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Robert

a different take on precepts and morality

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Hi everyone,

 

I've just stumbled upon a wonderful interview with Ani Pema Chodron, on the topic of morality, sexuality and ethics. She was particularly drilled on her take on Trungpa Rinpoche's actions, which involved a lot of drinking and sleeping with his students. It's amazing to see what she has to say, and I thought it might be interesting to have a debate on this here, since Dharmaling is known for its strong stand on "pure ethics and morality".

And perhaps also interesting in light of recent lawsuit against Geshe Dhargye...

 

http://www.globalserve.net/~sarlo/Ypema.htm

 

Regards,

Robert

 

 

some points from the text:

 

 

Tricycle:Recently a group of Western teachers met in India with His Holiness the Dalai Lama to discuss the direction of Buddhism in the West. [Pema Chodron was invited to this conference but was unable to attend.] At the end of the conference the participants composed—and suddenly circulated—an open letter which set out guidelines for ethical conduct for teachers and which encouraged students to confront teachers in instances of innappropriate behavior and "to publicize any unethical behavior of which there is irrefutable evidence." Do you agree that this would be beneficial?

 

Pema Chodron: The concern here is obviously one of not wanting students to get hurt. Once you become a teacher—just as if you become a monk or nun—you can't blindly keep doing what you always did. You have to be more mindful about how your behavior affects others. So that's one side of it. And I'm glad to see this subject discussed. It's important for students to see thatdharm teachers have tempers or aggression or passion. Buddhism isn't about seeing a world all cleaned up or thinking that the world can be all cleaned up. The other side is that it brings up people's moralism, their conventional-mindedness. It concerns me that guidelines like these may become like some government edict or law of the land. My whole training in Buddhism has been that there is no way to tie up all the loose ends. And that comes from my teachers and the teachings. You're never going to erase the groundlessness. You're never going to have a neat, sweet little picture with no messiness, no matter how many rules you make. It's important to have all the different positions expressed, from left to right, from the most liberal to the most uptight.

 

Tricycle: You don't think it would be helpful to name names, to publicize those instances where Buddhist teachers have been repeatedly taken to task by students?

 

Pema Chodron: That really does feel like McCarthyism to me. I wouldn't want to see a list of the bad teachers and I wouldn't want to see a list of the good ones—here are the saints and here are the sinners. For so many of us that's our heritage, to make things one hundred percent right or one hundred percent wrong. It has been a big relief to me to slowly relax into the courage of living in the ambiguity. I know that these guidelines are being created out of good motivation, but they're simultaneously coming from bad motivation, righteous indignation that "they" are doing something wrong. I like the saying "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." You can't make it right, can't make it wrong.

 

 

Tricycle:There has been a lot of confusion about what qualities define a true teacher. The letter seems to be suggesting that keeping the precepts defines a teacher as trustworthy for a student new to the dharma.

 

Pema Chodron: A lot of people think because I keep these precepts, I'm sort of above politics and scandal. So I can see that students want these clean role models. But clean role models were never that useful for me. My models were the people who stepped outside of conventional mind and who could actually stop my mind and completely open it up and free it, even for a moment, from a conventional, habitual way of looking at things. And so people look for different things. But to look for "safety" in a role model, someone that will never hurt you and always confirm you, is very dubious. If you are really preparing for groundlessness, preparing for the reality of human existence, you are living on the razor's edge, and you must become used to the fact that things shift and change. Things are not certain and they do not last and you do not know what is going to happen. My teachers have always pushed me over the cliff, and that is what has awakened my compassion for what human beings are up against. I am afraid that because of where we come from as Westerners, with our Judeo-Christian heritage, that if you get too focused on doctrine, on codifying, or ethics as a major emphasis, it just turns into harsh judgment. And then there is no genuine compassion.

 

Tricycle:What cultivates genuine compassion?

 

Pema Chodron: Genuine compassion comes from the fact that you see your own limitations: you wish to be kind and you find that you aren't kind. Then, instead of beating yourself up you see that that's what all human beings are up against and you begin to have some kind of genuine compassion for the human condition. And you see how challenging it is to be a human being. You try to be peaceful and never to raise your voice and you find out that you have a lot of rage. The dharma is about making friends with the groundlessness and discomfort of those feelings. It is not about making rules so that those emotions never arise. Compassion doesn't come from trying to clean up the whole act.

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Guest lodreu

Tashi Delek,

 

Thank you for the article :-)

 

I would like to emphasize some points.

 

There is for me a difference between how you act for yourself, and how you act by trying to damage others activities.

The first case goes into the direction of possible unperfectness of the "teachers". As we have to consider that somebody can teach, teach good, while not having a deep realisation of what he is saying.

The second case is more problematic, because it damages Dharma deeper. It contains gossips, slanders etc .... And this for my point of view, beacuse of the confusion and problems it creates, has to be clearly pointed out.

 

It's surely a good thing to do not be too much projective and attached to the perfect image of one teacher. This is the student reponsability also, to know who he can trust and till which point. Guidelines are set, the lam rim is there, vows are there, for monks the vinaya is there.

So it's just necessary to follow this. No need to make, from my point of view, another rules -sheet. If people discuss and refer to what has been set up by the Buddha it's enough.

 

But for that you also need some kind of reference, to know what is and what is not

:) Otherwise you can easily fall in the "tantric, realized" tendancy.

 

Some special beings had some specific behaviour, which although very unconventionnal from the point of view of ethic, brought a lot to others. Chogyam Trungpa was among those realized beings.

But before to copy such way of life, you first have to get the same realizations. Otherwise it's just one excuse for your stupid behaviour.

 

Best regards,

Lodreu.

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Guest Ani.Chödrön

Tashi Delek!

 

I would continue conversation with the other topics - strictness of the rules and (lack of) firmness of Buddhist concepts:

 

- I believe that guidelines are essential to shape our monkey mind because we tend to avoid any measures to serve our ego and lead comfortable life (which doesn’t lead us anywhere). As I understand Pema Chodron’s teachings, she puts a lot of effort to turn our mind towards genuine ethics and morality; at the firs place avoiding our own ego tricks, like spiritual materialism or fear. But this is a firm guideline as well, isn’t it?

- To my observation we all start the path in an imperfect states of mind :wink:, applying all the selfish habits and conceptual trumpery to the Path at first, but it doesn’t mean that we will keep them forever. There are many ways how to work on it. To one’s character a pitiless confrontation with reality works well, to someone else’s not. I see the prime importance and preciousness of a guru’s guidance here.

- Pema Chodron emphasizes the fact that there is no safe ground, not even within Buddhism. I agree with her, I would say specially in Buddhism, but I would add that there are different starting points. And that this fact is unavoidable in any case, no matter if you start with it directly or it runs into you from around the corner. There are peaceful :P and wrathful :evil: aspects of Buddhas.

- They say that Buddhist concepts are the last to abandon, others, like anger, jealuousy or pride... might be a priority. :wink:

 

Best regards,

Chödrön

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Tashi Delek!

 It's amazing to see what she has to say, and I thought it might be interesting to have a debate on this here, since Dharmaling is known for its strong stand on "pure ethics and morality".  

Does this emphasis on "pure ethics and morality" surprise you? Let me quote His Holiness ("How to Practice"):

"Looking at the three practices - morality, concentrated meditation, and wisdom - we see that each serves as the basis for the next. (This order of practice is clearly demonstrated in the Buddha's own life story.) Therefore, all spiritual progress depends on a foundation of proper morality."

So, within the framework of my understanding, this is expressed clearly enough - so I would allow myself to doubt about any Buddhist community which WOULDN'T emphasise this. :wink:

 

I agree with Ven. Lodrö that for realised Masters other rules may apply, but I am afraid we are not in the position to say much about this.

