Author Topic: Tulku System  (Read 14941 times)

jessicajameson

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2011, 10:47:44 PM »
Dear DSFriend,

I think I prefer a nation ruled by Buddhist authorities because open Buddhist practice would be encouraged like temples and the Sangha. In nations where Buddhism is not common, it is very hard to practice and temples are few and far in between. Even being a monk or a nun in such a country would be so hard and people would just see you in a strange way or would even find it difficult to accept.

Back to the Tulku system... Tulku is a Tibetan term that literally means 'Emanation Body', which is one of the 3 bodies of a fully enlightened Buddha. This is mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures but the Tibetans brought it one step further by institutionalizing the recognition of such beings. However, not all Tulkus are highly evolved spiritually. These are the Tulkus who spend a few lifetimes in practice and their behaviour can sometimes be wayward if not taught and guided early on. Hence, the monastery search for Tulkus as soon as they are born so they can be trained up. On the other hand, Tulkus that are highly evolved do not need to be trained, they will find their own way to benefit others.

The first official Tulku is Karmapa Lama and he apparently started this institution by prophesying his future incarnations. However, not all Tulku leave behind such traces. The most famous Tulku today of course is the Dalai Lama.


How high in your practice do you have to be to start reincarnating back as a tulku?

Big Uncle

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2011, 04:31:51 PM »
Dear DSFriend,

I think I prefer a nation ruled by Buddhist authorities because open Buddhist practice would be encouraged like temples and the Sangha. In nations where Buddhism is not common, it is very hard to practice and temples are few and far in between. Even being a monk or a nun in such a country would be so hard and people would just see you in a strange way or would even find it difficult to accept.

Back to the Tulku system... Tulku is a Tibetan term that literally means 'Emanation Body', which is one of the 3 bodies of a fully enlightened Buddha. This is mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures but the Tibetans brought it one step further by institutionalizing the recognition of such beings. However, not all Tulkus are highly evolved spiritually. These are the Tulkus who spend a few lifetimes in practice and their behaviour can sometimes be wayward if not taught and guided early on. Hence, the monastery search for Tulkus as soon as they are born so they can be trained up. On the other hand, Tulkus that are highly evolved do not need to be trained, they will find their own way to benefit others.

The first official Tulku is Karmapa Lama and he apparently started this institution by prophesying his future incarnations. However, not all Tulku leave behind such traces. The most famous Tulku today of course is the Dalai Lama.


How high in your practice do you have to be to start reincarnating back as a tulku?

Dear Jessica,

All beings in Samsara reincarnate but unlike the Tulkus who have full control of where they take rebirth, most beings are thrown by their karma to an uncertain rebirth. In the monastery, Tulkus are usually recognised if a particular teacher had been beneficial had passed away and have not had an incarnation line. Usually, the students of the teacher will seek his incarnation through traditional means. Another way is if one had held the office of an Abbot or an even higher office within the monastic institution (ie Shartse or Jangtse Choje or even Gaden Tri Rinpoche). However, there are many practitioners in their previous lives that held their vows sincerely, studied and meditated so they have reincarnated near the Dharma at a very young age. They retain Dharma knowledge easily and they seem to continue where they have left off. They don't have control of where they take rebirth but their sincere practice that is coupled with their aspirations propel them to a favorable rebirth. I think this is what most of us can hope to achieve and Dorje Shugden's practice is particularly supreme if we sincerely rely on him as one with our Lama, he can take us to a good rebirth. I think, I have answered your question in a roundabout fashion...
 

jessicajameson

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2011, 12:07:20 AM »
Yeah, you have actually! Thanks :) Hope you don't mind, but I'm putting this up on my Facebook to share with others!

I have also heard about tulku syndrome, where apparently if a young tulku is not nurtured up in a 'proper' fashion - he/she can go a little wayward. Is this true? A little dangerous it is then - to practice so hard in this life, enter your next life with the possibility of being something great - but without the right conditions, you go completely off!

Karma is really, really complex. If only it was as easy as e=mc²!


DSFriend

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2011, 05:27:35 PM »
Yeah, you have actually! Thanks :) Hope you don't mind, but I'm putting this up on my Facebook to share with others!

I have also heard about tulku syndrome, where apparently if a young tulku is not nurtured up in a 'proper' fashion - he/she can go a little wayward. Is this true? A little dangerous it is then - to practice so hard in this life, enter your next life with the possibility of being something great - but without the right conditions, you go completely off!

Karma is really, really complex. If only it was as easy as e=mc²!



Dear jessicajameson
I have the similar question regarding tulku syndrome... I haven't quite found an answer to understand this phenomena.

Logically, wouldn't a being who have practiced, and gotten some attainments in a previous life/lives to be more stable in the next life compared to someone who hasn't really done so but took on another rebirth as a human being purely by the force of karma.

