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Peeing!!! in My Own Pool: The Problem of Tibetanism

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posted on Oct, 15 2018 @ 02:51 PM
Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism is an orthodoxy and a "feudal" social plan, similar to the hierarchical world of the Christian Middle Ages.

It differs in that it is based on the realization of the Buddha, and on spiritual powers called siddhis.

The lineages maintain a hierarchical structure that can be problematic in the extreme. People are not allowed to advance spiritually unless they are admitted into community approval, which boils down to approval by the head of the lineage for advanced practitioners and approval by the guru for ordinary students.

Steps can be taken to "keep a practitioner down" by employing coerced spirits to interfere with his meditation in a number of ways, also by causing brain damage to the practitioner by dint of trickery, using direct mental power, and in the most extreme cases by the physical elimination of the person targeted, through murder.

A Gelugpa Geshe, Lobsang Gyatso, was murdered in Dharamsala, along with two of his students (monks) in 1997.

On February 4, 1997, the principal of the Buddhist School of Dialectics, Geshe Lobsang Gyatso was murdered in Dharmasala, along with two of his students.[4] David Kay notes "The subsequent investigation by the Indian police linked the murders to the Dorje Shugden faction of the exiled Tibetan community."[5]

In June 2007, The Times reported that Interpol had issued a Red notice to China for extraditing two of the alleged killers, Lobsang Chodak and Tenzin Chozin.[6]

Robert Thurman notes that the alleged killers had their origin within China as well.[7]

The generally accepted opinion is that the murder was related to the segment of the Tibetan community that practices the invocation and coercion of the spirit/Dharmapala, Dorje Shugden. Professor Thurman has asserted a Chinese/Tibetan connection in this event.

I'm guessing that he has spoken to an eyewitness of the murder who now lives in the United States. I've spoken to this individual myself, and the story he told was more complicated than the one put together by the Indian police.

He was in the room where the murder happened and believed that the only reason he wasn't killed along with two other monks present at the time, was that he was a "westerner". For whatever reason the killers determined to keep it "in house", i.e., a Tibetan quarrel, between Tibetans, and to leave the western monk out of it.

The murder was very brutal, involving knives. The western monk watched his Dharma teacher and Sanskrit professor cut down in front of him, along with two other monks who went to his aid. The effect on him was catastrophic. He gave up his robes and returned to North America.

He told me that although the murder was being blamed on the Dorje Shugden controversy, it actually involved a long running dispute on doctrinal matters between Geshe Lobsang Gyatso and a lama in Tibet (China), who had presumably been shown up in some way by Lobsang Gyatso and had sent assassins to settle the matter in a way that allowed for no riposte.

I didn't talk exhaustively with the witness to the murder, but it is reasonable to infer that a loss of face and perhaps of status had occurred in the course of the doctrinal dispute, which caused the lama in Tibet to assert his power. The eyewitness played down the Shugden connection to the incident, but it is interesting to note that Shugden made an appearance in the story. He's a very convenient way of muddling things up in cases like this and making it easier to explain lack of progress on the investigation.

Murder can happen anywhere, in any religious group, even among the officials of the group, but a resort to murder on a doctrinal matter, involving the scholarly reputation of the murderer must be very rare. In this case it happened (allegedly) and as far as I know, the individual responsible has never been arrested.

My guru told me that in one case of a dispute between factions representing two very young tulkus asserted to be the reincarnation of a lineage head, one of the children was dropped off the roof of a monastery to eliminate him from contention. My guru was not disturbed by this. I had the impression that he approved, or more correctly, accepted and did not object to the solution.

The reason for his attitude in this case would be well considered within the Tibetan context. Of course we westerners, of the 20th/21st century, are aghast that such a thing could ever be considered an option, and would most probably think that anyone who would consider an option like that must be insane, . . . or a member of the "criminal overworld", perhaps a member of the spiritual criminal overworld.

Modern Tibetans, who have grown up outside Tibet, are lovely people generally and most Tibetans who grew up inside Tibet are great, . . . perhaps more "knowing" than the younger generation.

Tibet was a feudal society with many of the attributes we usually associate with lurid stories of the Middle Ages. I'm not out to tarnish the reputations of Tibetans as a group, however after long association with a very small number of them, who were prominent in Tibet prior to the Chinese takeover, I did hear things that western Dharma practitioners would not accept.

I was in my twenties at the time and accepted them. I won't recount everything I heard, but people may be familiar with the idea that the local nobleman in the Middle Ages had the right to "deflower" brides in the area they controlled. The article linked does suggest that this kind of thing may have happened, or at least that people from ancient times, believed it happened.

Not many people have met a nobleman who has actually exercised this right and I haven't either, but I have met a Tibetan well placed in the old feudal hierarchy of Tibet who had sexual intercourse with every Tibetan girl of a certain age in a Tibetan settlement in India. It was the whim of a young man and his status allowed him to gratify the whim.

Western students ought not to swallow "Tibetanism" hook, line and sinker.

Note: It is not easy to meet a living example of somebody from the Middle Ages in our time, let alone to have a long association with such a person. One gets a feeling for the personalities of that period. One can read the history of the Plantagenet family by Thomas Costain with a little more insight, as a consequence. The ruthlessness of the aristocracies of the Middle Ages is astonishing to the average person living today, but it wouldn't be to people at the most powerful levels of our own societies, where things might be handled differently today, but where the ruthless determination is the same. After I had been working with my guru for some time, two or three years perhaps, and was one of his strong supports, he told me that the head of our lineage told him that he had to come to Canada, or he would "die". My guru didn't elaborate but I am certain he didn't mean of natural causes.
edit on 15-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

edit on 15-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

edit on 15-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 16 2018 @ 10:20 AM
I want to tell my story in as much detail as possible because I think it illuminates problems that Western Vajrayana practitioners could run into.

I don't want to name names because doing so would provide an exit to people who would seek to avoid dealing with a systemic problem by attaching blame to an individual (me?) or individuals and walking away from larger, more important issues.

My guru told me that the origin of religion is not some kind of philosophical or rational deduction.

The origin of religion is the loving attachment of children to their parents, which caused them to cry out to them tens or even hundreds of thousands of years ago in situations of peril, and the attachment of parents for their children, which caused them to answer that call, even from beyond the grave.

Despite efforts to distinguish themselves from one another by various means, all "religions" that have evolved beyond the most primal motivation, i.e., self preservation, are attempts to derive from, or alternatively, to impart meaning to, the same universe of data.

This is an important point, particularly with the so called "spirit religions". All of these religions set up shop, so to speak, in the brain. That means that an African originated tribal "society", a North or South American aboriginal spirit cult, the Caribbean Afro-Christian syncretisms, cults in Hinduism, and Vajrayana Buddhism, operate on what is essentially the same human terrain, the human brain and nervous system.

These groups are all vulnerable to the human capacity for disagreement and for self assertion, which leads to division and the formation of sects. These sects, all operating on the same human terrain, sometimes partition that terrain and specialize in one part of it. They can also employ different "keys" in the form of prayers, visualizations, mantras, etc. to gain access to "their" "inner" spiritual terrain.

That terrain may coincide exactly with the terrain occupied by another group, but differentiations of the "keys" or rituals used to enter that terrain are usually enough to avoid winding up on a "party line" where adherents of another group, which occupies the same terrain, in other brains, are affected by the doings on the mental level of the first group.

There are often very close correspondences between religions that are usually thought to be quite different and distinct. If one is familiar with the iconography of Vajrayana Buddhism and the iconography of Voodoo and Carribbean syncretic cults, important congruent elements are discernible.

My own guru told me that the Dharmapala, Mahakala, is of African origin. Imagine that.

Note in the title of the book a reference to a "black hat". The black hat is an important iconic attribute of gods in Carribbean cults.

The point I am trying to make is not that these religions are actually the same. Of course they are not, but all religions operate on the same "terrain" and this leads to similarities in the representations of objects, spirits, people to whom devotion and prayer are directed.

