I apologize for the long lapse in posting anything here on Vajra Vehicle. Several factors have contributed to this (projects I have been working on, my own laziness, my attention being required in different areas of my life, and so forth). However, I am about to begin posting again. I will be picking up where I left off in the Lamrim series within a week. I know I said back in April that I would be posting again “soon”, and didn’t follow through with that, but this time I believe I actually will.
Tomorrow I am going to visit with a dear friend of mine that recently lost his dog in a terrible car accident. It was a wonderful dog, so loving and playful. My friend feels some guilt, along with a tremendous amount of pain and grief, because he fell asleep while driving, and ran off the road into a tree. This friend has a connection to the Dharma and knows I do as well and has invited several people to visit tomorrow to mourn with him and to honor his lost pet. The dog is now buried on his property.
I have offered to chant for the dog in hopes of easing her transition in the bardo as well as helping her to attain a fortunate rebirth. I have no empowerments for the bardo thodol teachings, but I do have empowerments for a Vajrasattva sadhana as well as a preliminary Kalachakra sadhana. I want to be helpful, and I know it would mean a lot for my friend to have some type of practice done. I am leaning towards doing the Vajrasattva sadhana. My reasoning is that Vajrasattva purifies negative karmas, so perhaps this will help in some way to attain a fortunate rebirth, planting seeds that might bear fruit. I know this is not the typical use for this sadhana, but it feels right to me at the moment. May it be of some benefit. I also feel that the Vajrasattva sadhana may help my friend as well, offering him a means to cleanse and purify his body, speech and mind.
Loss and mourning can lead to further entanglement with negative emotions, and more clinging. My intent is to help facilitate a path towards liberation.
Hello dear friends and readers,
This is just a quick update to say I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth or anything. It has been over a month since I posted, but I am about to have some time to start up again. I have simply been engaged in other obligations for a while. I look forward to continuing the series on Lamrim soon. Thank you for your patience. And may all beings be free from suffering and its causes.
I typically don’t do ‘rants’, but this topic has been on my mind lately and this post might fall into the rant category to some extent. Apologies ahead of time if I happen to offend anyone. That is not my intent. I am truly curious. Here’s the thing…
I just don’t get ‘Secular Buddhism’. By rejecting central teachings of the Buddha such as rebirth, karma and so forth, stripping down the Dharma to make it more acceptable to a materialist worldview, considering meditation as merely a means to be more peaceful and/or have less stress in ones life…this is Dharma? Why not just call this self-help, pop psychology or humanism and be done with it?
Even within the ‘lesser scope’ as taught in many lamrim texts, karma is still understood, and so is rebirth. While the person practicing from the lesser scope may be searching for more happiness in samsara, they are also attempting to create the causes for a better rebirth. They understand to some degree the law of cause and effect (karma).
Even if you don’t accept Mahayana/Vajrayana teachings, the Pali Canon itself is clear about karma and rebirth.
Taking refuge in the Triple Gem – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha – the defining characteristic of all Buddhists…what about that? What could this possibly mean in the context of ‘Secular Buddhism’?
I can understand if one does not have confidence in certain aspects of the Buddhadharma. I am by no means suggesting we should have blind faith. All of the teachings are subject to testing and verification in one form or another, through methods of deep inquiry and so forth. I guess what I am saying though, is if one goes through this process of inquiry and decides they do not accept these teachings, it seems contradictory to say one is practicing Buddhadharma. My question is, what is ‘Buddhist’ about ‘Secular Buddhism’?
Any thoughts on this dear readers (even if you disagree with my view)?
For ease of reference I have created this post which can be used for the opening and closing of each of the lamrim contemplations in this series. This is the suggested order for each session:
- Seven-Branch Prayer (3 x’s)
- Lineage Supplication
- Lamrim Contemplation
- Dedication of Merit
[This is part of an ongoing Lamrim series. All related posts can be found here.]
The next section of Taranatha’s Essence of Ambrosia is titled,
The Freedom and Endowments of a Precious Human Life
This section consists of Contemplations 2 through 4 which are, Contemplation 2 - The Difficulty of Obtaining a Precious Human Life with its Freedoms and Endowments, Contemplation 3 – The Probability of Being Reborn Human and Contemplation 4 – Why This Human Life is Important. Before getting into what is meant by the various freedoms and endowments I feel it might be helpful to offer a very general overview of Buddhist cosmology coming from the Indo-Tibetan tradition, though also noting that most of this roots back to the Abhidharma (one of the Three Baskets of the Pali Canon) so is somewhat consistent here with the Theravada school as well.
This background is assumed in the text but may not be as familiar to all of the readers who visit this blog. Also note I am neither a scholar nor a monk. I am a student and lay-practitioner with only about 10 years of Dharma study and practice under my belt. For a more in-depth understanding I recommend contacting a qualified lama, monk and/or scholar. That said, I do make effort to stay informed and to share what I have learned with as much care and accuracy as is possible. Like any of the material here on Vajra Vehicle, all errors and/or omissions are mine alone. As mentioned elsewhere, please know I always welcome questions, feedback, critiques, corrections and/or suggestions. I invite you to comment if you are reading this and you have something you would like to share. In fact, this offer stands for all of the posts on this blog. Now, on to some cosmology…
HH Penam Rinpoche
Today, 10 March 2013, is the 5th anniversary of the parinirvana of His Holiness Penam Rinpoche (full name Ngagwang Pedma Namgyal Palzangpo). As I write this note I reflect on the kindness this great lama has shown to me. In a very literal sense it was Penam Rinpoche that led me to the Buddhadharma. I have wrote a bit about this in a previous entry so I will not repeat all the details here except to say that without his influence I may never have come to embrace the Dharma in this life.
I was recently reading materials about meditation and came across a reference to a concept that in some of the Vedic traditions is called ‘Brahmamuhurta’ (Time of Brahma) and in Sikhism is called ‘Amrit Vela’ (Ambrosial Hours). And while this specific idea comes from outside of my own tradition per se (though I know there are rough equivalents, minus some of the details), I found it rather intriguing, saw no conflict with my path and thought there might even be some potential benefits involved. I decided to give it a try.
I just wanted to share a few short videos I found online related to my Lama, Tulku Tashi Gyaltsan Rinpoche.
Buddha Shakyamuni’s 15 Miracles
Today (February 25th) is Chotrul Duchen, the ‘Festival of Miracles’ which is always on the first full moon (the fifteenth day) of the first Tibetan month. It commemorates the fifteen days on which, in order to increase the merit and the devotion of future disciples, Buddha displayed a different miracle each day. It is a very auspicious day, one of only four times in the year where merit is said to be increased 10 million times!
[This is part of an ongoing Lamrim series. All related posts can be found here.]
To honor the copyright holder of the translation of Essence of Ambrosia I am using, I will not simply be typing up all of the instructions from the book verbatim for the contemplations. Rather, I will be including select passages (under fair use) and then summarizing parts of the additional sections. I encourage anyone who wants to follow this Lamrim to 1) find a teacher and 2) buy the book. Yet it is my hope that this series will motivate some to actually engage in the Lamrim practices. These are sutra level meditations, open to all.