 

And here yet another highlight from the same interview:

 

======

Tricycle: How did he respond to your choice of celibacy?

 

Pema Chodron: He encouraged me to be very strict with my vows.

 

Tricycle:He never provoked you or needled you about being attached to your vows?

 

Pema Chodron: Quite the opposite. He actually was very strict and used to say, You know people will be watching you, people will watch how you walk, how you move, and you should really represent this tradition well. In terms of how to be a nun or monk, his teachings were always very straight, very pure. He needled me about other things. I remember one time saying something to him about feeling that I was a nice person. I used the word "nice," and I remember the look that crossed his face—it was as if he had just eaten something that tasted really bad. And he would also do this thing, which many students have talked to me about, where you'd be talking on and on in your most earnest style and he'd just yawn and look out the window.

=========

 

Best regards.

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I've just stumbled upon a wonderful interview with Ani Pema Chodron, on the topic of morality, sexuality and ethics. She was particularly drilled on her take on Trungpa Rinpoche's actions, which involved a lot of drinking and sleeping with his students.  It's amazing to see what she has to say, and I thought it might be interesting to have a debate on this here, since Dharmaling is known for its strong stand on "pure ethics and morality".

Indeed, Buddhism can be taught from different aspects. And it is true that Dharmaling has choosen the most traditional one, because we beleive that we have to carry on what the Buddha has taught. He was "officially" a Buddha, and the Path is clear. And clearly based on Ethic.

 

When I see "transformation" of Buddhism, so to say "for Westerner", I see the degenerating factor taking action over the lineage of transmission from the Buddha's time.

First of all, it is taking Westerners for more stupid than they are, unable to understand the Traditional Dharma. Because Buddhism started in India, but went in many countries, including Tibet, it has adapted, but always remained on the same strong basis of Ethic.

 

Then, as mentioned already by Ven. Lodrö, it is not because one Master has shown a more "liberal" way, that all his disciples can do the same, have the necessary qualities and wisdom to do it in a similar way.

 

You mentioned alcohol and sex... If Realised Masters are not affected by influences from what their body is going through, this is not the case of common human beings.

Such Masters might show, occasionally, that our concepts are wrong because all can be transcended by the power of Dharma, and more specially by the power of Tantras. But we shall not get confused by the chronology of such manifestation: first one get highest Realisation (as Emptiness), then can show such capacities...

To base a type of "new practices" on usage of alcohol, sex, and 'limit' behaviour cannot be, to my opnion, called Buddhism. It often conforts people in their misbehaviour, instead.

Chogyam Trungpa can be depicted in some way having loose ethic by some people; and in some way very clear about the need of ethic! Teachings from such Master are adapted to their audience, and hardly can be taken as a generality.

 

Some people think that most Westerners cannot "co-op" with a clean and well defined Ethic and practice, and try to propose some kind of "alternative". Once, a man approached me and wanted to create a Buddhism without reincarnation because: "it is too complicated for people"!!

 

Yes, we need to adapt Buddhism in the West, in the sense of finding exemples, stories, images, which are more easy to grab for people growing in different societies. But we shall not modify the essence of the Teachings of the Buddhas, corrupt the basis, such as the 6 Noble Perfections: Generosity - Ethic - Patience - Enthusiasm - Concentration - Wisdom.

 

You say we have a "strong stand on pure ethic and morality"... There is no "strong stand" to my view; there is what has been taught by the Buddhas, which simply 'stands on' pure ethic and morality. This is the basis of virtue!

But there are lot of loose and weak stands! As our ego is much quicker to follow laziness and lack or ethic than opposite...

 

All the best, Gelong T. Shenphen

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But for that you also need some kind of reference, to know what is and what is not  

:)  Otherwise you can easily fall in the "tantric, realized" tendancy.  

 

Some special beings had some specific behaviour, which although very unconventionnal from the point of view of ethic, brought a lot to others. Chogyam Trungpa was among those realized beings.  

But before to copy such way of life, you first have to get the same realizations. Otherwise it's  just one excuse for your stupid behaviour.  

 

I agree. I think especially in the west there has been a lot of problems with people misunderstanding the higher tantric teachings and using them as an excuse to hurt other or to puff themselves up.

And our sangha (shambhala) has had its share of problems with this, especially with the drinking, which has luckily became much much tamer in the last years. People were still just trying to copy Trungpa's Rinpoche's behaviour instead of realizing his teachings.

 

Though I think on the other hand, we are quite free of trying to be too religious and too pure that i think schools that take precepts in a different way might be struggling with.

For me, it is interesting, because I have trained and lived in different communities, some with very strict moral code, lots of emphasis on precepts, on doing everything very very mindfully, being very present, like the Vietnamese Zen community (Thich Nhat Hanh's) that I lived in in France. And so I saw and experienced the tremendous benefit that comes from observing the precepts so purely, and having so much emphasis on the minutest details of one's existence. One's awareness and concentration get sharpened immensely and the mind seems to be able to relax more. That is if this doesn't play in the neurosis of trying to be perfect (as it did with me) and then you're really in for it - you can torture yourself immensely with them as well, and ego is quite capable of subverting them for feeding itself as it is with anything else. It took me quite a while to catch on to what I was doing.

The "shadow" side of that community though was that people were afraid of their negativities, afraid of the "world out there" that would break their discipline and their vows, phony smiles, everybody trying to look happy. It was very hard to go through difficult times there, as people were coming to you and saying things like "Oh, brother, you're not smiling, isn't your practice going well?" And I just wanted to punch them in the face!! ;-)

You couldn't be loud, even clapping hands was kinda frowned upon, instead people expressed their appreciation by waving their hand above their shoulders (i don't think i can describe this accurately!) And I felt that when people took their vows too seriously (ie, fixating on them) it really killed the joy and especially humour. I think that is one of the telling signs - if there's no humour and understanding of human fallacies, then i think you're holding on to something a bit too tightly. Trying to be too pure and perfect.

 

On the other hand, when I lived at Gampo Abbey, which is a monastery in the Shambhala tradition it was almost the opposite. People were definitely not afraid of saying what was on their minds and they were quite free in expressing their disagreements with you. No phony smiles there for sure! And for me, I have to say it was quite a relief! I felt like I was finally able to relax a bit. I can deal with aggression much more easily if it is all out in the open, not hidden in dark corners. Though, of course there is a "shadow side" to this as well. For one, it makes for a very chaotic community, very very challenging to live in that kind of place, where your deceptions are constantly exposed. It is not a "nurturing" kind of place.

In fact it is quite humiliating and humbling - your neuroses is being constantly torn apart. Which, I'm beginning to see, is really what true compassion is about. but still, it doesn't make it any easier.

 

It is really about coming to terms with our own imperfections, how we hurt others constantly and letting that soften us. And it works, at least for those who can follow it.

But I have to think more what the "shadow" side of this approach is. It definitely brings a lot less security - you can't have your teachers as perfect anymore, here you have Ani Pema, world renowned teacher, who is telling you how she caught herself stealing somebody else's shampoo in the bathroom, you have a famous yogi, who's favorite dish is chicken with sweet cream, and of course the founder who drank a lot and had sex with a lot of his students. It pretty much blows any idealized version of spirituality one might be holding, at least it did for me. ;-)

But slowly it actually made me love them more, love Ani Pema for her unshakable honesty in exposing her own faults, her courage in not being afraid of her own stuff is a constant inspiration. Love all the crazy lineage figures, all the mishaps and misfits who nonetheless never gave up on themselves, no matter what situation they were in, and attained complete enlightenment.

