Author Topic: Why 'New Jonang'?  (Read 9642 times)

Offline TashiNyima

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Why 'New Jonang'?
« on: May 04, 2010, 09:14:03 am »
Dear Friends,

namo buddhaya

The Zhentong view of emptiness was taught by the Buddha, elaborated in India, and later transmitted in Tibet. Among the early Tibetan authors on Zhentong was Yumo Mikyo Dorje, an 11th century Kalachakra yogi. He was a disciple of Somanatha, the Sanskrit Pandit and Kalachakra master from Kashmir who translated the Vimalaprabha —the great Kalachakra commentary— into Tibetan with Dro Lotsawa. Yumo Mikyo Dorje received the Zhentong teachings while practicing the Kalachakra six-limbed yoga in the Mt. Kailash area of Western Tibet, and later taught Zhentong as a "secret doctrine" (lkog pa'i chos) to his closest disciples.

In 1294, Kunpang Tukje Tsondru (1243-1313) founded a monastery in Jomonang, which gave the name to the lineage. This monastery was modeled on the traditional design of the Kingdom of Shambhala. Tukje Tsondru also arranged and gathered the Six Yoga Kalachakra practice traditions that existed in Tibet at that time.

Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292-1361) settled in Jomonang after studying each of the existing Buddhist traditions in Tibet, including Kagyu, Nyingma, and Sakya (in which he was ordained). Kunchen Dolpopa served as abbot of Jonang Monastery, and in the year 1333 completed the Great Stupa of Jonang.

Kunchen Dolpopa was the first Jonang master to extensively teach Zhentong. In his most famous work, Mountain Dharma: An Ocean of Definitive Meaning (ri chos nges don rgya mtsho), Kunchen Dolpopa clarified the Zhentong view. These are referred to as the teachings of the "Heart's Essence" (snying po'i don). As Kunchen Dolpopa's Mountain Dharma and other Jonang texts were banned in the 17th century, they became extremely rare. In the 1970s and 1980s a few of these texts were re-discovered and re-printed, notably through the agency of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

The Jonang produced a number of renowned Buddhist scholars. Among these was Jetsun Taranatha (1575-1634), who founded Takten Phuntsok Ling Monastery (near Shigatse). He is widely known as one of the greatest scholars, historians, and practitioners of his time. Two of Taranatha's best known works are his History of Buddhism in India and Origins of the Tara Tantra (The Golden Rosary).

Kunchen Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen and subsequent Jonang lamas developed a teaching known as Zhentong, which is closely tied to the Indian Yogacara. Given the true establishment of Buddha nature (tathagatagarbha) in all sentient beings, the Jonangpa propounded the value of non-action and non-striving, which the Gelukpa associated with the teachings of medieval Chan Buddhism in China (Zen Buddhism in Japan). While the Gelukpa embraced the Jonang teaching on the Kalachakra, they ultimately opposed the Jonang for the Zhentong teachings.

In the mid 17th century, the Jonang came under attack by the Geluk under the rule of the 5th Dalai Lama. The Geluk declared the Zhentong view of emptiness to be heretical, sealed Jonang libraries, burned Jonang books, and forcibly closed or annexed Jonang monasteries.

Modern historians have identified two other reasons which likely led the Gelukpa to suppress the Jonang. First, the Jonangpa taught that large gifts of property to monasteries did not help one achieve enlightenment. This undercut the financial practices of the Gelukpa, who were growing rapidly through those very means.

Second, and more significantly, the Jonangpa had political ties that were very vexing to the Gelukpa. The Jonangpa, along with the Kagyupa, were historical allies of the powerful house of Tsang, which was vying with the 5th Dalai Lama for control of central Tibet.

Soon after the death of Jetsun Taranatha, an ominous event occurred: Taranatha's reincarnation was discovered to be a young boy named Zanabazar, the son of Prince Tosiyetu Khan, ruler of the Khan Uula district of Outer Mongolia. Tosiyetu and his son were of Khalkha lineage, meaning they had the birth authority to become Khan. When the young boy was declared the spiritual leader of all of Mongolia, the Gelukpa were faced with the possibility of war with the former military superpower of Asia. While the Mongol Empire was long past its zenith, this was nonetheless a frightening prospect, and the Dalai Lama sought the first possible moment of Mongol distraction to take control of the Jonang monasteries.

Following this repression, it was generally believed that the Jonang tradition had become extinct. However, as many as seventy Jonang monasteries are still active in isolated areas of Tibet and China, including the main monastery called Tsangwa, located in Dzamthang, and others in the Amdo region.

