Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spiritual Risk Management 3: Remember Sakyamuni Buddha

I wrote the advice on the need to manage our spiritual risks for good reasons, even though many people may feel uneasy about the thing I said about the risk of the entire lineage having the same low wisdom or worst, incorrect dharma understanding. And there are many lineage purists out there who seek purity of the lineage. This means that once you join the lineage, and take a particular lama as guru, you are discouraged (or even disallowed by means of various threats such as telling you that you will break your vows if you do so, etc etc) to listen to lamas of other lineages. This is happening in all lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, yes, even within the Gelugpa lineage.

But I want to ask: to what lineage does Je Tsongkhapa belonged? Think carefully before answer.

Gelugpa? Not really. There was no such lineage at his time. It only came about after his death. Actually he learned the dharma from all traditions during his time. Therefore, his is the culmination of all lineages. Importantly, he sought the truth wherever there is. He did not have any restrictive views. BUT...that does not mean he accepted all the views that he learned. And this is the important point that every dharma seeker must take note. For example, he did learned zen meditation (the Hva Shang descendants after he was defeated in the debate with Kamalashila) and commented on the kind of zen meditation practice during his time which he found to be incorrect. And he gave his reasons. I will share more info on this later in another post and whether I think such zen meditation still is being practised during our times. This was mentioned in Lam Rim Chen Mo as well as in his commentaries on tantra. You can check it out. Don't take my word for it.

The point is not to be so foolhardy about maintaining the lineage, or tradition until our own spiritual progress is compromised. Je Tsongkhapa was always careful to check if his understanding was correct or not, to the point that he thought he needed to verify his understanding directly with the Great Arya Manjusri himself. And as we know, he sought out the great Bodhisattva of Wisdom and did communicate with him. Lama Tsongkhapa's lineage is indeed, the One Buddha Vehicle that is stated in the Lotus Sutra and which Master Yin Shun and other masters talked about.

Having said that, I am not advocating practising zen today, mantra tomorrow and Pure Land Buddhism the next day. What we should do is to learn what is good in other practices and incorporate the concept (not the entire "lot, stock and barrel" so to speak) into our current practice. This is similar to the corporate best practices. So, I suppose you can call these spiritual best practices.

I have already shared 2 spiritual best practices in my last 2 writings on the topic "Spiritual risk management". This may surprise you but the 3rd best practice I am sharing now is "Remember Sakyamuni Buddha". He is the historical Buddha that was born in India more than 2500 years ago. Without him, there is no Padmasambhava, no Atisha, no Sakya Pandita, no Lama Tsongkhapa, no Amitabha Buddha, no Avalokiteshvara, no Manjusri, no Maitreya, no Shinran, no Bodhidharma, no Zen Masters, no Tibetan Masters, no Buddhist masters at all. All masters and Buddhas and Bodhisattvas came from him. We must take refuge in him and to aspire to his level of his attainments. Most cult masters think that they have higher attainments than Sakyamuni Buddha. That's the problem with believing only in masters, without a basis in Sakyamuni Buddha's teachings.

The point is : no matter which tradition we may be in currently, always fall back on Sakyamuni Buddha and his teachings. Seek his advice even though he may have passed away long ago. Remember what Obi Wan Kenobi said to Luke Skywalker just before he wwas slain by Darth Vader? He said, " Even though he (referring to Darth Vader) may kill me, but my force will be even greater after that..." If Obi Wan Kenobi existed as The Force after his death, Sakyamuni Buddha still exists as the Dharmakaya, and indeed as our Ultimate Guru, i.e. our own Holy Mind, Holy Body , Holy Speech (to use Lama Zopa Rinpoche's words recently when he taught on Ultimate Guru).

Take care!

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