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Q&A with Rinpoche about Group Practice 

Q. Rinpoche, what made you design the six-level group practice for your students?

A. This is to provide convenience for people of the busy modern world so that they would have a package of materials and practices to guide them from the beginning onwards, all the way through. Because in Buddhsim, there's a lot of information, and the number of Dharma texts are huge, so for the busy modern people, if they have a package, they don't have to look by themselves to figure out what's most necessary to concentrate on.

Q. What's the difference between practicing in a group and practicing alone?

A. When practicing in a group, you have the Dharma brothers and sisters, which provides a practice environment and helps you strengthen your practice, just like attending classes in a school. When you practice alone, you may get distracted easily - the phone ringing, TV, food in the kitchen and so on. While multiplying the merits, practicing in a group is also important especially for vajrayana students because it strengthens the samaya bonds and makes them become receptacles for blessings of the lineage.

For higher practitioners, they don't get distracted when practicing in private, so they can have solitary retreats. But for most practitioners, group practice works better.

Q. Why does each level have different deity practices rather than giving one or two practices to concentrate on? Some suggest that since people in the modern world are very busy, they should concentrate on just one or two practices. Will the many practices be too distracting?

A. The main point is: There's no difference between one or many deities. The purpose is to let students get familiar with different aspirations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and different aspects and activities of enlightenment. In essence all the deities are the same, just appearing in different forms. We need to abandon the idea that they are different or separate realities because the real essence - Dharmakaya is non-duality.

Q. Are those deity practices in the curriculum Kriya tantra practices?

A. That is included. Often how you practice, rather than the identity of the deity, decides which tantra you are practicing.

» Group practice global curriculum

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