Author Topic: Studying Tibetan Buddhism  (Read 2390 times)

Offline ChangYuan

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Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« on: March 31, 2010, 10:26:57 am »
I am interested in studying more Tibetan buddhism, but time constraints make it pretty hard for me to get anywhere and find a guru and such. Is it like Zen where there is things I can do on my own, or do I really need to go and find a teacher?
地藏菩萨灭定业真言
OM BA LA MO LING TO NING SVAHA

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2010, 10:47:37 am »
I am interested in studying more Tibetan buddhism, but time constraints make it pretty hard for me to get anywhere and find a guru and such. Is it like Zen where there is things I can do on my own, or do I really need to go and find a teacher?
Both. There are things you can do on your own, and then you need to go find a teacher.

In terms of doing things on your own you can read. You can educate yourself on the basic teachings and get an idea of the topics covered. There is a thread on this forum about book recommendations you can look up. My personal recommendation is:

Indestructible Truth by Dr. Reginald Ray.

It was designed as a college text for a survey course but it was written by a senior meditation instructor for the Karma Kagyu tradition. So the writer has both academic and practitioner credentials. And he's a good writer.

Then you should go find a lama that is authorized to teach by one of the major lineages. You don't have to think that you are asking him to be your main teacher or that you are obligated to have an ongoing relationship with him. Ask to take refuge which will give you a karmic connection to the teachings. Then ask for some meditation instruction. That will get you started.

At some point you'll need to check out some more teachers and want to go further, but you'll know when it's time for that.

Anyway that is pretty standard advice from someone that is pretty traditionalist oriented. Hope it helps.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2010, 10:51:29 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.

Yeshe

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2010, 11:02:45 am »
A wonderful text which encompasses a huge range of Tibetan Buddhist teachings in a logical and accessible way is:

'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand' by Pabongka Rinpoche, edited by Trijang Rinpoche.

It is not expensive from Amazon and at almost 900 pages contains plenty of very useful information:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Liberation-Palm-Your-Hand-Enlightenment/dp/0861711262/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270058510&sr=8-8

It is a Gelugpa classic.

I can't help thinking the title is a little ironic, though as it weighs rather a lot for the 'palm of your hand'. LOL :)

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2010, 11:14:02 am »
A wonderful text which encompasses a huge range of Tibetan Buddhist teachings in a logical and accessible way is:

'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand' by Pabongka Rinpoche, edited by Trijang Rinpoche.

It is not expensive from Amazon and at almost 900 pages contains plenty of very useful information:
I agree with Yeshe that it is a good recommendation. It's actual Dharma teachings as opposed to an overview, and it's a bit long. So it depends on one's inclination.
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 sergiopernas

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2010, 03:32:40 am »
I was going to ask the same question, more from a geographical-constrained view (a small town, that is)... Thanks a lot!

Offline zerwe

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2010, 06:02:04 am »
A wonderful text which encompasses a huge range of Tibetan Buddhist teachings in a logical and accessible way is:

'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand' by Pabongka Rinpoche, edited by Trijang Rinpoche.

It is not expensive from Amazon and at almost 900 pages contains plenty of very useful information:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Liberation-Palm-Your-Hand-Enlightenment/dp/0861711262/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270058510&sr=8-8

It is a Gelugpa classic.

I can't help thinking the title is a little ironic, though as it weighs rather a lot for the 'palm of your hand'. LOL :)

 According to the advice he has given to new students, 'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand' seems to be one of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's most recommended. Waiting for a copy from Amazon Right now. Found one used for $6.99. From what I understand it is a commentary on Tsongkhapa's 'Lam Rim Chen Mo?' So, that will be next, but maybe one volume at a time ;)

Offline gregkavarnos

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2010, 08:04:51 am »
You can also try "The Jewel Ornament of Liberation" by Gampopa.  It's like "the bible" of the Karma Kagyu tradition.  Simply written but with a tonne of information (which you will then need a teacher to explain to you in more depth).

I am sorry but you can't escape having a teacher (guru) in the Vajrayana!
:namaste:
"A genius is a person who, on a beach full of nudists, can remember peoples faces!"  Arka

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2010, 08:09:34 am »
You can also try "The Jewel Ornament of Liberation" by Gampopa.  It's like "the bible" of the Karma Kagyu tradition.  Simply written but with a tonne of information (which you will then need a teacher to explain to you in more depth).

I am sorry but you can't escape having a teacher (guru) in the Vajrayana!
:namaste:
"Words of My Perfect Teacher" covers the same ground for Nyingma tradition.
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 Mani

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2010, 05:06:26 pm »
  From what I understand it is a commentary on Tsongkhapa's 'Lam Rim Chen Mo?'

