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Profound Buddhism: From Hinayana to Vajrayana-Kalu Rinpoche

  • Title: Profound Buddhism: From Hinayana to Vajrayana
  • Author: Kalu Rinpoche
  • Released: 1995-09-01
  • Language:
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 0963037153
  • ISBN13: 978-0963037152
  • ASIN: 0963037153

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About the Author Kalu Rinpoche was born in Eastern Tibet in 1904 and died in 1989. He was one of the first Tibetan masters to teach in the West.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. The Method of Processing Emotions in the Hinayana: Rejecting Them The three teachings that follow give the basic principles that define the three vehicles: the Small Vehicle (Hinayana), the Great Vehicle (mahayana), and the Diamond Vehicle (Vajrayana). The teachings detail the way of processing conflicting emotions in the framework of each of these approaches, and give practical exercises. To follow what is going to be taught, it is necessary to first understand the term emotion that is to say conflicting emotion as it is expressed in Buddhism. It is clear here that the word emotion is used in a sense different from its usual Western meaning. So, for example, the emotion provided by a movie, a poem, or a beautiful landscape is located on a level other than conflicting emotions. In addition, some mental factors categorized as conflicting emotions, like blindness or pride, are indeed not considered emotions in conventional speech. There is no exact equivalent in contemporary French or English of the Sanskrit klesa or the Tibetan nyon mongpa. For these reasons, conflicting or afflicting emotion is not a perfect equivalent, and passion, covering the Buddhist notion of klesa almost precisely in the classic theological language, has a very different meaning today. Because we have no better terminology, we use conflicting emotion as a generic term for desire-attachment, hatred-aversion, blindness (ignorance), possessiveness, jealousy, and pride with all their nuances. To understand what conflicting emotion means in all these teachings, it is necessary to keep in mind the specific use of this term in Buddhism.

In Buddhism there is a division of three vehicles: - the Small Vehicle (Hinayana) - the Great Vehicle (Mahayana) - the Diamond Vehicle (Vajrayana)

The hierarchy established between these different approaches also known as lesser, greater, and superior vehicles, respectively does not refer to economic or social status, but concerns the spiritual capacities of the practitioner, or the greater or lesser breadth of his or her vision.

The Small Vehicle is based on becoming aware of the fact that all we experience in samsara is marked by suffering. Being aware of this engenders the will to rid ourselves of this suffering, to liberate ourselves on an individual level, and to attain happiness. We are moved by our own interest. Renunciation and perseverance allow us to attain our goal. PERSPECTIVES ON THE LIFE OF THE BUDDHA The complete Awakening attained by Shakyamuni Buddha was the result of a long progress unfolding over many lives. At the origin of this path, he took a vow from a Buddha of the past to become Awakened for the benefit of all beings. Then, for numberless kalpas, he practiced the six paramitas, which are the six qualities that allow progress on the path, always keeping in mind the thought of benefiting others. His bodhisattva practice having become infinite, he finally attained full Awakening or Buddhahood. This way of envisaging the spiritual progression of Shakyamuni Buddha corresponds to the vision of the Great Vehicle. For many people, however, it is too vast to be understood. Numerous are the people who perceive it from a Hinayana perspective; it is then shorter and felt in a more personal context. Here, the path of the Buddha is restricted to what is known of his life on Earth, his historical existence.

Born the son of a king in Northern India, the future Buddha received an education reserved for princes. He was brilliant in all the disciplines he approached such as the arts, literature, astrology, sciences, and the chivalric arts. He lived surrounded by female companions, as was customary at the time. With the main one, his spouse, Yashodhara, he had a son.

Entirely occupied by the affairs and pleasures of the court until his thirtieth year, he then became deeply conscious of old age, sickness, and death. This led him to renounce his kingdom and all its privileges, to abandon his court, his family, and his child. Secretly, he left the palace, and went to the forest. As a sign of renunciation, he cut his hair and traded his princely clothes for rags.

From then on, he devoted himself to spiritual practice against the wishes of his father. At the time of his birth, an ascetic had predicted that he would become a king governing the whole Earth or a spiritual master who would help countless beings. The father, in his royal pride, ardently wanted the first of these two destinies fulfilled. To avoid the second alternative, the king had had his son confined to the enclosure of the palace. The exits were watched by guardians night and day.

This precaution did not prevent the prince from moving toward his spiritual destiny. When his decision to leave the court was reached, the gods came to help him. They put the guardians to sleep and caused the prince's chariot, led by a coachman, to fly over the walls. The chariot landed at the site of a stupa, and the prince sent the coachman back to the palace. The prince then cut his own hair in order to take up the life of a wandering monk.

For 6 years, he practiced the meditative absorptions referred to as contaminated absorptions. These are meditative states within samsara, classified on nine levels, and differing from the perfectly pure absorptions, known as noncontaminated by samsara. After six years of asceticism, he went to Bodhgaya, and sitting under the bodhi tree, he engaged his mind in a meditation beyond samsaric states attaining nirvana or Buddhahood.

After experiencing this ultimate realization, he remained absorbed in meditation for several weeks. He believed that he could not teach his discovery, because it was too deep for human beings' understanding. Nevertheless, the great gods of ancient India came and begged him to teach. Brahma presented the Buddha with a gold wheel of a thousand rays and Indra offered a white conch. The Buddha, accepting them, agreed to spread the Dharma.

The first ones to receive his teaching were five monks who had been his companions in asceticism. He met them in the Deer Park at Sarnath, close to Benares, and taught them the Four Noble Truths : - the truth of suffering - the truth of the origin of suffering - the truth of the cessation of suffering - the truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering

He explained what samsara was, what nirvana was, and the way of passing from one to the other.

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