Love Milarepa, crazy angry murderer, who killed so many in revenge and yet attained the final realization and benefited immeasurable number of beings and is continually doing so. He also never gave up, even when Marpa had him build all the silly towers, his devotion has never waned. Whenever I'm doing my prostrations and I come to the point where everything is aching, my body and my mind, and i feel, fuck, what on earth am I doing throwing myself on the floor like this, f* all this buddhist shit, where is my bed and my pizza, i see him smiling. And I continue to pound my body on the floor, as crazy as he was, and also not giving up like he didn't.

And Naropa, who was so proud and arrogant, Marpa who was angry all the time, flinging into rage a lot, and I can't remember who it was (Karmapa, or Gampopa?) who got kicked out of the monastery for drinking and dancing?

And the craziest of them all, wild Chogyam Trungpa, married to an English girl at 16, who smoked,drank, had lots of sex and yet managed to bring true pristine Dharma to the West, to tame the crazy joint loving hippies, make them wear business suits, get jobs, go back to society and help it in any way one can. Who got people to march in military uniforms, who taught dressage (horse riding) as contemplative discipline, flower arranging, oryoky zen eating, theater, callygraphy, poetry, who started a university based on contemplative discipline, taught Miksang- contemplative photography and brought the Shambhala terma to this dark age. all in 13 years.

This is my family, my lineage and my devotion to them grows stronger day by day.

They teach me how to not give up on myself, no matter what is going on. To be brutally honest and gentle, fearless in going into my neurosis. To laugh in my deepest rage and fear, to see and rest in the nature of my mind.

And I love them.

 

Robert

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To base a type of "new practices" on usage of alcohol, sex, and 'limit' behaviour cannot be, to my opnion, called Buddhism. It often conforts people in their misbehaviour, instead.

Chogyam Trungpa can be depicted in some way having loose ethic by some people; and in some way very clear about the need of ethic! Teachings from such Master are adapted to their audience, and hardly can be taken as a generality.

Of course, that was not the meaning of my post, I hope it was not understood as such.

 

Some people think that most Westerners cannot "co-op" with a clean and well defined Ethic and practice, and try to propose some kind of "alternative". Once, a man approached me and wanted to create a Buddhism without reincarnation because: "it is too complicated for people"!!

And some teachers are doing that (teaching without talking about reincarnation). In fact in all the time I have studied with Thich Nhat Hanh, I think he only mentioned karma once and he never answered any questions about reincarnation. Now, I can only speculate as to his reasons, but this is one possible style of teaching. My opinion is that most people find it to abstract to relate to it, and he wanted people to really look at their lives at the moment, and bring awareness to that. Same essence, but different approach.

 

Yes, we need to adapt Buddhism in the West, in the sense of finding exemples, stories, images, which are more easy to grab for people growing in different societies. But we shall not modify the essence of the Teachings of the Buddhas, corrupt the basis, such as the 6 Noble Perfections: Generosity - Ethic - Patience - Enthusiasm - Concentration - Wisdom.

Yes, very much agreed.

 

You say we have a "strong stand on pure ethic and morality"... There is no "strong stand" to my view; there is what has been taught by the Buddhas, which simply 'stands on' pure ethic and morality. This is the basis of virtue!

But there are lot of loose and weak stands! As our ego is much quicker to follow laziness and lack or ethic than opposite...

Hmm, i guess i need to define what i mean by "strong stand". Perhaps it is more of a emphasis and approach.

And as ego is much more prone to laziness, it is also much easier to practice precepts in a rigid way, than with an understanding of emptiness and non solidity.

In fact, they can provide a lot of security, feeling you're on the "good" side, as opposed to the "bad", bringing all our "being perfect" neurosis into it ( i say this because I have done that!). And I think they can be helpful in this way as well (as far as security and feeling good is concerned).

But it really becomes interesting, where you use them instead to bring you closer to insecurity and groundlessness. Where the main precept is not holding to any fixed views. including the precepts themselves. That leaves you in a much more shaky and open space, where things are not "right" or "wrong" anymore.

My personal opinion is that you can only do that, if you first try and follow the precepts and ethics by the letter and then with practice, you can bring these other elements in as well.

You need some good ground, before you can start taking the ground away!

 

I guess my main "problem" with the "strong stand" is that you are using the practice of precepts, "following the true tradition", "being non sectarian" many times in what seems to be a way of saying, look at us, we are the true guys, we are true practitioners, the only ones who uphold the teachings purely, and from that follows (sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly) that others are not doing so. For me this is sectarian, is it not? If by saying you're the only non-sectarian one, you put all the others down?

Perhaps I am mistaken, and I am almost sure that this is not the purpose, but it comes out like that.

And this even then comes from the students - like one person in describing Dharmaling saying, we are the only one who have a resident lama (of course true) and we are truly practicing the teachings. Well... ;-)

 

So, I think this is the main problematic side of ethics - to be more clear, not ethics itself, but holding on to it, it is so so easy to fall into good and bad, right and wrong, better and worse. In fact, it seems very difficult to avoid, and for me, this is one of the main issues in how I am practicing my precepts. How to use them to help me wake up, but not to contribute to judging others, and not to make the division between myself and others bigger.

 

Regards,

Robert

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The "shadow" side of that community though was that people were afraid of their negativities, afraid of the "world out there" that would break their discipline and their vows, phony smiles, everybody trying to look happy. It was very hard to go through difficult times there, as people were coming to you and saying things like "Oh, brother, you're not smiling, isn't your practice going well?" And I just wanted to punch them in the face!! ;-)You couldn't be loud, even clapping hands was kinda frowned upon, instead people expressed their appreciation by waving their hand above their shoulders (i don't think i can describe this accurately!) And I felt that when people took their vows too seriously (ie, fixating on them) it really killed the joy and especially humour. I think that is one of the telling signs - if there's no humour and understanding of human fallacies, then i think you're holding on to something a bit too tightly. Trying to be too pure and perfect.

Thank you for this "debate" Robert ;)

I know we agree on the subject of Tantra, and the abuse of it which can take place, so I won't go further about this.

 

I understand what you mean about "too serious" with one's vows... Yet, this is far to be the majority of the monks I have met in 20 years being a monk! Compare to the huge amount of lay or/and loose people, not able and sometime simply not willing, to follow any type of Ethical way of life because it would cause to much pain to their Ego, and therefore looking for some "compromise"... which is much better than if they wouldn't do anything of spiritual.

 

I have lived in a Western monastery as well as in Tibetan monasteries, and found always lot of humor, smiles, and gentleness from most of other monks. Yet, a great care for the vows they have taken. What is very important is, as always, the guidance! Who is Abbot and Teacher of those monks and nuns!

Most of you might know Lama Yeshe. Can we say that he was too strict, closed face, and lacking humor?! He was laughing incredibly, gentle, and telling joks. And at the same time a monk, respecting the ordination lineage established by Shakyamuni Buddha.

True also, I have met those kinf of monk, or strict lay people, who have just focused too much on the "letters" more than on the meaning...

 

By the way, from the Text, a Sangha is composed of a minimum of 4 fully ordained monks (Gelongs); at minima, it refers to the ordained or higher practitioners. I think it is confusing to call a Sangha just a group of 'simple' practitionners, including beginners and those not respecting much commitments. It has already confused lot of people, as it is used mainly by people not ordained, who somehow would like to be considered as the Sangha, but do have the strength to take and respect ordination...

I prefer to use the term of "Dharma family" when it refers to a large group of Dharma practitionners, whatever their level.

 

You are mentioning "I guess my main "problem", or "i say this because I have done that!", which I understand. Yet, I believe we shall not project our mistakes as a generality, but base our understanding on what has been taught by the Buddha.

I have my own weaknesses, and I know them. I have walked a tiny bit of the Path dealing with them, with the great care of my Teachers. Others have their own weaknesses, and I try to make them to know about them, because this is the basis for changing and improving.

What matters is not "me", but "how can I benefit as many others as possible". And to reach that goal, a Teacher, even though very strict monk, can use some other ways, quite unconventional. Not doing it would actually be against the Bodhisattva vows.

