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Shyyoungd
19 Jul 11, 19:47
I am extremely new to the practice of Buddhism - I began during the week of June 19-25, 2011. So it has been perhaps slightly less than a month now... I am seeking feedback on an expereince I don't understand too well.

On Saturday the 16th of July, 2011 - those in attendance of a workshop on Bodhichtta were invited to take Bodhisattva Vows by the Rinpoche. I was among those who took the vows.

I am not sure I understand how this process operates ( I an not referring to a personal level concerning one's own conduct) but in the context of how this proceess typically occurs or at what point, sequencially, this ussually happens.

Also it is not completely clear if these vows are typically requested by the practitioner or offered by the Director of the Sangha. or whomever...

Is taking Refuge in the Buddha a prelimenary step?

Then again, I have seen the Bodhisattva Vow written about in the context of ordination for what I believe is for monks or nuns, is that inherent in that process as well?

Any feedback you could provide would be very helpful. Thank you in advance.

Aloka
19 Jul 11, 20:05
Welcome to the group, Shyoungd,


Its usual to take Refuge in a ceremony first and then take Bodhisattva vows afterwards or later. That's how I did it myself at any rate.

I am requesting that a moderator move this question to the Tibetan Buddhist forum because it is tradition specific. One of our offline experienced practitioners who has taken the Bodhisattva vows themselves should be able to continue discussing it with you. If not, I will return myself to discuss with you at another time.


with kind wishes,

A-D ;D

srivijaya
19 Jul 11, 21:52
Is taking Refuge in the Buddha a prelimenary step?
Hi Shy,
Welcome to BWB. For me, refuge was a preliminary step and I took a good long time before I chose to. I don't know why it happened like this in your case. Best thing to do, is not worry overmuch about it but just give yourself time to investigate Buddhism as a whole to see how things fit together.

As a newbie I once sat in on Green Tara empowerments without even realizing that I had! I was told that in such a case it would be counted as blessings, rather than an empowerment.

Namaste
Kris

Shyyoungd
19 Jul 11, 23:42
Thank you both for your answers - I appreciate the time you have taken read this and to give an answer ... There are many things I don't know and more that I am sure I don't understand - certainly being able to evaluate this ceremony in an accurate context would be preferable. I am in the position where I can assume nothing and question much - not the least of which is myself and my experience... Again, my thanks...

plwk
20 Jul 11, 03:26
My worthless opinions here...


Is taking Refuge in the Buddha a prelimenary step?
Yes and is most basic for anyone who wishes to be a Buddhist. This can be done privately or undergo a formal process. In the Mahayana & Vajrayana Traditions, it is a formal process. Here's some sample readings on what it looks like in a Vajrayana context and setting: 1 (http://www.thubtenchodron.org/PrayersAndPractices/ceremony_for_taking_refuge_and_precepts.html) 2 (http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=2417) 3 (http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Taking_Refuge)


I am extremely new to the practice of Buddhism - I began during the week of June 19-25, 2011. So it has been perhaps slightly less than a month now... I am seeking feedback on an expereince I don't understand too well.

...those in attendance of a workshop on Bodhichtta were invited to take Bodhisattva Vows by the Rinpoche.
What I am surprised is that why is it that those in charge of the workshop did not do a simple check of who are 'ready' to receive the Bodhisattva Vows or make it clear as to who can undertake/uphold this set of training vows, normally by asking if one has formally undertaken Refuge & the basic lay Precepts. Allow me to give you an example.

In many Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist places that I have visited...
1. one is expected to have taken the Refuge/lay Precepts, preferably in their lineage for practical purposes of continuity of practice (Vajrayana has a strong emphasis on lineage as there is an emphasis on a teacher/student commitment) before taking up any form of commitments, like initiations, empowerment, Bodhisattva Vows (as you have mentioned) and Tantric Vows.

The lay Precepts which are derived from the Vinaya (monastic disciple code) and Sutra (scripture) is a foundation and building block for the Bodhisattva Vows and in turn the highest set of vows in Vajrayana, the Tantric Vows sits on the former two. So, as you can see, it's a progression thingy. To skip any is basically to create a flimsy foundation.