It is said that we all have had countless lifetimes, with countless karmic seeds and imprints which will open when the conditions are right. With this, wouldn't someone who have practiced have a higher chance of continuing on the path? With the absence or lack of early, proper nurturing, what is it that triggers off the syndrome for the tulku to be wayward...

Big Uncle

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2011, 12:42:54 AM »
I think Tulkus that go wayward are necessarily unattained Tulkus that have been recognized. This is because their practice have been a relatively short several lifetimes. On the other hand, high-attained Tulkus would go through whatever is necessary to practice the Dharma and benefit others. In other words, they will find their own way towards the Dharma, no matter the obstacles. Their Dharma imprints go much further and go back many incarnations.

I think it is necessary to practice the Dharma and understand and realise it deeply because it will affect our immediate  next incarnations. Purifying our mind today and gaining realisations will be brought to our next life. Actually, how sincere we practice the Dharma today will determine how soon and how deep we practice the Dharma in our next life.

Vajraprotector

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2011, 08:18:53 PM »
Thank you Big Uncle for sharing your answers.

Lately, with the talk about Dalai Lama going to retire etc (and in the future of his parinirvana  :( ), I wonder how much faith people will have in the Tulku system in the near future.

Currently, there are already dispute about the recognition of "real" Tulkus, and some of them involved:
a) those recognised by the Dalai Lama
b) those who are NOT recognised by the Dalai Lama

Is it necessary for a Tulku to be recognised by the Dalai Lama? Is that based on Dalai Lama as the head of state, or Dalai Lama as a spiritual head, or Dalai Lama because he is a religious authority (high lama)?

Big Uncle

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2011, 04:49:45 PM »
Thank you Big Uncle for sharing your answers.

Lately, with the talk about Dalai Lama going to retire etc (and in the future of his parinirvana  :( ), I wonder how much faith people will have in the Tulku system in the near future.

Currently, there are already dispute about the recognition of "real" Tulkus, and some of them involved:
a) those recognised by the Dalai Lama
b) those who are NOT recognised by the Dalai Lama

Is it necessary for a Tulku to be recognised by the Dalai Lama? Is that based on Dalai Lama as the head of state, or Dalai Lama as a spiritual head, or Dalai Lama because he is a religious authority (high lama)?

Oh, I have no worries about people having faith in the Tulkus because ultimately, it is the real Tulkus that will manifest their awakened activities for the benefit of sentient beings. What I mean is that the results of their actions will make people have faith in them. Some Tulkus may even manifest 'waywardness' like (with due respect) the Dalai Lama with this Dorje Shugden ban and Lama Osel disrobing and living away from his students. But I think, they have a higher reason and that things will unravel and it will benefit many! In fact, previous Dalai Lamas have been controversial before but the results of what they did brought tremendous waves of benefits. So don't be too quick to jump to conclusions...


DSFriend

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2011, 11:02:27 AM »
Good point you made Big Uncle. And I agree that the previous Dalai Lamas manifests very controversial actions....many of which would not have been accepted today I'd think.

Vajraprotector

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2011, 09:07:43 PM »
Just to share some interesting extracts I read from The Dance of 17 Lives: The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa (By Mick Brown)

1. While theoretically the designation tulku would suggest that someone had been recognised as the direct incarnation of a specific person, in fact this description applied only to a relatively small number of high incarnates, those who were acknowledged to have attained the highest bhumis, or stages of awakening…

2. In yet other cases, a child who was discerned to have particularly promising qualities might be named as a tulku simply to fulfil a certain religious or social position – to give them a role to live up to, as it were...

3. The tulku system was highly elitist. The recognition procedure was essentially a secret one, the system trusting to the wisdom and judgement of the lamas who were making the choice. Yet the validity of the newly recognised incarnate ultimately depended on public approval. Rumours would quickly spread about the signs and wonders that had attended the birth of a special child, the reputation of the family as spiritual practitioners, and also of the lama who had made the recognistion. And a tulku’s authority ultimately depended on his spiritual practice.

4. Someone who failed to fulfil his potential, and who showed himself to be greedy, self-serving, venal or corrupt would quickly lose his standing. Once discovered, the young tulku would usually be given up by his family to the care of the monastery to which, it was believed, he had originally belonged. In a culture in which tulkus were venerated above all others, to have one’s son so recognised was regarded as a great honour, and it was rare for a family to raise any objections to their child being taken from them…

buddhalovely

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2012, 02:37:40 PM »
The Tulku (sprul sku) system has been an extremely important aspect of Tibetan society and Tibetan religious life for many centuries, and continues to this day to capture the imagination of people around the world. It is unique to Tibet, and to those cultures whose development has been influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, including Mongolia and the Himalayan states. While the notion of rebirth or reincarnation is found throughout the Buddhist world, nowhere else do we find this particular practice—of identifying young children as the rebirths of religious teachers and leaders who have recently passed away, and then installing them in their place—developed as thoroughly and as systematically as in Tibet.