 

you are using the practice of precepts, "following the true tradition", "being non sectarian" many times in what seems to be a way of saying, look at us, we are the true guys, we are true practitioners, the only ones who uphold the teachings purely, and from that follows (sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly) that others are not doing so. For me this is sectarian, is it not? If by saying you're the only non-sectarian one, you put all the others down? For me this is sectarian, is it not? If by saying you're the only non-sectarian one, you put all the others down?

When I look at my mind, and I see a disturb mental factor. I do not bring myself down by recognising it, pointing it, and taking the decision to tame or/and transform it. I have to recognize it before to act on it. No? Isn'it the basis of the basic meditation, Shine, etc...?

 

I haven't invented anything. The Buddha, and my Teachers, said: "The Path to Liberation is by following Ethic in this way". I understood. I'm doing my best to apply this since already 20 years. And, seeing the benefits, in me and in other practitionners, I teach this Path.

Is this what you are calling putting people down? Or do you feel personnaly put down because you cannot indentify with the type of practice we are following in Dharmaling?

 

If I see laziness in someone who asked me for guidance, I can say: "I see laziness; if you wish to reach Buddhahood, you need to develop antidotes to this lazy mind". Is it putting down that person? Shall supporting the negative minds of the others a good way to help them? May be their ego will feel better at first, but they won't progress!

 

When you look at the world nowadays, you can see the result of the lack of ethic. Ethic is fundamental, and I say it without ambiguity. And I stand behind: "foolish are those who do not use a proper ethic to guide their spiritual life"; fooled they are to let their ego taking control over their mind. Fooled they are not acting each moment againt the Ignorance which blind them and make them acting against themselves and against the others.

And people understand it, as, even though among the youngest Buddhist group in Slovenia, Dharmaling has become the largest in two years. If about 200 people have taken Refuge after the type of teachings given through Dharmaling, it might be for some good reasons too. And why Dharmaling has a Sangha and resident teacher, it might have as well some causes behind. As those causes are not money, because we arrived from Spain two years ago without any money, just invited by people of Slovenia.

But... the name does not matter at all! What is nice, is to see Dharma to develop, flourish, through the understanding of people about Buddha-Dharma's values and practices.

 

As you know well, there is a gap between general approach and individual one. It is true I can be rather sharp about misbehaviour and way to mislead Dharma; yet, I do not criticise the persons, the consciousness of the beings. In the position I am, I have to show what I consider the "best" way, the way shown by the Buddha, and taught to me by my Teachers, without ambiguity.

Ambiguous behaviour is a threat to clearity of the mind of Dharma, the mind of the one who is not clear, and the mind of the ones who look at him/her.

 

As about what members of Dharmaling are saying, Dharmaling cannot be responsible of it, when it is not an official position of the main office, or myself.

 

All the very best, Gelong T. Shenphen

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Most of you might know Lama Yeshe. Can we say that he was too strict, closed face, and lacking humor?! He was laughing incredibly, gentle, and telling joks. And at the same time a monk, respecting the ordination lineage established by Shakyamuni Buddha.

True also, I have met those kinf of monk, or strict lay people, who have just focused too much on the "letters" more than on the meaning...

Yes, of course I didn't mean it as a generality. But just that this is the challening side of the precepts, and it very helpful to know about it. And I myself have known many monks and nuns like that as well, above all my own teacher, Ani Pema.

 

By the way, from the Text, a Sangha is composed of a minimum of 4 fully ordained monks (Gelongs); at minima, it refers to the ordained or higher practitioners. I think it is confusing to call a Sangha just a group of 'simple' practitionners, including beginners and those not respecting much commitments. It has already confused lot of people, as it is used mainly by people not ordained, who somehow would like to be considered as the Sangha, but do have the strength to take and respect ordination...

I prefer to use the term of "Dharma family" when it refers to a large group of Dharma practitionners, whatever their level.

That's why i use the term sangha (without the capital letter), as it is used in our community.

In the words of Trungpa Rinpoche:

" Having taking refuge in the Buddha as an example, and Dharma as path, then we take refuge in sangha as companionship. That means that we have a lot of friends, fellow refugees, who are also confused, and who are working with the same guidelines as we are. Everyobody is simoultaneously struggling with their own discipline ... Your friends in the sangha provide a continual reference point which creates a continual learning process. They act as mirror reflections to remind you or warn you in living situations. That is the kind of companionship that is meant by sangha. We are all in the same boat; we share a sense of trust and a sense of larger-scale, organic friendship.

At the same time, you have to stand on your own two feet. A sense of individuality and a sense of comradeship are both involved. You are working together and helping each other, but you are not helping so much that you become addicted to each other's help. ...

So taking refuge in the sangha means being willing to work with your fellow students - your brothers and sisters in the dharma - while being independent at the same time.

... The sangha is the community of people who have the perfect right to cut through your trips and feed you with wisdom, as well as the perfect right to demonstrate their own neurosis (sorry Monster! ;-) ) and be seen through by you. " (from Heart of the Buddha, chapter on Refuge)

 

So, again it is a matter of emphasis and view.

 

You are mentioning "I guess my main "problem", or "i say this because I have done that!", which I understand. Yet, I believe we shall not project our mistakes as a generality, but base our understanding on what has been taught by the Buddha.

I say this to demonstrate that it is my personal experience, but it is also based on talking with a lot of people. During my time in the monasteries, I have had a chance to really meet a lot of practitioners and have seen that in some way we have many common problems. Especially in the west, with our christian upbringing, the weight of the "original sin" is very heavy, and so affects our practice in a major way, especially anything concerned with ethics and morality. So, we need to be very careful, and have a good understanding of where we are coming from and how that colors our perception of the teachings. I think this is where a lot of "traditional" teachings fall short, because the tibetan culture was very different than ours. You are probably aware of that famous meeting between H.H. the Dalai Lama and Western Dharma teachers, where they said that the biggest problem they have in teaching the dharma, is a lack of self esteem and self-hatred that people bring with them. H.H. could not understand what they were talking about, and apparently he went around the room and asked everyone if they have experience of this feeling bad about yourself, guild and self hatred. And of course everybody did. There is not even a word for guilt in Tibetan, if I remember correctly!

So, when we talk about "adapting" teachings, this is what I mean - being aware of the situation the people are coming from and giving teachings appropriate to that. I definitely feel that we as Westerners are capable of understanding traditional teachings, but we can only do that if we understand where they are coming from, and to whom were those teachings being taught and how our perceptions and understandings are colored from our society.

Not somehow dumbing down the teachings, but bridging the cultural gap. I have heard Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche speak many times how he considers himself to be doing just that - as he is trained and has lived in both traditions, he is in a unique way able to do that.

And interestingly enough, it not only goes from East to West, but now also from West to East! In the recent trip in the Tibet, Sakyong was giving Shambhala teachings and "lungs" that were received in the West back to Tibetans. He said it was especially moving when he met with some of the Tibetan hermits in retreat, and they asked him, if they could become Shambhalians!

Trungpa Rinpoche had incredible trust in his Western students and he also felt that this would happen - that the true essence of Buddhism could be brought back to the East by Westerners.

 

When I look at my mind, and I see a disturb mental factor. I do not bring myself down by recognising it, pointing it, and taking the decision to tame or/and transform it. I have to recognize it before to act on it. No? Isn'it the basis of the basic meditation, Shine, etc...?

Yes - and I don't understand what you mean. Can you clarify?

 

I haven't invented anything. The Buddha, and my Teachers, said: "The Path to Liberation is by following Ethic in this way". I understood. I'm doing my best to apply this since already 20 years. And, seeing the benefits, in me and in other practitionners, I teach this Path.

