I know this topic is over a year old at the time of my post. However, there are some sentiments here that seem a little incomplete, in regards to the legitimacy of Mahayana and Vajrayana views and practices of Tibetan Buddhism (and others, I might add, such as Zen Buddhism). If you want to know about the integrity of the Tibetan Buddhist schools, just take a look at the Dalai Lama. Go and google some things about him, his life, and his outlook. All schools in Tibetan Buddhism look to him as their center. The underpinnings of Tibetan Buddhism is, fundamentally and intrinsically, the Four Noble Truths and all primary Sutras taught by the Buddha. Yes, all 84,000 teachings are included in the core text of every Monastery. Along side the original teachings is another set of texts - the commentaries on the originals. Along side these are works by major Indian masters, who developed Buddhist work after Buddha's Paranirvana and before Buddhism was taken into Tibet. Scholars such as Atisha, and Shantideva, Naropa and Tilopa (to name a few). Nalanda was a great university in India. Many, many great scholars and practitioners learned and taught there, from all over the planet. If you want to look at Tibetan Buddhism and where it came from, you need to look at Nalanda: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalanda The Four Nobal Truths underpin all Buddhist view. The fundamental teaching from the Four Nobel Truths can pretty much be boiled down to Buddha's core realisation: that suffering comes from a misunderstanding of the true nature of existence. The true nature being that all things arise as impermanently assembled phenomenon and do not inherently exist of their own volition. And, from this misunderstanding arises a mental state that continues to block opportunity for insight into this nature of existance. That mental state is ignorance. Every branch of Buddhism teaches this fundamental teaching. To have direct insight into the reality that all things arise as assembled phenomenon is THE goal of every Buddhist practice, whether Hinayana, Mahayana or Vajrayana. When Buddha saw this reality, really saw it, he became Enlightened. Surrounding these core teachings, in every culture, are religious frameworks. These arise over very long periods of time, with much peer review and refinement from qualified practitioners. Many commentaries reflect culturally tuned versions and translations of the teachings. Or, teachings refined for certain types of mentalities or views. Why? Because everyone starts with ego, with issues, with clouded minds that cannot grasp what Buddha grasped. It is just too damn hard to let go of yourself and see that everything just doesn't exist as it appears. Not even atoms are self arising and do not inherently exist alone. They too arise and disolve into the rest of all assembled phenomenon. So, there you have it. All of this is taught in all traditions, and just because one takes the Bodhisattva Vows (Mahayana Buddhism) it does not mean one no longer observes the Individual Liberation Vows (Hinayana Buddhism). Also, when looking Tibetan Buddhism, you need to look further than what you see as it is consumed by the West. Diamond Way is from one teacher, and he is a Westerner. How long have Westerners been involved in this tradition? A tradition which is essentially Asian. Tibetan Buddhism acknowledges the significant role that the Guru has in a student's learning. Key to this relationship is the development of devotion. However, devotion is an increadible state of mind that can smash negativity and allow great discipline to practice the approprate teachings which lead that individual to seeing that reality of assembled phenomenon. Yet, particularly in the West, students just fixate on the teacher. Milarepa was crying out to Marpa one day while meditating, lamenting his yearning for his teacher, as he sat in his cave in the complete and utter isolation of a Tibetan mountain. Marpa appeared to him in a dream and basically told him to stop snivling and get on with the practice. Such was Milarepa's devotion to Marpa that he just dissolved any sense of loneliness and longing and pushed through. So, while humans come and go (teachers) the essential core teaching always remains pure.
Hi All, I came to this forum seeking understanding from those that may be involved in both Buddhist practice and Tao cultivation. I am essentially Buddhist and even though I find I am more suited to the Hinayana vehicle/path, I am involved in Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions (specifically, Karma Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist approach/tradition). I initially was attracted to the Theravadan tradition and still am. However, all of the root teachings found in this tradition is also found in the equaly disciplined traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and I find great refuge within them. So, why, then, does a Buddhist, who is completely at home with the traditions and practices of their choice, come knocking on the doors of the great Tao tradition? Good question. I have fallen in love with a Taiwanese woman who has been cultivated in the Tao and who is a strong practitioner of the Tao in her everyday life (and committed to making it stronger). The dilemma I have is that I have not come to the Tao as a result of my own motivation and investigation, as happened with Buddhism. She is encouraging me to be Cultivated in the Tao, believing that it will change my life. She may be right. I know that the Tao has changed her life and views on a most profound level and this is her motivation for wishing to include me in the Tao. Indeed, the practice and cultivation of Morality, Ethics, Kindness and Compassion in the Tao appears to be identical to Buddhist view and there are also aspects of the Tao that seems to be parallel with Mahayana Buddhist view and approach. However, English is not spoken freely in the Tao community I would be joining. The language is Mandarin and some Cantonese. And, after a little investigation of the Tao, and my understanding of Buddhist Refuge, I feel that any commitment I make, must be sincere (of course), but must also include a commitment to the practice of Tao rituals, attendance to Temple and active involvement in the Tao community, in the same way as I do as a Buddhist. However, she says that Cultivation is a ritual and that it is the daily practice that is important, and she feels that in this way I can take my Cultivation to heart and carry that, without conflict, into my Buddhist practice, without actually having to divide my commitment between two communities and two religions on a regular basis. Of course, I can be free to participate and help in the community as opportunities arise, but she feels that I can maintain my primary focus as a Buddhist. As an example of an everyday benefit of being Cultivated, in the context of our relationship and as a way to align with the woman I love (apart from sharing the spirit of Cultivation), is that I can take on the Tao commitment to not eating meat (or, not cause harm to living beings). A commitment which she already observed for some years now. I know that I could do this as a Buddhist, where it is encouraged. But for Taoists, not eating meat is a significant commitment that seems to be an integral part of being Cultivated. Naturally, I feel I must talk to the Master about my motivation for being Cultivated in the Tao. If the Master is happy for me to take the spirit of Cultivation and does not require that I make a commitment to become an active and regular member of the community (helping out and attending as I can), then I would be happy to be Cultivated, as this would reflect my motivation. And, happy knowing that it is okay to fullfil many of the commitments of the Tao through my commitments to Buddhist practice. So, there we have it. I find I have a decision to make. Hopefully the Master can help me deal with my internal conflict by saying it is okay for me to have a token involvement with the Tao through Cultivation. Cheers, everyone.