Posted by Tony Page on January 18, 19100 at 11:05:03:
In Reply to: Re: jes outta curiosity posted by Lozang Tsering on January 17, 19100 at 13:58:26:
I've described myself as a Buddhist since 1982 or so, and I remember when I started I had quite a problem with the more extreme traditional aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. And some of the not so extreme! I've found that as time goes by I'm more tolerant as firstly, I understand more of the ideas behind these aspects, and secondly, I realise that different cultural values do not invalidate the basic truths behind them.
My original teacher, Lama Yeshe, was always telling us to "check up" on Buddhist teachings, see if they worked for us, and not to take things on faith just because he or someone else said so.
He also was quite heavy on Western students who thought that the best way to practise Dharma was to become imitation Tibetans, emphasising that there was no special merit in saying prayers in Tibetan, the important thing was the practice that provided their foundations.
Personally, I think it's good to remember that the Buddha and other teachers had, and have, to communicate extremely sophisticated concepts to people of many differing backgrounds and intellectual abilities. Perhaps the mark of a truly great teacher lies in his or her ability to give somehing meaningful to every person who hears the teaching, no matter what 'level' they are. I've come to realise that even people who aren't very intellectual in academic terms can have great wisdom when it comes to life and its significance.
To mention one specific aspect, visualisation techniques in deity yoga may at first sight seem pretty weird to down-to-earth western students. But once you get over the initial unfamiliarity with the aspects of the deities involved, you begin to understand how powerful these techniques are in focusing the mind and altering behavioural patterns for the better. It's the same with mantras.
On the other hand, one must be careful not to fall in love with the rich cultural pageantry for its own sake. As with perhaps more familiar Christian religious pageantry and icons, their only value lies in their ability to help one transcend the ephemeral for the eternal.
Spread the Dharma!
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