Author Topic: Understanding the levels of vajrayana  (Read 1868 times)

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« on: August 26, 2019, 09:21:41 am »
I've been told that within vajrayana buddhism there are certain levels/tiers of enlightenment, what are they referring to? Is this something that you could understand and study on your own? Why or why not?

Offline Chaz

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2019, 08:07:23 am »
I've been told that within vajrayana buddhism there are certain levels/tiers of enlightenment, what are they referring to? Is this something that you could understand and study on your own? Why or why not?

Could you be a little more specific about the "levels of enlightenment" you're talking about.

You can and many do practice vajrayana outside of a sangha.  However, they still work within the guidance of their root guru which should be ongoing.  You need certain empowerments and undergo certain preliminary practices (lam rim, ngondro) and aspects of this need to be taught. 

There are practices like Avalokiteshvara and Tara that are, essentially Vajrayana practices, but don't require preliminaries or empowerments.  All you have to do is find a sadhana and begin.

Help?

Offline stevie

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2019, 12:33:39 am »
I've been told that within vajrayana buddhism there are certain levels/tiers of enlightenment, what are they referring to? Is this something that you could understand and study on your own? Why or why not?
Theoretically as today many formerly restricted texts are available vajrayana dharma can be studied, practiced and understood on one's own if - and only if - there is a karmic connection with it. However tradition does not only deny this possibility generally but warns against trying to study and practice vajrayana on one's own. Following tradition's advice one is on the save side and does not take unnecessary risks.

 :dharma:

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2019, 03:05:12 am »
I've been told that within vajrayana buddhism there are certain levels/tiers of enlightenment, what are they referring to? Is this something that you could understand and study on your own? Why or why not?

Is this an academic question or do you mean practice on your own?
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2019, 05:17:52 pm »
I've been told that within vajrayana buddhism there are certain levels/tiers of enlightenment, what are they referring to? Is this something that you could understand and study on your own? Why or why not?

Could you be a little more specific about the "levels of enlightenment" you're talking about.

You can and many do practice vajrayana outside of a sangha.  However, they still work within the guidance of their root guru which should be ongoing.  You need certain empowerments and undergo certain preliminary practices (lam rim, ngondro) and aspects of this need to be taught. 

There are practices like Avalokiteshvara and Tara that are, essentially Vajrayana practices, but don't require preliminaries or empowerments.  All you have to do is find a sadhana and begin.

Help?

I asked about it and they said they didn't know, so i couldn't be more specific

Quote
Is this an academic question or do you mean practice on your own?

an academic question? I was just told that there are various signs and levels to vajrayana, and the question is only my own in the sense that i can take words i hear from other people and make questions out of them.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2019, 07:33:12 pm »
I've been told that within vajrayana buddhism there are certain levels/tiers of enlightenment, what are they referring to? Is this something that you could understand and study on your own? Why or why not?

Could you be a little more specific about the "levels of enlightenment" you're talking about.

You can and many do practice vajrayana outside of a sangha.  However, they still work within the guidance of their root guru which should be ongoing.  You need certain empowerments and undergo certain preliminary practices (lam rim, ngondro) and aspects of this need to be taught. 

There are practices like Avalokiteshvara and Tara that are, essentially Vajrayana practices, but don't require preliminaries or empowerments.  All you have to do is find a sadhana and begin.

Help?

I asked about it and they said they didn't know, so i couldn't be more specific

Who were you asking?

The reason I'm asking about this is because while there are levels of enlightenment, they aren't a teaching that exclusive to Vajrayana.

If the people you were asking can't clarify their own statements, maybe you're asking the wrong question here.

I practice in a Vajrayana lineage.  I'm not, strictly speaking, a Vajrayana practitioner.  I have yet to complete my Ngondro practices (Vajrayana preliminaries). 

I've taken some coursework in Vajrayana. 

I have recieved reading transmission for Konchok Chidu, Green Tara, Avalokitishvara, and Medicine Buddha.  Konchok Chidu is a Guru Rinpoche feast practice .  The others are basic practices that anyone can do without empowerment or transmission, and are a good way to be introduced to Vajrayana practice.

Vajrayana is closely associated to the Guru as guide and refuge.  This is why independant practice of Vajrayana isn't possible.  You don't have to be in the Guru's physical presence, but the Guru does need to be a presence in the practice.

For example, in order to start Vajrayana practice in the Kagyu lineage, you must first complete Ngondro.  You can't start that practice without the Guru's premission.  Ngondro is not complete until the Guru says so.  After that, the Guru may recommend Yidam (meditational deity) practice,  Mahamudra or Dzogchen.  It has a lot to do with capacity and working with the Guru helps in establishing that.