Is this what you are calling putting people down? Or do you feel personnaly put down because you cannot indentify with the type of practice we are following in Dharmaling?

As for the latter, its an interesting point and I will look into it more. I don't believe so, but then, the mind is tricky. And no, I am not calling this putting people down!! Not at all!

 

In fact, this is what is really hard for me to understand.

Your activities are excellent, you have brought a lot of people to the Dharma, lots of people took refuge, lots are studying and practicing diligently.

Your teachings are very clear, direct, and to the point. Style is different from my own tradition, but that is from my own point of view great and I feel I can benefit a lot from it.

And I hope that in the future when the center is in Ljubljana and perhaps if we'll be sharing the space I'll be able to attend to more of them!

And then especially, 3 people took monastic vows recently - which is for me really amazing and precious and it makes me really happy!

 

So, it is all the harder for me to understand, why the need to many times refer to other practitioners as "half buddhists", "those who pretend to be buddhist", pointing out how you follow the traditions purely and are nonsectarian. I think your words and deeds speak for themselves, and they are excellent! So, why the need for this badmouthing of others?

 

And many times trying to bring bad light to TSG and to people there - that they are plotting against you, spreading lies and gossip. I am afraid to say that, but sometimes your messages seem to be doing the same from my perspective. TSG never made a public statement of any kind about Dharmaling that I know of, and if few members disagree with you, is this not a private matter without needing to bring bad light to the whole organization and also all the good and wonderful things they are doing?

The only public statements were from Dharmaling, never from anyone else. And they have caused a lot of confusion, and many people coming to me and others and saying, what is dharmaling talking about? Who are they talking about? For some time there were no names, just vague references that could include anyone. So, people thought you were talking about Shambhala, then about Slovenian Buddhist Society, different groups within that,... In computer circles this is known as spreading FUD - fear, uncertainty and doubt.

 

Not to mention the most difficult issue for me, which still totally dumbfounds me, when a person was disagreeing with you about the course of action you were doing and didn't want to have anything to do with it anymore, then she was accused of breaking samaya vows (a very serious accusation! though she didn't have any samaya vows with you as far as I understand it - and as far as she understands it as well) and on top of that then it was said that because of that your health got worse! And all this in public communication with everyone (at least without mentioning names)! And later she heard she was also accused of one member of your community having to be admitted into a mental institution.

 

I am sorry, but these actions I just cannot fathom and understand - how can this be acting with ethics and morality ? Please, I hope you won't take these words as an attack, but this is really difficult for me, and I have struggled with this for a long time, and I just can't understand it. Especially in light of all the wonderful things this community has been doing.

 

If you can help me understand these actions, I would be greatful.

 

Regards,

Robert

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Tashi delek,

 

I will go to what seems essentiel here.

 

So, why the need for this badmouthing of others?

Bring examples please. Because I do not recall "badmouthing" about any particular others.

I often warn people to follow their own ego and/or the ego of others. True. And this is a principle in the spiritual Path. Is this badmouthing? If someone pretends to be teaching Kalachakra without the proper qualities for it, I will say that it is not proper. Is this badmouthing? If people without proper qualitis to practice the Highest Tantras pretend to perform this practice and even encourage other to join them, I will say this is not correct; is this badmouthing?

 

And many times trying to bring bad light to TSG and to people there - that they are plotting against you, spreading lies and gossip

This is a misunderstanding. We do not wish anything negative against the TSG, which has been doing well. You know very well that we are mentioning the actions of some individuals. And we have writen statement from someone at the top of this organisation which we could say openly to be "lies".

About plotting... Who has organised an extraordinary meeting at the head of the TSG with as main subject of discussion "Lama Shenphen"? Who is writting letters to some of my students to warn them against me? (do you wish to see the copy of the e-mail who ended up in my hands? And I don't know to who else such letters have been sent).

 

I know that my "straightforwardness" can be perceived negatively, as it seems people are rather indolent in their way to react against such problem when they are not directly threaten, not understanding in fact that it could harm the Path they are following.

For us, when there is an "underground" problem, with all the risk that it spreads to people we do not know and to whom we couldn't explain the truth, we prefer to bring all this into light, "on the table", and to discuss about it. That is what we have done about the situation in Slovenia with some people of the TSG... while we have very good relation with all other people from that group.

 

The only public statements were from Dharmaling, never from anyone else.

This is not correct. We could refer to several statements from administration about TSG and some people in it. Yet, people are usually 'affraid' to speak openly about such problem. We don't. We have nothing to hide.

You are mentioning people coming to you to ask what Dharmaling is speaking about. Why aren't they coming to Dharmaling to ask about what we are talking about? This is "symptomatic" and leads to gossip... what we wish to avoid.

 

Not to mention the most difficult issue for me, which still totally dumbfounds me, when a person was disagreeing with you about the course of action you were doing and didn't want to have anything to do with it anymore, then she was accused of breaking samaya vows (a very serious accusation! though she didn't have any samaya vows with you as far as I understand it - and as far as she understands it as well) and on top of that then it was said that because of that your health got worse! And all this in public communication with everyone (at least without mentioning names)!

I am not sure to understand about who you are talking about. And I won't of course mention any name on a public forum. But in any case, I do not recal to have said that a "she" has broken samaya; though I can have warned some people that acting blindly can bring them to break this samaya. This is also my role.

It has nothing to do with desagreeing with me, as an individual, but if someone has a samaya and is not respecting it based on lies which have been said by someone else, and doesn't take even the time to come to discuss, then, the samayas are in danger, with the very unfortunate consequences we know about.

My wish in this warning has never been to harm, but to protect. Your misunterpretation (and may be her one) is a sign that by not knowing well a situation and not coming to discuss immediatly about things bring more mistake than it solves any!

Furthermore, whenever I'm affraid someone would damage any samaya, I try my best to contact the person. And in the case you seems to mention, I've sent several e-mail, without any answer...

 

And later she heard she was also accused of one member of your community having to be admitted into a mental institution.

This is limit to slander Robert. Not from you, but from whoever has spread this. Again, I am not responsible by what people of Dharmaling can say; but if this has ever been said, this should be solved with that person, and not by throwing this to Dharmaling or on me.

If we are talking about the same situation, I have never said, and never implied that any "she" is responsible for what happen to that person who ended up temporarily in a mental institution!

Yet, you know very well (or you should at least) who else has greatly disturbed the mind of that person by trying his best to destroy his faith in whom he was considering as his main teacher!

 

I hope you won't take these words as an attack, but this is really difficult for me, and I have struggled with this for a long time, and I just can't understand it. Especially in light of all the wonderful things this community has been doing.

No way to feel it as an attack, but that you mix all we have tried to do to clarify the situation with any intention from my side which would be against "ethics and morality" is a very sadening news to me :cry: .Thank you to speak it out, and we will let this thread on the forum (though it is rather personnal) for other people to be able to read it, and see that we have nothing to hide.

Our motivation has always be in the stream of Dharma, with our best intention to help and prevent harm. Yet, we cannot prevent individual misunterpretation, specially if people are just "cooking up" their mind with all this, without to come to discuss it with us...

 

All the best, Gelong T. Shenphen

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Guest lodreu

Tashi Delek,

 

As I am partly concerned in the last mail of Robert I will answer to some points. :) For some other points, I will just bring my little view about them.

 

So, it is all the harder for me to understand, why the need to many times refer to other practitioners as "half buddhists", "those who pretend to be buddhist", pointing out how you follow the traditions purely and are nonsectarian. I think your words and deeds speak for themselves, and they are excellent! So, why the need for this badmouthing of others?

In this case it doesnt' refer to lineage, groups, tradition, whatsoever, but to state of mind. It could refer to Westerners, Tibetans, etc... It's not a way of badmounting in the sense that it's not to critisize others, but to point the type of behaviour we can easilly indulge in, and which is an obstacle for the practice and spiritual progression.

