July 26, 2011

Taking Vows (and Buddhism) Seriously

The following guest blogpost comes our way from Lama Jampa Thaye, a scholar, author, and meditation master from the UK, trained in both the Karma Kagyu and Sakya traditions of Tibetan Buddhim. A few months ago, Lama Jampa wrote a blogpost titled Buddhism and the Age of Compassion, in which he cautioned against confusing compassion with sentimentality and spoke of the importance of having an ethical foundation at the core of our spiritual endeavors. From the post:

It is vital that our understanding of compassion should be consistent with Buddha’s tough and clear-minded teachings on moral discipline, since, as he insisted, unless people live an ethical life, the genuine happiness that we wish for them in this and future lives will be unobtainable.

We can find these teachings in the vows of the Pratimoksha (‘Individual liberation’), which is regarded in Tibetan Buddhism as the ethical code of the so called Hinayana, just as the Bodhisattva and Vidyadhara vows are the codes for the Mahayana and Vajrayana respectively. In the Pratimoksha vows Buddha set out four fundamental ethical trainings for both householders and monastics:

To avoid taking life
To avoid taking that which has not been given
To avoid sexual misconduct
To avoid false speech

Thus, when we wish that others be endowed with the causes of happiness, we must understand that it is only the practice of these moral precepts that constitutes such causes. In other words, the proper fulfillment of the Bodhisattva vow, the supreme expression of compassionate engagement with the needs of others, depends upon our reliance on the essence of the preceding vow, the Pratimoksha.

In today's post, he takes this teaching further:



Last time I talked a little about the need for compassion to be founded on the solid rock of moral behavior and pointed to the role played by the Pratimoksha vow, whether for renunciates or householders, in providing that ethical foundation. Now we can discuss the Bodhisattva vow, the second in the sequence of vows taken by Tibetan Buddhist practitioners and the most powerful expression of compassion, while, at the same time, exploring its relationship to the Pratimoksha.

To characterize the significance of the Bodhisattva vow one might say that, just as taking refuge in the Three Jewels defines one as a Buddhist, so taking the Bodhisattva vow defines one as a Mahayanist. Specifically the Bodhisattva vow itself is the acceptance of the commitment to achieve Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings. The ceremony of the vow is thus the manifestation of  bodhichitta, the altruistic thought of enlightenment in a ritual setting. As such it comprises both the aspiration to become a Buddha and the application to undertake the path that leads to that very goal.

In Tibetan Buddhism the Bodhisattva vow has been transmitted in two Mahayana lineages—that of the eminent Indian master Atisha and the Kadam tradition and that of the philosopher Nagarjuna and the Sakya school. In addition, two tantric lineages of the Bodhisattva vow also exist, a general one transmitted in tantric initiations and a special one given during the exposition of the ‘Path and its Fruit’ teaching in the Sakya school.

Three important questions arise, when one examines the relationship between the Pratimoksha and Bodhisattva vows.

1. Is it necessary to have received the Pratimoksha before one can take the Bodhisattva vow?

The followers of Atisha’s lineage argue that it is necessary, citing his statement:

Those who maintain any of the seven kinds of Pratimoksha vow have the good fortune for the Bodhisattva vow but others do not.

On the other hand, Sakya masters claim that it is not necessary, adducing two principal reasons. The first is that, contrary to the Pratimoksha vow, the Bodhisattva vow may be taken by beings in any of the six realms.

The second reason is somewhat more complex. It revolves around the fact that the Pratimoksha vow, being concerned with restraint from physical and verbal misconduct, is tied to the body and thus inevitably ceases at death. As opposed to this,  the Bodhisattva vow, being generated exclusively as a mental resolve, can continue in to future lives. As that is so, it can be present from the beginning of the next life, whereas a person who dies while holding the Pratimoksha vow of a monk cannot then be conceived in the womb at the beginning of his next life automatically possessing the Pratimoksha vow. Yet the absurdity of a monastically ordained unborn child would inevitably follow, if, like the Bodhisattva vow, the Pratimoksha vow did not cease at death. Therefore one can only conclude the Bodhisattva vow can exist in the absence of the Pratimoksha.

2. What happens to someone’s  Pratimoksha vow if he or she subsequently takes the Bodhisattva vow?

In this case the Pratimoksha vow, though it is transmitted exclusively through the ritual found in the Vinaya scriptures of so called Hinayana schools such as the Sarvastivada or Theravada, becomes, in effect, a Mahayana Pratimoksha vow, because it is henceforth  maintained with a Mahayana attitude.

As the erudite Sakya master Drakpa Gyaltsen states:

If one has previously obtained the Pratimoksha, then when one generates the Bodhisattva vow, one obtains the Pratimoksha of the Bodhisattva.

One may conclude from this that any practitioner, who holds a Pratimoksha vow from Theravada, becomes a Mahayanist simply by taking the Bodhisattva vow. In other words, he or she would maintain their identity as a Theravadin, at the very least by virtue of their Pratimoksha vow, but be a Mahayanist in their orientation to the final goal of their practice. Actually, there is nothing surprising about this, when one realizes that Tibetan Buddhists themselves are simultaneously followers of the Sarvastivada, a ‘Hinayana’ school, through their Pratimoksha vow and are ‘Mahayanists’ through their Bodhisattva vow.

3. Can the Pratimoksha and Bodhisattva vows ever be taken in the same ceremony or must they always be given separately?

In the preliminary part of tantric initiations, which, as we have already mentioned,  preserve a form of the Bodhisattva vow, they are given together.

To explain this in a little more detail:

In ‘permission’ initiations, the most commonly bestowed form of initiations, the candidate for initiation is required to take the Pratimoksha and Bodhisattva vows during the preliminary procedures of the initiation. Usually this is accomplished  through recitation of the ‘seven branch declaration’ drawn from the Vajra Panjara tantra. The two vows are taken, or retaken if one has taken them previously, at this point because one cannot receive the permission to practice Vajrayana unless one already has become a Buddhist by taking refuge and maintains the vows of the preceding two vehicles. Naturally in the case of a householder the Pratimoksha vow taken in this fashion is that germane for householders. 

Furthermore, in the case of a major initiation from one of the two higher sets of tantras, the initiate also receives the specifically tantric vow of the Vidyadhara alongside the Pratimoksha and Bodhisattva vows in the preliminary part of the initiation.

All this may well lead us to reflect on the seriousness with which we should view initiations, since they carry such commitments. Yet if one looks around one can easily see that people often receive them without this requisite knowledge. Such an ill-considered approach is one of the main causes of disillusionment experienced by many dharma followers in these modern times.

Previous posts by Lama Jampa Thaye:
Buddhism and the Age of Compassion

The Power of Commitment

Images via Dechen.org

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Philip Ryan's picture

Dear friends, Because of the unfriendly tone this conversation has taken, we are closing comments on this post. This is a site for supporting each other's practice, and this conversation clearly is not doing that.