Today, Dzamthang Tsangwa Monastery is home to approximately 1,500 monks, and there are more than 5,000 Jonang monks in this remote region of Tibet. There are also Jonang practice centers in China, Taiwan, Nepal, and the USA. As a gesture of his support, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gifted the Jonang their first and only monastery in exile in Shimla, Northern India. Takten Phuntsok Ling Monastery is now the main center for the Jonang outside of Tibet.

For the initial 300-years of the Jonangpa, the primary lineage-heir was the master who held the seat of Jomonang, and later of Taranatha's Takten Damcho Ling Monastery (Phuntsok Ling). In the mid-17th century, when the Jonangpa began to settle in the Amdo region of Northeastern Tibet, Dzamthang Tsangwa Monastery was founded by one of Taranatha's disciples, Lodro Namgyal. Since that time, although the spiritual authority of the Jonang has never rested on any one individual, the abbot of Dzamthang Tsangwa Monastery has held great authority and influence within the tradition.

Recently, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama appointed the 9th Kalkha Rinpoche to oversee the affairs of the Jonang monastery in Shimla, India, Takten Phuntsok Choling. Honoring the claim that Khalkha Rinpoche is the reincarnation of Jetsun Taranatha, His Holiness has also appointed him as the main representative for the Jonang. However, Kalkha Rinpoche is effectively the head of the Geluk tradition in Mongolia, and thus perhaps not the most suitable candidate to represent and expound the teachings of Kunchen Dolpopa and the Jonang masters.

Under these conditions, with the officially designated leadership of the lineage schooled in Geluk (rangtong) doctrine and formally affiliated with the sect that instituted the 17th century persecution, in 2005 several elder Jonang masters inside Tibet and China organized the Jonang Standing Council for the Benefit of the Buddha's Teachings and All Beings, to guide the future of the Jonang tradition through collective wisdom.

The purposes of the Jonang Standing Council are: building alliances and collaborative efforts among Jonang establishments; sustaining the distinctive Jonang heritage of the Kalachakra Tantra and Zhentong contemplative view; overseeing the development of institutions that support Jonang monastic education inside Tibet and China; facilitating the emergence and flourishing of the Jonang tradition within the wider international community; hosting the Annual Zhentong Assembly and events that encourage understanding of Jonang thought and practice; publishing seminal Tibetan texts of the Jonang literary corpus; and translating selected works of Jonang Tibetan literature into foreign languages.

The Jonang Foundation (www.jonangfoundation.org) was also established in 2005 in order to support and serve as a liaison organization for the efforts, ambitions, and decisions of the Jonang Standing Council. Khenpo Kunga Sherab Saljay Rinpoche is the Senior Advisor of Jonang Foundation and Chief Director of the Jonang Standing Council.

While we welcome, honor, and respect these developments, in obedience to our Teacher, Kyabje Tashi Norbu Rinpoche, we have chosen to remain faithful to the original Jonang practice of avoiding official designations of leadership, and allowing the quality and power of the Dharma activities of each Teacher and Sangha to manifest unimpeded.

Moreover, we understand that the Jonang lineage is fundamentally a teaching and practice transmission, rather than merely a formal ordination succession. Our Root Teacher, Kunchen Dolpopa, was ordained in the Sakya tradition, and our own Teacher’s monastic ordination was from the Nyingmapa. By his instruction, we received formal Refuge from a Karma Kagyu lama, and Bodhisattva Vows from HH the Dalai Lama.

Thus, in deference to the Kalkha Rinpoche, the designated representative of the Jonangpa to the Tibetan Government in Exile, and to the Jonang Standing Council, and desiring to respect their authority and prominence, as well as to avoid any possibility of misrepresentation, we have opted to refer to ourselves, in our insignificant attempt to honor and serve the lineage of Kunchen Dolpopa, as New Jonangpas.

We wish to express our gratitude and indebtedness to the International Kalachakra Network and the Jonang Foundation for the information that served as a basis for this posting. Of course, all errors and omissions are our sole responsibility.

sarva mangalam
Tashi Nyima
« Last Edit: May 04, 2010, 09:21:16 am by TashiNyima »

Yeshe Zopa

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2010, 10:17:27 am »
It would seem to me that considerable wisdom has been exercised in preserving both lineage and practices, and retaining them as separate from the transience of political rule.

It would be wonderful if you have a suitable summary of the main practices and beliefs, and maybe give us an idea of any divergences, of course allowing for the fact that other sects have absorbed some of them.

In the meantime, having followed your link, I have found this section most interesting:

http://jonangfoundation.org/faq

 :pray:

Offline Caz

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2010, 10:34:54 am »
Interesting thanks for sharing friend !  :pray:
http://emodernbuddhism.com/

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We would like to request you to please respect this precious Dharma book, which functions to free living beings from suffering permanently. If you continually read and practice the advice in this book, eventually your problems caused by anger, attachment and ignorance will cease.