2. my own experience was: as I belong to the Chinese Mahayana Buddhist Tradition with a keen interest on Vajrayana, the Karma Kagyu centre which I am visiting has graciously allowed a flexibility for me to join their one day 8 Precepts retreat known as sojong in Tibetan (in Pali/Sanskrit: Uposatha/Upavasatha) which have no attachment to any particular commitment to be undertaken but they did ask me if I have at least taken the Refuge and lay Precepts in my own Tradition and having affirmed that, I was allowed to observe and join in. There was another woman, as I recalled, who had neither, she was advised to study further and undergo the formal process first.


Then again, I have seen the Bodhisattva Vow written about in the context of ordination for what I believe is for monks or nuns, is that inherent in that process as well?
Could you elaborate on this further as to see what it actually means?
Generally, the Bodhisattva Vows are a set of commitments that is open to anyone who is willing to undertake it in the Mahayana and Vajrayana forms of Buddhism, who have taken the preliminaries of refuge and precepts, be they the lay or ordained people. The Ordained within the Mahayana and Vajrayana forms of Buddhism are expected to undertake the Bodhisattva Vows as part of their commitment and practice on top of their Monastic Code training rules. The Laity on the other hand are encouraged to undertake it as soon as they can reach an understanding of it.

What differentiates the Bodhisattva Vows from the Monastic Discipline Code or Vinaya (commonly called the 'Pratimoksha' (http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Pratimoksha_vows)) is that the former does not entail mandatory celibacy unlike the latter but if one takes up voluntary celibacy, it is a noble endeavor to enhance one's practice of pure conduct/sila. That's why even the Laity can take up the Bodhisattva Vows practice as it does not have the mandatory celibacy requirement. The word 'ordain' must be clarified as it can mean the usual monastic form of undertaking of vows/regulations or a non monastic form of undertaking of vows/regulations.

For further info, there are 'Rinpoches' ('Precious Ones') or 'Lamas' ('teachers') who come from the Laity circle, not necessarily are they ordained monastics or monastics who have disrobed to return back to lay life. For example, the current throne holder to the Sakya Sect, His Holiness Sakya Trizin (http://www.palsakya.org/hhst/bio_hhst.html) is a non monastic. Then we have His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama who is a revered monastic figure within the Gelug Sect and overall in Tibetan Buddhism. So, one can see, they have the dual system of the 'ordained' lay and the Ordained Monastics.

The ordained lay are lay people, 'ngagpas' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngagpa) in Tibetan, married or voluntarily celibate, the context is that they are usually full time in the Dharma work, may or may not have a secular job (depending on whether they receive a stipend from the temple/centre or from generous supporters) and are fully recognised by their organisation to carry out Dharma activities on their behalf or they may be yogis who do retreats with also sometimes with the task of teaching Dharma and other Dharma related duties for their community.

As a side discussion, this is similar to the case scenario in Japan where the monastic code or Vinaya (which was brought to Japan from China) was set aside in favour of the Bodhisattva Vows for over 1000 years now, for historical, social and 'spiritual' reasons. But that is not to say that there are no Ordained Monastics in Japan but that they are an extremely small minority. So the 'clergy' in Japan, be they coming from the various schools of Zen, Nichiren, Jodo and et al are known as 'priests' or 'priestess' instead of 'monk/nun' (Bhikshu/Bhikshuni) and as said earlier, although they may manifest the appearance of shaved heads, wearing of robes and even living according to monastic communal settings but because they did not ordain under the monastic code, hence they are not Ordained Monastics, although amongst some of them, they practice admirable voluntary celibacy and monastic like communal living whilst others are married with offspring, some of whom are groomed to be next in line to take over the leadership of the temple from their parents or serve elsewhere (yes, some temples/centres in Japan are passed on within a family lineage), who are full time ministers.