This is also an indication that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to practice two of these different religions at once. They overlap in the brain. Their "spirits" vie with one another for "terrain".

It is not a good situation when this happens. It can lead to conflict on the level of spirits and in the material world too.

This sort of conflict can also occur in the world of Vajrayana, between sects, between personalities vying for control of themselves, and control of other students.

There is a lot of scope in Vajrayana for the mischief of what I call "Baddysattvas".
edit on 16-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 17 2018 @ 08:52 PM
What follows will be completely bizarre to some readers. I hope it does not disturb them unduly. It really has very little to do with them and the world they live in, unless they practice Vajrayana Buddhism. Fundamentalist Christians, aghast at all of this sort of thing have my sympathy. They have faith in their God and their savior Jesus Christ. I wish them well and congratulate them on their happiness and confidence in their faith. What is written in this thread is about a completely different culture from theirs.

My guru is a very accomplished meditator. He told me that sometimes he is surprised, after a period in meditative absorption, that he has actually returned to the world. His mind is so purged of taint that he says that some days when he wakes up from his rest that the world seems entirely new and, I assume, he needs to recover his bearings.

He has styled himself in conversation with me as, "Lord of all demons." I have seen a letter to him addressed to "Shri Yamantaka",

and he has said that he is basically a "Siddha (accomplished adept) of Mahakala". One time he told me that his enemies were lucky that in this lifetime he was "practicing patience."

(This all has nothing to do with the regular ordinary world. Voodoo and its allied spiritual disciplines are famous for getting involved in ordinary disputes, Vajrayana Buddhism not so much.

They are too worried about karma and their main method of interacting with ordinary people is kindness.

I got angry one time when several of us students were out with a very high ranking lama who was insulted by a Chinese shopkeeper. I was getting ready to unload on the shopkeeper when the visiting lama said to me, "The Bodhisattva is the one who returns kindness for unkindness."

He didn't do anything that I saw, to the shopkeeper, but by the time we left the store, the shopkeeper had his hands together, in "namaste" to the lama.)

I love my guru with my whole heart and have shed many tears in anticipation of his passing. I'm one of these people who gets way ahead of reality in the mind. I have bypassed some very attractive romantic opportunities by gaming the whole relationship out in advance, start to finish. Sigh.

People who know Rinpoche can tell many stories about him. I told the story of his "making rain" in another thread one time, a situation that led to the absolute soaking of one of his students during a downpour that occurred in the middle of a drought here in Toronto. I had the newspaper clippings that basically said, "Drought, no relief in sight." one day, and "Downpour not expected to cause longterm relief." the next.

There are many funny stories of going out with Rinpoche to a restaurant, where he says or does something that will have people in stitches. Comments like, "Do you eat dog?" to a Chinese waiter at the old "Ed's Warehouse" in Toronto, or "Do you have Jew food?" to a waitress at the now defunct Moishe's Falafel King (Her response, "You came to the right place.")

In an Indian restaurant he was bantering with an attractive, not young, Indian waitress in a sari, who was curious about him, he being in monk's robes. He told her that he was a Himalayan yogi. She responded, "That can't be true because yogis don't eat flesh." (We had ordered Tandoori chicken, or some such dish.) Rinpoche was a little bit taken aback by this lady's skepticism. He asked her if she was a Brahmin and she said yes.

When she had taken our order and left the table, he leaned over and said, conspiratorially,

"She's not really a Brahmin. Brahmin ladies are blue." (in the tangka paintings where they appear)

Rinpoche is like that.

One of my own spirits, rather, one of the spirits that has taken residence with me, (It's a long story. They are just "people", don'tcha know. Everybody has them, but may not be aware of it.) said that he is "an old devil".

This kind of thing, with all due respect to the spirit involved, is a matter of opinion. The Tibetan world, prior to the Chinese invasion, under the old feudal aristocracy, was a hard one if you occupied a position of prominence.

It was very much like the medieval world. To put it in the vernacular, there were a limited number of "games" in town. "The Church", monastic life, was one of them and in a country with a long history of the mingling of black magic and political and economic power, there were compelling reasons to master the local demons.

Later, in India, Rinpoche was popular with the children and known as "Ocean of Stories". He didn't do well at the "Young Lama's School" established by Freda Bedi. He wasn't good at paying attention in class. He was close to thirty years old at the time. She gave up on trying to instruct him. She told him he was "too holy to teach".

I didn't meet him, in the flesh, until 1975/76, but I know from a mental experience I had practicing hatha yoga, three years or so earlier, that he was already looking out for me.

This little sketch of his personality is a prelude to what I will try to get down about our center and what happened to us along the way. I think it will be instructive and helpful to have this out there for people to consider, in the context of their own Vajrayana practice.

I said this in another thread but it bears repeating.

My guru was a better mother to me than my mother and a better father to me than my father.

My parents gave me their genetics, fed and housed me and pushed me into university. Our family was not a happy one but we did have good times and happiness. I wasn't abused physically or sexually but my mother's psychology was a nightmare for her children in the early years of my parents marriage. Father absent too much. He was the main emotional support of the family.

I owe my parents a lot, but in terms of real elevation of my awareness, I owe everything to my guru. I would be nothing and know nothing about Dharma if it were not for him personally and his status and connections with the greatest lamas of our time.

Having said these things, it should be clear that such conflicts as eventually came along the way were very stressful, as I tried to balance my own cultural values with the demands of the guru student relationship, in a Tibetan context that I wasn't prepared for at first, and which I did not even know had stretched all the way to Toronto in the person of my lama.

I was very naive.

One more Rinpoche story. I had been working on a project with him at his flat. He wanted to do some photocopying (late 70s), so we decided to go to lunch at the Indian restaurant where the Bhramin lady worked because there was a photocopying shop nearby. It was just the two of us. He brought a roll of dimes with him for the copying machine.

Sometimes when around Rinpoche, one didn't know if he was really in the same place with you. He would get a look on his face that indicated "interior" activity. He is very advanced and very capable of absorption states, and going back and forth between here and "there" with great facility and ease.

The meal came to an end and he seemed a little "not there" so I gently reminded him that it was time to go. I was paying for the meal. He gave a little start, and then handed me the roll of dimes.
edit on 17-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 18 2018 @ 09:49 AM

originally posted by: ipsedixit
Tibetan Buddhism is inextricably linked to power, spiritual and worldly, and it is a big problem.

It's not just in Tibet (or Tibetan Buddhism) where worldly pursuits ("materialistic greed", to use the term quoted below) are an issue.

In Thailand a novice Buddhist monk hooked on amphetamines has confessed to the rape and murder of a 23-year-old British tourist, reports World Press Review (1996). This crime, however, is just one in a “series of scandals” that have plagued Buddhist clergymen. “In addition to a rising number of criminal offenses, materialistic greed is corrupting Buddhism.” In what way? “The selling of good-luck charms is a lucrative business for some monks, who travel in chauffeur-driven limos.” As a result, the “people’s faith in once-revered Buddhist clergy is being challenged.” The magazine also notes that in an effort to curb “drug abuse” among monks, “monasteries have opened detox centers.”

Like Judaism and professed Christianity, Buddhism has not limited itself to religious activities but has helped mold political thought and behavior as well. And the involvement of Buddhism in the Vietnam war of the 1960’s caused author Jerrold Schecter to conclude: “The peaceful path of the Middle Way has been twisted into the new violence of street demonstrations. . . . Buddhism in Asia is a faith in flames.”
Jerrold Schecter is a policy expert on Asia, Russia, and the Middle East based on his career as an award winning historian, journalist, government official and corporate officer. Schecter began his journalism career with the Wall Street Journal and then spent eighteen years with Time Magazine.