The symposium is intended to provide an opportunity for in-depth exploration and discussion of the Tulku system, with the three tulkus attending offering an insider’s perspective on this extraordinary historical phenomenon.  While the Tulku system can be considered from any number of aspects—historical, social, religious, political, psychological, educational, and so on—each participant will be addressing those features that he considers most important and interesting, while reflecting on his own experience.

The three Tulkus attending will first speak for 20-30 minutes each on their own experience of being a tulku and/or their current thinking about the Tulku System, its past, and the challenges which now face it.   After a short break we will then move to a roundtable discussion of the issues, moderated by Professor Donald Lopez (University of Michigan) and bringing in Professor Paul Harrison and Mr Tenzin Tethong (Stanford University).  There will be some time for the audience to ask questions at the end.

Midakpa

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #25 on: June 09, 2012, 04:02:29 PM »
Tulku or nirmanakaya is the form body (rupakaya) of the Buddha, the form that can be seen by ordinary beings. It is also refered to as the transformation or physical body of the Buddha that appears in the human realm in order to benefit sentient beings.

In Tibet, there are three systems or types of lineage through which the authority or charisma are transmitted from a former to the present holder. These are: the traditional lineage, the biological lineage and the lineage of reincarnation. The tulku system belongs to the third lineage.

In the traditional system, the lineage is based on transmittance of the teaching from master to selected disciple. This is the intellectual lineage. In the biological lineage, the charisma is passed from generation to generation in a meritorious family whose members had obtained, through special sutras, a unique link to enlightenment.  The third and most important lineage is derived from the basic Buddhist idea of rebirth - the concept of the reincarnation of the same being in a new body, discovered in a child born at the right time and recognized by leading lamas or Dharma Protectors through oracles. This system is based on the concept of bodhisattvas, enlightened beings who voluntarily take rebirth out of compassion in order to help sentient beings to be liberated from suffering and cyclic existence.

Can the tulku system survive in the modern world? One still has to rely on traditional methods to recognize a tulku. I think it will last as long as there are great enlightened masters and authentic oracles who, with their omniscient powers, can recognize a real reincarnation. Personally, I hope it will continue because we need the enlightened beings to assist us in our journey to enlightenment.

dsiluvu

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #26 on: June 15, 2012, 06:43:55 PM »
Can the tulku system survive in the modern world? One still has to rely on traditional methods to recognize a tulku. I think it will last as long as there are great enlightened masters and authentic oracles who, with their omniscient powers, can recognize a real reincarnation. Personally, I hope it will continue because we need the enlightened beings to assist us in our journey to enlightenment.


I think sure it can and I think it is good to preserved such tradition because it does help and gives us proof that there are attained beings who can control their death and rebirth and come back to benefit others. It gives us some kind of conviction and hope. It is proof of the authenticity of reincarnation. How they do it is not our problem or we as lay people to judge unless we're attained also.

They could even be like Mahasiddhas that manifest in unconventional ways, like a drunken man, a beggar like Naropa and Tilopa's story but they are actually enlightened beings!

I especially love the stories highlighted here in this website on Enlightened masters http://dorjeshugden.com/wp/?cat=1024

Hence I think yea... the Tulku system is relevant and as we degenerate more and more, this would help people gain some confidence, but it should not be the main focus when one seeks a spiritual guide.

bambi

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #27 on: June 16, 2012, 06:11:25 AM »
I watched this interesting short video
TULKU - official trailer
of how Tulkus are being recognized in the west and how many of them are enthroned but they rather lead a secular life. 1 of them is Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's son. They actually made a movie out of it - TULKU. But this does not mean that they are not benefitting nor taking advantages of their enthronement. Even way back during the 5th Dalai Lama's time there was a controversy.

The recognition of tulkus has sometimes involved ambiguity as well as controversy. According to Tibetan historian Samten Gyaltsen Karmay, Lobsang Gyatso, the 5th Dalai Lama, wrote in his autobiography:
The official Tsawa Kachu of the Ganden Palace showed me statues and rosaries (that belonged to the Fourth Dalai Lama and other lamas), but I was unable to distinguish between them! When he left the room I heard him tell the people outside that I had successfully passed the tests. Later, when he became my tutor, he would often admonish me and say: "You must work hard, since you were unable to recognize the objects!"

