Tibetan Buddhism

  • Thoughts on Days 1 and 2 of the Dalai Lama's teachings (w pix and vids) Paid Member

    In my days as a student at Naropa University I can recall many occasions, both in the classroom and out, where I found myself among a small handful of people discussing the work of Nagarjuna.  These discussions, without fail, would lead to highly complex conversations and/or debates about the nature of emptiness, the ultimate nature of reality, the absolute and the relative, nihilism and eternalism, middle-way philosophy, and so on.  If someone had told me then that I would one day find myself sitting in Radio City Music Hall surrounded by thousands of New Yorkers all receiving the same teachings, I might not have believed it—but that is exactly what took place yesterday. As can be expected with just about any discourse on a Nagarjuna text, even with my relative degree of familiarity I still found much of yesterday’s teachings hard to understand. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the thousands of people there who have never even heard a teaching on emptiness before, much less an advanced esoteric lecture on madhyamaka philosophy!  (*Insert the “over the head” hand gesture here.) [note: Here is a good piece on understanding Nagarjuna by David Loy, "The Dharma of Deconstruction"] In today’s teaching, the Dalai Lama finished his discussion of Nagarjuna’s text and moved on to the Shantideva text, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. This was much more accessible.  The Dalai Lama introduced the concept of exchanging self and other and taught that ignorance is one of the chief causes of suffering. He explained that with a proper understanding of cause and effect, the nature of reality, and interdependent origination, we will be more capable of achieving happiness for ourselves and manifesting compassion for others. By introducing the subjects of personal happiness and compassion towards others, it was as if yesterday’s complex teachings on emptiness and the nature of reality were given some much-needed context, and I could feel the people around me become more engaged. Another very interesting part of today’s teaching was the discussion of Buddhism’s relationship to quantum physics.  His Holiness spoke of his conversations with highly intelligent western quantum physicists in which the striking similarities between Buddhist teachings and this fascinating field of science were touched on. Just like Nagarjuna describes in his text, these quantum physicists attest that when their work takes them very far into observation of matter and existence, they eventually get to a point where they can no longer prove anything exists at all! Obviously, the fact Buddhists are able to cite an ancient Buddhist text that says essentially the exact same thing as this cutting edge field of western scientific inquiry is quite impressive to the physicists. Still, the Dalai Lama pointed one very important difference between Buddhism and quantum physics.  With science, one only looks at the external world and therefore what is gained is a massive amount knowledge. With Dharma practice, one applies the same investigative methods to the internal world of personal experience and what is gained is more than just knowledge; one gains a deeper type of understanding altogether. It is the type of understanding that helps one achieve happiness and act with true compassion. It is the type of understanding that gives one the ability to liberate oneself and others from suffering. This can be deep, heavy stuff, and I hope my attempt to explain some of these complex ideas hasn’t left you scratching your head. Here are some photos and videos from the teaching today at Radio City music hall.  They were shot/recorded from my little handheld Canon Elph so they are definitely not the highest quality, but nevertheless I’m still very happy to share them with you all. (Videos after the jump.) More »
  • "The Discovery of Egolessness" by David Nichtern Paid Member

    Via the Huffington Post, "The entire Buddhist path is based on the discovery of egolessness and the maturing of insightor knowledge that comes from egolessness." --- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche / Journey Without Goal I have heard many times from students and spiritual practitioners of all kinds, shapes and sizes, that if they could only "get rid of their ego," then they could have some peace and taste enlightenment. There are also many "self-help" teachings and gurus who are promoting techniques to "strengthen" the ego -- to ripen and develop one's sense of power, accomplishment and tangible assets -- make you skinnier, more assertive, richer, happier, etc. etc. etc. But the approaches of getting rid of OR strengthening the ego may both share a similar delusion: that it actually exists in some solid and fixed way in the first place. More »
  • The New Tricycle Gallery Paid Member

    We are very proud to announce the launch of the Tricycle Gallery. These beautiful world class works of Himalayan Art from the Rubin Museum of Art are available to download and print for personal use on a shrine or wall, as desktop wallpaper on a computer or mobile device, and can be sent through email as gifts for friends. This gallery will surely grow as we collaborate with more museums, institutions, and collectors. More »
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    Tibetan Nomad photos by Alison Wright Paid Member

    The New York Times features a photo essay by—and interview with—photographer Alison Wright. Q: Why were you attracted to the Tibetan nomads? More »
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    Slogan 1: "First Train in the Preliminaries." Paid Member

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    Understanding the Four Orders of Tibetan Buddhism Paid Member

    In the latest issue of Snow Lion, Ngawang Zangpo, translator of Jamgon Kongtrul’s The Treasury of Knowledge: Books 2-4: Buddhism’s Journey to Tibet, writes about the Four Orders of Tibetan Buddhism. Everyone knows about the Gelugs, Kagyus, Nyingmas, and Sakyas, but in what ways do they differ and diverge in doctrine? He writes: More »