Philip Ryan
Web Editor

pat_wallis21's picture

Well.....my first time visiting this site and instead of peace, love, and understanding I find a full out dog fight....interesting stuff, this Buddhism....

beesley.gary_1's picture

I rest my case: repeated references to 'mental illness' and 'placing ones sanity on the line' are clear indicators of where these paths lead and to where the authors have already been, Drinking snake venom (to prove what and to whom, o great yogi?) and staring at the midday sun (which is NOT what the thogyal teachings advise and will just send you blind), simply mean you should keep your theories and practices to yourself, even if you are a 'realised being' (something which I doubt on the basis of the unlimited ego defensiveness manifest here).
As for ' so intolerant, so strained-SO WHAT? You want people to sit around while you spread pseudo Buddhist excrement over the internet, excrement which is a total egotistic distortion of the Buddhas teaching and which is liable to send people crazy?
Who is your teacher? Who authorised you to bandy these teachings around the internet like the content of some cheap free newspaper? How many years of preliminary practices did you engage in before your teacher (who was that again?) told you you were fit to teach others? Have you EVER received any teachings from a qualified master?
Your postings should come with a government health warning 'DANGER=NOT BUDDHIST TEACHING: These ideas are entirely idiosyncratic interpretations of the Buddhist path which can lead to madness if taken seriously'-and already have if one reads between the lines you have both written. If you have no ego, lets see if you can refrain from responding to this post-IMPOSSIBLE, you have too much to lose, you have invested too much in your ego constructed fantasy tantric dakini realms. Didnt anybody tell you-DONT TOUCH THE BROWN ACID.

'Peace and Love'? Forget it. Try 'Right and Wrong' or 'True and False' or 'Buddha and False Prophets'.

beesley.gary_1's picture

" I realize that the absolute view and the relative view do not sit happily in the same place," This is the real give away sentence-anyone with even a modicum of training would recognize that this is not just a total contradiction of Dzogchen philosophy but also a clear indication that the author has no knowledge of the Middle Way philosophy that underpins the Mahayana path, of which Dzogchen is the pinnacle.

This is what happens when people read books but dont study with educated, realized beings-they interpret Dharma through their egos and deep misunderstanding ensues. its becoming increasingly common in the West I fear.

Unfortunately, because of the rise of the internet, it is now possible to spread these deep misunderstandings far and wide, both through the medium of the web itself and the 'miracle' of desktop publishing, hence we have buddhabrats.com/3-free-chapters, for example.

The sad news for the individuals concerned is that, without a significant turnaround (which requires humility and is therefore highly unlikely) and despite their confidence in their 'realization' (a word not to be used at the drop of a hat but which seems ubiquitous above) the saints predict nothing more than rebirth in the deepest hells-We should be praying for these folk therefore, rather than ridiculing them (thats me!)

(Oh bugger, I'm on this damned blog again!-Aaaaaaaaaaarrrghh!)

Anreal's picture

@ beesley
Seeing phantoms of evil everywhere. So stressed. So strained. So intolerant. So SURE. So negative. So upset ... why?

buddhabrats's picture

Try staring into the sun at midday for twenty minutes or drinking snake venom then come talk to me, it is easy to come with your wealth of Buddhist intellectualism but i take the teachings to heart and actually live them I defend my view that the absolute and relative to not sit well together which is why there are different paths. If you do not like my absolute view so be it but at least respect the fact that i am coming from it, although maybe that is just too threatening for you, since you prefer hiding behind the masters whereas i actually apply the teachings literally. Lets not forget that the purpose of the Buddhist teachings is liberation and i have repeatedly put my life and my sanity on the line for the teachings, can you even come close to saying the same. I am not the one nit picking your syntax in the hope of winning some baby victory to prop up my ego, i am actually trying to build something.

Om Tat Sat


speakerfone's picture


mahabarbara's picture

"I have no doubt about my realization "

A pity.

Anreal's picture

Right .... because DOUBT is supposedly a GOOD THING?
tsk tsk
When will the fearless confidence of the Buddha's finally be something every good buddhist hungers for ....

buddhabrats's picture

We all know what works for us and what does not, no one can tell us what the right path is, we know it intrinsically. We should then hold true to the Buddha's injunction not to create schisms in the sangha as it is as heinous a crime as killing a Buddha. With this in mind i wish you all well in your practice, I have no doubt about my realization and i am not plagued with obstacles, nor do i fear hell as i have literally integrated it as an aspect of myself. Many people many paths many ways, all I am presenting is my own story and the mind tech which worked and continues to work for me. I am not looking for followers, i am just sharing my joy of the teachings and my unusual path through the six realms, not to do it would be a crime for me. I realize that the absolute view and the relative view do not sit happily in the same place, but i feel it is part to my purpose to represent the absolute view, anything else for me would be a lie The non dual nature of the mind renounces nothing. .http://www.buddhabrats.com/3-free-chapters/the-rebirth-of-shambala/


beesley.gary_1's picture

And if anyone has any doubts about how the patriarchs say one should practice......

"Although you applied yourself in the practice of the view, meditation and conduct as described above, if you were unskillful in post-meditation’s conduct, and your vows and tantric commitments were damaged, impediments and obstacles will hinder your progress on the paths and spiritual stages in the short term, and ultimately you will certainly fall to the lowest hell called Incessant Pain. Therefore, it is extremely important to never be separate from vigilant mindfulness, not making any mistakes regarding the kind of conduct to accept and which to reject. ..".

His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche was the head of the Nyingma lineage
Excerpted from Wisdom Nectar: Dudjom Rinpoche’s Heart Advice, translated by Ron Garry, Snow Lion Publications. © Tsadra Foundation, 2005.

Anreal's picture

You still speak as if there is only one way ...
As if quickly googling a quote, or taking a single quote from one perspective defines the entirety of the path.

beesley.gary_1's picture

Go well

beesley.gary_1's picture

There is a right way and a wrong way
There is a genuine way and a false one
There is a productive one and a destructive one
There is a true way and a false one
There is a way that leads to sanity and and a way that leads to madness
There is a way that leads to humility and realization and a way that leads to glimpses and overwhelming arrogance
There is a way that is tried, tested and proven by generations of realized practitioners and there is a way that is fabricated by inexperienced charlatans who have merely read a few books
There is a way that leads to practitioners thinking of themselves as nobody special and there is a way that leads to fraudsters openly declaring themselves to be highly realized beings

"Padmasmabhava himself would not have seen a division here" So realized that now you speak for Padmasambhava?

" I'd like to remind you again, this is the THIRD TIME that you refer to me in a derogatory manner ... " Yes, your views are foolish and those who hold foolish views are known as fools (thats four plus the above makes about six)

"I fear that your respect for women, let alone Dakini leaves much to be desired." I hold in contempt all those, regardless of sex, who threaten to cast themselves and others into the lower states by preaching and practicing false Dharma (thats you-seven) Being a woman does not mean you should escape criticism when you damage others, nor should it be utilised as a means of defense to excuse inexcusable behavior

And BTW-when did you mention that you were a woman? (When did I mention that I was a man?) In fact, the names you employ are ambiguous and do not give any indication of gender. Your decision to leap to the 'Look, Im a woman and he's attacking me.'the Dakini' (?) speaks reems therefore.

comments like:
IT's always the heel biters with no genius or guts of their own
People who are insecure often get hysterical
Have a little bit of class and as a rule try to avoid the 'idiot's interpretation' ..
from a boring perspective is is you who are the bore. Like old goats..
All of which came via yourself are atrtacks on the person not on the argument-Double standards?