For further reading on the Bodhisattva Vows, here's one reference in four parts: 1 (http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/practice_material/vows/bodhisattva/actions_train_aspiring_bodhichitta.html) 2 (http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav/group.html_2009871561.html) 3 (http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/practice_material/vows/bodhisattva/root_bodhisattva_pledges.html) 4 (http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/practice_material/vows/bodhisattva/secondary_bodhisattva_pledges.html)

Sharing my own experience here, back some months ago, I attended in the local temple, my first time and a rare teaching session by one of the visiting important Karma Kagyu lineage master, H. H Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche on Chenrezig practice and later, on other days, he conducted separate sessions for Refuge, Bodhisattva Vows, Amitabha & Chenrezig Empowerments respectively (although it's such an ideal one as I am interested in Amitabha & Chenrezig practice) but I did not attend as I wasn't ready yet to receive any of those as I am still investigating Kagyu teaching & practice. So far, I have attended basic classes and pujas and am in no hurry to simply take any commitments that I do not comprehend yet. Step by step is my approach.

Probably, it will be best to sit down with the resident teacher there or someone in charge to talk to/assist with/clarify your situation and spiritual queries in an orderly progressive manner to find out what is it that you're getting yourself in until it is as clear as daylight, kinda like a 'buyer beware' scenario. Just because one sits in a workshop or an empowerment/initiation ceremony, does not mean that one is obliged to undertake it, even if invited. Just like in the evangelical churches, when they do an altar call for those who want to be believers, one is not under any obligation to go forward and respond. The many cases I have come across are usually people who did not do their homework, simply undertook what they hardly understand and later get into 'confused complications' and a minority end up whining to others as if the centre/temple forced them to take up something that they didn't want to.

I wish you the best in your spiritual endeavors.

Shyyoungd
20 Jul 11, 19:11
Hi Plwk,
Thank you for such a comprehensive and complete answer. This was very helpful. And I think your concerns are very valid, though they may not be applicable to this particular instance.

It is because, upon reflection, I thought perhaps this was not a reqular occurance. As a result, I sought to understand this process better.. I am a little intimidated by things I don't understand and there are so many things I don't understand that it can seem overwhelming at times... Perhaps this occurred (the Boddhisattva Vow ceremony) this way because of the energy thing... maybe that had something to do with it... I did send emails discussing some aspects of this experence and my prior expereince with Buddhism - but, again, I don't really know what is going on and all this is conjecture...

I don't know how to explain the energy thing very well - perhas you will have a better idea of what I am referring to if you read my posts in the "Beyond Belief" area of these forums.

During the workshop - the Rinpoche clearly said taking the Boddhisattva Vows did not make us Buddhists... the workshop was conducted a Rinpoche who I truly believe is a well-qualified and genuinely gifted teacher... please do not denigrate the Rinpoche for this - I believe he is beyond reproach in this matter... here are his details...

Za Choeje Rinpoche Tenzin Lobsang Dhamchoe was born in 1968. Rinpoche grew up on a small farm with his grandparents. The local village Lama presented Him the birthname of “Choejor Dhondup
(Accomplished Spiritual Abundance)”. As a young boy, Rinpoche discovered a love for Tibetan folk
tales and spent many hours reading ancient stories to elders in the neighborhood. His enthusiasm of
Tibetan literature inspired him to join the Tibetan Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath,
Varanasi, India in 1982.


A year into His studies, at the age of 16, His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama recognized Him as the 6th reincarnation of Hor Choeje Rinpoche of Eastern Tibet. He was formally enthroned in 1983 as the 6th
Za Choeje Rinpoche at Tehor Khamtsen in Sera Monastery. Under the guidance of His Holiness and Yongzin Ling Rinpoche, He received extensive training in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist method of listening, contemplation and meditation.

Shyyoungd
20 Jul 11, 19:14
Sorry, my writing tends to be less than coherent because I am dyslexic - this tends to be worse when stressed out by anything.. I am stressed out by stuff right now... generally speaking

srivijaya
20 Jul 11, 22:20
Perhaps it would also be a good idea to keep in touch with the Rinpoche, if possible?

andyrobyn
23 Jul 11, 04:33
From plwk's post bove ......