Whene Rinpoche is pointing out such things, it's not to say, the other groups are this and that, and we are so great. But to point out that Buddhist is more than a label, a complete state of mind and range of behaviours and everyday life actions. If I say i am Buddhist, but in my life develop mainly my ego through the practice I am doing, do not engage more than words in Bodhicitta, etc... Where I am Buddhist?

And this is a danger for myself, and for the Dharma in general. May I be member of Shambala, Shugendo, attendant of Rinpoche, it's the same :wink:

 

TSG never made a public statement of any kind about Dharmaling that I know of, and if few members disagree with you, is this not a private matter without needing to bring bad light to the whole organization and also all the good and wonderful things they are doing?

It is often a political matter to bring things out in a certain way or not. But among all what people could say a bout Rinpoche, i don't think anybody can say he is political and intersted in power.

It's also a matter of knowing all what has been happening, and is not displayed. Yes the TSG didn't make things clear publicly. Also we are speaking about TSG, but it's in no way the whole members of it, but a little group inside.

Rinpoche isn't interested by self appreciation, and may he look wrong in the eyes of a majority, if an action is good for Dharma, he will do it. I myself have much stronger limits and had to work hard on my ego in many occasions, as i thought "what will happen now". But in the long terms, i saw that it was indeed the correct way to react, and brought balance in the mind of many people.

 

In that specific case, lots of gossips were allready going around, in more and more damaging ways. To make things clear, and to avoid propagation of more gossips and deterioration of Dharma, Rinpoche made the facts public. And believe me it helped lots of people. They could understand where tensions were coming from and decide of what they would think by themselves, having also sometimes to look for informations.

Now we can see that the situation is clearer, and that as people are aware of it, "undergroung mining", although coming back some times, is more difficult.

 

So on one side you have political begaviour "I do things in a nasty way, but always looks nice in public, so you can't accused me", and non political way.

 

I hope I'm clear enough, it's not always easy to express complicated situations in one mail.

 

Not to mention the most difficult issue for me, which still totally dumbfounds me, when a person was disagreeing with you about the course of action you were doing and didn't want to have anything to do with it anymore, then she was accused of breaking samaya vows (a very serious accusation! though she didn't have any samaya vows with you as far as I understand it - and as far as she understands it as well)

As you are bringing this, this person didn't just opposed to a course of actions saying I disagree. But, among other things, she sent me personal mails in which she told me to really question my relationship with Rinpoche, since he was creating problems in different places and situations. Which we could interpreat as being a trouble maker. Nothing to do with being a Dhrama teacher, or a person having clear view and realizations, but a person concerned by his own self wordly attainment.

 

I answered this person to question her own behaviour and thinking, naming her own Samaya, even if she wasn't aware of. As there are different levels of Samaya, however we might call them, which once created are very harmful when broken. This was a private mail to her, no public statement.

But you can see how it comes out, this is for me a clear example of "political ways "and "undergroung mining", how to discredit people without public statements.

I didn't go around showing the mail or part of it, to people I knew would be responsive to it and spread the information around, because of whatever emotional reason. I told what I though good to say, to that person. And used the occasion to inform people to be carefull of their way of acting if they wanted the necessary causes for a Sangha and Dharma in general to remain in Slovenia.

 

Then about Rinpoches healths, There had been clear explanations from Lama Zopa Rinpoche about health of realized beings, affected in certain ways by the activities performed against them and their activities. Specially by close people breaking certain commitments, according to the request they made in terms of spiritual guidance.

It's by the way not only harmfull for the Rinpoches, but specially for those persons.

 

Again it refers to a specific private situation. As you bring it in a certain way, should I consider it as public, name people and display the contents of e-mails to make things clear?

This is the problem in such situations when you say "one person" said this and that, and the answer is as unclear about the ground itself, as otherwise you have to give names and what was the cause of it, if you want everybody to understand clearly what is happening ....

 

And later she heard she was also accused of one member of your community having to be admitted into

In that specific case, everybody is reponsible of what he says. If a member of Shambala says "the Dalaï Lama is the worse person in the world", should we then say "Shambala is against the Dalaï Lama", and make of it a running noise?

It's nevertheless clear that at one point the confusion made to discredit lama Shenphen Rinpoche, was too much for most of the people close to the persons creating this confusion. Many things came out in a very bad way for them, some lost a bit of their stability some a bit more. Should we feel guilty because of trying to apply the medicine for this case, although it isn't political?

 

Best regards,

Lodreu.

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Tashi Delek, dear Robert!

 

Although your mail has been mainly addressed to Lama Shenphen Rinpoche, I will take the freedom to contribute to the discussion too. This is a public forum, isn't it? :wink:

 

So, it is all the harder for me to understand, why the need to many times refer to other practitioners as "half buddhists", "those who pretend to be buddhist", pointing out how you follow the traditions purely and are nonsectarian. I think your words and deeds speak for themselves, and they are excellent! So, why the need for this badmouthing of others?

As you mention badmouthing - soon after Lama Shenphen Rinpoche arrived in Slovenia, badmouthing started - but not from his side. A lot has been said about Rinpoche not being a Lama at all, not having the right to use this title, etc. etc. As I heard from "second hand" meeting were held to spread this, explain why this is so ... Now, after he has been officially enthroned in Kharnang, this badly falls back to its authors as simple slander.

 

About "half Buddhists": I never heard Rinpoche call anyone "half-Buddhist". But you inspired me with this expression to write something here. At the Medicine Buddha practice at the sand mandala of Medicine Buddha, I (and some other people too) was hurt by seeing how the altar was made up. To put the water for offerings in plain plastic picnic glasses ... as an offering to the Three Jewels ... is disrespectful, if not worse. It is the duty of the people organising the event to provide what is necessary. I don't say they should provide "original offering bowls especially flown by plane from Tibet", but something nice at least. We would of course be willing to help, if someone would have asked us! Now compare this with the beautiful altar at the Relics exhibition, and I think the difference is obvious.

 

The only public statements were from Dharmaling, never from anyone else. And they have caused a lot of confusion, and many people coming to me and others and saying, what is dharmaling talking about? Who are they talking about? For some time there were no names, just vague references that could include anyone. So, people thought you were talking about Shambhala, then about Slovenian Buddhist Society, different groups within that,... In computer circles this is known as spreading FUD - fear, uncertainty and doubt.

I agree with the FUD part - but you seem to think this is usually done with public statements?? Not so: it is spread with rumours like "Microsoft Windows XP has a hidden bug, and Microsoft of course won't say anything about it, but if you turn on your computer in the minute between 17:06 and 17:07, it erases all data on your hard disk and sends your bank account information to 200 hacker sites. This was done by some programmers who worked for Microsoft, but were actually members of a secret organisation ... " :wink:

OK, I made a sidestep, but what I want to say is: FUD is spread by rumours, and public statements are made to clear it up - worldwide.

 

Not to mention the most difficult issue for me, which still totally dumbfounds me, when a person was disagreeing with you about the course of action you were doing and didn't want to have anything to do with it anymore, then she was accused of breaking samaya vows (a very serious accusation! though she didn't have any samaya vows with you as far as I understand it - and as far as she understands it as well) and on top of that then it was said that because of that your health got worse!

Ah yes, I think I remember this - but this didn't come from Rinpoche at all! But I have seen his health getting worse with my own eyes, up to the point he had to stop a teaching! Fortunately, it was restored again. :D

But what disturbs me in the text you wrote is: "(she didn't have any samaya vows with you as far as I understand it - and as far as she understands it as well)" - the message was about the samaya link, not about any kind of vows. And I think it doesn't change the samaya if someone understands it or not - I think it is defined well enough. This is like with the laws - if you break a law but you don't know it, the court doesn't admit you are innocent - they tell you that it is your duty to know the laws. :wink:

 

I am sorry, but these actions I just cannot fathom and understand - how can this be acting with ethics and morality ? Please, I hope you won't take these words as an attack, but this is really difficult for me, and I have struggled with this for a long time, and I just can't understand it. Especially in light of all the wonderful things this community has been doing.