Vajrayana isn't really about Enlightenment.  You can achieve Enlightenment without Vajra practice.  Vajrayana is about Buddhahood - to become a Buddha.  A fast track if you will.


Offline stevie

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2019, 12:40:40 am »


I asked about it and they said they didn't know, so i couldn't be more specific


I thought you are practicing zen? If so you shouldn't get sidetracked. Don't bother about vajrayana  practitioner's business ... it's unnecessary complex from my perspective.

 :dharma:

Offline Chaz

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2019, 07:44:04 am »


I asked about it and they said they didn't know, so i couldn't be more specific


I thought you are practicing zen? If so you shouldn't get sidetracked. Don't bother about vajrayana  practitioner's business ... it's unnecessary complex from my perspective.

There's no harm if he follows a path from Zen to Vajrayana.  He wouldn't be the first.  However, that doesn't seem to be the case right now.  M&B seems curious (and perhaps a little confused) and is looking for information.

And whether or not Vajrayana is uneccessarily complex depends a lot on perspective.  For someone with no karmic disposition for such things, I guess it could be seen that way.  Keep in mind it's not for everyone and if you can't understand it, well, you won't understand it.  I don't see as complex at all.  I think demanding may be a better way to describe it, and that, I think, is necessary.



« Last Edit: August 30, 2019, 07:57:09 am by Chaz »

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2019, 04:13:23 pm »
That's correct, I'm not looking for spiritual guidance I'm just asking questions. It actually sounds kina interesting, having the layers of practice for vajrayana. Like anything else though, it's worth it to have a real human guide.

I personally don't see the point to take a buddhist sect very seriously anyway, they all have similar characteristics, and the basic activities (working at an even pace, meditation, trying to keep your mind alert through insight, religious rituals) are pretty much the same, the specific rituals are what varies the most, because the words from each sect are essentially pointing to the same thing. This isn't a denigration to any particular sect just that it's worth noting and discriminating the proper choices and focal points. 

Offline stevie

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2019, 09:50:41 pm »
From the perspective of Arya Maitreya's revelation of Prajñāpāramitā it isn't bad to investigate into the different paths because that supports knowledge of paths and thus the knowledge that ultmately there is only one path.

Nevertheless when it comes to practice in individual spheres of experience this 'ultimate path' is impossible to practice unless the sphere of experience is an Arya's sphere and therefore usually the sphere of experience has to practice along one of the preliminary paths that are taught by human teachers. In the context of this practice investigation into different paths may also become a hindrance because it may cause doubt about the appropriateness of the preliminary path one practices.

 :dharma:

Offline Chaz

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2019, 05:40:41 pm »
From the perspective of Arya Maitreya's revelation of Prajñāpāramitā it isn't bad to investigate into the different paths because that supports knowledge of paths and thus the knowledge that ultmately there is only one path.

Nevertheless when it comes to practice in individual spheres of experience this 'ultimate path' is impossible to practice unless the sphere of experience is an Arya's sphere and therefore usually the sphere of experience has to practice along one of the preliminary paths that are taught by human teachers. In the context of this practice investigation into different paths may also become a hindrance because it may cause doubt about the appropriateness of the preliminary path one practices.

 :dharma:

Or not!

I've considered finding a Zen, Shambhala, or some other sangha to practice with because the closest Kagyu center  is a 4 hour drive.  I wouldn't consider this a distraction or confusing.  Would you?

Offline stevie

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2019, 12:06:17 am »
From the perspective of Arya Maitreya's revelation of Prajñāpāramitā it isn't bad to investigate into the different paths because that supports knowledge of paths and thus the knowledge that ultmately there is only one path.

Nevertheless when it comes to practice in individual spheres of experience this 'ultimate path' is impossible to practice unless the sphere of experience is an Arya's sphere and therefore usually the sphere of experience has to practice along one of the preliminary paths that are taught by human teachers. In the context of this practice investigation into different paths may also become a hindrance because it may cause doubt about the appropriateness of the preliminary path one practices.

 :dharma:

Or not!

I've considered finding a Zen, Shambhala, or some other sangha to practice with because the closest Kagyu center  is a 4 hour drive.  I wouldn't consider this a distraction or confusing.  Would you?

I am not a native speaker but I thought that saying 'may' expresses a possibility and is not a general assertion .... ? If I am right your 'Or not!' is naturally included in my 'may'.