Generally, the Bodhisattva Vows are a set of commitments that is open to anyone who is willing to undertake it in the Mahayana and Vajrayana forms of Buddhism, who have taken the preliminaries of refuge and precepts, be they the lay or ordained people. The Ordained within the Mahayana and Vajrayana forms of Buddhism are expected to undertake the Bodhisattva Vows as part of their commitment and practice on top of their Monastic Code training rules. The Laity on the other hand are encouraged to undertake it as soon as they can reach an understanding of it.

This is my understanding also ... the only addition I can think to add is that the Paramitayana is the foundation of the Bodhisattva ideal ( in Vajrayana as well) - practice of the six perfections of charity, morality, patience, perseverance, concentration and wisdom ( from the teachings in the Pali canon ) for the benefit of all .

To me the importance of the vows is in the spirit rather than adhering to any specific written code of behaviour. On a daily level this means keeping the focus on the greater good and seeing that often it is necessary to set aside my own immediate desires and wants, and rather than just following set patterns of behaviour and my usual responses I can have alternate actions in order to do what is right.

Esho
23 Jul 11, 17:30
To me the importance of the vows is in the spirit rather than adhering to any specific written code of behaviour.

There is no other option as to totally agree Andy.

I just want to rise a question... are not enough to skill deeply the Brahmaviharas to develop that compassionate commitment in the Buddha path?

andyrobyn
24 Jul 11, 00:26
In my opinion,
of course, there is no exclusivity in different styles of practice :hands:

Shyyoungd
29 Jul 11, 00:16
Hello Kris,
I had hoped to give your message to me a better response than I was able to before... I definately wnat to explore the resoruce you've provided - many thianks for that... I have only recently begun meditation and have background in this area so the resource you provided was both timely and I believe it will be extremely useful as well.

I am not sure how these forums operate. I can no longer post private messages to anyone iit would seem - please see the attached jpg... I did try to reply to your message but there would seem to be no option to do so... whether you see this post or not is unclear either...

However, I would like to express my gratitude for your assistance... I have not delved into this area of my life for many reasons - however - now seems like the appropriate time to do - your assistance in this attempt to better understand this part of my life is greatly appreicated...

With Sincere Thanks and Gratiude,
Shy

Lazy Eye
29 Jul 11, 01:04
I just want to rise a question... are not enough to skill deeply the Brahmaviharas to develop that compassionate commitment in the Buddha path?

Interesting question, Kaarine. But are the Brahmaviharas central to Theravada practice in the way that the bodhisattva path is to Mahayana?

Sunyata, buddha nature, alaya-vijnana could all be thrown out and you could still have something recognizable as a Mahayana path, as long as there is the bodhisattva aspiration and cultivation of bodhicitta. But it seems to me a Theravada practitioner could achieve nibbana without the brahmaviharas, at least in theory. Correct me if I'm wrong though.

Shyyoungd
29 Jul 11, 01:08
I am - it's kind of difficult - I was at meditation yesterday which Rinpoche was leading but I am a little self concious because I printed out my posts on this site primarly because I mentioned the Rinpoche by name and that could have been so not the right thing to do -

So I made sure he was aware of my actions... but, well, I sorta prefer being in the background at this point... not really sure what to say to him anyway - I am somewhat intimidated by all of this...

Then to I have no idea what protocols or behaviors are appropriate...

I don't really know if I have been crass, offensive or just idiotic - and since I have plenty of experience being all three -

I am trying to effectively reduce the any further possiblity of tny of the above mentioned behaviors occuring again... at least in this context

I appreciate you input Kris - I have taken it quite seriously - though I have had a chance to examine the resource you sent.

I can't replyto your message... I don't think I can start any new threads either... oh well, wouldn't be the first time I have acted without circumpection... sigh

Esho
29 Jul 11, 01:29
Lazy,

My take on this is that the issue of Boddhisattva v.s. Arahat is a delusion; a useless arguing. Once the Arahatship is achieved there is the Boddhisattva. If you have a Boddhisatva there is an Arahat.