I would say that you can perhaps try to observe things from this point of view: if the community has been doing wonderful things, this is because it has good guidance (as a ship without guidance also doesn't travel in a straight line). The guidance is clearly done by Lama Shenphen Rinpoche, so - keeping in mind also his official recognition and all it implies - he may know things we don't know, and see some things as we are not yet able to see them. I know this is hard, for me too, especially when he gives me a personal "brush off", but - after I swallow hard a few times - I can sincerely admit that it was really more than necessary and that his perception is very accurate. :wink:

 

All my best wishes. :)

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Tashi Delek once more!

 

I apologise for the flood of words I am emitting tonight, but I like things to be as clear as possible.

 

So, it is all the harder for me to understand, why the need to many times refer to other practitioners as "half buddhists", "those who pretend to be buddhist", pointing out how you follow the traditions purely and are nonsectarian. I think your words and deeds speak for themselves, and they are excellent! So, why the need for this badmouthing of others?

When mentioning "half-Buddhists", I would like to mention something else too: at the same Medicine Buddha practice I mentioned already, we were repeatedly asking for the text, but the answer was: "for our people first". No winking and pleading helped, even when the texts have been given out the second and third time, until finally one of our friends went after the person. And we weren't informed there will be tsog, so to bring some food ... At that time, I felt very much being treated as "half Buddhist", but not by anyone from Dharmaling.

At Dharmaling teachings and ceremonies, there are always texts provided for everybody, not making any differences between "our people" and "their people". Prints and copies are made with the help of people's donations and voluntary work so no-one would be without a text. Information about things like tsog etc. are given publicly and in advance.

I don't mean to badmouth any specific person(s) because I don't know the situation - one can't know what instructions have been given etc. I just wanted to tell that I know perfectly well what it means "being treated as half-Buddhist".

 

And later she heard she was also accused of one member of your community having to be admitted into a mental institution.

A small clarification - because I have some first-hand knowledge about the case you seem to be talking about: one person I know who ended up with severe mental problems admitted openly to me and other people that one of the main sources of the mental problems was the mentioned slandering of Rinpoche. And not only this - when problems began, that person felt so guilty for disappointing the teacher and full of doubt what is what that s/he didn't even dare to ask Rinpoche for help ... So a valuable chance to get help from someone who has a very good knowledge of the working of the mind has been lost! And this is really sad. :cry:

 

All the best.

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Guest Ani.Chödrön

Tashi Delek!

 

Some general remarks:

When talking about culture – I am sure that many people don’t feel perfectly cosy at the (western) culture that they live in. :-p I am also sure that if people wouldn’t feel good in traditional Buddhism, they would leave, but obviously it gives us something that we can appreciate and nourish. Basically, mind is the same – east or west. Surely we have habits that limit our capacities – we have adopted them from culture, family, our past lives, last week… But we also have the freedom (and responsibility) to work on them. And this is not a cultural problem, but a problem for our ego loosing its domain. :@

 

I see a process of Dharma entering a new land in the same way. Counteractions are predictable. But fortunately we can work on this too. ;-F

 

Usually we tend to see our surroundings as self-understood, we do not see it as directly connected to ourselves. (Although theoretically we might know teachings about karma and emptiness.) In the case of Dharma in Slovenia (or Dharma in general) I see a lot of responsibility for all of us to contribute to its persisting and flourishing here. If we do not create causes for it – how could we possibly get results? I’m talking about practices l-) , but not only this. I take the sad sad situation that was revealed in this chain of letters as a warning for a strong need to perfection ethics and to really apply the teachings into everyday situations.

 

This is the point where the conversation started, isn’t it. :wink:

 

Best regards,

Chödrön

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I guess my main "problem" with the "strong stand" is that you are using the practice of precepts, "following the true tradition", "being non sectarian" many times in what seems to be a way of saying, look at us, we are the true guys, we are true practitioners, the only ones who uphold the teachings purely, and from that follows (sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly) that others are not doing so. For me this is sectarian, is it not? If by saying you're the only non-sectarian one, you put all the others down?

 

My personal opinion (please consider that I've been practising Buddhism for less than one year) is that a clear distinction should be made between the people who take some vows and others. Taking a vow means accepting full responsibility and – external and internal - respect should be shown to the people who are prepared to do that. Evidently, it is much easier to lead a comfortable life with fewer obligations, especially nowadays.

 

In every "serious" religion, some sort of hierarchy exists. Hierarchy is just an external sign of respect and in Buddhism it is - if I am not mistaken - based on realizations of an individual. The respect for authority mirrors individual's honest wish to attain this kind of realizations and discloses his humbleness regarding his present inability to do so due to the negative karma and lack of merits.

 

Nowadays, as I see it, people often have a problem with subordinating to any hierarchy, claiming that it is unjust or pretentious. This point of view is - philosophically speaking - linked with anarchic views, or to be more precise with resentment on a personal level. To use Buddhist terms, it could be said that it is our envious (lazy?) ego that is complaining :((.

 

I must admit that many of us still find it difficult to include Venerable every time we name a Sangha member, especially when speaking privately. Many times we just (almost unconsciously :)zzz ) forget about it. :oops: Some even speak of Rinpoche “only” as a Lama. But it is getting better due to the mutual and persistent encouragement of the Dharmaling members. :lol:

 

Of course, all of us could pretend that vows mean nothing or little and that we all deserve equal respect. o:) It would only harm us in the long term, since nothing is easier than settling for a mutual ego-nursing :/ . This only emphasizes the need for a genuine teacher and a guide who embodies the true (non-adapted) Dharma Ethics that led all of the previous masters to their realizations. Otherwise anything goes by the name of spirituality.

 

It often happens that people who cannot overcome their own personal inability attack others who can or who had. This is always an easier way out. Much easier than focusing on one's own development. I think it is better to accept one's present situation as a lack of merits and spiritual practice and start working on both.

 

I am not familiar in detail with attacks on Rinpoche, but it might be that it is also due to the above named arguments. As far as taking legal action because of slander, one might take into account that spreading slander about anyone, and especially a genuine Dharma teacher brings very negative karma. Just imagine all of the potential followers who could be diverted by such slander! Taking a legal action against such a person might prevent him from creating even more negative karma and can be seen as a sort of help to him. And the same goes for all of the people who might help spreading slander unaware of the consequences or truthfulness of the information. They will think twice before doing so in the future, remembering that a legal action has been taken against someone who acted in such a reckless way.

 

Please, don't see this post as an attack on Robert. I just took an excerpt out of his text to share some thoughts.

 

Best regards,

 

Draftsman

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Bring examples please. Because I do not recall "badmouthing" about any particular others.

I often warn people to follow their own ego and/or the ego of others. True. And this is a principle in the spiritual Path. Is this badmouthing? If someone pretends to be teaching Kalachakra without the proper qualities for it, I will say that it is not proper. Is this badmouthing? If people without proper qualitis to practice the Highest Tantras pretend to perform this practice and even encourage other to join them, I will say this is not correct; is this badmouthing?

Perhaps badmouthing was too strong a term. Perhaps hints. For some time in the beginning, your public messages were saying that according to the law, only registered religious communities can organize religious events. Now for quite some time, you (dharmaling) didn't bring this up anymore, but it was on your web site before and in some public announcements (unfortunately my mail archive doesn't go that far, but perhaps you can check). I an definitely not a lawyer, but in my reading of the law I never found a reference to that. The only thing I saw was that IF you a reg. religious community then you can ONLY perform religious ceremonies in specially designated places, that have been approved for this kind of use. But in any case, even if it was correct, why was this so important? If not to discredit all the other groups and/or TSG?