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Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2010, 11:31:09 pm »
As a gesture of his support, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gifted the Jonang their first and only monastery in exile in Shimla, Northern India. Takten Phuntsok Ling Monastery is now the main center for the Jonang outside of Tibet.

For some reason I knew about that one. When I found out about it was when I realized that Jonangpas still existed. Ladakh, right?
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline Will

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2010, 07:33:16 am »
There are plenty of explanatory texts here:  

http://jonangfoundation.org/Library
« Last Edit: May 05, 2010, 10:25:52 am by Skull »
The bodhi resolve is like empty space, this because its marvelous qualities are boundlessly vast.  Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 39

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2010, 08:49:33 am »
A cut & paste from Skull's link:

According to the Great Madhyamaka tradition, there is sutra zhentong and tantra zhentong. In accord with sutra zhentong, the Great Madhyamaka system of the Jonang emphasizes Shakyamuni's 3rd "turning" or final set of discourses. This understanding of mind and reality seeks to reconcile the paradox of a lack of any permanent essence (sunyata, emptiness), and that of an ever-abiding permanent enlightened essence (tathagatagarbha, buddha-nature).
"Zhentong," (gzhan stong, "shentong") "extrinsic emptiness" or "other-emptiness" is a view of how the ultimate nature of reality is free from or empty of everything "other" than its absolute nature. In other words, a zhentong view understands how one's own enlightened essence is empty of everything false in superficial relative reality.
Zhentong as a view for meditation practice regards relative reality as empty of its own intrinsic existence. This emptiness of inherent substance or "rangtong" is considered to be solely the nature of relative reality while ultimate reality is understood to be empty of everything other than itself. Accordingly, transient tangible experiences remain devoid of inherent substance as the boundless luminous nucleus of Buddhahood within all beings remains intangible and invariant.
This enlightened essence is regarded as an indwelling permanently pure nature of awareness. It is the mind devoid of its distorted perceptions. Likened to an embryo or a womb, this essence (garbha) provides the potentiality for living beings to be reborn into completely awakened Buddhas.


But that is sutra Zhentong. Tantric I think I know about but I'm not sure.

« Last Edit: May 05, 2010, 10:50:48 am by santamonicacj »
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline TashiNyima

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2010, 05:15:56 pm »
A cut & paste from Skull's link:

According to the Great Madhyamaka tradition, there is sutra zhentong and tantra zhentong. In accord with sutra zhentong, the Great Madhyamaka system of the Jonang emphasizes Shakyamuni's 3rd "turning" or final set of discourses. This understanding of mind and reality seeks to reconcile the paradox of a lack of any permanent essence (sunyata, emptiness), and that of an ever-abiding permanent enlightened essence (tathagatagarbha, buddha-nature).
"Zhentong," (gzhan stong, "shentong") "extrinsic emptiness" or "other-emptiness" is a view of how the ultimate nature of reality is free from or empty of everything "other" than its absolute nature. In other words, a zhentong view understands how one's own enlightened essence is empty of everything false in superficial relative reality.
Zhentong as a view for meditation practice regards relative reality as empty of its own intrinsic existence. This emptiness of inherent substance or "rangtong" is considered to be solely the nature of relative reality while ultimate reality is understood to be empty of everything other than itself. Accordingly, transient tangible experiences remain devoid of inherent substance as the boundless luminous nucleus of Buddhahood within all beings remains intangible and invariant.
This enlightened essence is regarded as an indwelling permanently pure nature of awareness. It is the mind devoid of its distorted perceptions. Likened to an embryo or a womb, this essence (garbha) provides the potentiality for living beings to be reborn into completely awakened Buddhas.


But that is sutra Zhentong. Tantric I think I know about but I'm not sure.



Dear Friends

om svasti

This is a concise and fundamentally accurate presentation of Zhentong, also known as the Great Madhyamaka, or Great Middle Way. However, there are some fine points that most Jonangpas, and certainly all New Jonangpas would clarify further.

As to the distinction between Sutra- and Tantra-Zhentong, it is not that there are two different doctrines of (Jonang) Zhentong, but rather two approaches: analytical and experiential. The moment we speak of Zhentong, we are necessarily in Sutra territory.

Not much can be said of Tantra-Zhentong, except when offering or receiving pointing instructions for meditation and post-meditation on non-conceptual pristine awareness. (The former is meditation on ultimate reality as it is, the latter on ultimate reality as it manifests in infinite variety.) Of course, we can quibble endlessly on the terminology, but I trust that –among friends– this will suffice.