It is a truism that trying to change others is a waste of time and that writing on blog chats is the gateway to misery so I will shut up from now. However, i promise you one thing (and I wont check back for a response), propounding such views as those you do here to others will only lead to your own rebirth in the lower realms (and sorry, despite their being 'mental', [is a cat 'mind'?] they will seem very real when you get there) So, if you do insist on believing your own fantasies, spare others the need to listen to them-or are you just advertising your (boyfriends) book?

Anreal's picture

I practice a genuine way, you call it a false one
It has been a very productive way, especially in destroying delusion.
Considering what joy the path has brought me it cannot be a false one.
Yes I have found sanity through this path because it saved me from very real madness.
I humbly bow in reverence to the Teachings, and all who have come before me, its after all because of them that I can stand in confidence
Stripped of dogma I am able to see the way that is tried, tested and proven by generations of realized practitioners, many of whom walked strange and unusual paths, many of them being termed charlatans by their contemporaries or other jealous practitioners.
There is a way that leads to practitioners thinking of themselves as nobody special, yet I walk the way of thinking of myself as no thing at all but pure potential with a million faces, dancing light, sound and sensation.
The way that leads to fraudsters openly declaring themselves to be highly realized beings is not the way of a true Dzogchempa, they know all of reality to be the greatest fraud of all so how can they take anything too seriously?
Because of all these things I know my way is right for me but due to your intolerance you see it as wrong.

For me Padmasambhava is not some empty image, or deity to be bowed down to, or generated as a yidam but an integrated aspect of self ... like every other of the countless aspects in this universe, of which even you are one, as I am yours.
I still don't see what you are fighting for ....

And in terms of the 'threat' of lower realms .. What else is buddhism but training for the bardo? What else is life but another bardo? What is a moment but a bardo?
Hopefully my training in insisting that things aren't real, and my familiarity with the absolute as my default setting ... I should be alright, considering that if I know that the cat is mind, and therefore not real, despite it seeming so, if the 'lower realm' with its attendant horrors appear in front of me, understanding it not to be real, the illusion will be pierced and this should see me through.
But I commend you for your concern.

Fearlessly we enter the void ...
Good day to you.

Anreal's picture

@ beesley, I don't have a problem with people laughing at me, i laugh at myself all the time. I don't have enough of an ego to care, so I'm not sure if I should feel insulted by that childish statement. Besides, even laughing at me would be far more interesting than this hysterical diatribe...

I'd like to remind you again, this is the THIRD TIME that you refer to me in a derogatory manner ...

I fear that your respect for women, let alone Dakini leaves much to be desired. In some ways that might very well be why you are so distressed. A closet chauvanist posing as a buddhist perhaps? Are you aware that men who have a bad view on the feminine take longer to progress on the path ...?

There is no ' proper way' to practice Dzochen.
There are
- SECRET ways,
- and OPEN ways,
- there RECOMMENED ways and more.
There are even ways to practice Dzogchen without practicing dzogchen at all!

In truth there are even ways unheard of on this planet or his galaxy!
There are ways to practice dzochen more countless than the stars.
And every moment of every day there are seeds for further Dzogchen practice planted for future possibilities.

No one needs to see these paths in opposition. One can practice,
each according to his nature, capacity and karma.

If this is still not clear to you, I recommend that you consult a lama because I fear this is running the risk of upsetting your practice because you seem so disturbed.

Garab Dorje did not teach Dzogchen in the same context as Padmasmabhava, neither did the Bon masters ... although of course some things overlap. So just stop making it seem like Dzogchen is this singular path with only certain characteristics.

You are creating schisms where there doesn't need to be.
Padmasmabhava himself would not have seen a division here, so why try defend something that is not under attack?

When you start realising that the teachings are alive and far greater than your fears and judgements, you will start to relax in the realisation that everything is PERFECT just as it is and let go of the agony in straining to find an enlightenment that cannot be found by seeking.

I fear that your fixation on dualistic concepts is the problem here. Better to leave it for now because to the mind caught in dualism the non-dual reality of the Great Perfection is ever elusive and your attempts to paint me in big red stripes of disaproval is not going to get you anywhere.

beesley.gary_1's picture

Im sure lots of people will be laughing when they read that! All we need to do now is work out the difference between when people are laughing 'with' you and 'at' you.

According to the late Dudjom Rinpoche, who was the Head of the Nyingma tradition in which Dzogchen is primarily located:

" With regard to the way they practise, the great master Padmasambhava, who was like a second buddha, said this:
Outwardly, practise according to the sutras,
Be meticulous about cause and effect, and what you adopt or avoid.
Inwardly, practise according to the unsurpassable secret mantra,
It is important to combine generation and completion.
Secretly, practise according to the great secret Atiyoga,
And gain liberation in a body of light within a single lifetime."

(From Guidelines for the Monastic Sangha and the Order of Vidyadharas
by Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpoche http://www.lotsawahouse.org/mirror.html)

Now ask yourself: what did Dudjom Rinpoche and Padmasambhava know about the proper way to practice Dzogchen? Do Adamas and his devotee know better? Who is the authority here Buddha's and fathers of the lineage or auto didacts who have chosen to remanufacture the Buddhas teaching to fit in with what feels good?

Who you gonna call?

beesley.gary_1's picture

Hey Paul! Dont you know?Great Dzogchenpas like these dont follow expected behavioral patterns, Now, do you mind? i'm trying to sleep;) (Apologies to genuine Nyingmapa's everywhere for taking their name in vain-there is no greater teaching than Dzogchen.....practiced on the correct moral foundation) Now, please be quiet..........Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Anreal's picture

People who are insecure often get hysterical when a confident Dzogchempa appears on the scene.
It's a little bit embarrassing but it seems it can't be helped.
Best thing to do is for all of us to recognize the cliche and have a good laugh about it together.

paul6316's picture

Buddhist fight!

beesley.gary_1's picture

I have nothing to defend -I am happy with who I am and the perspective I speak from, a perspective which concurs with generations of qualified teachers and enlightened beings. Your lengthy intellectualized, accusatory and embittered responses show clearly that you have created huge psychological empires to defend (not very typical of genuine Dzogchen practitioners). You are welcome to them. Wake me when you no longer feel the need to defend yourselves or your perspective-then you will perhaps be qualified to teach others.Thank you and good night/morning/day/luck

Anreal's picture

Now now beesley, you're just starting to make yourself look bad ...

Again I'd like to remind you that the 'lenghthy' discussions are coming from ME not buddhabrat, so make sure you address the right person. Just because me and buddhabrat have certain things in common doesn't mean we speak FOR each other.

So, if you want to go on about my 'intellectualised' discussions, then please have the decency to address me, and instead of making everything so personal, how about you address the ISSUES at hand.