“Across Asia and beyond,” says the journal Asiaweek, “power-hungry leaders are cynically manipulating people’s religious sentiments for their own needs.” As a result, the journal warns: “The world threatens to sink into madness.” A prominent religious leader in the United States declared: “You’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops.” His solution? “Blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” By contrast, the Bible says: “If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar.” (1 John 4:20) Jesus even said: “Continue to love your enemies.” (Matthew 5:44) How many religions can you think of whose members engage in war?

The Dalai Lama’s Army | National Review (2007)

Although some Westerners imagine that the Dalai Lama is an absolute pacifist, the teachings of the present Dalai Lama and of his predecessor, as well as the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, all legitimize the use of deadly force against killers and would-be tyrants.
...what Jane Ardley (in her book The Tibetan Independence Movement) describes as the “idealized, romantic vision of Tibet as a land of enlightened, non-violent, happy and exotic people.” She observes, “For those in the West who look to Tibetan Buddhism for all the answers to their insecurities, the image of ‘violent’ Buddhists is uncomfortable particularly where Buddhism itself can be offered as a justification for their actions.”

Warrior Monks
Buddhist Tibet was a powerful warrior kingdom during the latter part of the first millennium. ...
The Buddhist Khampa tribes of Inner Tibet were battle-hardened warriors, described by a Chinese observer in 1666 as people who “delight in wars and conflicts, not hesitant to die.” ...

Meet Brett Campbell, the Air Force Reserve’s Newest (and Only) Buddhist Chaplain (2017)

The Tibetan Buddhist practitioner joins eight other Buddhist chaplains serving the United States military.

Song 141 Searching for Friends of Peace (with lyrics)
edit on 18-10-2018 by whereislogic because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 19 2018 @ 10:22 AM
a reply to: whereislogic

You make some good points there that are at variance with the popular conception of Buddhism, particularly among young Western practitioners of Vajrayana Buddhism.

Buddhists are not different from anybody else, as people.

The Buddhism of the Tripitaka is different from "religions" derived from authority. Buddhism is derived from personal experience, and it is not the only "way of life" that is like that, but it is distinguished by the Buddha's realization of Shunyata and its significance and utility.

Where all religions, including Buddhism, get into trouble is with their social organization into politically and economically potent presences in the world. Tibetan Buddhism and Theravadin Buddhism, the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations, groups within Islam, groups within Judaism and Hinduism are all birds of a feather in that way. They all have great saints among them, and villains great and small.
edit on 19-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 20 2018 @ 07:11 AM
I can't remember how this came up in conversation, but I was at Rinpoche's flat once, probably working on a project, when he said, "I have a little pride problem."

This is a very revealing remark, not just about Rinpoche as a person, but about Vajrayana Buddhism as a practice.

Remembering Gampopa's remark about the "whole of reality" being the concern of Vajrayana practice, one realizes that Vajrayana practitioners are juggling more balls than Theravadin or straight Mahayana practitioners. They must realize Shunyata and invest all mental activity, as individual acts and as an awareness of a totality of potential acts, with that realization. I'm talking about the handling of the bushel baskets of leaves gathered from the forest, beyond what is in the Tripitaka, not simply the activity of the average "personality".

If this is not done thoroughly, one can conceive that the mental possibilities that are ignored in ordinary life and ignored by Theravadins and Mahayanists, for reasons cited by the Buddha in his sermon from the Simsapa Grove, but which are the objects of Vajrayana practice, could be linked together, by some very scarcely tangible or discernible awareness, in Vajrayana practice, in the very subtle form of a "super personality", with an ego to match, wearing the garb of the Sambhogakaya (body of bliss), and still subject to the development of "a little pride problem" and perhaps other subtle forms of self cherishing and self delusion.

One thinks of the highly realized lamas with the sexual abuse allegations against them who believe that what they do is actually wisdom, "crazy wisdom".

I'm reminded of a great line from the movie The Serpent and the Rainbow;

"It is a frightening thing, Blanc, when you can no longer tell good from evil, but it is the very thing that sets you free."

He might have added that it also "sets you up".

I think this potential for a subtle kind of egotism exists in Vajrayana in a way in which it does not exist in other kinds of Buddhism, that are not so ambitious as to take on "the whole of reality".

The difference between a very great and highly realized lama, like my guru, and a Vajrayana superstar, like Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, is measured not so much by the comprehensive character of their mastery of the teachings, but by the comprehensive eradication of the most refined kind of egotism, one that is peculiar to Vajrayana Buddhism, but comparable to that of the most successful materialists and the most perfected Satanists, the sort of people who "eat the whole thing".

At least, on a personal level, my guru indicated an awareness of the problem.

"Bodhisattvas torture themselves."

This remark, made by Rinpoche, was brought home to me one time when I was in his flat, working on the project, a literary effort, and another one of his students arrived for an appointment. Rinpoche made me sit there with him and made the student discuss his problem in front of me.

I won't go into detail but it was an excruciating family matter involving the circumcision of his son and a conflict between his own attitude in the situation and the attitude of his family. It took some time for him to elaborate the issues. I felt very uncomfortable throughout. I didn't want to be involved in something like this. Rinpoche handled it with his usual sensitivity and compassion, not rushing through the discussion in the least.

It was a big wake up for me, with regard to the perceived "glamor" of the guru's life.

One time I had a dream vision of Rinpoche sitting in meditation and a big lion crawled up onto his lap and perched there like a house cat. I realized that this was another of Rinpoche's students, one who had had a terrible time as a boy with an alcoholic father and who was severely plagued and incapacitated as an adult, by self doubt, to the point of exhibiting symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder.

This student was devoted to Rinpoche to a fault, never doubted him, never criticized him and would not abide criticism of him.

I have seen Rinpoche in innumerable conversations with students that were pleasant, commonplace and banal, much beneath his intellectual capacity and, to me at least, tedious.

It would have been very easy for Rinpoche to find a wealthy sponsor in an exotic location, bewitch this person with a few displays of siddha power, and retire to a life of luxury, but he didn't.

He lives life as it comes to him, in Toronto, among his students and their problems and their strivings, never complaining, always shining, good humored, kind, occasionally confused by us and our ways, our pillar of Dharma practice, our refuge.
edit on 20-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 21 2018 @ 05:53 PM
I just wrote a significant post for this thread, discussing something that is never talked about in Dharma books. It is an important subject, but is likely a "reserved" topic, not for the general public. It is a deep aspect of the practices of Tibetan lineages. I'm familiar with it from direct experience, but I'm having second thoughts about publishing it. This thread started as something like venting, but then grew into an examination of aspects of what I call "Tibetanism" grafted on to the teaching of the Buddha.

I'm not a simpleton. I realize that we don't live in the same world that the Buddha lived in, and the Tibetans lived in yet another world of possibilities different from ours.

I have lots of other things I could say, to illustrate what I consider questionable methodologies connected to Tibetan Buddhism, things that veer into abuse and exploitation, but I think that I have caught the attention of the right people. I'm going to stop posting in this thread for now.

Best wishes to everyone. We do need to know who we really are and what we are really doing.

posted on Oct, 25 2018 @ 03:50 PM
My guru told me that when the Tibetans arrived in India he saw lots of things "happen". He didn't elaborate but in the context of the conversation, I knew he wasn't talking about pleasant trivialities.

He saw people in the Tibetan social order that had come out of Tibet doing things which signaled changes in the order of hierarchies and in the balance of established relationships.

India is a tough place anyway, if you are not connected socially and are not well off. The Tibetan elite that fled the Chinese military occupation of Tibet were fugitives bringing nothing but what they and those loyal to them could carry.

The climate was difficult for them, hot and humid. They were from a cool and dry region. They all started to smell badly and learned the importance of personal hygene in the new climate. There were new dangers and new diseases. There was poverty.

The great were in the uncomfortable position of having to scramble to maintain status and standard of living. In some situations social cohesion held and old loyalties held. In other situations things became difficult and people became ruthless.

