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So I’ve started my 3 year course in Tibetan Buddhism and am really enjoying month 1. I’ve come across many interesting things but also some queries that someone here may be able to help me with.
’m surprised that month 1 doesn’t include commentary on the Kagyu lineage or some history of Kagyu Samye Ling and the relevant people there. I decided to do my own research and this has led to a few interesting questions and discoveries. I’ve gone down a rabbit hole so to speak and think I may end up down here a while!
Firstly, how do you pronounce Kagyu Samye Ling?
Is it Kag-you Sam-yee Ling, or perhaps Kag-oo Sarm-yay for example?
So the supreme head of Karma Kagyu is the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa who has direct lineage to the primordial Buddha Vajradhara (dharmakaya), with a lineage that includes Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa. The current Buddha Gautama is a nirmanakaya (body form), and is the 4th such Buddha in this Bhadrakalpa (a kalpa being an age of 1000 buddhas). The previous Buddha was Kassapa and the next is foretold to be Maitreya who is currently a Boddhisatva and is located in the Tusita realm which can be reached through meditation. As the primordial Buddha, is Vajradhara the only dharmakaya and all other named Buddhas are nirmanakaya, I’m not quite following that relationship between the two? Or does each Buddha exist in three forms and Vajradhara is only the current dharmakaya? Is there a named Sambhogkaya that sits alongside Vajradhara and Gautama?
Kagyu Samye Ling was established by Dr Akong Tulku Rinpoche and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was the first Tibetan Buddhist centre in the west and named Samye after the first monastery established in Tibet.
The main difference between Theravada and Mahayana I can see thus far is that Theravada believes Gautama to have been born a human and became enlightened during his lifetime, whereas Mahayana believes he was a Boddhisatva and came to Earth to deliver the dharma, being born with perfect body and mind and circumstances so to reinforce his teachings. If Theravada do not believe in the many rebirths of Gautama, how is it that the many historical Buddhas and realms are referenced in the Pali Canon which is a key part of the teachings?
A few interesting links if you’re interested:
An interesting start to the course and looking forward to month 2 coming soon.