can also help answer questions you may have.
Regarding the initiation question, different practices have different levels of what is required to engage in them. Some require full empowerment and explanation, some they say it's okay to do with just an explanation from your teacher, and others are okay to do on your own. Chenrezig, which you mentioned, is a practice that is often done without empowerment (though there is a chenrezig empowerment, and with any practice it's said to at least be better if you can get the empowerment). Ideally you should have your teacher explain the Sadhana in depth to you, but in my experience, at least with Kagyu, it is one of those practices that is okay to do with the rest of the sangha with positive intention. And the mantra itself is very open and can be done by anyone with good intention.
Good luck and best wishes.

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Re: Basic

Postby conebeckham » Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:49 pm

Reading and studying are good things. Chenrezig puja, to me, is a perfect gateway to Vajrayana practice. Doing it n a group will give you a good "flavor" for the practice, and can be helpful in grounding you in some sort of experience.

As for the "tradition" of Milarepa, you have to consider cultural differences. His society was steeped in Dharma, ours is not. Going to the dharma center, practicing together, and listening to teachings can be helpful. But if you really wish to practice, you need the empowerments and instructions. Starting with Chenrezig as one's main daily recitation has much to recommend it, in my opinion.....

"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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