Articles by alphabetic order
 Ā Ī Ñ Ś Ū Ö Ō
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

Tibetan Plagiarism, Sectarianism, Monastic Politics

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
5c7f1 20b5.jpg

Notes from Jamgon Kongtrul's Retreat Manual by Jamgon Kongtrul translated by Ngawang Zangpo ISBN: 9781559390293


Jamgon Kongtrul writes on Page 42 of his Retreat Manual....."I borrowed from the works of others to compose whatever treatises were appropriate."

Translator note....."Plagiarism was and is rife in Tibetan scholarship, where it seems to be looked upon favorably as indicative of an author's respect for great masters. Ths comment by Kongtrul was probably written in a spirit of humility rather than as an admission of wrong-doing."


"Since the second propagation on the Buddist doctrine in Tibet, in which teachings of non-Indian origin were dismissed, the ancient Nyingma teachings had been severely suppressed. Therefore the teachings of the Dzogchen system traditions received the greater attention of the three great Rimay masters." ( 28)..."

Jamgon Kongtrul Page 31 of his Retreat Manual...."Kongtrul is known as one of the foremast masters of the non-sectarian view, however he makes it clear in his autobiography that he did not arrive at this perspective without first experiencing a regrettable bout of sectarianism."

Monastic Politics....

Jamgon Kongtrul Page 34 of his Retreat Manual......"in order that Jamgon Kongtrul might remain at Palpung Monastery he was "recognized" as a reincarnation of a past master of the monastery...a monastery could be asked at any time to send any promising monk to serve in a monastic or political institution high up in the heirarchial ladder. An exception was made in the case of incarnate masters of the monastery....Palpung used that loophole to protect Kongtrul against bureaucratic headhunters from Dergay, the capital...he was re-named Kongtrul after Kongpo Vamteng Trulku....after he received the name "Kongtrul" he never once used it when signing any of his works....he refers to himself as "Jamgon Lama".


"The work of Shenrap still exists in Tibet in the form of 400 volumes, but it has undergone heavy Buddhist editing." (Trungpa: 220)


"Yet there is the danger of taking hold of Dharma wrongly. If this danger is not avoided and one's approach to Dharma is faulty, 'Dharma' becomes a cause of harm instead of benefit. This is not the intent of the Enlightened Ones nor of those masters who have entrusted it to us....Recognise and avoid this danger: it is called 'narrow-mindedness'. It manifests in sangha circles in the form of sectarianism: an attitude of partiality, a tendency to form deluded attachments to ones own order and to reject other schools of Buddhism as inferior. I have seen this narrow-minded spirit detract from Buddhism in my own land of Tibet and, during the past 20 years of my stay in America, I have also seen it grow among the many Dharma centers founded here by Tibetan teachers and their disciples. It is always with sorrow that I observe sectarianism take root among Dharma centers. It is my karma, as a representative of Buddhism and as a Tibetan, to have the opportunity and responsibility to speak out, when asked, against this 'inner foe'. It was common in Tibet for the least spiritually developed adherents of each of the four great orders to nurture this spirit of sectarianism. Often monks and lay disciples of one order would refuse to attend the services of other orders. Monks would refuse to study or read the literature of others simply because they were the writings of masters who belonged to another lineage - -- no matter how good the literature might be.

The great Nyingma order - - - the Order of the Ancient Ones - - -has its own special pride. Some of its followers feel that, as members of the earliest school, they have profound doctrines unknown to the later schools of Tibetan Buddhism. They maintain that somehow their doctrine of 'Great Perfection, is superior to the 'Mahamudra' perception of ultimate reality. They make this claim even though, by logic and the teachings of the Buddha Himself, we know it is not possible that there could be any difference in the realization of ultimate reality. They also claim that theirs is a superior path endowed with secret teachings and levels of Dharma unknown to the other schools.

The Gelugpa school, founded by the great Tsongkhapa, has its proud adherents, too. They think they are sole guardians of the teachings that were transmitted into Tibet by the great pundit Atisha, even though these are available and commonly practiced in the other orders. They have pride in proclaiming a superiority in moral conduct. They feel their observance of monastic discipline and their custom of devoting many years to study before finally turning to the practice of meditation constitute a superior approach to Vajrayana practice. They consider themselves to be superior both in deportment and in learning.

Certain followers of the Sakya order also have their conceit about learning. They believe that only their school understands and preserves the profound teachings that were introduced into Tibet from Buddhist India. It is common for these Sakya scholars to look down on the practitioners of other orders, thinking that other Tibetan Buddhists are ignorant practitioners whose practice is not supported by right understanding of the Dharma's true meaning.

Some Kagyu adherents have their own special pride. They claim that their lineage of masters is so superior that they themselves should be considered superior --- as heirs of Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa and Dagpo. These masters, it is true, were very great but it does not necessarily follow that one who claims to be an adherent of their tradition is also great. The greatness of these masters depends upon their realization. Blind allegiance to these masters cannot make Kagyu practitioners superior. All of these are attitudes commonly found among Tibetan Buddhist monks and lay people. They may be common attitudes but they are not Buddhist attitudes. The great Kagyu master and Ris-med proponent, Kongtrul Rinpoche, stated that a wise person will have faith in the teachings of all orders, will love the Dharma found in each just as a mother cherishes all her children. A wise person's mind is vast like the sky, with room for many teachings, many insights, many meditations. But the mind of an ignorant sectarian is limited, tight, and narrow like a vase that can only hold so much. It is difficult for such a mind to grow in Dharma because of its self-imposed limitations. The difference between the wise Buddhist and the sectarian Buddhist is like that between the vastness of space and the narrowness of a vase. These are the words of Kongtrul Rinpoche: The great sage of the Sakya Order, Sapan wrote in his Three Vows that, in his youth, he studied extensively the literature of all the orders of Tibet, under different masters. He made special efforts to learn, understand, and realize the doctrines of these different schools and never despised any of them. He cherished them all. Long-chen Rab-jampa, the great scholar of the Nyingma Order, practiced similarly. He received transmission of Dharma from masters of all four orders without discrimination. From the biography of the great Tsongkhapa, we learn that he, too, studied extensively under masters of all orders. The great Khyentse Wangpo, foremost teacher of the Ris-med, or non-sectarian movement, wrote in his autobiography that in his youth he had studied under one hundred and fifty masters of all the four orders of Tibetan Buddhism. Kongtrul Rinpoche, another Ris-med master, included all the essential doctrines of each of the four orders, as well as of the minor subsects, in his great masterpiece, The Treasure of Doctrine.

771 AD.....After Trisong Detsen proclaimed Buddhism the official religion of Tibet in 771 CE a great wave of resentment against foreigners swept the Tibetan religious aristocracy. Dr. Guenther suggests that Padmasambhava was caught up in this and the rejection of Chinese Chan Buddhism, with which Dzogchen has some similarity, and that this was the reason for Padmasambhava’s rather precipitous departure from the country prior to the completion of Samye in 775 CE, along with many other foreigners. He is reputed to have travelled to Bhutan, after which he is lost to history.