Next, if by “emphasis on the 3rd Turning of the Wheel” the author means that Jonangpas do not deprecate the 3rd Turning as “provisional,” then no further clarification is necessary. Jonangpas accept as “definitive” all the teachings of the Buddha; what falls into the various categories of provisional and definitive is the interpretation given to them by mindstreams of different capacities.

One can hold a provisional understanding of any Turning of the Wheel of Dharma, as well as a definitive understanding of the same teaching. The difference is not in the Teacher or the Teaching, but in the student’s capacity. Kunchen Dolpopa made this distinction explicit by categorizing the understanding of various individual Buddhists and Buddhist sects as reflective of different time-periods; i.e., there is Kritayuga Buddhism, Tetrayuga Buddhism, Dvaparayuga Buddhism, and Kaliyuga Buddhism –each successively less ‘ultimate’ and thus more ‘provisional’.

It is true that Jonangpas fully accept and embrace the Third Wheel, and especially the Tathagata Sutras, as they more clearly express the View of Other Emptiness. However, even a superficial perusal of Kunchen Dolpopa’s Mountain Doctrine will convince any sincere observer that the Great Middle Way does not rest principally, and certainly not exclusively, on the Third Wheel, but rather on all Buddha Dharma.

Finally, in terms of these brief clarifications, I would like to address a common misconception. The author of these lines, perhaps inadvertently, has diluted the pure or radical Zhentong of the Jonang by stating that Buddha nature “provides the potentiality for living beings to be reborn into completely awakened Buddhas.” This is actually the Geluk, not the Jonang, understanding.

Buddha nature, in Jonang doctrine, is not a “potentiality,” but is rather the permanent, truly established ultimate reality. As the Uttaratantra affirms, there is nothing to add and nothing to subtract from Buddha Nature, so there can be no question of “the potentiality to be reborn into completely awakened Buddhas.”

The Great Middle Way is separation from adventitious afflicted emotions and obscurations to wisdom, and never a striving for developing or cultivating qualities that previously did not exist, or that exist only in ‘seed’ form. All ordinary beings are Buddhas in the state of unmanifest natural perfection; all Bodhisattvas are Buddhas in the state of partially manifest natural perfection; all Buddhas are Buddhas in the state of fully manifest natural perfection.

om ah hum so’ha

mangalam
Tashi Nyima
« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 08:21:03 am by TashiNyima »

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2010, 12:53:35 am »
Dolpopa made this distinction explicit by categorizing the understanding of various individual Buddhists and Buddhist sects as reflective of different time-periods; i.e., there is Kritayuga Buddhism, Tetrayuga Buddhism, Dvaparayuga Buddhism, and Kaliyuga Buddhism –each successively less ‘ultimate’ and thus more ‘provisional’.
Sorry to bug you but I do not know these terms, except Kaliyuga, or what they signify. You need not specify which sect Dolpopa ascribed which yuga to if it makes you uncomfortable. That might be a bit immodest by today's standards. If you would, however, please explain what they signify.

This is the kind of stuff I hoped I get to know about. Thanks.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 01:08:29 am by santamonicacj »
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline TashiNyima

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2010, 08:15:08 am »
Dear Friend,

om svasti

Questions are never bothersome. On the contrary, they are opportunities to serve the Great Middle Way lineage and all sentient beings! Thank you.

In traditional Indian cosmology (as in many others), the yugas (ages) of the world are divided into four main periods: Krita (perfect, as in Samskrita), Tetra (third), Dvapara (halved), and Kali (dark). In Kritayuga, understanding is perfect and definitive, and in each successive yuga, understanding declines proportionally. A common metaphor is "the Bull of Dharma." In Kritayuga, the Bull stands on four legs; in Tetra on three; in Dvapara on two; and in Kali on one.

These 'time-periods' are not to be taken literally. Time is not a real entity, and therefore is always a mind-arisen concept. While there is a 'common' time that we consent to inhabit as a group, there is always an 'uncommon' or personal time we inhabit internally. These 'time-periods' are used to illustrate that the same teaching may be understood in different ways, according to the capacity of each individual.

