Author Topic: Tulku System  (Read 15606 times)

Vajraprotector

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 610
Re: Tulku System
« Reply #30 on: October 14, 2012, 01:10:11 PM »
I was reading about HH Penor Rinpoche on the other board, and remember a relevant piece about Penor Rinpoche's statement about Steven Seagal. I feel it is very informative about the difference between recognising a Tulku and enthroning one, so I wish to share it here.  I respect HH Penor Rinpoche more and more after hearing about his help to Shugden monks despite the Tibetan political situation. From his statement below, I also learnt quite a lot about the Tulku system, especially between recognition and enthronement.

Statement by H.H. Penor Rinpoche Regarding the Recognition of Steven Seagal as a Reincarnation of the Treasure Revealer Chungdrag Dorje of Palyul Monastery

In February of 1997 I recognized my student, Steven Seagal, as a reincarnation (tulku) of the treasure revealer Chungdrag Dorje. Since there has been some confusion and uncertainty as to what this means, I am writing to clarify this situation.

Traditionally a tulku is considered to be a reincarnation of a Buddhist master who, out of his or her compassion for the suffering of sentient beings, has vowed to take rebirth to help all beings attain enlightenment. To fulfill this aspiration, a tulku will generally need to go through the complete process of recognition, enthronement and training.

Formal recognition generally occurs soon after a tulku has been identified, but only after other important lineage masters have been consulted. The newly identified tulku does not take on any formal responsibilities at the time of recognition.

The next step of enthronement may or may not occur for a tulku, depending on the circumstances. Enthronement formally invests the tulku with the responsibility of furthering the activities associated with their particular tulku lineage. Thus, if there are specific teachings and practice traditions associated with their lineage, and if there are perhaps monks, nuns, monasteries, retreat centers, lay communities and so forth for which the tulku traditionally takes responsibility, then the tulku is formally vested with those responsibilities at the time of enthronement. In the event that an enthronement ceremony is conducted, it may take place soon after recognition or some years later. If the tulku is too young to assume their responsibilities upon enthronement, others may be entrusted to take on those responsibilities until the tulku is ready.

Finally, a tulku needs to complete a formal course of training which includes years of study and meditation. This training reawakens the tulku's powers of insight and compassion and develops their skillful means for helping others. It is only after such training that a tulku is ready to take on the role of a teacher.

In the case of Steven Seagal, he has been formally recognized as a tulku, but has not been officially enthroned. He has also not undergone the lengthy process of study and practice necessary to fully realize what I view as his potential for helping others. When I first met him, I felt he had the special qualities of a tulku within him. According to the Great Vehicle (Mahayana) of the Buddhist tradition, all beings have within them the potential for becoming Buddhas. With Steven Seagal I perceived this potential to be particularly strong as accords with being a tulku. In the past, whenever I have met someone that I feel is a tulku, I have always consulted with other masters of the Nyingma lineage such as Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and other senior lineage holders. Similarly, after my experience of meeting Steven Seagal, I consulted with another important Nyingma master and with his concurrence, recognized Steven Seagal as a tulku.

With regard to the particular circumstances of Steven Seagal's recognition, while it is generally the case that tulkus are recognized young in life, this is not always so. For example, the great master Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö remained unrecognized for many years while he was an ordained monk at Kathok Monastery. He was over 30 years old, perhaps 35, and had completed his monastic education when he was recognized and enthroned as the first reincarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Wangpo. In his case, he had devoted his life to study and practice and was thus prepared for taking on the full responsibilities of being a tulku at the time of his recognition.

Prior to my recognition of Steven Seagal I myself recognized another tulku late in his life. Kalsang Yeshe Rinpoche, a monk originally from the Palyul branch monastery of Shibo in Tibet and later at Namdroling Monastery in India, was recognized and enthroned in 1983 at the age of 51. He too had spent his life studying Buddhism and meditating before he was recognized as a tulku. Because he had cultivated his potential through many years of diligent study and meditation, he was able to become a teacher and is currently the head of our Palyul Center in Singapore. So, in short, in the Tibetan tradition there is nothing unusual about recognizing a tulku late in their life. In fact, the recognition of a tulku who has been born in the West is especially likely to occur later in their lifetime because it will generally take much longer for all the conditions that are necessary for such a recognition to come together.

Steven Seagal has been recognized as a reincarnation of the 17th century hidden treasure revealer (tertön) Chungdrag Dorje (khyung brag rdo rje) of Palyul Monastery. Chungdrag Dorje founded a small monastery called Gegön Gompa near his native village of Phene in the Kutse area of Derge in Eastern Tibet. Though there are no monks there now, the small monastery building still exists and is well known in the area for its beautiful religious wall paintings.

