Monday, August 31, 2009
Marpa, Mila, Lord of Dharma Gampopa,
Knower of the Three Times, omniscient Karmapa,
Holders of the four great and eight lesser lineages --
Drikung, Tag-lung, Tsalpa, these three; glorious Drukpa and so on --
Masters of the profound path of Mahamudra,
Incomparable protectors of beings, the Takpo Kagyu,
I supplicate you, the Kagyu gurus.
I hold your lineage; grant your blessings so that I will follow your example.
Revulsion is the foot of meditation, as is taught.
To this meditator who is not attached to food and wealth,
Who cuts the ties to this life,
Grant your blessings so that I have no desire for honor and gain.
Devotion is the head of meditation, as is taught.
The guru opens the gate to the treasury of oral instructions.
To this meditator who continually supplicates him
Grant your blessings, so that genuine devotion is born in me.
Awareness is the body of meditation, as is taught.
Whatever arises is fresh--the essence of realization.
To this meditator who rests simply without altering it
Grant your blessings so that my meditation is free from conception.
The essence of thought is dharmakaya, as is taught.
Nothing whatever but everything arises from it.
To this meditator who arises in unceasing play
Grant your blessings so that I realize the inseparability of samsara and nirvana.
Through all my births may I not be separated from the perfect guru
And so enjoy the splendor of dharma.
Perfecting the virtues of the paths and bhumis,
May I speedily attain the state of Vajradhara.May precious bodhicitta be born in those in whom it has not arisen.
Having arisen, may it not degenerate, and may it continue to develop more and more.
Our lives are like that, so there really isn't a whole lot of time to waste, is there? This is a good day for practice. One of the best days this month for naga offerings. Also good for the resolution of important problems, treating the insane, or dispensing with negativities. Don't cut wood.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Now, for about the past five years, I have been spending more and more time in tents and gers. I enjoy this quite a bit, but there are limitations when it comes to the desert. You try to take an ordinary mountaineering tent out into the arid regions, and you will know what I am talking about.
In an attempt to address those limitations, I started to become interested in "high tech" tenting, and it actually reached the point where I was doing field evaluations for certain manufacturers.
The picture up top is of the first "high tech" tent I ever used, the now-discontinued MSR Wind 2. I had issues with it at the time, but in retrospect, it was actually not a bad tent. They made all sorts of claims for wind resistance with this tent when it was first introduced, rating it up to 90 mph, but above you see how it loads in a 15mph wind. I stayed in this tent in 60mph sustained winds, and it was way too noisy.
I shipped it back to the factory, where they graciously replaced it with a GT4. They told me the fabric engineers had to rethink everything from that point forward, because they had never seen ambient environmentally-caused damage of that severity before.
I liked this tent quite a bit, and I still use the GT4 -- I just don't leave it set up.
If you are going to the North Pole, you can take a Hilleberg with no worries, and many people have (South Pole, too). But, if you are going to the high deserts, you had better take along a large tarp to fly over the tent (either that, or just take it partially down and cover it when you're not inside).
I also want to mention in passing the availability of new materials, such as Temptrol. I do not know any tenting manufacturer presently using this product for desert tents, but I think it is only a matter of time.
People often ask me about gers in the desert. You cannot count on a ger's outer covers to withstand the UV radiation any better than the space-age fabrics. You have to replace those about every six months, or they just rot off and blow away. Also, you have to distinguish between winter use and summer use. In winter, you want the felt, the heavy water liners, etc., but in summer, you want to be able to roll up the walls for ventilation. Now, when you roll up the walls, you leave plenty of room for the visitors who sound like lawn sprinklers:
Vipers usually don't like to tangle with humans, but every now and then you meet a young, dumb one, with something to prove. There are all sorts of ways to deal with that, but none of them are convenient when it is around dusk and you are taking a nap.
Not a good day for divination, so I will shut up now.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in New Delhi is expected to issue a visa for the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan, according to a TECC representative.
“We have asked the Dalai Lama’s office to prepare the necessary documentation for his visa application,” said TECC official Ong Wenchyi. “We are likely to follow the 2001 process used to issue a foreign visitor visa for the Dalai Lama so as to avert any unnecessary complications.”
Ong said the Dalai Lama was issued an overseas compatriot visa by the Ministry of the Interior and Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission for his first visit to Taiwan in 1997. “He seemed to be unsatisfied with this arrangement at the time.”
In keeping with President Ma Ying-jeou’s wish to see the Buddhist spiritual leader visit disaster-stricken areas in central and southern Taiwan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is expected to instruct its New Delhi office today to issue visas to the Dalai Lama and his entourage.
According to officials at TECC in New Delhi, the Dalai Lama used an ID issued by the Indian government to apply for his visa. But as of 10:30 p.m. Aug. 27, MOFA’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Taipei had not received any related applications. However, the secretary-general of the Dalai Lama’s office has been issued with a visa and arrived in Taiwan yesterday to make arrangements for the spiritual leader’s trip.