Understanding of Krita Dharma (also called Suddha Dharma, or the Pure Teaching of the Victor) stands squarely on the Four Reliances, while each of the other modes of understanding is missing one or more Reliances (or even all four)... which is why we are awash in a sea of literalist fundamentalism.

catvāri pratiśaraṇāni|
tadyathā-arthapratiśaraṇatā na vyañjanapratiśaraṇatā|
jñānapratiśaraṇatā na vijñānapratiśaraṇatā|
nītārthapratiśaraṇatā na neyārthapratiśaraṇatā|
dharmapratiśaraṇatā na pudgalapratiśaraṇatā ceti||


Rely on the message, not on the messenger;
Rely on the meaning, not on the words;
Rely on the intention, not on speculation;
Rely on wisdom, not on self-grasping mind.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima
« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 10:33:48 pm by TashiNyima »

Offline Yeshe Gyaltsen

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2010, 11:07:10 pm »
  :dharma:

Tashi-la
 
Wonderful clarity in your posts !
Can you be persuaded to give more of a teaching on the four reliances?  How can they be put into practice.  Can you give examples of the errors that arise when each is neglected?

Om svabhava suddha sarva dharma   

Offline TashiNyima

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2010, 07:54:24 pm »
Dear Yeshe la

om svasti

Rather than presenting my own shallow understanding, i would like to share what Mipham Rinpoche says in The Sword of Wisdom regarding the Four Reliances:

If you do not have such understanding,
Then, like a blind man leaning on his staff,
You can rely on fame, mere words, or what is easy to understand,
And go against the logic of the four reliances.

Therefore do not rely on individuals,
But rely upon the Dharma.
Freedom comes from the genuine path that is taught,
Not the one who teaches it.

When the teachings are well presented,
It does not matter what the speaker is like.
Even the bliss-gone Buddhas themselves
Appear as butchers and such like to train disciples.

If he contradicts the meaning of the Mahayana and so on,
Then however eloquent a speaker may seem,
He will bring you no benefit,
Like a demon appearing in a Buddha’s form.

Whenever you study or contemplate the Dharma,
Rely not on the words, but on the meaning.
If the meaning is understood, then regardless of the speaker’s style,
There will be no conflict.

When you have understood what it was
The speaker intended to communicate,
If you then continue to think about each word and expression,
It is as if you’ve found your elephant but now go in search of its footprints.

If you misinterpret what is said and then think of more words,
You’ll never stop till you run out of thoughts,
But all the while you’re only straying further and further from the meaning.
Like children playing, you’ll only end up exhausted.

Even for a single word like “and” or “but”,
When taken out of context, there’s no end to what it might mean.
Yet if you understand what is meant,
Then with that the need for the word is finished.

When the finger points to the moon,
The childish will look at the finger itself.
And fools attached to mere language,
May think they’ve understood, but they will find it difficult.

When it comes to the meaning,
You should know what is provisional and what is definitive,
And rely not on any provisional meaning,
But only on the meaning that is true definitively.

The Omniscient One himself in all his wisdom,
Taught according to students’ capacities and intentions,
Presenting vehicles of various levels
Just like the rungs of a ladder.

Wisely, he spoke with certain intentions in mind,
As with the eight kinds of implied and indirect teachings.
If these were to be taken literally they might be invalidated,
But they were taught for specific reasons.

When taking the definitive meaning into experience,
Do not rely upon the ordinary dualistic mind
That chases after words and concepts,
But rely upon non-dual wisdom itself.

That which operates with conceptual ideas
Is the ordinary mind, whose nature involves perceiver and perceived.
All that is conceived in this way is false
And will never touch upon the actual nature of reality.

Any idea of real or unreal, both or neither—
Any such concept, however it’s conceived— is still only a concept,
And whatever ideas we hold in mind,
They are still within the domain of Mara.

This has been stated in the sutras.
It is not by any assertion or denial
That we will put an end to concepts.
But once we see without rejecting or affirming, there is freedom.

Although it is without any subject-object grasping,
There is naturally occurring wisdom that illuminates itself,
And all ideas of existence, non-existence, both and neither have ceased completely—
This is said to be supreme primordial wisdom.

The definitive meaning can either be understood conceptually, by means of ideas, or it can be experienced directly as the object of non-conceptual awareness wisdom. As long as you are caught up in the conceptual extremes of negation and affirmation, existence and non-existence and so on, you have not gone beyond the realm of the ordinary mind. When you arrive at the sublime experience of wisdom, and all dualistic ideas have been pacified, you are in harmony with the nature of reality, which is beyond any kind of refutation and establishment or denial and affirmation, and you have reached the true depths of the Dharma.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima

Offline TashiNyima

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2010, 04:48:38 pm »
The New Jonangpa is a Mahayana Buddhist tradition with Tibetan historical connections, rather than a ‘Tibetan Buddhist’ tradition. New Jonangpa practitioners are Buddhists of all nationalities who are neither ethnic Tibetans nor Tibetan Buddhists.