As a tertön, Chungdrag Dorje rediscovered teachings and sacred objects hidden by Padmasambhava in the eighth century. Such treasures (terma) were concealed with the intention that they would be discovered and revealed at a later date when the circumstances were such that they would be of particular benefit to sentient beings. Texts of the teachings discovered by Chungdrag Dorje have apparently not survived the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Sacred objects discovered by Chungdrag Dorje include an unusually shaped bell, a phurba (ritual dagger), the syllable 'A' carved in stone and pigments used to create the sacred wall paintings in his monastery mentioned above. Several of these objects have been preserved and are still kept at Palyul Monastery today.

In the Nyingma tradition it is said that there are a hundred main treasure revealers and an even greater number of secondary treasure revealers. Among the latter it is not uncommon for the line of their teachings to eventually lapse. Though they were beneficial during the time they flourished, for various reasons some tertön teaching lineages have ceased. This would seem to be the case with Chungdrag Dorje.

Now with regard to Steven Seagal, he was born centuries after the death of Chungdrag Dorje. It is not uncommon for there to be a lengthy span of time between the death of a master and the appearance of his or her subsequent reincarnation. My own tulku lineage is an example of this. There was a 130 years hiatus between the death of the First Pema Norbu in 1757 and the birth of the Second Pema Norbu in 1887. This is common in all the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. As for how these gaps come about, while tulkus are understood to have vowed to be continually reborn to help beings, it is not necessary for them to take rebirth in a continuous sequence of lives in this world. It is believed that they can be reborn in other world systems where they continue their compassionate activities, returning only later to this world system. This is how such lapses in tulku lineages are understood in Tibet.

As for Steven Seagal's movie career, my concern is with the qualities I experienced within him which relate to his potential for benefiting others and not with the conventional details of his life which are wholly secondary. Some people think that because Steven Seagal is always acting in violent movies, how can he be a true Buddhist? Such movies are for temporary entertainment and do not relate to what is real and important. It is the view of the Great Vehicle of Buddhism that compassionate beings take rebirth in all walks of life to help others. Any life condition can be used to serve beings and thus, from this point of view, it is possible to be both a popular movie star and a tulku. There is no inherent contradiction in this possibility.

As the head of the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma School and more recently as the Head of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, I have had the responsibility of recognizing numerous tulkus. The first time I recognized a tulku, I was ten years old. This tulku was the incarnation of the great Khenpo Ngaga. He is still living in Eastern Tibet and continues to strive, to this day, to promote the welfare of others. Since that time until now I have recognized over one hundred tulkus. In addition I have overseen the training and enthronement of over thirty khenpos (learned scholars) and I am responsible for the welfare of the many thousands of monks belonging to the Palyul tradition. My concern in seeking to nurture these tulkus, khenpos, monks, as well as sincere lay people, has been to benefit all sentient beings. It is out of this intention that I have recognized tulkus in the past and will continue to recognize them in the future as appropriate.

In the case of my student Steven Seagal, I initiated the decision to recognize him as a tulku based on my own feelings about him. Neither I nor any of my monasteries have received or sought any sort of substantial donation from him. What is important to me are the qualities I have seen in my student. For this reason I feel confident that recognizing him as a tulku will be of benefit to others as well as to the Buddha dharma.

Whenever there is a new incarnation born or recognized, I personally feel very happy because it is like you have one more brother or sister. I take delight in such occasions as they seek to further compassionate activity for others. Being recognized as a tulku is an acknowledgment of one's potential to help others. Such recognition does not mean that one is already a realized teacher. The degree to which tulkus have been able to actualize and utilize their potential depends upon how they have been able to use their past circumstances and how they currently use their present circumstances to develop their potential. Each tulku must work to develop themselves to the best of their ability. The essential point is that a tulku should strive to help others in whatever life situation they find themselves. It is out of such an aspiration to help all sentient beings that I have recognized many tulkus in my life and it is with this motivation that I recognized Steven Seagal as a tulku. If all beings seek to have this motivation, what need will there be for controversies and confusion over the motivations of others?


From: http://www.palyul.org/docs/statement.html

DSFriend

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 955
Re: Tulku System
« Reply #31 on: October 14, 2012, 02:37:20 PM »
 Lately, I've been thinking a fair bit about this topic again. I'm still searching for answers regarding tulku syndrome and so far, I've settled with the logic that this wayward behaviour happened in a more drastic way compared to "non-tulkus" similar to when we engage in purification practices, how we experience negativities arising in our mind as it is in "induced to ripen". So in a way, these tulkus needed conducive environment at a young age as their good seeds and bad seeds are ready to ripen quickly and when not kept clean, the bad seeds ripens and manifests as wayward behaviors.

On the other hand, I think it's beneficial to NOT recognize the individual as a tulku if it these "low level" incarnations do not show befitting qualities. It only boost their egos if the motivation is not selflessly driven and it gives a bad name to tulkus in general. I suppose that's where the skillfulness of the lamas comes into play, to reveal or not to reveal such information.