And by the way, if we are so 'welcome to our opinions' how come you can't just let it be. Your behaviour has demonstrated everything BUT the willingness to 'allow people their views'.

beesley.gary_1's picture


buddhabrats's picture

There is nothing bitter in my response, and if you are attacking my view i will defend it, but if you are looking at accusatory and defensive syntax do have a read through your own posts and that is not even mentioning the thick coating of sarcasm that ends most of your posts. I have not attacked you, but i am abiding in the perfection of defending myself and enjoying it. like you say, many paths, many roads and ideally they all lead to the same place. I can only be myself completely as a good dzogchempa and enjoy my liberation along the way. Enjoy


Anreal's picture

There are as many paths to enlightenment as there are beings to walk them. Just because two paths lead to the same goal but differ in appearence, or ten or ten housand, doesn't mean they are in opposition.

To the mind engulfded in anger in hatred, the world appears in flames. If you insist on seeing 'evil' you WILL find it, around every corner after all ...

beesley.gary_1's picture

Since you know better than Atisha himself, as well as the generations of Dzogchen masters who have taught the importance of maintaining proper moral conduct, from Padmasambhava (Though my view is like the sky, my actions are like grains of sands' ) through Longchenpa and down to Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse, AND youve written a book, there is obviously nothing that you do not already know. As for the book, having studied with many masters of all four traditions for as long as youve been alive, I think I'll stick with their version of the path, rather than taking your humble advice to follow you. Remember though, what the Kadampas used to say-'Just as water never settles on top of mountain, true realization can never dawn on a mind filled with pride' I guess all these masters mustve been wrong when it comes to you.How very special you must be. See you in the pure lands
Not Holding My Breath

buddhabrats's picture

I guess you are unfamiliar with the concept of vajra pride, the knowing and knowing that you know, which is the furthest thing from fake humility, it is the essence of all victorious confidence spoken of extensively in Buddhism. I detect quite a lot of bitterness in your comments whereas Buddhism for me has brought me an abundance of joy and compassion. I am not proposing you follow me, I am just expressing my realization in the terms I know. All I am proposing is that people make the teachings truly their own by molding them to their personality and allow the possibility for more new a beautiful expressions of Buddhism to add to the wealth of Buddhist teachings that are already there. I am an extremely moral person in my own way, but that morality springs from what i know intrinsically is right and wrong, and hence have no need to follow someone else s code to tell me how to behave.

Things that are acceptable in dzoghchen are not in Hinayana, because the view is different, and the persons capacity is different.

Om tat sat


speakerfone's picture

Don't use Dzogchen as permission to do all the things you'd like to do but aren't allowed in Hinayana. The 'anything goes man' stoner's approach to Dharma is such a cliche, but you're proving it's a truism alive and well and coming to a website near you.

Anreal's picture

IT's always the heel biters with no genius or guts of their own who find something to criticize ...

speakerfone's picture

Total rubbish. you don't mould buddhism to your personality. do you study with a teacher or do you just read books then espouse your own take on it.
mr Beeseley's sarcasm is rooted in how the Dharma is constantly undermined by half baked, self indulgent 'improvements' such as you encourage. it's not just about vows but this whole liberal 'whatEver works for me' attitude. This waters down dharma and i hope you give no one the idea that they are already enlightened and all they need to do is 'chill' to be a buddha.

Anreal's picture

@ Speakerfone, you're clearly not paying attention and simply jumping to the first, stereotypical conclusion that pops up in your mind. Have a little bit of class and as a rule try to avoid the 'idiot's interpretation' ....

And since when can sarcasm be rooted in dharma ...anyway? That's quite simply a sickening notion.

Neither of you gentleman have managed to address the issues at hand.

Anreal's picture

Hi …. Thank you for your response. Please allow me to retort despite that fact that you may never read this. Let’s say I’m simply doing it for the sake of posterity.

Before I continue I’d like to point out that I do have a name, you can call me Anreal, rather than the somewhat derogatory “advocate” that you chose to refer to me as. I take full responsibility for my own realization thanks. Of course, if you did not mean anything derogatory by that then I stand corrected. Nevertheless, if we see each other as human beings with names, it might go some ways to removing the fangs from what might appear to be quite a venomous discourse :)

I will try to keep this as short and succinct as possible and target only the most pertinent themes. After all, there is nothing more boring than another technical squabble between Buddhist academics.

Firstly, let me just say that I find the gross assumptions and numerous personal attacks not only misplaced and unnecessary but it is also very unbecoming of a “Buddhist” so I hope my response goes some way to clearing things up.

• In terms of us ‘promoting’ our views …
I believe that this is an open forum for people to discuss their experience in dancing through the mires of the mind with the use of Buddhist techniques. I am doing just that. Simply sharing an experience and a perspective, not selling bibles door to door and it is unfortunate that you find my understanding so disturbing. I make no excuses for expressing my realization whilst continuously seeking the golden thread that links all of us, wherever we are on the path. Surely you cannot begrudge me that?

• In terms of apparently stating that vows or morality are ‘irrelevant’…
Correct me if I’m wrong but I do believe that neither me, nor buddhabrat has stated anything of the sort. Maybe you misread? Of course, if that’s the case then I understand your agitation and hopefully now we can put it to rest. Maybe you are falling into an all too familiar groove of righteous indignation, seeing bogies where there are none? I’m sure if you read my statements again you might see the error and we can all happily allow each other some space to be our individual ‘relative’ selves.

• In terms of your statement of ‘us ordinary beings’ who have to live and recognize the ‘relative’ …
Considering the fact that we’ve never stated that the ‘relative’ is either meaningless or useless, would you not say that is true in the strictest Buddhist sense of the word that somewhere, somehow on our journey to enlightenment that the gap between the relative and ultimate has to be bridged? I’m sure you’ll agree that it is, if not imminent, then definitely imperative, whether today, in this life time, in the next, or many kalpas into the future. Therefore, although this ‘bridging’ is not an easy thing at all, and certainly tough to broach even conceptually, we don’t have to avoid it. Surely you can agree that there is a place in this vast ocean of consciousness for that subject to be expressed personally, if not necessarily discussed? It has to happen, in some form or another, at some stage. And so, this was one of the times and places that it happened. This should not be cause for distress. On the path to enlightenment one eventually has to stop seeking for it, and start becoming it. Is this not true?

“Rid your mind of the habit of thinking of things as either this or that, and abandon all wandering and critical thought. Strip your mind of mental fiction.” – Vajravarahi to Virupa

I also find it quite strange, if not amusing that in the same breath you accuse me of saying that the relative is meaningless, while taking it upon yourself to point out that I’m interpreting the Supreme Source as coming from a relative level. In both instances you could not be more wrong.