A Tibetan friend told me that in one refugee camp there was a kind of mass depression and desperation that had gone so far that people in the camp had all given each other very disparaging and vulgar nicknames.

He had been carried out of Tibet in his mother's arms as a child and had grown up in India. He was a tulku, but as a teenager he had had his own Bollywood film style "motorcycle gang" of youths.

He was a close friend at one point (just like a brother) and is certainly, by far, mentally, the toughest person I have ever met in my life. This toughness manifested only in actions, never in a single assertive word. He was a wild guy with the ladies, but over the years, resolutely and without a word of complaint, delivered hard currency, by hook or by crook (the Indian hawala banking system), to the support of his parents and relatives in India.

It is very shocking and demeaning to go from being "boss" to being "beggar". Some of the Tibetan elite didn't hit the ground running in India, they hit the ground with their tires spinning and screeching.

A personal friend showed me a picture of her and her family meeting Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. Her father, a man high in the aristocracy of Kham, in eastern Tibet, looked very dignified and diplomatic in the situation, but the friend, mentioned earlier, told me of having accompanied him and an entourage of others, including personal retainers on a train trip on a very crowded Indian train.

The gentleman in question was tired and wanted one of the bed/platforms in the crowded rail car to lie down on. The rail car would probably have been something like this.

A couple of the men in his party clambered into the coach looking for a place for the powerful Khampa aristocrat to stay. All the bed shelves were occupied, so without a word, they grabbed the occupant of one of the beds and threw him bodily to the floor.

My friend smiled and told me, "The Indian guy was nice. He didn't complain."

This gives a flavor of the dislocation that was going on among the refugees and the psychological stresses involved.

Contrary to the popular conception of the size of Asians, i.e., short, Khampas over six feet tall are not in the least unusual. Rinpoche is short and other great lamas from Kham, like the sixteenth Karmapa, are/were short, but tall Khampas like Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche are common.

Two monks, who are relatives of Rinpoche, visited once. They were both over six feet tall, and solid.

I mention this just to show the intimidation factor at work in some cases when the Tibetan elite, particularly the Khampas, encountered ordinary Indians.
edit on 25-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 25 2018 @ 08:14 PM
We can re-imagine American society in a way that illuminates the effect of Tibetanized Vajrayana Buddhism on Tibet.

Imagine an American society that has a much reduced need for a middle class, that depends upon laborers to produce raw materials that can be traded for goods made elsewhere, where the ordinary people live in hovels next to piles of their own refuse, where they don't wash themselves because that is not important for people of the low class, where they don't have much of anything, where large numbers of them don't even have hovels but live in tents. (Not that tenting can't be fun!)

Imagine the income disparity that would be achievable in a society like that! Imagine how desirable that sort of situation would be for the American oligarchical elite.

Imagine the utility of a means of occupying the minds of the population that would replace their desire for betterment in the material world. Imagine the situation if such a means were at hand, a spiritual discipline so liberating that even gold would be discarded like trash for anyone adept in the discipline.

Imagine if one could become adept in this discipline and have the gold too! Imagine if advancement in this discipline could be carefully controlled so as to preserve the power of the oligarchical elite.

Imagine such an America. To do so begs the question, "Would American oligarchs really go that far to impose such a tyranny on ordinary Americans?" Surely not.

On the contrary. Not only is this a possibility, but it is a virtual certainty that at some point in the future the Western world will begin to acquire this profile. Parts of it, miniscule parts to be sure, but parts of it are already taking on elements of the characteristics of Tibet, wherever this spiritual imperialism is making inroads.

One of Rinpoche's important former students once remarked, "He never got off the boat." (Multigenerational Canadians will know what that means.)

I'm not suggesting that at some point in the future we will be living in hovels with piles of refuse at our doors and that we will have happy grimy faces as can be seen in old photos of Tibet.

What I am saying is that the real dimensions of Tibetanism, appearing in the form of Tibetan Buddhism, are unknown to all but a very few of its Western practitioners, and that these people, with very few exceptions, are "in the bag" and unable to articulate the exact description of the mental life they now lead, without dire consequences inflicted directly on their minds and brains.

Tibetanism, in its aims, is no different from any form of social and economic control imposed upon any society by an oligarchical elite. It's peculiarity is in the tools it employs.

One hearkens back to the Middle Ages, to the time of Christian dominance of Europe, based upon spiritual beliefs held by the mass of the population. The medieval attitude of Islam, even in our time, in many places, is also relevant as a form of spiritual enslavement. Islam means "submission".

Tibetanism requires submission and has the spiritual tools to obtain it, even from the unwilling.

It is important to stress that Tibetanism, the label I've given to the "spiritual" activities of the old Tibetan oligarchy, is not to be equated with Vajrayana Buddhism as practiced in India, before it became established in Tibet.

Indian Vajrayna Buddhism is still not the Buddhism of the Tripitaka, recorded by the Buddha's own disciples, but it is far from being the tailored instrument of dominance that it was turned into in Tibet.

Tibetan monastic oligarchs are famous for being innocuous and benign, interested most in the welfare of others. That is the mask of Tibetan Buddhism, but behind the mask, lies a personality of much greater complexity, the characteristics of which, in broad outline, are no different from those of any other system of domination, despite the ambition, stated, of showing the way to mental purification, and release from suffering by transforming the "whole of reality" into Nirvana.

Human beings have done basically the same things politically everywhere. Groups within the society have tried to dominate in order to benefit themselves. They have all used the tools available to them. They have been more, or less, rapacious in their treatment of those they dominate.

Tibet was no different, except that the tools available to Tibetan oligarchs were much more subtle.

Imagine what Dr. Goebbels could have done if he had had the benefit of two thousand years of mental, as opposed to scientific, development over the people he was manipulating. He wouldn't have needed the Gestapo or the SS or the concentration camps. A friendly benign smile and a gentle manner would be all that need be shown to the world. The acts of dominance and coercion would all take place on the mental level, and among people, the vast majority of which do not even believe that such things are possible.

But that is absurd, one might say. It could never happen. Yes it is logically possible but completely implausible and far fetched.

Except that it has happened, in Tibet, not flawlessly, not to perfection, not without fractures and fissures among the dominated, not without rivalries for control, but broadly, conceptually, and with certainty, not plausibility, but certainty, such a social, economic, political and spiritual process of domination existed in Tibet. . . . and look what happened.

My guru told me that in Nepal he had met members of a family that held a lineage of Dorje Phurba, a tutelary deity of Vajrayana Buddhism, that had survived within this family for hundreds of years, completely outside the known lines of transmission for this yidam. This would be an example of Untibetanized Vajrayana Buddhism, and a very great rarity.

Will we in the West eventually practice "Untibetanized" Vajrayana Buddhism? Would that be a desirable thing to do? I'm not sure myself because I am only familiar with the Tibetan Buddhism practiced by my guru.

I once asked him a penetrating question about the practice. This was many years ago and I don't remember now what the question was. He tried to answer me a couple of times but the words would not come out of his mouth. I could see that he was really trying, but his speech organs wouldn't function. I didn't think to ask him to write the answer down, but I doubt if he could have.

Why was he having trouble? I think I know but he didn't really explicitly tell me what prevented him from answering.

At a subtle level thinking is doing and some thinking is self destructive in the ordinary sense, of parts of the brain.

This subject is complex, and recondite. It has a spiritual and a physiological and a political dimension. Is the average Vajrayana practitioner in the average center teaching Tibetan Buddhism really ready for that sort of question, or in those centers is the motto really "we'll cross that bridge when we're already past it"?

Perhaps Vajrayana is really meant for karmically ripened practitioners only. My guru once told me point blank, "You will have to give up everything". I nodded. I was ready.

No I was not. Realistically, how could I have been?

