About Me

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I study, and try to practice, Vajrayana Buddhism. My main areas of interest are Chod, Kagyu and Nyingma traditions as well as Buddhisms interactions with the West, pop-culture and engaged Buddhism.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

You're not your lineage. You're not how many empowerments you've received.
You're not the Lama you claim to have. You're not the contents of your book collection.
You're not your fucking mala. You're the all-singing, all-dancing, intellectually speculating, orientalist asshole of the world.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My daily routine of practice and study is carrying on, and with only three weeks left of summer school time really is flying. In the same way, Boudhanath really feels like home now. Home, not in the sense of somewhere I particularly feel I have to be to be comfortable, but home in the sense of familiarity.

Various incidents have also happened which have been useful in the sense of challenging my views on things such as the tulku system and other additions the Tibetans added to the Dharma package overall.

I guess I've been somewhat skeptical of the tulku system in general due to the history of abuse that has gone along with it for a long time. Combine that with hanging out with tulkus in a non student-teacher/cult leader/cultist set up and it gets murkier, or lighter.

If there are fake tulkus, lamas and ordained types a lot of it is our own fault. We are after all the people who facilitate the abuses of power and trust on both individual and institutional levels.

Most Tibetans effectively know fuck all about Buddhism and can sort of be forgiven for having blind trust in someone simply because they are born into a family where a picture of some guy is given prime position on the shrine and deified, much in the same way medieval Christians had little choice. However when it comes to Western, generally highly intelligent and well educated, Buddhist "converts" it's a bit less ok.

The thing that really marks Vajrayana out as a different branch of the Mahayana is really the Guru/Disciple relationship. This happens on all sorts of levels including samaya, view etc. But these are pretty much moot points unless the relationship has some degree of authenticity to it. An authentic relationship is not based on liking what someone says, the overall lineage package they come with, having warm and fuzzy feelings or anything as vague as feeling a "connection", to paraphrase Patrul Rinpoche, there are these idiots who come across as charismatic or whatever and win people over that way. Unfortunately there are lots of people willing to support them and feed the cycle of insanity. I'm repeating myself here.

Anyway, there are XBOXHUEG ammounts of classical texts about how to find, and more importantly, investigate a potential teacher. Use them, and don't go around referring to someone as your root Guru because they made you feel nice at some point in the last five years.

On an unrelated personal note, due to various, mostly local factors, I have had some samaya issues recently, but they are easily dealt with. However they have served as a timely reminder of how important being aware of ones environment really is.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I went to Pharping with Hank yesterday. We visited the Vajrayogini temple, the two Guru Rinpoche caves and the self-arisen image of Tara.

Of all of them, the second Guru Rinpoche cave made the most impact on me, so I went back today and practiced there, it was intense and I plan to go back soon.

We also visited the Kali temple and saw a goat being sacrificed. It was horrible seeing it being scared beforehand and also the event itself. May all negative actions done in the name of religion cease immediately and may whatever negative karma was generated there ripen in me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Halfway through the summer course now.

The only thing that is really a 'serious' issue at the moment is the sense of isolation I'm feeling, mostly from certain long term friends back home and to an extent Lama. On the one hand I'm glad I am more or less self sufficient in terms of practice and I therefore do not need excessive hand holding, yet at the same time I sort of miss having a more communicative relationship. I guess on some level it's better than falling into the common Western trap of meeting some Lama and then due to getting on well thinking "Oh this is my tsawe lama etc" and then building a relationship based primarily on emotional projections with no basis in reality.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I've been here a month and can have basic conversations in Tibetan now. This is pretty good progress.

I'm also receiving Chod empowerment and some other things from Lama Wangdu shortly.

In terms of my daily practice, things seem to be working well, particularly in between sessions.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I'm noticing a significant increase in my understanding and use of colloquial Tibetan. Even if I don't understand everything, I'm definitely seeing an improvement. Considering I had zero colloquial Tibetan two weeks ago, this isn't too bad.

This morning I went to see Lama Wangu Rinpoche. He is one of the greatest living Chod practitioners on the planet and lives two minutes from my house. He gave me a blessing, tons of tsok and did a very favourable divination. He also said some stuff about Guru Rinpoche which I didn't really understand. Meeting felt similar to meeting certain somewhat special lamas, such as Gyalwa Karmapa.