• Regarding the implication that I/we said that morality is meaningless
Again I fear there has either been a misreading or a terribly wrong assumption made about what was said. By using the quote regarding ‘past-mind, present-mind and future-mind’ I never implied anything to do with morality at all. I don’t believe I even mentioned the word. In fact, I was pointing out how, if not the concept, then at least the attachment to TIME as a so-called linear reality, is utterly meaningless

• Regarding the notion of being at ‘the beginning stage’
Personally I have made no assumptions about where you are on your path, and frankly I’m not quite sure if you are implying that because you see yourself at the beginning that therefore everyone else must also be? I’m just pointing out that you are welcome to put yourself in that box, while I refrain from passing any judgment on that. We are our own ‘enlightenment inspectors’ after all.

“When we attain the fearless confidence that Buddhas are reflections of your own mind, there is no difference between outer and inner phenomena and no division between external and internal deity, since mind is free of all duality” – Thinley Norbu, The Dalai Lama’s Secret Temple

• Regarding ‘buying tickets for the lower realms’
So you consider the lower realms actual places to go to, in some inconceivable ‘future’ time? I can only respond from a Dzogchen perspective with the question “what lower realms, where, and who is saying that anyway?” I find this reasoning very useful in checking to see if any ego still exists. If there is no ego, then there is clearly no one talking, and therefore no worries about future lives, and certainly no realms anywhere else in the universe. Of course if you insist on placing it in some kind of landscape, even the lower realms exist in the sphere of pure and total consciousness and therefore yet again, the concern becomes moot as it were.

“All that appears does not really exist in the way that we perceive it. They are simply empty images. Our understanding of their true mode of existence is as mistaken as someone beguiled by the conjuring of a magician.” – 2ND Dalai Lama, from Dispelling Darkness from the heart

• You mention that I am elevating myself to the status of ‘God’ …
I daresay, is there such a thing as God in Buddhism and since when because I don’t seem to have gotten the newsflash? In my exploration I have yet to encounter ‘him’ as anything other than ‘the demon of exaltation’ as Machig Labdron termed it (to describe the demon of pride in practice.)Perhaps I misunderstood your point?

• You take umbrage at the use of ‘in my opinion’ or ‘in my view’ …
It is stated again and again that the Natural State, as explained in Dzogchen, cannot be understood by the intellect, nor conceptualized, but only experienced. It is therefore the ONLY way to talk about it really… Also, although certain benchmarks on the path to enlightenment are the same, each and every person’s path will be totally unique to their natures in the end. Talking about it from a personal perspective means that I/we not only respect and encourage the vast expression of unique individual experience, we also share the beauty of ours.

• Regarding the Dharma being in danger …
I fully relate to your love of the purity of the Teachings and your devotion to protect it from distortion. In the end however, when the anxiety becomes too much, I take comfort from the knowledge that in truth, the Dharma is not susceptible to destruction, nor is it bound to this plane of existence, or this species we call the human race. Long before Time was a concept, and long after it has ceased to be a binding obscuration, there the Dharma is and will be, and has always been, shining, pulsing and alive. The urge to keep the teachings pure is something I’m sure most of us share, however there is no need to become so distressed that one forgets the “really-real” truth … the beautiful secret … that nothing we do or don’t do can change the Dharma. ;) Especially if you make the grave mistake of accusing others of distorting the teachings. It is a rather HUGE accusation to make don’t you think?
Besides do you not trust that Ekajati is capable of guarding Dzogchen? Fearlessly we enter the void …

• On ‘wasting your time’
Far be it for me to keep you from the obviously much more useful and urgent need of attaining perfect Samadhi… Please do not exhaust yourself on my account.

• On ‘following the Buddha’ for thirty years
I wonder, where are you following the Buddha to? When will you know that you have reached your destination? What, perhaps, would you do, if you came to the realization that there never was a destination, and that the Buddha has always been you? Maybe it’s a simple matter of syntax and we’re not quite speaking the same language. If that’s the case, then that’s ok too.

“When an unenlightened man pretends to be a siddha, he is like a rebel trying to usurp the king.
When an enlightened man persists in folly, he is like an elephant stuck in the mud.” - Nagarjuna

I get the feeling that by stating the ‘thirty year’ thing that it is supposed to mean something? Not that I don’t respect it, but surely you’re not implying that because it has taken you thirty years and you still consider yourself a ‘humble beginner’ that therefore everyone else has to be the same?

I have a strong personal distaste for fascism disguised as humility, especially in fellow Buddhists - those people who expect some kind of special reward or acknowledgement for being ‘humble’ (An oxymoron in itself). The same nice people who will do everything in their power to keep everyone else on their knees, bound in some kind of masochistic fantasy of eternal servitude … a clearly poisonous view.

I’m sure it’s not your intention to sound like ‘that guy’, people might think you are insecure about your own level of realisation, why else would you be so quick to see pride where there is confidence ...?

So I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and simply view it as you having a bad day.

Despite all this and even because of it, I appreciate your obvious knowledge and love of the teachings. Truly.

May you continue to enjoy the fruits of your own personal paradise, which is always and has always been right in front of you.

beesley.gary_1's picture

A 'brat' is generally an immature, inexperienced person with little knowledge of reality, confused by their own distorted opinions. Your posts and that of your supporter demonstrate such characterisitics in terms of your understanding of Dharma.

It is perhaps no coincidence that, in an article on the need for the observance of vows, and which quotes Atisha, you post to promote your own distorted and partial vision of Dzogchen teachings. It is of relevance that, when Atisha arrived in Tibet in the early 11th century, at a time when Dharma was relatively new in Tibet, it was in part to correct the distorted teachings of advocates of Dzogchen practice who had begun to propound views which claimed that relative teachings on morality were irrelevant.In your own writing, and indeed on the page you have produced to which you link (self reference often being a sign of inadequacy and corruption) you propound similar distorted views.

Both you and your associate above demonstrate a fundamental misconception in your logic, a misconception that is obvious to those with even a basic misunderstanding of Dharma, that being the inability to distinguish between the absolute and the relative; you repeatedly employ quotations concerning the ultimate, emptiness to justify your views on how to conduct yourself in the relative world.

However, as Nagarjuna taught, a proper understanding of reality depends on understanding the nature of reality at both relative and ultimate levels.To summarize, while you are quite right to suggest that, from anultimate perspective, ordinary moral conduct and conceptual frameworks become irrelevant, at the relative level, because ordinary beings such as ourselves employ and depend upon conceptual frameworks for making sense of our universe(s), relative concepts such morality and karma are of total relevance.

For instance your advocate employs the absolute logic of the statement:"Subhuti, it is impossible to retain past mind, impossible to hold on to present mind, and impossible to grasp future mind." to demonstrate that no continuum exists and therefore to apply morality is meaningless. True enough; from an ultimate perspective, no continuum exists . However, we are not talking about ultimates at our beginning stage of development(ie before the path of seeing), we are talking about relatives, relative truths and concepts that will lead us to the experience of the ultimate. And at the relative level, the continuum does exist; there is a stream of consciousness upon which karmic seeds are sewn and in the range of which they come to fruition. The continuum does not exist ultimately but, for ordinary beings, beginners on the path, all the way up to those who have developed genuine insight into the nature of reality, the continuum appears and its effects are tangible.