Note: I am not asserting that Dharma teachers are acting with sinister intent. The example of Dharma in Tibet, the more I know about it, troubles me. I think it needs some serious re-evaluation and perhaps a rethink of how Tibetan Buddhism is presented in the West.
edit on 25-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 26 2018 @ 10:49 AM
Part 1

The idea of coercing and controlling the spirits of the departed is commonplace in African derived spirit cults and societies. In some groups the belief is that they can be held in little jars on altars in temples of this sort of worship. In the film, The Serpent and the Rainbow, a Haitian Voodoo priest asks an associate to show a visitor a "zombie". The man brings a small ceramic pot wrapped in cloth, and the priest says, "No. He wants to see the flesh."

Trungpa Rinpoche is known to have expressed a desire/intention to reincarnate in Japan. Someone mentioned this to Shamar Rinpoche in conversation and Rinpoche said, "The lineage will decide where Trungpa Rinpoche is reborn."

Trungpa Rinpoche was reborn in Tibet and returned to the restored site of Dutsi-til, one of the Surmang monasteries, and centuries old seat of the Trungpa tulkus.

One infers that considerable control over the rebirth of tulkus can be exercised by any of the lineages.

My guru is a "blessed tulku" in one lineage and a "recognized tulku" in another one. Recognized tulkus are usually discovered and recognized as young children. (The term is my own and not a translation from a legitimate technical term in Tibetan.)

People generally don't know what a "blessed tulku" is. I'm not sure if I know, myself, but based on my own experience, I think I understand the essence of it. Thus, the following can only be considered speculation, but informed speculation.

There are secrecy issues in Vajrayana Buddhism.

This was true in India, judging by the brevity of texts on Vajrayana practice, and is true in Tibet and everywhere Vajrayana is practiced today.

Rinpoche did tell us that we could talk about things but only if we had experienced them ourselves.

Becoming a "blessed tulku" is a form of empowerment, but different from the sort of empowerment the average practitioner receives at an "initiation".

People familiar with the term tend to believe that the special knowledge of an enlightened master is transferred to a worthy lama, by the lineage head, so that the lama so "blessed" can continue as an "incarnation" of the famous master.

I don't want to name names here so I will not indicate my guru's name or the name of the famous Tibetan lama, in whose name he acts in the world. The ancient master was active roughly five hundred years ago in Tibet and was renowned for his mastery of Buddhist philosophy and meditative techniques.

In the case of "blessed tulkus", I believe what happens is that the essential "being", on death, is controlled and taken into the "Buddhafield" of the head of the lineage. This essence will not reincarnate in the normal way.

It will remain in the Buddhafield of the lineage head and then, if the right individual should appear, this essential entity will be transferred from the Buddhafield of the Lineage head to a Buddhafield of the selected lama.

The subject of Buddhafields and Mandalas is beyond the scope of this thread. A deceased person in a Buddhafield is accessible to one who has access to the Buddhafield. Discussing this sort of thing is complicated by "points of view", whether materialistic or spiritual. The Vajrayanist point of view is thoroughly spiritual, fantastic and visionary and therefore without substantive elucidation for a scientific materialist.

(As a side note, with a little elaboration that I won't undertake here, this sort of thing can account for cases of tulkus who have multiple incarnations, like the sixteenth Karmapa, who has two who are well known, and others, having more than two tulku successors.)

In that way, the "blessed tulku" can preserve and have recourse to this essence, which is in fact a sentient being, in the area of specialty mastered by the deceased lama, and act in this life with the directly transferred wisdom of that person, or, that person himself, the essential being, might, in certain cases, be the actual actor in some situations, acting from within the blessed tulku's body, in a way similar to the mechanism of spirit possession.

The above is all speculative.

My own guru tried, and may have succeeded in doing this to me. It was something I became aware of in a waking sleep state. It disturbed me because something (someone?) about my personality was replaced with something/someone else. I could tell when it happened, because there was a "flavor" of my personality that I felt had departed.

This feeling was very insubstantial, by no means anything anywhere near as stark as the change from Dr. Jeckyll to Mr. Hyde. We are not in horror movie territory here, however I was sensitive enough to feel a very slight absence. It was as if the conductor of a very large orchestra were to become conscious that one of the violins had stopped playing.

Many people would see the implantation of people into other people as an amazing improvement on the normal ways people attempt to build character. Some Tibetan Vajrayanists certainly do.

Rinpoche was disconcerting in his ability to bring about instant improvements in situations involving things one had to learn, etc. It used to be disorienting to me because I was so used to having to work hard for things, skills, information, etc. Having them downloaded directly into my brain in a few seconds, like so many other things that came from him, was something I was not prepared for. I was being favored greatly but saw it as interference with my "do it yourself" mentality, my "ego"(?).

There was a complete absence of personal satisfaction involved in this sort of "transmission".

I look in hindsight at things like this with considerable consternation. To be the perfect student of Rinpoche, one ought to have been prepared to be completely passive and to follow his instructions to the letter, no matter how brief and peremptory they were.

This, my spiritual immaturity and inability to be a perfect vessel for the transmission of his teaching, was at the root of a lot of gear grinding that arose between us and some serious trouble for both of us. (I was too "full of beans" and more than a little accident prone.)

I had arrived in Tibetan Buddhism as a spiritual tourist, got swept up by it, was enthusiastic about it and soon started to balk at what appeared to be my guru's intention to turn me into a repository for the wisdom of a completely different culture from my own.

By now it should be obvious to the reader that an alteration of my personality, as I perceived it, no matter how subtle or useful, was completely unacceptable to me. I was the proprietor of a very well turned out and personally satisfying ego, that I had built myself. I was also sensitive, somewhat willful and had a potential to overreact.

Gurus are one's "ego's" worst enemy. That's their job. Students wanting "Enlightenment" are also applying for ego demolition at the hands of an expert. But that was all theoretical to me.

It was a kind of "ego" clinging, but I was attached to my own personality, or habituated to it, and disturbed that anyone would arbitrarily attempt to alter it, no matter how subtly, even if it was "for my own good".

This might beg the question, "Why in hell were you practicing this spiritual discipline then?" Out of curiosity at first but then the snowball started rolling. I didn't know anything of significance about Dharma when I started.
edit on 26-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 26 2018 @ 10:52 AM
Part 2

For a more mature spiritual person, the benefit of discarding a troublesome deceased person, resident in one's brain and responsible for a troublesome personal characteristic, and replacing this "person" with an advanced spiritual practitioner and thus acquiring a characteristic of wisdom in the Dharma, in the person of a deceased lama, would almost certainly be regarded as a great blessing and very welcome.

A lot of times, coercion and imposition dominate interactions between guru and student. This is like walking on a razor's edge in the relationship. This sort of thing, one would think, would require the greatest delicacy within the dynamics of a relationship.

In my experience, the Tibetans are not like that. They are often tricky in spiritual matters and sometimes rude. As Rinpoche once said to a young lady who came to meet him, "I'm a little rude."

Is this phenomenon, blessed tulkus, Tibetanism? At first glance it would appear so, although it may have happened in India too. It is very close to the basic mechanics behind the "theory" of Vajrayana Buddhism, a variation on "continuity".

It very likely did occur to the Indians to do such things. It is "lalita", playful, and would be perceived as beneficial. It was probably going on in India centuries before Buddhism went to Tibet.

However, in Tibet the practice became an element of lineage housekeeping, or rather, person keeping.

Trungpa Rinpoche (the eleventh tulku), left to his own inclination, might have altered the course of religious history in Japan. He expressed an intention to be reborn there. He may have believed that Japanese spirituality was in need of revivication. He was a great and confident Vajrayana master. He may have believed that he was just the being needed, to be active in the spiritual life of Japan.

The lineage decided that he needed to return to Surmang and that is where he is today. That is Tibetanism.

This all seems very extreme and concerning, and I am concerned by it.

Rinpoche told me one time that Tibetans like "strong sensations". He was talking about a yogi who liked to rub chili peppers into his eyes. (DO NOT DO THIS!! YOU ARE NOT A YOGI IN THAT LEAGUE.)

