Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

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SonamTashi
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Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by SonamTashi » Fri May 25, 2018 10:56 am

So this has been discussed in various forums on the internet before, so it probably isn't anything new. In general, I think Dharmavidya and his Amida-Shu group are well intentioned, so I usually try to avoid any controvery surrounding them. But I was recently looking at their service book and I noticed some questionable inclusions. I decided to post this in the general Mahayana forum, because it involves a lot more than just claims of Pure Land transmission.

The first thing I want to mention is that while Dharmavidya's history of training as a Pure Land teacher is murky, in my opinion it is the other claims that are more questionable. Scanning their service book briefly, it is obvious that Dharmavidya has adopted liberally from almost every extant Buddhist tradition. Some of the inclusions are obvious: Quan Yin, and Tai Shi Chi are obviously a part of the general Pure Land tradition. But the service book also shows general Mahayana influence with practices involving Kshitigarbha, Samantabhadra, Manjusri, Maitreya, Vajrasattva, Acala-natha, Mahakala, and Vairocana. The service book also claims Zen and Theravadan influence.

Of particular note is the inclusion of the 100 syllable Vajrasattva mantra, a Vajrayana-based Chenrezig/Quan Yin Sadhana, and a mandala offering. So my question is this: where, when and from whom did Dharmavidya receive transmission to practice and permission to teach these practices? Especially out of a Vajrayana context? To me this is a bigger question than his resume as a Pure Land practitioner and teacher, because the Pure Land sutras are supposed to last 100 years beyond the end of the Dharma. While his lack of Pure Land credentials makes me skeptical, it kinda makes sense that a strict lineage transmission isn't as important in Pure Land, and that is his argument in a long comment here.

If he was only transmitting Pure Land teachings, perhaps this wouldn't be a large issue. But he claims transmission from nearly every extant Buddhist school! His lineage list has the obvious inclusions of Pure Land teachers, Amida and his attendants, Sakyamuni, the attendees of Sakyamuni's discourses on the Pure Land, general Mahayana teachers, teachers of the Madhyamaka, Yogacara, and Tathagathagarbha schools. It also includes teachers of the Zen, Avatamsaka, Tendai, Theravadan and Vajrayana schools. In his list of "gurus of the late transmission" (presumably his teachers and his teacher's teachers) he includes: Soyen Shaku, D.T. Suzuki, Tri Guang, Thubten Yeshe, Kyabjye Kalu (Kalu Rinpoche?), Ambedkar, Ananda Mettayya (member of the hermetic order of the Golden Dawn, not a Buddhist?), Chogyam Trungpa, Achaan Chah, Nichidats' Fuji'i (originator of a Nichiren splinter group), Xu Yun, T'ou T'o, T'ai Hsu, Yin Kuang, Houn Jiyu, and Gisho Saiko. He also lists Nai Boonman, Chogyam Trungpa, Anne Trembath, Carl Ransom Rogers, Elaine Sachnoff, Jiyu Kennett, Mary Midgley, Gisho Saiko (who "entrusted" him to bring Buddhist counselling to the West) Al Bloom, and Celso Navarro as "influences," many of whom aren't even Buddhist at all. Is he claiming them as part of his lineage? That they actually taught him? Or did he just like their books? The inclusion of non-Buddhists in the lineage list in his service book is odd, and seems to conflict with only going to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha for refuge. This transmission lineage is so broad and varied, it is difficult to believe he has really both received all of these transmissions and been authorized to teach.This is especially important because he is apparently transmitting esoteric and Vajrayana practices. Did Chogyam Trungpa or another qualified teacher authorize him to teach the 100 syllable mantra, the mandala offering and the Chenrezig sadhana? What about all of the Theravadan, Zen, Tendai and Avatamsaka transmissions he is claiming? Has he really received transmission and permission to teach in all of these schools?