In fact, to deny the need for morality is to implicitly deny karma, one of the heaviest wrong views. a view which simultaneously implies that you are not a Buddhist and that your 'understanding' of your auto didactic Dharma is actually only valuable in terms of purchasing tickets to the lower realms.

Among the many glaring inaccuracies in all of the above, one great howler, which clearly demonstrates your immaturity in Dharma states:

"I shall start with the quotes from Supreme Source, where Samantabhadra, Primordial Consciousness, speaks to an aspect of 'him' self about himself. This is meant to be understood as the Mind talking about its own nature to itself. This Mind, therefore is My mind, YOUR mind"

Since the 'Supreme Source' (The kun byed rgyal po ), a fundamental dzogchen tantra, is rarely taught I imagine that you have simply read this book, without receiving the transmission or teachings from a qualified master (though you consider yourself fit to transmit and interpret it for others across the internet).The statement "This Mind, therefore is My mind, YOUR mind" is absolutely true, the text speaks of the ultimate truth of all beings minds, of all existence in fact. However it is not speaking of 'my' mind or 'your' mind which are both relative appearances and it is these very appearances which obscure our awareness of the 'King of all creators' (kun byed rgyal po) Your ides then are TOTALLY OPPOSITE to Samantabhadra's intent which is to completely go beyond 'my mind' and 'your mind' in order to know reality. in short, what you preach is actually an elevation of your ego to the status of a God.

In summary, your whole understanding of the place of Dzogchen in the Buddhist path is a thoroughly partial retelling of the Buddha's teaching which has edited out any of the teachings which you dont agree with or, more accurately, you dont feel comfortable with. (This should have been obvious when you began with "FOR ME the foremost and only important vow to keep to oneself " and "I can only speak from personal experience" or when you concluded with "if you want to see my view" [as opposed to the Buddhist one]).

Your advocacy of Dzogchen without observance of relative moral concepts is self-serving non -Dharma, a false teaching which endangers the very future of the Dharma itself.It is a radical adjustment of the Dharma to fit the ego, whereas, to put it simplisticly, it is the ego needs to be radically readjusted to fit the Dharma.

Thats why Atisha went to Tibet and thats why I wasted this bit of my life writing on another bloody blog!

Apologies for spelling errors and misunderstandings-I have only been pretending to follow the Buddha for a few decades and therefore am not fully ready to convey my ideas to others. How 'bout you Dharmabrat? (Thats a rhetorical question-I wish to renounce the saliva splashing debate and so wont be posting in response)

I would refer you to a text by an emlightened being for further advice. Better to listen to the words of a Buddha than one of the numerous self serving evangelists who haunt the internet with their partial, intellectual knowledge

"We talk about theories and the most advanced teachings,
Yet our everyday conduct is worse than a dog’s.
We are learned, intelligent, versed in great knowledge,
Yet cast to the Wind wisdom’s moral foundation .
Trample him, trample him, dance on the head
Of this treacherous concept of selfish concern,
Tear out the heart of this self-centred butcher
Who slaughters our chance to gain final release."

The wheel of Sharp weapons Effectively Striking the Heart of the foe’ composed by the great Yogi Dharmaraksita. Dharmaraksita transmitted these teachings to Atisa (982–1054). The work has been translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan by the fatherly Atisa himself and his spiritual son, the Tibetan, hBrom-ston-pa.

buddhabrats's picture

Maybe you should read my book in its entirety before you begin to judge my level of understanding or realization as i am not making any assumptions about yours. Garab Dorje was teaching when he was six, it is hard to know what pre karmic threads have ripened or where the person was to start before they engaged the teachings. Enlightenment occurs in a moment, and when this moment is and how it occurs is truly inconceivable, it is hard to judge a man before you have walked in their shoes or at least read their manifesto. I do come from the absolute view because anything else for me would be meaningless. When i read the supreme source it was like drinking the purest nectar so to assume that i did not understand it merely because I did not get transmission seems a little narrow minded. One zen master said that "the last place that you find enlightenment is in monasteries and temples" and one way or another I have been seeking liberation wherever I can find it in the world for the last 35 years, pretty much as long as i have a memory of anything.

My commitment to the dharma is total, even though my methodology might be a bit unusual for some but then us left hand path practitioners are known to be a bit unruly. I still follow the buddhas injunction to not create schisms in the sangha or slate other lesser or higher paths, but i firmly believe that Buddhism needs to evolve and progress building on the shoulders of the past otherwise we risk stagnation.
Each Mahasiddha would express realization in his own way and add to the teachings, this is why we have such a wealth of teachings and it in no way implies deviation or corruption, in fact I am the first to ensure the purity of the teachings so much do I love them. The apple might fall far from the tree but the seed will still generate a new apple tree. All good

Om tat sat

www.buddhabrats.com, check it out, you might be surprised.


speakerfone's picture

By the way, I was just reading the excerpts from your book on your website and was struck by the similarity with Jeff Noon's cyberpunk books. Have you ever read Vurt? I think you would really like it.

buddhabrats's picture

yes, ive read it, nice stuff, but my favourite cyberpunk writers would have to be neal stephenson, and John courtney grimwood.


speakerfone's picture

Your Buddhabrats site seems to try to make Dharma more palatable for Western mindsets or tries to make it cool and hip. Buddhism doesn't need a marketing department and it doesn't need to apologise for the fact there's some (essential) vows and rules and things!

Anreal's picture

Buddhism IS cool and hip ... it was a radical teaching when it first came into the world... When the tantras arrived it was very 'out there' .... Dzogchen is probably the most radical thing there is, it is cool, it is rebelious, it is super effective! No one needs to 'try' make it anything, simply pointing out its real nature when you strip away the cultural overlays.

Padmasambhava predicted that the teachings would go to the West, I wonder, what do people think would happen when it arrived in the west ... I'm sure Padmasambhava knew exactly what would happen. He was a wild-ass tantrika himself...

buddhabrats's picture

I would disagree look at how much attention Richard Gere brought to the Buddhist cause, the more attention the better, the dharma is for everyone, and surely bringing more people to the joys of the dharma can never be a bad thing, if I had my way I would teach dzogchen in primary schools. I have seen how a lot of people are put off the dharma due to its somewhat dry and intellectual nature, when in fact everyone can benefit from the dharma as everyone has a mind.


speakerfone's picture

Dharma is not for everyone. How is it appropriate for people who want instant results?

If people are put off the Dharma because of its dry intellectual nature then Dharma is not for them. Let them be. Do not try to mould dharma to suit them. If Dharma is 'moulded to the personality' then Dhama will be changed, not the person. On the flip side, if Dharma moulds the personality then the person is changed.

Of course Dharma is not just dry and intellectual. We know that. But there is hard work involved. It isn't all hip and cool.

Anreal's picture

PUt it like this, for people who want it dry ... there is dry dharma.

For people who want to work really hard ... there is hard work Dharma.

But don't be so foolish to think that that is the ONLY dharma there is. ;)

And as for your question regarding 'how is dharma for people who want instant results'? Well i'd suggest you discover for yourself how countless masters have specifically requested 'the teaching without effort' ... 'the fast path' ... 'the teaching that liberates in a moment' ...
That is classic Dzogchen and Mahamudra history.