Tammy

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 319
Re: Tulku System
« Reply #32 on: October 14, 2012, 03:33:35 PM »
Recently I saw a documentary about Tulku system in Butan. Their government had just past a law requiring each Tulku to be recognized and 'approved' by a special council. The reason for this - too many Tulkus has been recognized by the normal procedures. And many people tried very hard to have their sons recognized as Tulku for financial gains and advancement in social status.

It is sad the Butan government had to resolve to this to make sure that the system of recognizing Tulkus are not
being abused and misused.

What else would people do to fulfill their selfishness and attachments ??
Down with the BAN!!!

Benny

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Tulku System
« Reply #33 on: October 14, 2012, 06:01:29 PM »
Thank you Vajraprotector for sharing this article , it is very informative and interesting. I have read a long time ago, some where before that Steven Seagal was a Rinpoche , and i dont know if it was Penor Rinpoche who recognized him. I also watched the documentary about Bhutan's dilemma or controversy about there being too many families vying to have their individual sons recognized as Tulkus for various material gains.

It is sad to see how people of this day and age being blinded by the eight worldly concerns corrupting what has been a very sacred and sanctified tradition. As with everything else, it is not the religion , tradition or belief that is the problem but mankind.

The solution is very simple, stop glorifying the Tulkus. It is not what they have done before that matters , it is the present and future that we should be concerned with. Yes , it is indeed worthy of rejoicing that an "attained" being had made such compassionate decisions to return again to benefit us all, BUT this same being can whether through his own choosing or not decide NOT to continue, that is a real possibility ! So what is the big hoo haa ? Countless monks do " fall " to the lower realms due to transgressions of the laws of karma as stated in the Lamrin .

What we should take to heart is what His Holiness Penor Rinpoche has reminded us here , it is our motivation. This paragraph by His Holiness sums it up :

"Whenever there is a new incarnation born or recognized, I personally feel very happy because it is like you have one more brother or sister. I take delight in such occasions as they seek to further compassionate activity for others. Being recognized as a tulku is an acknowledgment of one's potential to help others. Such recognition does not mean that one is already a realized teacher. The degree to which tulkus have been able to actualize and utilize their potential depends upon how they have been able to use their past circumstances and how they currently use their present circumstances to develop their potential. Each tulku must work to develop themselves to the best of their ability. The essential point is that a tulku should strive to help others in whatever life situation they find themselves. It is out of such an aspiration to help all sentient beings that I have recognized many tulkus in my life and it is with this motivation that I recognized Steven Seagal as a tulku. If all beings seek to have this motivation, what need will there be for controversies and confusion over the motivations of others? "

Rihanna

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 461
Re: Tulku System
« Reply #34 on: November 13, 2012, 05:07:56 AM »
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.


[ I recently read this article below about Gomo Tulku who was recognised by HHDL at the age of three but at 23, he swapped his robes for the worldly trappings of hip-hop. Would you explain this to be also like what you wrote: "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!"

Read More http://www.details.com/culture-trends/critical-eye/201208/leaving-om-new-buddhist-lifestyle#ixzz2C4l07FJv]

Dondrup Shugden

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 896
Re: Tulku System
« Reply #35 on: February 27, 2015, 04:58:56 PM »
Very interesting to read this article and understand the Tulku System.  I like to think that the Tulku system is valid and that it gives us hope in the current previous life that there are incarnation of highly attained beings who can be our Guru and lead us on the path of spiritual success.

lotus1

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 557
Re: Tulku System
« Reply #36 on: March 01, 2015, 06:57:41 PM »
Thanks all that I have more understanding on the tulku system especially the sharing from beggar. The tulku system is not superstitious or blind faith as it is following a very systematically way of checking and with facts and proves.

Quote
I can understand why people may have doubts in the system. The modern day mind is very skeptical, and want scientific proof for everything that they are presented. In a way, perhaps, it is good that people want to check things out and not accept things on blind faith. (There is a fine line between wanting to check things out and question for the purposes of learning, and wanting to question just for the sake of being argumentative, which can become very disrespectful)

This is also why the tulku system isn't something that is arbitrarily decided on but also follows a very systematic way of checking. Normally, a tulku is not identified just by one random person but undergoes a series of very stringent "tests", and his status is questioned, checked and ascertained by divination done only by the highest masters.

I think the surest sign of the fact that tulkus exist is by the actions of each lifetime itself. They don't need to be identified and recognised to continue doing great things in "this" life. Often, their actions eventually begin to match everything they were known to have accomplished in their previous lives and they continue to benefit others in everything that they do. Many tulkus, in fact, are so humble as to not even talk about the fact that they are tulkus. Often, they will deny remembering anything of their previous lives. Instead, they concentrate on the present life, they will often tell you that it is more important to focus on what they are doing right now. And sure enough, what they are doing right now mirrors (or exceeds) what they were doing in previous lives. To me this signals that, whether tulku or not, these are very great beings indeed.

For me, the tulku system has strengthened my faith on the enlightened Guru and lineage lamas as well as reincarnation. It is also showing me how inspiring and compassionate of Buddha that keep coming back to bring Dharma to others.