Now, a few people have replied to this post with their experiences of the organization of the last sand mandala. If it was like you say, that was clearly not well done. Part of that I take on myself, because I was asked to help, but was too busy with preparations for the retreat in france that the shambhala group went to and so could not do it. Why didn't they ask for your help? I would say because they have unpleasant experiences with dealing with Dharmaling from before (just my guess based on some conversations I had). Unfortunate though. But in any case, this was just the last presentation, and this "only religious communities should organize rel. event, the law says so" was quite some time before, when I don't think there was any concern about things being done properly?

As for examples, there was a similar hint in your report about the relics (again, if somebody has that mail can you send it to me, and I can give you the exact reference?), where there was a paragraph about how this was done in such a proper way and according to the Tradition.

If I wouldn't have conversations with you before, where I heard about the dissatisfaction with the sand mandala, I would just be left wondering, now, why are they saying this? it was clearly well done, very well organized, so why needing to say it in such a way? but perhaps this is just how my mind functions. But as I heard the concerns, this seemed to be a reference how this time it was done properly, compared to the mandala event which was done poorly.

As to the references to people who pretend to be buddhist, here I need to apologize. This it seems was never in the public emails and communications, but just in private correspondence - which is fine by me. my fault for not being more thorough in my checking. And I don't want to bring private communication out to this forum.

 

And many times trying to bring bad light to TSG and to people there - that they are plotting against you, spreading lies and gossip
This is a misunderstanding. We do not wish anything negative against the TSG, which has been doing well. You know very well that we are mentioning the actions of some individuals. And we have writen statement from someone at the top of this organisation which we could say openly to be "lies".

About plotting... Who has organised an extraordinary meeting at the head of the TSG with as main subject of discussion "Lama Shenphen"? Who is writting letters to some of my students to warn them against me? (do you wish to see the copy of the e-mail who ended up in my hands? And I don't know to who else such letters have been sent).

But at the time when this was erupting your communication was not mentioning individuals, but an organization, is this not so? The only time I saw a name mentioned was in this last communication where you announced filing a lawsuit for slander.

As for the meeting, this is indeed curious. As soon as you mentioned it to me quite some time, I tried to find out more about it, and have talked to the people in TSG and none of them knew anything about it. Now, of course they could be lying, but I do know for quite a long time, we've done many things together and I see no reason why to doubt them. And if I remember correctly, you said that actually you heard this from someone who was at the meeting, but then I could not check this, as I don't know who it was supposed to be.

I don't know anything about the emails, and if you feel that would help me understand the situation please send it to me.

 

The only public statements were from Dharmaling, never from anyone else.
This is not correct. We could refer to several statements from administration about TSG and some people in it. Yet, people are usually 'affraid' to speak openly about such problem. We don't. We have nothing to hide.

You are mentioning people coming to you to ask what Dharmaling is speaking about. Why aren't they coming to Dharmaling to ask about what we are talking about? This is "symptomatic" and leads to gossip... what we wish to avoid.

Could you provide an example of that kind of public communication from TSG? (in private if you wish)I am not aware of it, that's why I wrote that, but of course I can be wrong on this.

People come to me to ask, for various reasons. Some think that I should know something about this, or that I can be non-biased in assesing what is happening. Unfortunately, all that I could tell them was that I have no clue as to what is going on! And why they aren't asking Dharmaling directly - i don't know.

 

public forum. But in any case, I do not recal to have said that a "she" has broken samaya; though I can have warned some people that acting blindly can bring them to break this samaya. This is also my role.

It has nothing to do with desagreeing with me, as an individual, but if someone has a samaya and is not respecting it based on lies which have been said by someone else, and doesn't take even the time to come to discuss, then, the samayas are in danger, with the very unfortunate consequences we know about.

My wish in this warning has never been to harm, but to protect. Your misunterpretation (and may be her one) is a sign that by not knowing well a situation and not coming to discuss immediatly about things bring more mistake than it solves any!

Furthermore, whenever I'm affraid someone would damage any samaya, I try my best to contact the person. And in the case you seems to mention, I've sent several e-mail, without any answer...

Ok, a clarification. Not necessarily from you, but there were I think 2 emails coming from Dharmaling office at that time and they were sent to the public list - that is also how I found out about it. If I remember correctly, Ven. Lodro was signed ? But it is a long time ago, and perhaps it would be better to check and see what was said.

As far as I remember, one email was saying something about people breaking samaya vows - but it didn't mention names. And then the next one was about how your health got worse because of it, and how the cause of this is the breaking of samaya (now, if I remember this incorrectly, please do correct me!!). And to respond to Ven. Lodro - even if Lama Zopa said this, and I'm not doubting that, but please think what kind of a guilt trip you can be laying on somebody for saying that.

Perhaps what needs to be clarified is when/how one takes samaya, and again, perhaps your tradition does it differently than what I know, and on what I based my question on.

Samayas are tantric vows, that you either take during an abisheka ceremony, and they should be clearly stated or read during that time. Or the second case is during an "pointing out the nature of mind" or "ordinary mind" transmission. And I have just recently read from the talk from the 17th Karmapa, that in fact your true root guru is the one who points out the nature of your mind to you and you realize that. You can have many teachers, but one who shows you that is truly your root guru.

So, in this case, there didn't seem to be any empowerments involved, nor ord. mind transmissions, nor were the samayas presented clearly - is there another way one can take this without knowing it?

 

And later she heard she was also accused of one member of your community having to be admitted into a mental institution.
This is limit to slander Robert. Not from you, but from whoever has spread this. Again, I am not responsible by what people of Dharmaling can say; but if this has ever been said, this should be solved with that person, and not by throwing this to Dharmaling or on me.

If we are talking about the same situation, I have never said, and never implied that any "she" is responsible for what happen to that person who ended up temporarily in a mental institution!

Yet, you know very well (or you should at least) who else has greatly disturbed the mind of that person by trying his best to destroy his faith in whom he was considering as his main teacher!

This situation came to my attention only a few weeks ago, and i could not get exactly who was it coming from, only that it was from dharmaling. In fact, I knew nothing about this whole business, only the outside facts. And at that time, i didn't feel like i really need to try to find out more - i know these kind of things happen, have seen it happen to other people myself too, and it is really hard to understand how it comes about.

And so, I really didn't know (or why should I?) that there was anyone else involved. However hearing this kind of accusation few weeks ago has greatly disturbed me, and I know the person who said this didn't make it up, she was sure it was meant in this way. Of course we all perceive things differently. So, if you say, this was not ever said from Dharmaling, then perhaps this can be clarified with her as well. I would think this would be quite a burden to carry.

 

Well, this has gone quite far from the original topic... :-( And perhaps wasting everyone precious time. But then, if it can clarify some things then perhaps it is of some use.

 

Regards.

Robert

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We decided to keep in this thread only what is relevant. Don't be surprised some posts desappeared. We are not here to enter in fight or polemic, but to answer questions and solve polemics...

 

This is a forum held on a private space. Not an administration or any public organism. Therefore, we have the right to delete what we don't wish to see here, without warning.

It is like if you come to my house and through some garbage; I have the right to clean it out.

 

The topic is enough. Enough information have been displayed to let people make their own idea.

Whoever wish to continue to fight, will continue alone, and outside. We will not give anymore in this direction on this forum. We have not to justify what we are doing and how, though we have done our best to clarify the situation and motivation. We follow the advises and teachings of Dharma, from Lama Shenphen Rinpoche and other Spiritual Guides. Either people are enough "grown up" to understand and put into practice what Dharma brings, or they don't...

 

Thank you.

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