And just because it is fast and deceptively simple, doesn't mean it doesn't include a hell of lot of pain in a very short amount of time. That is why it is not for everyone ...

speakerfone's picture

Well, that all seems logical at face value . . . but surely it's not up to the practitioner to decide which Buddhism's for him? Otherwise isn't our ego going to gravitate to the teaching which is least challenging/most attractive to him/her?

Hence the role of the qualified Lama is completely crucial because they use their knowledge of the path to prescribe a practice that they think will be beneficial.

If we prescribe ourselves medicine off the internet then we're likely not to get better, to get sick, or even to kill ourselves . . . so it is with Dharma. Perhaps you're not suggesting students of dharma 'self medicate' from books or from the internet . . . but in case you were, I'd like to point this out.

Regarding the 'teaching without effort' well I guess proper meditation is without effort, but before that point I imagine most teachers would suggest the preliminaries/ngondro is essential. Is this what you mean by a lot of pain in a short amount of time?

Anreal's picture

I had a detailed response to your comment but after reading how you misinterpreted Vajra Pride and 'making the teachings your own' into some kind of STONER mentality, I've decided to delete my post as you're interpretations are way off and there is clearly no point.

I recommend a healthy dose of TIBETAN CHOD for everyone.

Here is a buddha brats truism if you want one: "Only once you've boiled yourself in your own vomit for a thousand years will you have something interesting to say to yourself, or me..."

All the best gentlemen,
and p.s Not all Buddhist women find dry academics who cling to tradition like frightened children worthy of respect.

Buddhism is very very sexy, and if you see it from a boring perspective is is you who are the bore. Like old goats stamping on every youthful, unbridled, individuated expression of joy.
Shame on you both.

Anreal's picture

Firstly, all I'm going to post here are some quotes by Shakyamuni Buddha from the Diamond Sutra, and the words of Samantabhadra, the primordial Buddha of Dzogchen, from the Supreme Source.

I personally find the views on commitment perfectly clear. HOWEVER, it is important that any true practitioner familiarise themselves (in my opinion, and that of Jamgon Kongtrul) with the non-sectarian view of Ri-Me. This view clearly states that different paths all exist with seemingly different doctrines, however that they all fall under the same teaching and so one should never disparage another person's path. Nevertheless, I too come from the Dzogchen perspective and feel that it is only ever a good thing that some of its teachings get air time, simply to share the fact that there are other, faster ways of reaching the same goal. This is not for everyone, nor is it intended to stand in opposition to any other paths.

So, without further ado... I shall start with the quotes from Supreme Source, where Samantabhadra, Primordial Consciousness, speaks to an aspect of 'him' self about himself. This is meant to be understood as the Mind talking about its own nature to itself. This Mind, therefore is My mind, YOUR mind ...

I hope you enjoy.

THE Supreme Source on Commitment:

“Listen, great being! In total perfection there is no commitment to keep.
The nature of the source that is pure and total consciousness is unborn and beyond concepts. Thus when the miracle of the birth of the variety of phenomena manifests, by recognizing that all objects are this same nature and that they transcend judgment and concepts, whatever appears one remains [in the self-arising state] without trying to grasp it, without accepting or rejecting it …
For me, the source, there is no commitment to keep. As I am beyond causes and conditions, there is no need to try to attain me through effort. As I am self-perfected, there is no need to adopt a conduct. As I am primordial wisdom, there is no need to try to know me. As I am self-arising, there is no need of causes and conditions. As I am beyond good and bad, there is no need to accept me or reject me.”
- P188, Chapter 46

“Whoever is in the natural state “just as it is” realizes the true meaning that cannot be altered.
[This is the meaning of teshinnyid]: te means “authentic”, shin means “unaltered”; nyid denotes the authentic condition. There is no enlightenment outside of the natural state.”
- P189, Chapter 47

“2. On Commitment
The teachers of the three dimensions, my emanations, teaching on the basis of the diverse capacities of the disciples, convey the understanding that the source is something to maintain by commitment.
Some understand that they have to keep their vows and discipline pure, others observe the Vidyadhara vows, while others base themselves on the numerous fundamental and secondary rules. But however deep their scrutiny, the do not achieve understanding.
The commitment of the supreme source is beyond the dualism of keeping or not keeping. Whoever understands the meaning of “beyond keeping or not keeping” understands my commitment.
Listen! I, the supreme source, teacher of teachers, am the equality of all phenomena in pure and total consciousness that is the root. Thus, I am the fundamental essence of all commitments. Understand that I am beyond the dualism of keeping or not keeping!
Listen! Like the unborn sky, the commitment of the view of the supreme source transcends all limits, whoever understands this well understands the commitment of the supreme source.
Listen! As the single root of all phenomena is consciousness, the single root of the commitment is not something to keep: this means having understood one’s unborn mind.
Listen! As in this way one understands that there is no commitment to keep, this understanding equals the state of the Buddhas of the three times. Practitioners without this understanding are really in contradiction with the essence of their mind. Those who observe the commitment of the teachers of the three dimensions instead of keeping my commitment will find it difficult to encounter the true meaning for hundreds and thousands of kalpas.
Thus, as you have received my teaching, understand that there is no commitment to keep!”
- P206, Chapter 60

“2. On Commitment
As long as they remain on the path of conceptual characteristics, the teachers of the three dimensions, my emanations, distinguish between “keeping” and “not keeping” [the commitment], and in consequence they teach that it is necessary to observe the main and secondary rules.
Listen! From the beginning I, the supreme source, am the natural condition, and as this nature transcends the dualism of subject and object, whoever understands all phenomena in this manner does not even form the idea of keeping or not keeping.
Listen! I am the source, unaltered pure and total consciousness, I do not depend on antidotes and do not give birth to the consideration of an object. The commitment of the self-arising and self-perfected state of pure presence cannot be breached or damaged. Thus it is not something one has to guard intentionally.
Only pure presence, unaltered by conceptual ideas, gives access to the fundamental meaning.
Listen! Sattvavajra, experience the true state! Unless the secret state of pure presence, the fundamental essence, arises, then even an expert in words and definitions will not meet my teaching.
From the beginning, this supreme state, in which there is no [commitment]to keep, pervades everything without needing to be guarded: unless one gains experience, any other way of keeping [the commitment] becomes an incurable disease!
Listne! This is the commitment of my state: through undistracted presence, without needing to make any alteration, all material phenomena exist naturally as wisdom. When on masters pure presence, the limit of keeping or not keeping is transcended.
I am the supreme source, pure and total consciousness, and as I transcend all assertions and negations, I do not think of anything and do not meditate on anything!
I do not correct body, voice, or mind: I let them relax. I do no visualize anything, nor do I use mudras or mantras. The source, which is pure and total consciousness, does not know the boundary between keeping and not keeping [the commitment]!”
- P220, Chapter 72