I don't think "Liberation" is so much of a commentary as it is an actual transcription of a very famous Lam Rim teaching that took place in Tibet.  To paraphrase from the book's introduction, it is more like a very practical teaching geared towards practitioners, and does not have the "scholarly emphasis" that Je Tsongkhapa's "Lam Rim Chen Mo" has. I do recommend it, as a companion to Tsongkhapa's text.

On a personal note, whenever I may feel that my practice is not "dedicated" enough, or my renunciation is not quite strong enough, just reading the first chapter, in which Pabonka Rinpoche set's the motivation for the 3 week teaching, is often enough to regain these qualities.

Offline zerwe

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2010, 07:57:00 pm »
  From what I understand it is a commentary on Tsongkhapa's 'Lam Rim Chen Mo?'

I don't think "Liberation" is so much of a commentary as it is an actual transcription of a very famous Lam Rim teaching that took place in Tibet.  To paraphrase from the book's introduction, it is more like a very practical teaching geared towards practitioners, and does not have the "scholarly emphasis" that Je Tsongkhapa's "Lam Rim Chen Mo" has. I do recommend it, as a companion to Tsongkhapa's text.

On a personal note, whenever I may feel that my practice is not "dedicated" enough, or my renunciation is not quite strong enough, just reading the first chapter, in which Pabonka Rinpoche set's the motivation for the 3 week teaching, is often enough to regain these qualities.
Thanks for the advice Mani. I just received it today and after skimming a few chapters, as well as, the outline I see what you mean. As comprehensive as it appears to be it seems quite digestible. I'm sure the "Lam Rim" will require even more motivation, and perhaps the help of a teacher, to take on. 

Offline retrofuturist

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2010, 08:27:21 pm »
Greetings,

I am sorry but you can't escape having a teacher (guru) in the Vajrayana!
:namaste:
Yes, from what I've heard Vajrayana is the 'vehicle' most necessitating direct instruction. In fact, don't you also take refuge in your Guru, alongside the Triple Gem of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha?

Metta,
Retro. :)

Offline Ngawang Drolma

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2010, 08:58:48 pm »
I am interested in studying more Tibetan buddhism, but time constraints make it pretty hard for me to get anywhere and find a guru and such. Is it like Zen where there is things I can do on my own, or do I really need to go and find a teacher?

You can study Tibetan Buddhism on your own.  But to practice Vajrayana you need a guru.

It sounds like a great idea!  There's tons of books, podcasts, CDs, and web info out there.  If there's a practice group in your area it would be nice if you could connect with them.  If you're comfortable doing so, maybe we could see if there's a group near you if you disclose your general location.

Kind wishes,
laura

Offline Ngawang Drolma

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2010, 09:00:07 pm »
Yes, from what I've heard Vajrayana is the 'vehicle' most necessitating direct instruction. In fact, don't you also take refuge in your Guru, alongside the Triple Gem of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha?

Metta,
Retro. :)

Hi Retro,

The guru is part of the triple gem.  So yes  :)

I think though that you may be referring to Guru Yoga which is an important practice in Vajrayana.

Best,
Laura

Offline Sonam Wangchug

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2010, 09:54:59 pm »
The gurus mind is the Buddha
The gurus speech is the dharma
The gurus body is the sangha

GoGet

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Re: Studying Tibetan Buddhism
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2010, 11:04:45 am »

Indestructible Truth by Dr. Reginald Ray.

CJ makes an excellent recommendation.  Reggie Ray is a great teacher and his writing is clear, concise and easy to access.

You're actually quite fortunate.  As you're in Brooklyn, NY (per your profile), there are a number of Tibetan Buddhist centers in your immediate area, not to mention retreat centers, teaching centers and monasteries scattered around the countryside, especially up around Woodstock. 

While you can certainly study Tibetan Buddhist teachings and even take up certain practices on your own. Finding good teachers to work with is invaluable.  There should be plenty around you so finding one won't be problematic.

On the other hand, if your intention is to enter into Vajrayana practice, finding your Guru is an absolute neccessity.  You don't have to be in a big hurry for that.  Finding the Guru can be a long process of searching for and examining qualified teachers.  A reputable teacher will probably require certain prerequisit studies, a certain depth of practice, Refuge and Bodhisattva vows and, of course, a connection between guru and student.  All that takes time and real devotion.  Nothing to be gained by being in a hurry.

So, I'd start with getting some books and reading them.  All the recommendations this far are good, but I might suggest to not try Words of My Perfect Teacher for a while.  It's sometimes called "Hellfire and Brimstone for Buddhists" and for good reason - it can be a "difficult" read.   Find commentaries on WOMPT and read some of those first.  I'd then set out to find a Tibetan Buddhist center near you and start visiting when time allows.  See what you think and then decide.  Tibetan Buddhism isn't for everyone, but certainly check it out if you're interested.

 


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