I think an airing of some of these things will be awkward for some, but helpful in the long run. I certainly intend to continue to practice. I think it is beneficial for humanity to do so, even under conditions of "Tibetanism".

What I am writing about will seem outlandish and bizarre to many, but remember, in the world outside of the often smug assumptions of scientific materialism with its hundreds of years of development, there is another world where human beings have been just as busy with mental development.

In this department, mental development, our scientific sages are no more sophisticated than the shamans of a lost tribe in the Amazon would be about quantum mechanics.

I am far more concerned about geniuses starving to death in the Sahel, about nuclear weapons and about the utter stupidity of our psychopathic politics than I am about Tibetanism.

edit on 26-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 27 2018 @ 11:43 PM
Here is an interesting vignette, a little Tibetanist gossip, although in this case Tibetanism collides with commercialism.

Rinpoche made an interesting remark to me while we were in the throes of our literary project. I was working with one of his other students on the project and had been drafted into it mainly because I could type.

The project had been going nowhere because the other student, a university professor, would go off on tangents in conversation with Rinpoche, who was a great conversationalist, and as a result, they were making little headway with the project.

Rinpoche once told me that he had what the Tibetans call a "tor" mind. That's what I heard him say. I think the Tibetan word is actually gtor, which means "scatter" among other things. Essentially he was saying that he recognized that he was a "scatterbrain".

One of Trungpa Rinpoche's prominent students left Rinpoche to go to Trungpa because she said she "never knew what he was going to do from one moment to the next".

We split the project into parts, with me handling some chapters and the professor handling others. I had been trying to become a writer for some time and was familiar with creating something out of nothing. The blank page did not intimidate me.

In short order I was typing drafts of what Rinpoche had given me in conversation and in translation from his own source documents. Rinpoche was able to wave these typescripts in front of the professor and imply that he needed to be more businesslike about what we were doing. The professor, who had a very nice prose style, got down to business and soon the project was advancing.

We wanted to do an absolutely first class job, (We both loved Rinpoche and were so proud of him. Our great lama.) but to do so we felt the need to ask many penetrating questions about the practice. These questions, and our extremely methodical approach, began to irritate Rinpoche.

One day, after tension had been building up for some time, he said, "In Tibet, when a lama writes a book, he just puts it on the shelf and nobody reads it."

The book project was a wonderful opportunity to spend extended periods of time with a great meditation master. It was completely invaluable and very rare to be in this position, but Rinpoche refused to follow the agenda we had set for the project.

He didn't want to write a revealing book about the practice against the background of a biographical treatment of a famous lama. He wanted to write hagiography. He wanted to write a completely conventional recitation, from collected sources, that would cause no notice in the larger Tibetanist world.

When we finally had the text that Rinpoche insisted was "finished", over our objections, we submitted it for publication by a well known Dharma publishing company associated with a very famous Tibetan lama.

We heard nothing, for months, many months. Rinpoche kept asking us for news from the publishing company.

The professor who was really the head of the project, after Rinpoche, wrote to the famous lama, connected to the publishing company, which was run by one of his students. No response.

We had sold prepublication orders for the book. People were writing to us wondering where the book was.

Under the circumstances, I finally wrote an insistent letter to the lama at the pinnacle of all this, requesting an unequivocal answer to the question of whether his very large organization with its associated publishing company, would publish the book.

The lama replied.

He said that the book needed to be undertaken by someone competent to do it. He said that he was writing at Rinpoche's request. The impression left was that dealing with us was a chore for him, and that we were far, far, far, beneath both he and Rinpoche.

Rinpoche was not satisfied with this.

In the world of Tibetanism, and really in any political world (but that's the point), treating his representatives badly was the equivalent of treating him badly.

Rinpoche carried more weight than that, despite his tiny meditation center.

He made a representation to the head of the lineage and the head of the lineage contacted the very, very, very famous and fabulous lama and requested that he publish the book.

As a consequence the project was taken out of our hands and given to a couple of Ph.D.'s, so that they could write introductory notes for it, of a scholarly sort.

The book was finally published.

It was incredibly stressful to write this book, as I have indicated already.

The illustrations in it were absolutely first class, by a Toronto artist, as good as the best Tibetan artists can do, but doing so many illustrations was a strain for the artist, who wanted to default to a less complex style, but soldiered on at our earnest request. The illustrations are the glory of the book.

The great lama was right. We were not competent to do this job, none of us, except perhaps in the Tibetan style Rinpoche wanted. (To be filed on the shelf, unread.)

Neither of these Ph.D.'s took the trouble to contact us or communicate with us in any way.

Both of them are very well known in Western Vajrayana circles. I'm not going to name them. They know who they are. One of them had decency enough, years ago, to suggest, very tentatively, in a magazine article, that the Dharmapala, Mahakala, might actually be more than just a construction of the practitioner's visual imagination. The other one is very, very successful, with a large number of Dharma centers, and full of the usual oily baloney one hears from such people.

A sneaking suspicion that has crept up on me over the years is that being a first class meditator and being a first class shyster are not mutually exclusive possibilities. People accept that one could be a first class pianist and a first class shyster, but the idea that this applies to first class meditators too is not as widely appreciated.
edit on 28-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 28 2018 @ 02:50 AM
People might think that I am being overly harsh on the Tibetans and that I am damaging the efforts of Dharma teachers in North America with my revelations and my gossip. They need have no fear. If I have learned one thing in my forty-two years of Buddhist practice, it is that an unpalatable truth out of the mouth of any Westerner is no competition for anything, no matter how inane, out of the mouth of a Tibetan, or a stooge of the Tibetans.

It would be like being a parent who told their teenager in the 1950s that Elvis Presley was not a good role model and that some day he would end up as a drug addled, overweight, would be (but rejected) informant for the FBI, offering to rat on people like the Beatles . . . for drug use(!!), if you can believe it.

The Tibetans are that popular and quite a few of them deserve the popularity and the esteem, but not all, and just how much more than popularity they deserve, is in need of evaluation.

The gift of the Dharma is wonderful. The gift of Dharma Incorporated, less so. The gift of Tibetanism begs a careful examination of its teeth.

posted on Oct, 29 2018 @ 10:00 AM
My Life in Our Dharma Center

Part 1.

During its course of development our center got a Tibetanist makeover that illustrates the character of Tibetanism, as naked realpolitik, very clearly. This course of events is responsible for the disaffection of some very sincere, dedicated and extraordinarily productive practitioners and for the abandonment of the practice by numbers of the center's most important early members.

Rinpoche's attitude to the center, from the earliest days of my involvement, was ambivalent. He always said that he wanted a center with large numbers of people coming through it, taking refuge, learning meditation, becoming Bodhisattvas, spreading the Dharma. But he did things that undermined the possibility of that occurring. He undermined his own board members and allowed people who were not on the board and who did not work on center projects to influence him and thus to influence what we did and how we did it.

That sort of thing could be justified in a Buddhist's mind by reference to the notion of "nondiscrimination". There is certainly nothing about hard working, careful, responsible board or committee members that would differentiate them, in a great Vajrayana master's "gtor mind", from a collection of irresponsible hangers on, staying on the sidelines, conserving their energy, doing little, except when it suited them to back seat drive a little.

The situation that resulted from our guru's behavior was very exasperating, very draining and counter productive. Vajrayana Buddhism has a tradition of students being subjected to ego shaking "trials" of various sorts, which leads to a high tolerance among them for absurd levels of potentially manipulative abuse.

The university professor that I was assisting on Rinpoche's book project said to me one day, after things had become somewhat conflicted in a number of areas, "Rinpoche is sabotaging the center."