In the 2009 documentary film Tulku, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche argues against the institutionalized Tulku system stating,
And now, I personally think that to hold that culture, institutionalized Tulku. That culture is dying; it’s not going to work anymore. And even if it… And if it doesn’t work, I think it’s almost for the better because this tulku, it’s going to… If the Tibetans are not careful, this Tulku system is going to ruin Buddhism. At the end of the day Buddhism is more important [than] Tulku system, who cares about Tulku... [and] what happens to them.

The American film actor Steven Seagal, while already an adult, was recognized by Penor Rinpoche, the head of the Nyingma school, as the reincarnation of a 17th century tertön from eastern Tibet, Chungdrag Dorje. Penor Rinpoche notes that "such recognition does not mean that one is already a realized teacher"; Seagal has not been enthroned and has not undergone the extensive program of training and study that is customary for a tulku.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulku

Big Uncle

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #28 on: June 16, 2012, 02:53:28 PM »
I am sorry, I watched the Tulku movie as well and when the credits rolled, I was left with more doubts in Tulkus than before I watched the movie. There are a lot of Tulkus raised in the west featured in the movie and I just don't see how they are manifesting their previous lives work.

It is quite obvious that they are not of the highest calibre because  none of them are resuming their previous lives' work. One of the Tulkus went to the extent of saying that he is not Buddhist and he is only in the monastery to give blessings to the monks because it make them happy. How disgusting! Even the main Tulku featured (who is also the director) kept asking questions and never really having any solid answers.

The key moment in the movie is when the director met Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche who gave a talk to the camera and spoke about the destruction of Buddhism at the hands of Tulkus. If we are looking at the few Tulkus featured, I think Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is right. It is really obvious that these Tulkus lack someone to guide them and some to put them under lots of retreats to reawaken memories and virtuous seeds from previous lives.

There is not a single Gelug tulku featured but we have our fair share of wayward western Tulkus as well. However, for the Gelug tradition, it is a tradition beset with broken samayas due to the ban and its effects. Many students have abandoned practices that are at the core of the tradition. Hence, contributing reasons are many but the main reasons are guidance. We can't really judge Tulkus because they could be manifesting something to bring about a certain benefit later. But these are just my observations so far.

Ensapa

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Re: Tulku System
« Reply #29 on: June 22, 2012, 05:55:51 AM »
I am sorry, I watched the Tulku movie as well and when the credits rolled, I was left with more doubts in Tulkus than before I watched the movie. There are a lot of Tulkus raised in the west featured in the movie and I just don't see how they are manifesting their previous lives work.

It is quite obvious that they are not of the highest calibre because  none of them are resuming their previous lives' work. One of the Tulkus went to the extent of saying that he is not Buddhist and he is only in the monastery to give blessings to the monks because it make them happy. How disgusting! Even the main Tulku featured (who is also the director) kept asking questions and never really having any solid answers.

The key moment in the movie is when the director met Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche who gave a talk to the camera and spoke about the destruction of Buddhism at the hands of Tulkus. If we are looking at the few Tulkus featured, I think Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is right. It is really obvious that these Tulkus lack someone to guide them and some to put them under lots of retreats to reawaken memories and virtuous seeds from previous lives.

There is not a single Gelug tulku featured but we have our fair share of wayward western Tulkus as well. However, for the Gelug tradition, it is a tradition beset with broken samayas due to the ban and its effects. Many students have abandoned practices that are at the core of the tradition. Hence, contributing reasons are many but the main reasons are guidance. We can't really judge Tulkus because they could be manifesting something to bring about a certain benefit later. But these are just my observations so far.

There are many different levels of tulkus. Some tulkus are high because they have the determination to do what they are supposed to do despite the problems and obstacles surmounting them, while some tulkus are recognized and enthroned but do nothing much to promote the Dharma or to relieve others of their suffering, or only do so at a very small scale.

I personally know a person who was actually recognized by the Dalai Lama himself, monks were sent from the monastery to invite him to return with robes that were blessed by the Dalai Lama himself but he turned it down. Instead, he is part of an environmental group in his country. I did ask him why did he turn it down, he said that he wished to benefit people other than giving them the Dharma but after a few exchanges, I realize that he was more attached to his current lifestyle of being a lay person and having 'freedom' to pursue certain pleasures that a monastic is not allowed to, as he shows very little Dharmic imprints. He was also jealous of someone else that was younger than him that was actually operating a center and said many nasty things about that person but with the expression of fake shock. That to me, made me realize that low level tulkus can easily degenerate to being just an ordinary person if not trained. I was actually quite disappointed that he said those things. For someone who was granted the HYT initiations and who can perform fire pujas and chod without having to go through the preliminaries to doing and saying things like these i was just very shocked. I stopped talking to him after that as I do not wish to associate myself with someone of this nature.

anyway, from what I have heard although I cannot confirm, degenerate tulkus are very dangerous to go near as their energy can easily bring us down as it is a huge culmination of broken samaya and deception. Can anyone confirm this?