Blogs:Robert Walker/Motivation for this encyclopedia - Ri-me approach

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Motivation - Ri-me approach - Origins - Wikipedia Buddhism Project - Essay on Reliable Sources - Guiding Principles for EOB - Adventure

Author: Robert Walker

License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

This encyclopedia is motivated by the Rimé movement. The idea behind the movement is that differences are good, to embrace our differences while at the same time establishing dialog that creates a common ground.

This is a movement that started in Tibet in response to a developing tendency of sectarianism among different schools of Buddhism. The Rimé movement encourages the idea of respecting all Buddhist traditions (as well as respecting other religions). The current Dalai Lama is a strong supporter and has composed a special prayer[1] for success of the movement. It is now the norm amongst most Tibetan Buddhists. The teachers who follow this approach preserved many rare and vanishing traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, and Bon, that would otherwise have been lost and forgotten.

This movement is not at all restricted to Tibetan religions and is proving a useful foundation for interfaith dialog. We think its principles also provide good guidelines for editing an encyclopedia on Buddhism.

Rimé movement inspiration for this encyclopedia

Rimé teachers take great care to present teachings and practices of different schools in a way that preserves their unique flavour, and concepts.

Ringu Tulku describes the Rimé movement as follows

"Rimé is not a way of uniting different Schools and lineages by emphasizing their similarities. It is basically an appreciation of their differences and an acknowledgement of the importance of having this variety for the benefit of practitioners with different needs.

Therefore the Rimé teachers always take great care that the teachings and practices of the different Schools and lineages and their unique styles do not become confused with one another. To retain the original style and methods of each teaching lineage preserves the power of that lineage experience. Kongtrul and Khyentse made great efforts to retain the original flavor of each teaching, while making them available to many. Kongtrul writes about Khyentse in his biography of the latter.... When he (Khyentse Rinpoche) taught, he would give the teachings of each lineage clearly and intelligibly without confusing the terms and concepts of other teachings."[2]

He also explains that typically they follow one particular lineage and would not dissociate with their school.

"Ris or Phyog-ris in Tibetan means "one-sided", "partisan" or "sectarian". Med means "No". Ris-med (Wylie), or Rimé, therefore means "no sides", "non-partisan" or "non-sectarian". It does not mean "non-conformist" or "non-committal"; nor does it mean forming a new School or system that is different from the existing ones. A person who believes the Rimé way almost certainly follows one lineage as his or her main practice. He or she would not dissociate from the School in which he or she was raised. Kongtrul was raised in the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions; Khyentse was reared in a strong Sakyapa tradition. They never failed to acknowledge their affiliation to their own Schools.

You can hear him talk about it in this YouTube interview from 2012:

Interview with Ringu Tulku Rinpoche Part 1 {{#ev:youtube|7C9abdAzr-E}}

Interview with Ringu Tulku Rinpoche Part 2 {{#ev:youtube|Too_beQaRmw}}

For the historical background to this approach in Tibetan Buddhism, see Ringu Tulku's introduction "What is Rime" in his book "The Ri-me Philosophy of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great: A Study of the Buddhist Lineages of Tibet" (ISBN 9781590304648).

In that book he describes the ideas in more detail, in the chapter "The meaning of Ri-me". He quotes Jamgong Kontrul's discussion of Jamyang Khentse. He cites the Prajnaparamitra sutra

"The dharma is not an object of knowledge:
It cannot be understood by the conceptual mind."

Jamgong Kongtrul goes on (in the quote by Ringu Tulku, page 4) to explain that if you are well grounded in your own tradition it's not necessary to be sectarian. If you use someone else's system to support your understanding, you get all tangled up like a bad weaver. You have to see the scriptures as instructions and without contradiction. The roots of prejudice and sectarianism dry up, and that way you get a firm foundation in the Buddha's teachings and then hundreds of doors to the thousands of teachings of the dharma will open out to you.

"The ultimate nature cannot be established by the samsaric mind, no matter how deep that mind may be.

The scholars and siddhas of the various schools make their own individual presentations of the dharma. Each one is full of strong points and suppported by valid reasoning. If you are well grounded in the presentations of your own tradition then it is not necessary to be sectarian. But if you get mixed up about the various tenets and terminology then you lack a foothold in your own tradition. You try to use someone else's system to support your understanding , and then get all tangled up like a bad weaver, concerning the view, in your own system, you can't use reasoning to support your scriptures, and you cannot challenge the asssertions of others. You become a laughing stock in the eyes of the learned ones. It would be much better to possess a clear understanding of your own tradition.

In summary, one must see all the teachings as without contradiction and consider all the scriptures as instructions. This will cause the root of sectarianism and prejudice to dry up and give you a firm foundation in the Buddha's teachings. At that point, hundreds of doors to the eighty four thousand teachings of the dharma will simultaneously open to you."

He goes on to explain that this is not a new approach invented by Jangong Kontrul. It goes right back to Buddha himself who forbade his students from criticizing others, even teachings and teachers of other religions or cultures:

The Ri-me concept was not original to Kongtrul and Khyentse, nor was it new to Buddhism. Shakyamuni Buddha forbade his students to criticize others, even the teachings and teachers of other religions or cultures. This directive was so strong that in the "Entrance to the middle way" Chandrakirti felt compelled to defend Nagarjuna's Madhyamika treatises by saying;

"If, in trying to understand the truth, one dispels misunderstandings, and therefore some philosophies cannot remain intact, that should not be considered as crticizing others views."

So in the same way our hope here, what we aim for, is to present all approaches to the dharma clearly, without confusion. But not to criticize any of the approaches, and to value the differences and see them all as various teachings of the path of the Buddha. And, following Chandrakirti's example, if in some places there are passages that dispel misunderstandings, this is not to be understood as criticizing anyone's views on the dharma.

Motivation - Ri-me approach - Origins - Wikipedia Buddhism Project - Guiding Principles - from experiences

  1. Dalai Lama | Sage's Harmonious Song of Truth. Lotsawa House (28 February 1999).
  2. The Rime ( Ris-Med ) Movement. Abuddhistlibrary.com (24 July 2000). Retrieved 20 November 2011.