13 March 2021

Technical Language and Practice - Ngakma Nor'dzin & Ngakpa 'ö-Dzin


sPyan ras gZigs

In this video from February 2010, Ngakma Nor’dzin and Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin explain why there is technical language in Buddhism.



Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin: I think Buddhism can become complicated and can appear to go beyond what anyone would want to engage with. But it’s almost like any discipline: it will have its specialised language that from an outsider’s point of view you think, ‘Do i really need to know that?’ And then it’s really a case of how keen you are on doing that thing. So if we want to learn to play the guitar, your guitar teacher could talk in terms of technicalities that are absurd for the beginner, whereas all you want to know is that if you put your fingers by there, and you run your other fingers down there, you get a sound. You do that a few times and you start to get something that almost sounds like the song. So when you begin anything that’s what you want. Your riding teacher says, ‘Sit on the horse.’ They won’t necessarily engage with the names of all the different belts, buckles, straps and bindings that exist on the horse – they’re just getting you started. Then, if you become an enthusiast in that, you’ll want to learn more.

Ngakpa Nor’dzin: I remember when I first started reading Buddhist books on Tibetan Buddhism, I couldn’t believe that they really said these words like ...

Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin: ... like ‘Spyanraszigs’...

Ngakma Nor’dzin: ... for Chenrezig. I thought, ‘Nobody could possibly speak like this’, and I used to just skim over all those words. It’s probably why my Tibetan’s so bad! It doesn’t have to be that complicated. Silent sitting is very simple, very basic, very easy to understand the principal and function of that practice.

Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin: And then anything else, if any other areas of exploration particularly take your fancy, you can go into them. I think it’s actually quite liberating to know that Buddhism is far too big for one person to master it all. Once you know that the scope of Buddhism is so huge you’re not going to master it all, you then understand that it’s a set of methods, a set of practices. It’s an environment of practice where you do what is appropriate, and if you have a teacher you act within your teacher’s guidance and instruction, to use the methods that you need rather than trying to master an entire field of possibilities.

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