The New Jonangpa follow the original pure tradition (krita-yuga suddha dharma) of the Great Middle Way (mahamadhyamaka) of Buddha Maitreya, Arya Nagarjuna, Arya Asanga, Arya Vasubandhu, Kunkhyen Dolpopa, and Jetsun Taranatha, whose teachings can be traced through an uninterrupted lineage to Buddha Shakyamuni.

We strive to present the Dharma in the context of place, time, and circumstance (desha-kala-patra). We study texts and recite prayers in our own languages, avoiding excessive ritualism and other ethnic cultural manifestations.

Following the example and instructions of the Omniscient Dolpopa, as expressed in The Fourth Council, faithful adherence to the Dharma requires reappraisal:
1. when there is weakness, confusion, or corruption in the communication of the Dharma, and
2. when there are major changes in place, time, and circumstance.

Under those conditions, it is necessary to ‘abridge’ the line of transmission; that is, to re-establish a direct connection with the original teachings of the Great Masters, and to make the View and Practice of the Dharma more readily accessible to sentient beings in their present context.

What is the Dharma?
A very broad definition of the term Dharma is a teaching based on true knowledge, or wisdom.  Thus, Dharma is what brings us knowledge of both conventional and ultimate reality. It is fundamental that we understand that Dharma is not Indian, Tibetan, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, European, or American. Because the Dharma was manifested originally in Eastern areas of the world, and it was there that it has been preserved until recently, there is a tendency to equate the cultural expressions of the Dharma in those areas with the Dharma itself.

However, mixed with the pure Dharma is an enormous accretion of local customs, as well as elements characteristic of the decadence of our present era of the Five Defilements. Therefore, we find gross superstitions, rituals of all types for dubious purposes, and other mundane components of the local culture admixed with the expression of the Dharma.

The Dharma is pure, beyond any geographic or temporary influence, transcultural, and universal. It is this universal Dharma that all the true lineages wish to distribute to the world. The world is not interested in one more mundane manifestation of culture and religiosity. We are all searching for that pure and complete wisdom that can give meaning and purpose to life; a universal knowledge that makes our lives healthier and happier.

Tibetan Buddhism
The New Jonangpa harbor no doubts about the validity of the views and practices of extant Tibetan Buddhist lineages. The scriptures of the Kangyur and Tengyur are faithful expositions of the Dharma, and the commentaries of the Great Masters make them accessible. The essence of Tibetan Buddhist view and practice —the Four Noble Truths, Dependent Origination, the Four Immeasurables, the Six Transcendent Excellences, the Five Paths, and the vast quantity of information about the nature of the mind, the afflicted emotions, the obscurations to wisdom, and their antidotes— all this is perfectly legitimate, explained in the scriptures and by all the acharyas in the extant lineages. This is a great treasure, the clear and perfect knowledge that human society needs and that transforms the lives of all who receive it.

However, there are external aspects of Tibetan Buddhist practice, and the ways in which this knowledge is presented in the West, where there is a clear confusion between that which is truly Dharma and that which is merely Tibetan ethnic culture.

Because Dharma culture was dominant in Tibet for many centuries, many aspects of Tibetan culture are indeed in agreement with the Dharma. They are true expressions of Dharma principles in a particular time, and place. However, those same cultural forms, imposed on a different time and place, cease to be expressions of Dharma, and become mere nostalgic manifestations of ethnic chauvinism. Dharma is not a set of fixed rules concerning sartorial styles, table manners, musical fashions, and other cultural manifestations, but rather the principles informing all actions.

Our mission in continuing a lineage of Dharma transmission is not to be ambassadors of a specific ethnic culture, regardless of how beautiful, noble, and worthy of conservation it may be. Our mission is to bring the salvific teachings of the Dharma to all sentient beings, regardless of their culture.

We represent Buddha Shakyamuni and His disciplic succession (to re-present means to present again). Instead of assuming that some specific cultural expression “is Dharma” because it was done in the past in a localized manifestation, we should always discriminate between universal Dharma principles and their particular expressions. Even if a universal Dharma principle was perfectly expressed at some point in time in a specific location, it does not necessarily follow that the same principle can be expressed identically in a different context.

The history of every Lineage is precisely one of continuous change and adaptation; it is descent into place, time, and circumstance (desha-kala-patra). To refuse to change the mode of presentation of the Dharma is perhaps the most ominous and insidious of change ideologies; it is deviation from a fundamental order, a betrayal of the Buddha’s mission for the redemption of all sentient beings.

Dharma culture is neither internally nor externally standardized. It varies from one place to another, and from time to time. What is not variable in the Dharma is the spiritual science, the different practices for spiritual advancement, culminating in full enlightenment. Thus, it is counterproductive to present the teachings, regardless of how wonderful, immersed in an ethnic and exotic format.