"Thus, if a person is self-righteously claiming to practice the buddhadharma, is using his practice as credentials, then he is simply playing ego's game."Ah, yes... the text continues from there:
"If a group of people do this together, then they reinforce each other in the same game. Inevitably they will pick a leader. Then the leader will have as his credentials the title 'head of the flock.' Then the members of the flock will have as their credentials the title 'member of such-and-such organization.' The leader and his flock reinforce each other's identities. As is said in the Sutra of the Treasury of Buddha, 'If someone teaches with ignorance, it is worse than if he took the lives of the inhabitants of three iniverses, because his ability to teach the dharma is impure.' Inevitably this organization, this collective ego, will look for further confirmation of its health and existence. It may even take as its credentials the transmission of the lineage, the teachings of the great masters, but it will be a prostitution of those teachings. It will involve itself in the ever-escalating game of one-upsmanship in order to enlarge its congregation. This one-upsmanship may take the form of collecting endorsements and diplomas, as well as the form of ambitious practice and adherence to the teachings. It will also see the success of rivals as a threat. The Buddha said that his teachings, like a lion, would never be destroyed by outsiders; it could only be destroyed from within like a lion's corpse consumed by maggots. This is the perversion of sangha. It is the dark-age style of spirituality, the operation of spiritual materialism."
"One serious concern I have is that though the West is known for having thousands of experts and educated people, as yet I have heard of very few westerners who have achieved any degree of realization through practice."
Again, getting even farther away from the field guide and even closer to the diagnostic -- where and in what context do you suppose prostitution of the teachings is taking place? At a Teamster's meeting? Down at Our Lady's? In some faraway, mythical land where the unicorn dwells? Apply some common sense. It is taking place in the West, in Buddhist "centers," or "sanghas," where they play the ever-escalating game of one-upsmanship, telling you that they are the chosen arbitrators between culture and religion.
It is possible to become so materially religious that you forget spirituality. In matters of culture and spirituality, you and you alone are the arbitrator.
Taking Trungpa Rinpoche's descriptions in the diagnostic sense, we need to sit down in a quiet place where we've never been before, and will never go again, and just ask ourselves the basic questions. In what ways do we fit his description? In what ways do we defy his description? We need to be brutally honest about this -- utterly candid with ourselves -- even if after doing so, we still sigh, get up, and go rejoin the perversion of the sangha because we don't know any better, or don't have any place else to go.
What if you have spent your life... ten, or twenty, or even thirty years... wholly invested in something that is fundamentally the operation of spiritual materialism? Do you have the courage to leave? Do you have the courage to change? Do you have the courage to try something new? Do you have the ability to see things not as you once wished them to be, ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago, but as they actually are right this minute?
A sangha is not a gang of football hooligans, rooting for Mahamudra United Meditation Club to overcome its arch-rivals.
And, as a Buddhist, you are most definitely not a partisan.
This is just a friendly reminder... donations to the House Rabbit Society are always appreciated. Regular donations are appreciated even more. If you're not familiar with HRS, let me explain that they are a kind of SEAL Team Six for rabbits in distress, except SEAL Team Six is a little more gentle, and tolerant.
House Rabbit Society is the Bunny Brigade... ninja suits, night vision, the whole nine yards.
Did I say "fat?"
Well, maybe just a little on the fluffy side?
From great laziness is great innovation born. Doing this daily astrology "experiment" takes up a whole lot of time, so I am doing a little programming on the side.
Not a bad day for a trip to the spa. In general, a good day for what people now call "bodywork." However, if you are in Taiwan, there is no time for any of that. Tomorrow is a big day.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Just for the sake of example, lets pretend that once upon a time, you dreamed that somebody came clump, clump, clumping up the stairs to your bedroom and did you an injury. Notions of "who," or "why" just don't matter. Maybe it was somebody you knew. Maybe it was the bogeyman. Maybe you were secretly in love with the bogeyman and wished he would come. Maybe you were were just fascinated with bogeymen in general. The habitual conditions that produce this sort of result are, I think, a cardinal marker of cause and effect -- but I digress.
You tell yourself this dream is so frightening. So frightening that, ever after, you put a gate on the stairs to your bedroom. You shiver and cling to this fear like a scary lover. You rationalize this in various ways, maybe saying you want to keep pets or kids at bay, but the reality is, you like to set your little stage in ways that are comfortable for your favorite scary lover dream.
Are you awake or aren't you?
The time, the body, and the circumstance no longer exist. This is to say that the body which was injured in the dream no longer exists, the apparent attack itself no longer exists, and the apparent attacker no longer exists. The dark at the top of the stairs is itself likewise transient and insubstantial.
Now, you may wish to say, "Well... the body which was attacked still exists, because here I am," but that is not precisely accurate. The body which was attacked may with equal validity only be claimed as extant for the precise moment of the attack. We may also say that was the younger body, whereas now there is the older body.