I was a junior partner in what we were doing, but I heard him and believed him. I didn't want to believe him and didn't know what to do about it. We didn't discuss it in detail. We didn't form an action plan. Rinpoche had already created conditions of division in our group, where people were operating on their own agendas. They were either simply hanging on, or actively seeking to dominate the organization. A lot of cynical political thinking was going on in a very small group of perhaps twenty people.

To my shame, I had lost my own bearings in the simmering turmoil of the group dynamic described. When the professor confided his assessment to me, I was concerned to hear a confirmation of my own apprehensions, but my dominent reaction was Machiavellian. It was apparent to me that the professor's connection to the group was becoming shaky. Hanging on in the hope of a simplification of the politics of the center worked to keep me involved, biding my time.

Rinpoche was "dividing and conquering". We were being divided and conquered.

What follows is a story that will be told from my perspective, but I must state at the outset, that I was not the most important figure in our Dharma center. I was not what held the place together. I was important in that I was well educated and capable of hard work. I had skills and organizational ability. I was a team player and put the overall health and efficiency of the organization first. I was self abnegating to some degree and very exasperated by people who I regarded as free riders, consumers rather than producers. I was an egotist who felt he could do anything and along with a small handful of people, was often required to do everything. Like the other hard workers, I was young and full of energy and able to bear the burdens to a great extent, but at considerable cost.

The straws that stirred the drink, so to speak, were Rinpoche himself and the university professor, an immensely charming "ringmaster" with a slight tendency to sadism, expressed by mockery. This part of him only came out intermittently as a way of keeping people subordinate. I was annoyed by him at times, but others really disliked him, perhaps to the point of concealed hatred. It took a while for me to fully appreciate the negative aspects of his personality, mainly because they were far surpassed by his good humor, his charm, his willingness to participate fully, his essentially good heart and his devotion to Rinpoche and the Dharma.

posted on Oct, 29 2018 @ 04:30 PM
Part Two

I didn't think of myself as a spiritual novice when I went to our center for the first time

I had been practicing Hatha Yoga for three years or so and had read about Hinduism and Buddhism in popular presentations of these religions.

This was around 1975 and there was nowhere near as much meditation related material available in North America at the time as there is now. I was familiar with accounts of Shankara Acharya, Milarepa, Patanjali, the books of W.Y. Evans-Wentz, the hatha yoga experiences of Theos Bernard, stories of Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi. I'd read Christopher Isherwood's A Meeting by the River and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I'd gone to a meeting of people interested in the Baghavadgita and been asked by a Hindu doctor, puzzled by my interest in meditation, "Do you really want to see ghosts?"

I had a degree in English Literature and wanted to be a writer. I had an interest in Eastern spirituality because my own version, Roman Catholicism, given up as a child, had left an impression that was more subtle than I had been able to appreciate as a youth.

I had been leading a somewhat dissolute life, working at the Post Office and spending my free time drinking in strip clubs. I had had a relationship with someone from university that had fallen apart. I had traveled around Western Europe alone, hitch hiking and camping out frequently. I had had a sexual experience of the professional sort, as a customer, in Montmartre.

I wasn't ostentatious about anything. I wasn't a poser. What I knew best in life by that point, was how to navigate safely in a seedy environment.

As I pursued my interest in meditation, I heard, on a radio program I believe, about an Indian swami, Swami Rama, who had interesting sorts of clairvoyant powers. I wanted to get such powers because I thought (don't laugh) it would be great to be able to sleep and study at the same time.

I looked over the field of meditation and came to the conclusion that Tibetan Buddhism seemed to have everything that any other sort of meditation had. It was like a meditation supermarket that carried everything. I thought it would save me a lot of time to go to the "one stop shop" for meditation, Tibetan Buddhism.

In due course I heard that a Tibetan meditation center was being set up in Toronto by a well known lama (unknown to me) and that a local Tibetan lama (surprise) would be taking charge of it for him.

This well known lama was quite extraordinary looking. As soon as I saw his photograph, I knew that he was an authentic, experienced Tibetan lama, such was his physical presence in the picture. He was an elderly man, very thin, with an extraordinary visage. Someone once described him as looking as if his skull had been pinched together a little at the temples. His expression was completely impassive as he looked at the camera.

The lama who would be in charge of the center, locally, was not in the photo. The newspaper article gave the address of a house in the west end of Toronto, which I made note of, and the telephone number of a local man, who was a contact person for those interested in the Tibetan lama's visit and the Dharma center being set up.

I don't remember the exact details of how I arranged to go to this new center. It was some time after the visit of the lama from India. I must have called the contact number. I was given a day and time when a "puja" was going to be held at the center. I didn't know what a puja was. I must have asked about it but I don't remember what I was told.

I remember arriving at the address and being welcomed into the place, told where to put my coat, etc. It was winter.

In the "living room" on the main floor, a group of people were sitting on the rug in front of a Tibetan lama, sitting cross legged in front of them, facing them in an elevated position. To his left I think there was a shrine altar with shelves, although I might be imagining that. On the wall, there was an extraordinary photo of the head only, of someone I had never seen before. My first thought was, "Who is that!?"

I was completely clueless.

The people gathered in the room were in the middle of "the puja". They were praying and the sound of it left me dumbstruck. The impression was of a group of people mumbling together, in a cave.

"Blublublub, drubdrubdrub", on and on.

They were praying in Tibetan! The effect was startling and unnerving. It is only years later that I realize how appropriate that characterization "mumbling in a cave", was, which struck me then, just as I describe it now.

Had I heard it lifetimes ago, in a cave?

It was disturbing at the time, but I didn't recoil from it. As the puja went on, I got a little impatient, and made an abrupt movement of energy, as if to pull the rug out from under the lama. When I did that, he looked up, and I knew that this person was a real meditator and lama.
edit on 29-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 29 2018 @ 06:58 PM
Part Three

The rest of the time at the meditation center was unremarkable. I did not meet the lama. After the puja, everyone who did not live at the center went home.

On the streetcar home, a couple who had attended the puja, sat behind me. We chatted briefly. I don't remember what we talked about. I remember that the guy cut into the girl's speech a couple of times, as if she weren't even there. She very gently objected to his "interrupting her again". He was unapologetic and seemed a little intense and talkative, as if he were trying to make an impression. Eventually we went our separate ways on the transit system.

I should say that I am not writing this piece to take anyone down a peg. My interest is in Tibetanism, not people's personal flaws, but those sorts of things will come into it. I don't put myself on a level above the people who were coming into my life at that time.

Like most people, I have done things that I regret. That's better than doing things that one doesn't regret, but it is a long way from spiritual perfection. I stole ten dollars out of a wallet once, that I found on a desk in the stacks of my university library.

Ten dollars, to a student in 1970, was a lot of money. The theft would certainly have ruined her day, if not her week. I did it to find out what it was like to brazenly steal something. I've regretted it ever since. I've never let myself off the hook, not with that and not with any of the other lousy things I have done in my life.

Graham Greene, in his novel, The Power and the Glory, said it best,

“He knew now that at the end there was only one thing that counted - to be a saint.”

The beginnings of our center were a little slapdash. I wasn't present at the very beginning, but I learned about it.

When the center was formed, Tibetan Buddhism was the coming thing. There was a fascination with it among people much hipper than I was. Wealthy, connected people were helping and sponsoring the Tibetans. Our lama was living in a home in Rosedale, owned by a very wealthy and prominent Torontonian, free of charge.

Our center was incorporated, as a charitable nonprofit corporation, with the assistance of the wife of the person who owned the home and a collection of other people, who, at that point, considered themselves students of the well known lama, whose picture I had seen in the newspaper, and the famous and fabulous lama connected to the eventual publication of our book, who lived in the United States.

What I didn't realize when I attended that first puja, was that there were students of four different lamas attending that puja. At that time, knowing nothing of "lineage", knowing nothing of "samaya bonds" and knowing absolutely nothing of the responsibilities of the guru, I did not realize the significance of the situation, nor the potential it held for political and spiritual stress.