If he has received permission, it should be easy for him to prove. I just don't get why he is so vague about it. And you would think Amida-Shu as a group would want to clear up the whole issue as a matter of transparency, but instead there is a culture of disregarding lineage and transmission entirely. This almost stinks of every other charlatan who pretends to have received transmission, except he and his group don't seem to be hurting anyone. Is that all that is necessary to take him seriously, that he isn't hurting anyone? I do think they are well-intentioned, but is that enough? Or if he can't prove his own transmissions and permissions from all of these schools are legit, should he be taken seriously at all?
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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by Astus » Sat May 26, 2018 8:41 am

SonamTashi wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 10:56 am
if he can't prove his own transmissions and permissions from all of these schools are legit, should he be taken seriously at all?
The question is rather why take someone seriously as a teacher. Transmissions and permissions (if and when they even exist) are representatives of a certain level of commitment, effort, and learning. But it is what is represented that can make someone worthy of respect.
To be a teacher, the basic requirement is to know more than the student. To be a teacher of a specific subject, the requirement is knowledge of that subject. To be a Dharma teacher, the requirement is that what is taught is in accordance with the Buddhadharma.
So what could be looked into is whether Dharmavidya teaches what he claims to teach.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by ItsRaining » Sat May 26, 2018 11:12 am

Who's Tai Shi Chi?

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SonamTashi
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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by SonamTashi » Sat May 26, 2018 2:30 pm

Mahasthamaprapta, one of Amitabha Buddha's attendant Bodhisattvas in Sukhavati. I used the Chinese version because it is significantly easier to spell.
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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by Admin_PC » Tue May 29, 2018 4:01 pm

I think originally he was a student of Houn Jiyu-Kennett.
In his own words:
Introduction - David Brazier / Homyo / Dharmavidya wrote:I was a disciple of Reverend Master Jiyu Kennett - whom, in the early days we simply called Roshi - from 1972 until 1985. In 1977 I was ordained as Hakuun Homyo. I now use the name Dharmavidya in Buddhist circles. I met Roshi at the first sesshin that she held in UK after returning from Japan at the Tathata Centre in Gloucestershire. It was a remarkable event at which more than one person had kensho experiences and almost everybody present was led to make substantial changes of life direction in the months following. We all felt that we had participated in something of great momment and I still think that this was the case. My Buddhist training with Roshi was of great importance for me. As a child I had had powerful spontaneous spiritual experiences and had spent much of my adolescence in a search for the meaning of these. At the Tathata sesshin I had significant spiritual experiences again and this made me realise that Roshi was the right spiritual teacher for me. I corresponded with her over the succeeding years and saw her whenever she came to UK. I was with Daiji Strathearn when he selected and purchased Throssel Hole Farm which has since become the Abbey. Daiji was prior at Throssel for ten years and I practised with him ardently. Then he visited Shasta and came back disillusioned and disrobed. This was a big shock. Many supporters left. A married couple who had practiced with me who had ordained as Hofuku and Kyosei Hughes found this period very difficult. Hofuku (Mike) left but Kyosei stayed for a time and then she also left. People did not know who to have faith in. I stayed. Those English disciples who remained all decided to go to Shasta Abbey to train with a view to putting the UK sangha onto a stronger footing. I, however, was unable to get a visa. This was in 1977. I was left in charge of Throssel as a holding arrangement until trained monks from Shasta could come. During that winter I had more visions and wrote to Roshi about them. She was very helpful in her response. In due course Ando Sacco and his wife arrived. This, however, proved not to be a very happy arrangement. I had a number of confrontations with Ando the worst of which resulted in him telling me to leave if I would not do as he told me, but as what he had told me to do seemed unethical I had to leave. A couple of years later I was able to visit Roshi in USA.