What is happening is that the stored appearances are being compared to arising play with egocentric specificity. You have an agenda so to speak. Maybe you still love the bogeyman. You love this dream of the bogeyman so much because it still makes you shiver and feel "special." It is your way of staying connected. You keep seeing the little man upon the stair... the little man who wasn't there... and you wish he'd go away?
That is ridiculous.
Do you lie awake at night, waiting for the gate to open? Do you fantasize that you will hear it when it opens? Is the gate there to "protect" you, or is it the door to a trap? This is just a flimsy gate, with a flimsy latch. A big, strong bogeyman can hop right over that gate.
So, the gate must be the door to a trap: a strand in the web you weave with your stage decorations.
You, the spider at the center of your delusions, trapped by nothing more than your own web of stored appearances.
UPDATED: Nowhere, in the above post, do we single anybody out -- but, in at least one case, "you're so vain, you thought this blog was about you." Nowhere, in the above post, do we get gender-specific. We refer to the "bogeyman," or the "man upon the stair," but we submit that is not gender-specific anymore than use of the word "mankind" is gender specific. It is just imagery associated with horror films -- scary movies. Yet, some people -- people who are firmly entrenched in spinning webs of stored appearances -- believed this post was about assaults on women. It is not. This post is about stored appearances. This post specifically uses images and icons to make the very point -- apparently rather successfully -- that stored appearances belong to you. Finally -- and here is the interesting part -- this post was written by a woman. When the spiders came piling in, it was automatically assumed that this was written by a man. Here is what one spinning spider looked like:
Quite a work of fiction, isn't it? Lets deconstruct it together, shall we? All of a sudden we have (1) a man, (2) a woman, (3) an opinion about the man, (4) an opinion about the woman, (5) a history about the man, (6) a history about the woman, (7) aggression, (8) controversy, (9) a "them versus us" campaign... the list really goes on and on, doesn't it? And to top it all? This was an anonymous post.
The operations of ego, sustaining bewilderment in samsara, are legion are they not?
Well... it isn't all that easy to..... O.K., O.K., I'll just let that one sit still.
The complete story may be had by clicking here.
I am supposed to be flying through the skies today (probably sitting around airports, actually).
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I also want to renew an appeal for help in completing the Zangdokpalri Temple, shown above. They need the cash to wire the place and install a generator -- and everybody knows how rough those Indian electrical contractors can be. This visionary masterpiece expresses the wish of Rigdzin Dorje Rinpoche's late father, the Terton Kunzang Dechen Lingpa. It is now almost complete, and they hope to open before the end of this year. Please look into this, and then be generous enough to help them bring it all the way home with a flourish.
I don't think it would hurt anything to get out in the garden and do a little work.
And, if you are reading this, I am about to take a vacation from my vacation.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
All things being equal it is not a good day to steal.
And, if you are reading this, I am still on vacation -- and not stealing.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
"You Americans are always going on and on about the 'Second Coming' of Jesus Christ," he is supposed to have said.
"Well, he came, and you missed it."
I wasn't there when he made the remark, but I've heard from several people who were, and they all tell the same story:
He was talking about Trungpa Rinpoche.
Since that moment I have always asked myself the same question:
Did he die in vain?
Time is a crazy river under a spotless bridge, and time has bubbled and surged away between that was then and this is now. When you heard Trungpa in the then, and read him in the now, you are left with the inescapable evidence that the man was right.
He foresaw. He foretold. He forewarned.
He understood us so much better than we understand ourselves, that he laid out precise instructions in advance. My question now is why we seem to so blithely ignore those instructions?
"Let us present the definition of buddhadharma," he wrote. "In the sutras, dharma is referred to as the 'path' and 'that which is knowable.' It is 'passionless.' Passion in this case refers to the dualistic fixations of the ego, which has two aspects. The first aspect is the ego of conceptualized confusion -- the notion of the other, that form exists. The second is the ego of personality -- if form exists, then there must be a perceiver of the form, an individual knower. These two aspects of ego are mutually dependent and constitute the samsaric mind. The seeming existence of other is a continually repeated proof of the existence of I, which is actually another other. I does not exist but takes the seeming existence of form as its credentials. The existence of form, credentials, is what maintains the illusion of I. Thus, if a person is self-righteously claiming to practice the buddhadharma, is using his practice as credentials, then he is simply playing ego's game."In another post, elsewhere in this blog, I ventured the opinion that there are dramatically opposing currents developing in Tibetan Buddhism as expressed in America.
I want to give them a name.
The first understands the above instruction from Trungpa Rinpoche.
The second does not, and is attempting to assert "ownership" of Buddhism in the West, showing all the signs and wonders against which he gave repeated, ample admonition.
It is actually fruitless to recognize the first, for it doesn't require any recognition.
It is simple to recognize the latter, by the angry mob in which it hides its spears and thorns.
This is not a good day to go traveling around, but is generally useful in most other regards.
And, if you are reading this, I am still on vacation -- waiting around for a proposal.