Monday, September 15, 2014

In God's Name

Rest assured, there is no nudity in the following photographs. No exposed nipples, no unseemly kissing on Main Street. These photographs are of current events. These are photographs of something happening now. This is 2014. Let the whole world see what is being done in the name of the "one true God."

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

To All the Sangha I Knew Before

The Hat. I'm Passing.

I pray you always believe in yourself. I pray the same ideals that led to our connection in this life are still fresh, and clear, within you. Can you still find, inside of you, that which made our connection come about? Can you remember where refuge is found? Think often of how fortunate we were! Think, to yourself, how fortunate we still are!

This personal letter is addressed to those who feel themselves estranged from our Precious Master. I publish it in public, for whatever value those who are estranged from their own teachers care to assign.

Rather than disregard you as samaya breakers -- and there are even vows to that effect --  I cannot find it within myself to turn away from you, no matter what has become of your views. No matter you berate our Precious Master, as some of you now do. No matter you hold me in contempt. Ours is the religion of kindness, and if we cannot be kind to one another, it accounts as failure: yours and mine. Kindness is not a unilateral experience; kindness is a bilateral undertaking.

If I hold up my part of the kindness, can you hold up yours? 

You know, and I know, that we created a bond between ourselves in the presence of our Precious Master. In your mind, perhaps you believe you left all that behind; yet, sometimes, maybe in the course of a rabbit's meditation on a sleepless night, somewhere, deep in your heart, you hear a faint whisper that confesses: you cannot leave what has always been a part of you.

Let that whisper grow, my friend. Let that whisper grow.

For over 60 years now, I have served and honored a vision of my teacher, some 45 years of which coincide with his introduction of Guru Rinpoche's teachings in the West. For all these years, he has been immediately available to me. From the time I was a teenager until now, he has loved me unconditionally, and answered every cry for assistance. He has protected me, comforted me, instructed me, challenged me, and guided me through all of this life's conditions. "I taught you many things," he once wrote to me, "just let them unfold," and how true this is: a gift that refreshes itself every day. A gift that does not require hand-holding, constant watering, or the neurotic abdication of decision-making.

Who in your own life, right now, can love you like that, and guide you to liberation at the same time? Who takes the exquisite care our Precious Master invested in us? Who has such power, and precision? Look around you now: this world is filled with poor choices. Who is our Precious Master, do you know?

He gave me a wish-granting gem. He also gave one to you. What do you think we should give back to him, once we've made use of that gem?

If you say, "Well, Rinpoche doesn't talk to me anymore," then you might wish to ask yourself: why don't you talk to him anymore? Wasn't there a time when you, the newcomer, marched right up and knocked on the door? I know you did, because likely as not, I am the one who opened it to greet you. If you have -- for whatever reason -- alienated yourself from him all these years, then you have robbed yourself of the richest possible spiritual experience associated with human existence.

Yes, you.

You, who became so successful. You, with your real estate, your professions, your inventions. Who really made you what you are today? Be honest with yourself! 

You, who ran to the "easy" lamas. You, who valued yourself so much, clinging to obstacles, that you could not entertain Dharma apart from conventional society. Like a jilted lover you ran away in bitterness. Yes, you.

You, who despite over four decades of evidence, still believe you are in ordinary discourse with an ordinary man. You have let yourself become disaffected.

No matter how far away you have fallen, I am writing to you now, after all this time, to remind you that our Precious Master is near to 80, this life we share isn't going to last forever, and it is time for you to reach all the way to the bottom of your heart, take out whatever it is of value you can find, and give it to him.

Just give it away. No strings attached this time. No expectations. No transactions. Just give, and give the way he taught you to give.

If you have tens, give tens. If you have millions, give millions. If you have an estate to be willed, then visit the Notary. The amount doesn't matter. What matters is that we keep honest with each other about our shared dream, our shared vision, our shared responsibility, our shared oath, our shared ideals. What matters is that you find your way back to Berkeley, do you understand? Whenever or even wherever "Berkeley" was or is for you, find your way back to that first day you knocked on the door.

What really matters is to finish what you started. If you started something and could not finish, give what you were able to do, and keep on trying. Throw away conceit. Throw away guilt. Throw away doubt. Throw away apathy, lethargy, and excuses. Stop lying to yourself, and finish what you started. 

Whatever you do, strongly do! Remember?

Through the efforts of our Precious Master, his family, the residential and extended sangha, all those upholding personal life vows to Rinpoche as their Root Guru, and all volunteers, the work of the past years finally stands at the threshold of its greatest challenge.

Not only is this a chance for you to maintain the scales, but this is also a chance for you to "come home," overcome illusory obstacles, and rejoin your heart in progress.

I encourage you to reach out, repair what needs repairing, and remember how and why we are related.

9 September 2014

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