It was as if the balls on a pool table had been racked up, waiting, unsuspectingly, for the arrival of the cue ball.
edit on 29-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 31 2018 @ 07:07 PM
Part Four

I don't know how many times I went to the Dharma center at the house in the west end of Toronto. I'm sure it would have been a few times. I was still working at the Post Office and still haunting the strip clubs and the seedy section of Yonge Street, the very long street that runs from near Lake Ontario, north, through the center of the city, and many miles north of the city into communities in the hinterland.

I was living in a small apartment, consisting of a bed/sitting room, a tiny kitchen and a small washroom with a shower in it. The house was divided into four apartments. Sometimes I could hear the couple who lived next to me on the main floor, making love in their bedroom.

They were Americans and both worked, she for a literary magazine based in Toronto. I won't name it.

The house was owned by an elderly lady and her even more elderly brother. They were from somewhere foreign, I thought, maybe Central Europe. She was always trying to get me to shovel the driveway in winter. She hinted about things like rent increases and was annoying to deal with. She was the sort of landlady, poor dear, into which Raskolnikov could have planted an axe, in a moment of peak.

Her elderly brother was much nicer, a kindly, gentle soul. I can still see him smiling at me as he leaned on the snow shovel, leaving so much unsaid. I should have helped him, but I was much too self important, self contained and busy, so I didn't, to my shame and chagrin.

A great thing about the practice of Vajrayana is the practice of Chenresig puja, with its famous mantra, Om Mani Padme Hung.

It is a puja devoted to the the worship of the Mahayana Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara (Chenresig in Tibetan), the embodiment of compassion.

After doing the practice for a time one will find that it is very easy to break the habit of insularity and call up the impulse to be kind instead of cold. After a long period of practice it becomes the automatic response to the sight of anyone in distress of any sort. It is one of the truly great practices in all of religion.

As mentioned earlier, there were students of four different lamas, who attended meditation and pujas at the Dharma center in the west end.

One of the lamas was the elderly gentleman in whose name the center had been established. He was based in India and travelled a lot. Another lama was the very famous Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the author of excellent books on Tibetan Buddhism. He was based in the United States. The third lama was a Canadian Theravadin monk who was said to have attained Enlightenment in Myanmar, then Burma, and had been recognized by the head of the Kargyupa lineage as a Lama Rinpoche, Namgyal Rinpoche, capable of transmitting Vajrayana teachings. The fourth lama was the local lama, living in Toronto.

He was the "sleeper" of the bunch, my eventual guru. I don't want to talk in great detail about him or even mention his name, although people familiar with the Toronto scene will know who he is.

Trungpa Rinpoche was very famous and reputed to be a very highly "realized" being. He was the eleventh in the Trungpa line. That is a very old tulku line.

On the social and political side of things Tibetan, my own guru was much better connected, but I didn't know it at the time. He was also very highly realized and a very powerful mahasiddha, living, under the radar, in Toronto. People had no idea who and what he was, and on numerous occasions, students of other gurus treated him as if he were some kind of spiritual parking lot attendant. He bore all of this with complete equanimity.

He said of Trungpa once, "We jealous each other."

In not too long a time, I became close to the university professor, the contact person for the center. It wasn't anything more than university educations gravitating together in very brief conversations. He was pleasant and I think he saw some potential for me, as a center member, but we weren't at all conspiratorial.

I was not aware that things were not well at the center, among the people who lived there.

Exact chronology is a little vague for me, after forty-two years, but at some point the university professor told me that the fourth lama, my eventual guru, wanted to start his own center. Also, a decision had been made to open a meditation hall in a more central location. People started to look for suitable rental situations.

The idea of starting a "new center" was something that was not generally known by the other students. I didn't mix socially with them, so it never came up in conversation between me and more than a couple of other people, who were also in the orbit of this professor.

At that time I thought that there was no problem with the lama wanting to start his own center. I knew nothing of lineage politics, or of this lama's connection to the elderly lama in whose name the center had been started.

I didn't know anything about anything and was completely unaware of the consequences of this decision. I didn't even know that the people who attended pujas at this center, and were more familiar with this scene than I was, saw it as a center started by a particular lama, who retained control over it.

As far as I know it was the only Dharma center in town at that time, and served the students of four different lamas, in the care of a lama, whom most of those students regarded as a nondescript custodian lama.

This sounds like a spiritual soap opera in the making, and it was, but I'm not interested in the personal conflicts that came to the fore during this period, except as they serve to illustrate the shape of Tibetanism.
edit on 31-10-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2018 @ 09:37 AM
Note: I am starting to come under a considerable amount of mental pressure not to continue writing this story. People who are more or less aware of what I am doing seem to think I've written too much already. People think that what I have written is an embarrassment. Not everyone thinks this. Some people are glad that it is being written and others believe that it presents a problem that needs to be addressed.

In the past I've found that people who don't know how art is made, tend to get very impatient to see the finished product. People want a happy ending and in their impatience do not want to endure suspense while waiting for it. The ideal story form in the context of Tibetanism would be one where the story line ascends a gentle grade in a smooth ever upward fashion, ending in complete satisfaction and validation. I want to assure all Tibetanists that things will turn out well, from their point of view, as soon as I have eliminated all non Tibetanists from my story, with the exception of myself, of course.

That last elimination is up to them, if they are up to it, realizing what it would say about them.
edit on 2-11-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2018 @ 10:09 AM
a reply to: ipsedixit

"I have added nothing new to the Buddha's teaching." - Once a common claim of Tibetan gurus.

Of course they could not add anything new to Buddha's teaching because they are/were being taught what to think and believe within only one path, that being, Buddha's (bastardized?) path to enlightenment. Is it no wonder a person seeking true enlightenment would stray to other paths/philosophies.

Forever a student never to surpass the teacher.

To Ikkyu:

... The Buddha preached for forty-nine years and in all that time found it not necessary to speak one word. You ought to know why. But if you don't and yet wish to avoid thinking fruitlessly. Your mother, Not born. Not dead. September first.

P.S. The teaching of Buddha was mainly for the purpose of enlightening others. If you are dependent on any of its methods, you are naught but an ignorant insect.

There are 80,000 books on Buddhism and if you should read all of them and still not see your own nature, you will not understand even this letter. This is my will and testament. (From Zen Flesh, Zen Bones)

Not only must we learn what our own individual human nature is and once known how to embrace and, if desired, to overcome the more negative influences, but also others' individual or group-influenced human nature(s), which your opening post list spells out.

Politics. Coercion. Feudal attitudes. Little kings. Vow "holders". Stooges. Using yidams, or the deceased for surveillance. Blessed tulkus. Strategic homosexuality. Thuggish, bullying spirituality. Guru, student and personal pride. The premium put on power. Lies and lies of omission in the spiritual context. Tantric (sexual) spirituality perpetrated on unwilling students. Necromancy. Getting psychically buggered. Black magical psychic assaults. Unrequested psychic surgery. Guru inflicted meditative "experimentation". The purposeful stunting and "bonsaiing" of student brains by means of superior mental power or coerced spirits for political purposes and to prevent students from developing some unique or unusual or personal capability, or to attempt to erase potentially awkward portions of their memory. Machiavellian realpolitik operating at the most absurd inconsequential levels. Tibetanism. Inflicted "social" meditative absorptions. Impertinent yogi clown shows. Psychic nagging. The practice of owning students and hence, being owned. The strategic manipulation of the distinction between relative and ultimate truth. Its nearness to Voodoo (Even the Dalai Lama doesn't like this aspect of it).

edit on 111CDT10America/Chicago024101030 by InTheLight because: (no reason given)

edit on 111CDT10America/Chicago031101030 by InTheLight because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 4 2018 @ 09:09 AM
Thanks for your response. There is certainly more than one way to approach these issues. One could sum up what I have said as being one man's opinion and I wouldn't quarrel with that.
edit on 4-11-2018 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

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