Every culture in the material world is always in a state of flux. That is, its core beliefs and values are expressed in varying forms (language, art, architecture, dress, cuisine, behaviors, etc.) according to the context in which it manifests. Change is an essential characteristic of material existence. Even as the Buddha descends in a place-specific, time-specific, and circumstance-specific Form, so must the Lineage "incarnate" in a specific place, time, and circumstance.

New Jonangpas do not want to ‘Westernize’ the Dharma, but rather to propagate the Dharma in the West. In order to do so, we express the immutable principles of Dharma in our own place, time, and circumstance. A proper Tibetan appearance, the ability to quote and etymologize Tibetan texts, and the gross imitation of Tibetan accents, idiosyncrasies, and mannerisms do not and cannot make us pure Dharma practitioners. In fact, these external forms that some mistakenly accept as signs of spiritual advancement often prevent the pure message of the Dharma from penetrating the minds and hearts of sincere Western seekers.

We express Dharma principles in a manner that is freshly authentic in this place, time, and circumstance. Great Middle Way (Jonangpa) Buddhism originated in India, developed in Tibet, and is now taking root in the West. In order to be faithful to the Jonang Lineage, we must constantly re-new it. That is the meaning of the term "New" in New Jonangpa.

May all embrace happiness and the causes of happiness!

mangalam

Offline humanitas

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2010, 02:45:58 pm »
dharma will open your eyes from the dream and set you free a little more every time you practice it, your heart turns the wheel one more notch closer to freedom.  There is no time like the present!  Your writing is a blessing of fresh air in this mutual space, thank you for sharing it with us.

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Ogyen.
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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2010, 05:16:50 pm »
Dear Friend

om svasti

Thank you for the kind words of encouragement!

mangalam

Offline TashiNyima

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Re: Why 'New Jonang'?
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2010, 07:22:19 am »
Dear Friends

om svasti

As the New Jonangpa boldly aspire to study, practice, and propagate the pure teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni, as conveyed by the Great Middle Way Lineage of the Indian and Tibetan Masters Maitreya, Nagarjuna, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dolpopa, and Taranatha, it is fair to ask why we do not maintain a formal relationship of affiliation with the current officially-designated leadership of the Jonang lineage.

Before the time when Jetsun Taranatha held the Vajra Seat of Jonang in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries CE, decline and deviation from the teachings of Kunkhyen Dolpopa had already become apparent among some Jonangpa. Jetsun Taranatha was concerned that even some of the previous holders of the Vajra Seat of Jonang had given initiations and instructions according to the Jonang tradition, but had criticized Kunkhyen Dolpopa’s proclamations of the ultimate view of zhentong, the definitive teaching of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

The history of the Jonang lineage after Jetsun Taranatha, especially following the Jonang suppression and persecution in the 17th century, is perhaps best exemplified by the events surrounding the recognition of the ‘incarnation’ of Jetsun Taranatha himself. A historical digression becomes necessary.

The 1st incarnation of Jetsun Dampa was Lodoi-shindu-namdak, who appeared in the Indian city Magadha and was one of Buddha Shakyamuni's original 500 disciples. The 2nd was Bardi-dzobu, the head of the 500 panditas of Nalanda Monastery during the time of Arya Nagarjuna (first century CE). The 3rd and 4th were born in India, but other than their birthplace, biographical information is lacking. The 5th Jetsun Dampa, Runsum-choi-san, was the first to appear in Tibet, during the lifetime of the famous Bengali sage Atisha (tenth century CE).

The next five incarnations (6th through 10th) were also born in Tibet, although little else is known about them. The 11th was Jamyang Chöje Tashi Pelden, born in Tibet near Samye Monastery, and the 12th was Choi-gii-nin-jid, born in Sri Lanka during the mid fifteenth century. The 13th Jetsun Dampa was Kunga Drolchok, born in the Tibetan province of Ngari during the late fifteenth to early sixteenth centuries. The 14th incarnation appeared in India as the son of an Indian king, and died at a young age.

Jetsun Taranatha was born in 1575 CE at Karag, in the hereditary line of the great translator Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drak. His Tibetan name was Kunga Nyingpo, but he is generally known by the name Taranatha, which he received in a vision from a great Indian adept. When he was one year old he declared, “I am Kunga Drolchok!” When he was four years old, he was brought to Kunga Drolchok’s monastery of Cholung Changtse and formally recognized as his incarnation, the 15th Jetsun Dampa.

In 1588 Taranatha was enthroned at Jonang, although a formal ceremony of investiture did not occur until 1595. Taranatha took upon himself the responsibility of causing the Dharma Lord Dolpopa’s insights to once again reach a wide audience. In 1604, after more than a decade of efforts to revive the original Jonang teachings, all of Taranatha’s work was threatened by serious political conflict between the regions of Jang (byang) and Tsang.