THE DIAMOND SUTRA, Shakyamuni on Bodhisattvas and merit:
“If a Bodhisattva cherishes the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality, he is consequently not a Bodhisattva, Subhuti. This is because in reality there is no formula which gives rise to the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment.”
- Section XXII. It Cannot be Said that Anything is Attainable

“… The distinguishing of an ego-entity is erroneous. Likewise the distinguishing of a personality, or a being, or a separated individuality is erroneous. Consequently those who have left behind every phenomenal distinction are called Buddhas all.”
- Section XIV. Perfect Peace Lies in Freedom from Characteristic Distinctions

“Subhuti, what do you think? If anyone filled three thousand galaxies of worlds with the seven treasures and gave all away in gifts of alms, would he gain great merit?
>Yes, indeed, World-honored One, he would gain great merit!
Subhuti, if such merit was Real, the Tathagata would not have declared it to be great, but because it is without a foundation the Tathagata characterized it as "great."
- Section XIX. Absolute Reality is the Only Foundation

“Subhuti, those who find consolation in limited doctrines involving the conception of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality are unable to accept, receive, study, recite and openly explain this Discourse.”
- Section XV. The Incomparable Value of This Teaching

“But a Bodhisattva who practices charity with mind detached from any formal notions is like unto a man with open eyes in the radiant glory of the morning, to whom all kinds of objects are clearly visible.”
- Shakyamuni, The Diamond Sutra

And last but not the least and I find it quite interesting regarding the 'carrying over of vows' for example ...
Shakyamuni explicitly states:
"Subhuti, it is impossible to retain past mind, impossible to hold on to present mind, and impossible to grasp future mind."

For those interested in some more on the Supreme Source, there is a great Book Review on the Buddha Brats site.

buddhabrats's picture

I can only speak from personal experience and the vast benefit i have obtained from the Buddhist teachings, and i do not feel the Bodhisattva vow was something I needed to take because I felt that anyway, but I took it anyway and benefited from it. my point is that from the dzogchen view were all is self, compassion is automatic and i do not feel that i have to force myself to a particular code of conduct because i might err in my practice. If you are firm in your experience and practice the vows become almost incidental as they are expressed naturally by you anyway. All i am talking about is a slightly more lateral view on the whole thing, where we empower ourselves and need not be herded like children from a schoolyard. i can of course only talk about my own experience, as can you, anyone else s is their experience and will remain personal. To conclude i do believe that the taking of vows is very useful, but i also believe that it is natural expression of compassion and therefore need not necessarily be forced on people. I see the strategic methodology of the vow, but i also see the time when it is so automatic that it becomes unnecessary to express it.

On the other side there are those who hide behind the vow, trying to pretend they have compassion and using it as a shield and justification, which would be unecessary if they felt genuine compassion for all sentient beings.
I can only express my realization, as i see it all else is meaningless and inauthentic

if you want to see my view check out my site www.buddhabrats.com, but particularly http://www.buddhabrats.com/adamantine-awareness/


buddhabrats's picture

For me the foremost and only important vow to keep to oneself is to maintain in the natural state of the mind, and this is a vow that is automatically enforced as if one deviates from ones own natural state one is plunged into samsara. The commitment to oneself to remain present and aware is reward in itself as if one deviates from it one begins to suffer.I come from the dzogchen view and have taken the Bodhisattva vow of not liberating until all others are liberated but I see this vow as a spur to generate compassion in oneself if it does not exist. Once one has the compassion or if one always had the compassion then the need for such a vow almost becomes redundant since it is automatic as the natural outplay of ones compassion . From the dzogchen view were all is self anyway compassion becomes automatic as why would you not always want to help yourself if you had the means or the capacity. I definitely see the value in vows but think it is a bit naive to say that one cannot pursue a Buddhist path without taking vows. To quote the firth dalai lama, "Buddhism is not a religion it is a science of the mind" If vows stabilize and enrich ones practice then no error but if one is worried about if such views will carry over into ones next birth then surely one is missing the point of the vow in the first place. Each child makes his own decisions in life and we as buddhists are not selling karmic insurance to guarantee a future life. It is after all about liberation from suffering, first and last and always, and anything that aids this is good and anything that hinders it is not.

I am proposing a slightly more radical and liberal view on the whole thing but i adhere rigidly to the spirit of the teachings,

Check out my site www.buddhabrats.com and particularly http://www.buddhabrats.com/sneak-peek/glimpse-into-content/


mahabarbara's picture

This veers awfully close to what traditional zennies call "buji Zen," which is the attitude that since we're all Buddha-nature already, what's the point of practice?

It's said of the Precepts that they describe the natural life of a Buddha, and an enlightened being will always respond to all sirutations correctly without having to consult a rule book. But how many of us can say we're already that "enlightened"?

By the same token, perfect compassion arises naturally from perfect wisdom, just as perfect wisdom arises naturally from perfect compassion. But just bopping around being mindful is not perfect wisdom. Your comment reeks of the perspective of "I," not the perspective of shunyata. In other words, you're not yet in a place where you are ready to ride the bike without training wheels.

In my experience, the more awakened a person is, the more seriously he or she takes the vows.

Anreal's picture

Can't respond if no one knows who you are talking to ...
I'll say this, I take my vows very seriously indeed.
But one needs not stand upon ceremony, one can dance upon it ... with a smile.

speakerfone's picture

What you're saying essentially is that, as a Dzogchenpa, you have no need to concern yourself with such inconveniences as vows. On the other hand you are also implying that both qualified Lamas and great Dzogchenpas alike were wasting their time with their meticulous observation of the vows and pledges.

Do you think the greatest recent embodiments of Dzogchen, Patrul Rinpoche or Dilgo Kyentse, would have supported this "more radical and liberal view on the whole thing"? You are certainly mistaken if you suggest they felt the vows were for beginners more than themselves. Instead they lived in the manner inspired by Guru Rinpoche's saying 'My view is more vast than the sky, my actions are as fine as grains of sand'.

Proper observance of vows is necessary for proper practice. It clears the space in our lives necessary for meditation to work. It's common in the West to take the bits of Buddhism that don't inconvenience us too much. Unfortunately the bits that inconvenience us are the bits that ensure the Dharma is effective. Therefore the watering down of Dharma is not something we should celebrate or encourage.

If you read what the Lama says he is not 'worried' that vows will carry over into the next life. Read it again.


Anreal's picture

No one EVER said that the lamas or any other enlightened beings were/are wrong!

No one ever said that vows are not important!

It seems you just jump to your own conclusions. Honestly. In fact both me and buddha brat have REPEATEDLY said that we believe that there is a place for vows and that they serve a purpose.

And you can't possibly say you speak for all lamas do you? If you do, well that changes things rather radically. But untill that point you are just another stressed out practitioner who thinks he/she needs to defend a teaching or practice that is NOT being attacked In fact I'm almost certain that an actual lama who isn't some nervous student will probably have had a far more fruitful discussion with me, rather than all this hysterical misintepretations.

The watering down of Dharma is exactly the result of people doing stuff purely out of habit and dogma, rather than understanding the true value, nature and use of various practices.