A skillful conduct leads to a clear conscience. Clear conscience to rapture and joy. Joy to tranquility, happiness and concentration or the state of Samadhi. This Samadhi is a requisite to abide in the Brahamaviharas which are the peak of compassion. Also, Thich Nhat Hanh has the Brahmaviharas as the cornerstone of his compassionate achievements. The skills of listening others are about the mastering of the four Brhamaviharas. Listening with dispassion, with compassion, sympathetic joy and kindness. Brahamaviharas are all we need to be helpful with others sufferings.

I can not tell about Theravada tradition but the Pali teachings. To avoid this issue of Arahatship or Boddhisatva, you also can found the foundations of commpasivenss in the Eightfold Noble Path. Attention, concentration, and a compassionate listening and speech toward a suffering person are, IMO, what is all about for the Boddhisatva skills.

There is no real nibbana without dispassion, with out sympathetic joy, with out kindness, without compassionate feelings toward the suffering of others. And this is not an exclusiveness of Mahayana. It is a teaching of the Pali Buddha. But we will never reach Brahamviharas without skillful conduct, clear conscience, joy, rapture, tranquility, happiness and samadhi. We can not give others what we do not have. Also not-self awareness leads in an unavoidable way to the Brahamavihara states of mind but never forgetting that awakening is a personal achievement in a way that you can not awake anybody.

;D

Keith A
29 Jul 11, 01:46
In my opinion,
of course, there is no exclusivity in different styles of practice :hands:

But it is much more fun to argue about those differences!!! :biglol:

Anyway, I happen to agree. The direction is very much the same. If folks would give that some consideration, I think they would be surprised how similar these practices really are.

Thanks,
Keith

Aloka
29 Jul 11, 02:44
I am not sure how these forums operate. I can no longer post private messages to anyone iit would seem - please see the attached jpg... I did try to reply to your message but there would seem to be no option to do so... whether you see this post or not is unclear either...

Hi Shyyoungd,

I'm sorry for the inconvenience if you were having private communications with Kris when we changed the pm permissions for newcomers.

You can find out more about it in the Help section. Please be patient in the meantime. You can also contact us by e-mail if you look for 'Contact' at the bottom of the page - and also you can ask questions about technical matters in the Technical Help forum on the website.

I don't know why you cant start new threads, perhaps you aren't doing it correctly!

I have re-opened the other thread you started, because as I mentioned there, I closed it temporarily because you said you no longer had any internet access. I forgot that you were a newbie and couldn't pm yet. Sorry.

Kind regards,

Aloka-D ;D

Forums Manager

Shyyoungd
29 Jul 11, 18:04
No worries Aloka-D,
I value the imput availabe on thiis forum but really don't have a problem with limited or non-access aside from certain philosophical/personal perspectives that. at best. only have theorectical applications - I am not sure how to qualify my approach - it's a little like surfing...(though I have never surfed) - in the best of moments one is able to flow with the universe in harmony of intent and expression - things are easy then - the characteristic of 'soft' comes to mind - with surfing one has to be able to be in harmony with the movement of the sea's momentum to properly catch a wave and ride atop it... so, metaphorically speaking... currently, interacting on this forum is not gharteristic of the type of scenario I am attempting to describe. That "easy" energy of action or expression - either circumstancetially through technology - or personally (because I tend to offend) may not be applicable in the present scenario. Since tihs is my focus - what I prefer to cultivate - I recognize the limitations of such conditions and am circumspect to these factors. That doesn't mean ithis won't change... However, the sense of going against the 'flow' here is obvious - so it would be counter productive to pursue this at this time... I apply the ten year rulie to this- if it won't matter in ten years - it doesn't matter now... It's all good - no worries - I am pretty easy going about most stuff - and this is like most stuff...

woodscooter
29 Jul 11, 18:46
Hi Shyyoungd,

I'm glad to hear that you don't have a problem with the limited access through the Personal Messaging system. It's been put in place to reduce the amount of spamming that some of our members have been experiencing.

You will find your PM can be used within a few days from now, but Kris is going to be away from the forum for a while anyway.

Now, :topic:

Shyyoungd
29 Jul 11, 19:25
Heya,
No worries Woodscooter - I have had a bit of expereince with technical difficulties so none of this surprises me - I worry more about offending people in general.. that would be my biggest concern here... so - it's all good that way, yeah?

shy