As to your question:
I cannot comment since I've never followed a specific tradition and practiced in a corresponding sangha and I've never missed it. But I think that if one misses it then one should prioritize tradition over 'nearest sangha' because from my perspective it is more important that the teaching resonates with oneself.


 :anjali:
« Last Edit: September 01, 2019, 12:20:26 am by stevie »

Offline Chaz

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2019, 06:55:32 am »
From the perspective of Arya Maitreya's revelation of Prajñāpāramitā it isn't bad to investigate into the different paths because that supports knowledge of paths and thus the knowledge that ultmately there is only one path.

Nevertheless when it comes to practice in individual spheres of experience this 'ultimate path' is impossible to practice unless the sphere of experience is an Arya's sphere and therefore usually the sphere of experience has to practice along one of the preliminary paths that are taught by human teachers. In the context of this practice investigation into different paths may also become a hindrance because it may cause doubt about the appropriateness of the preliminary path one practices.

 :dharma:

Or not!

I've considered finding a Zen, Shambhala, or some other sangha to practice with because the closest Kagyu center  is a 4 hour drive.  I wouldn't consider this a distraction or confusing.  Would you?

I am not a native speaker but I thought that saying 'may' expresses a possibility and is not a general assertion .... ? If I am right your 'Or not!' is naturally included in my 'may'.

Of course, but as a native speaker to a non-ntive one, while it was, perhaps redundancy on my part, my statement also serves to illustrate a different perspective or point of view.  It's like a glass being half-full or half-empty

Quote
As to your question:
I cannot comment since I've never followed a specific tradition and practiced in a corresponding sangha and I've never missed it. But I think that if one misses it then one should prioritize tradition over 'nearest sangha' because from my perspective it is more important that the teaching resonates with oneself.

But for me it's not the teaching.  It's the practice.  I don't need a group for that, but there is a certain quality in practicing with a group as opposed to solitary practice.  And any group, for me is fine.  I'll even do whatever practice their doing, if it's different than my own.


Offline stevie

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2019, 08:07:06 am »
Quote
As to your question:
I cannot comment since I've never followed a specific tradition and practiced in a corresponding sangha and I've never missed it. But I think that if one misses it then one should prioritize tradition over 'nearest sangha' because from my perspective it is more important that the teaching resonates with oneself.

But for me it's not the teaching.  It's the practice.  I don't need a group for that, but there is a certain quality in practicing with a group as opposed to solitary practice.  And any group, for me is fine.  I'll even do whatever practice their doing, if it's different than my own.
That's an interesting point because you're actually saying 'The teachings is one thing, practice is another.' I do not think that there can be practice 'uninformed by' or 'independent of' teachings. So I would say 'Exactly because there is no practice without/independent of teaching, teaching is most important.'
Also I'd say that the teachings followed by a group of people, usually the sangha of a tradition/teacher, has an impact on one's own practice if one attends this group of people even if one does not follow their teaching and that therefore attending such a sangha may (!) be a hindrance on one's own path. If their teaching is compatible with the teaching that resonates with oneself then there is no problem.
But again, even the sangha aspect is reason for me to say that the teaching is most important.

As to 'quality of practice' - comparing group with solitary - I have to leave this question open because I am not sure if my practice is really solitary simply because I cannot see humans around.

 :anjali:

Offline Chaz

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Re: Understanding the levels of vajrayana
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2019, 10:58:22 am »
Quote
As to your question:
I cannot comment since I've never followed a specific tradition and practiced in a corresponding sangha and I've never missed it. But I think that if one misses it then one should prioritize tradition over 'nearest sangha' because from my perspective it is more important that the teaching resonates with oneself.

But for me it's not the teaching.  It's the practice.  I don't need a group for that, but there is a certain quality in practicing with a group as opposed to solitary practice.  And any group, for me is fine.  I'll even do whatever practice their doing, if it's different than my own.

Well, let's make this simple and instead of quibling over semantics, lets just say, that if you're in a room, alone, with no one else around, you're in a solitary state.  "Group practice is sitting oina room with one or more other people and everyone is meditating.  That is group practice.  Let's go with those definitions/examples for purpose of discussion.

In my mind, practice is of singular importance.  The Buddha achieved enlightenment while meditating.  Apart from the practice he was doing, which granted, he was taught, he did nothing else.  20 years ago, I recieved instruction , teaching if you will, in a complete practice - one that will lead to complete enlightenment.  If I don't recieve another teaching in my life, it would be enough.



 


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