After leaving OBC, in due course I practised with Thich Nhat Hanh for a few years and became a member of the Order of Interbeing. A sub-group of us from that sangha wanted to develop a more socially engaged approach and this in due course led to the establishment of the Amida Trust. AT attracted many members who were not associated with OoI and most of the OoI members left so Amida gradually became an independent sangha which it has continued to be.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by Virgo » Tue May 29, 2018 10:01 pm

Seems dubious.

Kevin...
ངོ་རང་ཐོག་ཏུ་སྤྲད། །
ཐག་གཅིག་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅད། །
གདེང་གྲོལ་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅའ། །

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheYoungTurks/videos
http://caretoclick.com/save-the-rainfor ... orestation
http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otGs4ZMOyq4

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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by Admin_PC » Wed May 30, 2018 12:18 am

Virgo wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 10:01 pm
Seems dubious.

Kevin...
Not disagreeing in regards to the service book. My post is a quote from Brazier's post on the Order of Buddhist Contemplative's forum - literally the forum for the organization founded by Jiyu Kennett Roshi. I trust that much of his story is true, as the forum is frequented by the people who were there (especially the very Daiji mentioned in Brazier's post).
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by Virgo » Wed May 30, 2018 1:01 am

Admin_PC wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 12:18 am
Virgo wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 10:01 pm
Seems dubious.

Kevin...
Not disagreeing in regards to the service book. My post is a quote from Brazier's post on the Order of Buddhist Contemplative's forum - literally the forum for the organization founded by Jiyu Kennett Roshi. I trust that much of his story is true, as the forum is frequented by the people who were there (especially the very Daiji mentioned in Brazier's post).
Oh I just meant his authorization to teach tantric practices like the 100 syllable mantra, etc.

Kevin...
ངོ་རང་ཐོག་ཏུ་སྤྲད། །
ཐག་གཅིག་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅད། །
གདེང་གྲོལ་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅའ། །

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheYoungTurks/videos
http://caretoclick.com/save-the-rainfor ... orestation
http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otGs4ZMOyq4

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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by Admin_PC » Wed May 30, 2018 3:02 am

Virgo wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 1:01 am
Oh I just meant his authorization to teach tantric practices like the 100 syllable mantra, etc.

Kevin...
Ah, thanks for the clarification!
No argument from me.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by Virgo » Wed May 30, 2018 3:19 am

Admin_PC wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 3:02 am
Virgo wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 1:01 am
Oh I just meant his authorization to teach tantric practices like the 100 syllable mantra, etc.

Kevin...
Ah, thanks for the clarification!
No argument from me.
Right on. :thumbsup:

Kevin...
ངོ་རང་ཐོག་ཏུ་སྤྲད། །
ཐག་གཅིག་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅད། །
གདེང་གྲོལ་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅའ། །

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheYoungTurks/videos
http://caretoclick.com/save-the-rainfor ... orestation
http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otGs4ZMOyq4

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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by Wayfarer » Wed May 30, 2018 4:42 am

For what it's worth, I like David Brazier's writing. I had a collection of his aphorisms stuck to the study wall for a long while, and I have a few of his books on Kindle. As he's a Brit, of about the same age (or about 5 years older), I find he's a good counterpoint to Stephen Batchelor's 'Buddhist atheism', as his orientation is much more - how to say - devotional.
Remember grace as the epitome of love.

• Don’t claim the credit.

•Appreciate whatever comes and make the absolute most of it.

• If you meet with troublesome or adverse circumstances, remember to establish yourself in the realm of grace and unhook from the world of transient things—disappointments are part and parcel of life.

• Live fully with no “no-go” areas: sometimes we are joyful, sometimes sad, sometimes we rejoice, and sometimes we grieve.

• Have a regular practice of remembering and celebrating grace.

• Love.

• Count yourself as of no importance and return to childlike simplicity.

• Allow feelings to come and go, yet know a deep contentment that fills your days.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Dharmavidya's Authorization to teach

Post by clyde » Thu May 31, 2018 5:43 am

I like his definition of enlightenment. (See my signature.)
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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