Jonang itself was in immediate danger of being attacked by hostile armies. While meditating at Kunkhyen Dolpopa’s great stupa, Taranatha became despondent, and, seeing the tradition perhaps destroyed, wished only to go into retreat far away from all the troubles created by deluded and impassioned people. Kunkhyen Dolpopa appeared to him in a vision, encouraged him to continue as before, and assured him that his efforts would not be in vain.

One of the most outspoken opponents of the zhentong view espoused by the Jonangpa was Je Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelukpa sect, and the Gelukpa continued in later years to take exception to the Jonangpa teachings. In the mid 17th century, the Jonang came under attack by the Geluk under the rule of the 5th Dalai Lama. The Geluk declared the zhentong view of emptiness to be heretical, sealed Jonang libraries, burned Jonang books, and forcibly closed or annexed Jonang monasteries.

As soon as it was expedient, the 5th Dalai Lama publicly proclaimed that Zanabazar, a young Mongol Kalkha prince and Sakya monk, was the reincarnation of Taranatha. However, as Zanabazar's biographer points out, "not one of the Khalkas even thought to see in Lobsang-vanbo-jaltsan (Zanabazar) a khubilgan (reincarnation) of any kind." Since Taranatha was the 15th reincarnation of Jetsun Dampa, Zanabazar was recognized as the 16th Jetsun Dampa, a name and title which he would use for the rest of his life, and pass on to his subsequent reincarnations.

By inculcating Zanabazar with the tenets of the Gelukpa, eventually convincing him to renounce the Sakyapa, the 5th Dalai Lama was able to claim the Jetsun Dampa lineage for the Geluk (and thus, at least officially, the leadership of the Jonangpa), as well as make his sect the dominant religious force in Mongolia.

While the New Jonangpa have no reason to doubt that the present Kalkha Jetsun Dampa is the ninth reincarnation of Zanabazar, we respectfully submit that Jetsun Taranatha, the most faithful upholder and propagator of the teachings of the Omniscient Dolpopa, is not now and has never been “the supreme leader of the Mongolian Gelukpas”, nor would he espouse doctrines that are antithetical to the authentic views and practice of the original Jonangpa.

For the initial 300-years of the Jonangpa, the primary lineage-heir was the master who held the Vajra Seat at Jomonang, and later at Takten Damcho Ling Monastery (Phuntsok Ling). In the mid-17th century, when the Jonangpa began to settle in the Amdo region of Northeastern Tibet, Dzamthang Tsangwa Monastery was founded by one of Taranatha's disciples, Lodro Namgyal. Since that time, although spiritual authority among the Jonang has never rested on any single individual, the Abbot (Khenpo) of Dzamthang Tsangwa Monastery has held great authority and influence within the tradition.

Recently, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama appointed the 9th Kalkha Jetsun Dampa to oversee the affairs of the Jonang monastery in Shimla, India, Takten Phuntsok Choling. Honoring the claim made by his predecessor, the 5th Dalai Lama, that Khalkha Rinpoche is the reincarnation of Jetsun Taranatha, His Holiness has also appointed him as the main representative for the Jonang to the Tibetan Government in Exile. However, Kalkha Rinpoche is effectively the head of the Gelukpa in Mongolia, and thus in our humble view not the most suitable candidate to faithfully present and expound the teachings of Kunkhyen Dolpopa and the Jonang masters.

Under these conditions, with the officially designated leadership of the lineage schooled in Gelukpa doctrine and formally affiliated with the sect that instituted the 17th century persecution, in 2005 several elder Jonang masters inside Tibet and China organized The Jonang Standing Council for the Benefit of the Buddha's Teachings and All Beings, to guide the future of the tradition through collective wisdom. Khenpo Kunga Sherab Saljay Rinpoche was appointed Chief Director of the Jonang Standing Council.

While we welcome, honor, and respect these recent developments, we remain faithful to the original Jonang practice of avoiding official designations of leadership, and allowing the quality and power of the Dharma activities of each Teacher and Sangha to manifest unimpeded. Moreover, we understand that the Jonang lineage is fundamentally a teaching and practice transmission, rather than merely a formal ordination succession.

Thus, in deference to the Kalkha Rinpoche and the Jonang Standing Council, and desiring to respect their authority and prominence, as well as to avoid any possibility of misrepresentation, we have opted to refer to ourselves, in our insignificant attempt to honor and serve the lineage of Kunkhyen Dolpopa, as New Jonangpas.

May all embrace happiness and the causes of happiness!


 


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