DGA wrote: ↑
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:26 am
Mantrik wrote: ↑
Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:47 pm
Trying soo hard not to show that Aro g'Ter pic ............ desperately not wanting to show it..........damn, failed again! :
I've seen this photo more than a few times over the last dozen or more years. Every time I see it, I react strongly to it, and make some assumptions (not the same assumptions every time) about the people in the photo. I'll notice the facial hair. Or the gazes (which way are they looking?). Or ALL. THAT. BROCADE.
Mostly, I have assumed this is an image of silly people being silly. I've guessed at the silliness in different ways. (Confederacy nostalgia from across the pond? Heavy Horses
-era Tull cosplay?)
in recent years I am more and more convinced that I have been the silly one. Why? Because I have strong opinions about others who choose to wear a hectare of brocade about their bodies, or cut their whiskers differently from how I cut mine. The truth is that I don't know these people and their brocade party isn't my problem at all.
I assume I am not the only one about these parts who has responded to this image in more or less the same way.
I bring all this up because the image of the ngakpa, even in what will be described by many as its simulacrum, prompts a strong reaction from anyone with any connection to Vajrayana. It's unsurprising that much of the disagreement in this thread and others on this same topic is at the level of assumption (divergences of assumption) rather than disputes around fact or function.
It would be worthwhile for someone to do an objective study (ethnography or at least participant observation) of what contemporary ngapkas outside of the Tibetan cultural sphere actually do with their time and their practice.
There was a meme about Buddhists - what they say they do and what they actually do, which was quite funny. How many wear their full Ngakpa dress at home, or even in a local Sangha? Observing threads on DW my impression is that most wear their ordinary clothes and maybe a Zen at times. How much time a Ngakpa spends meditating, performing rituals etc. I don't know. I get up at 4am and spend 3 hours in meditation, perform my morning pujas and riwo sangcho, integrate my practice throughout the day, six session yoga of course, and a long sadhana every evening, and I hereby confess to being a dreadful liar!:)
Buddhism here in the UK has such variety, there is something to appeal to most tastes, and I'm sure the trappings play their part in recruitment and retention. For some, it may be Japanese dress and ritual, for others Thai, Tibetan etc. I am certainly guilty of treating 'the West' as if it comprises one culture, and of course our upbringing conditions us. I have no factual evidence, but observed in one mass empowerment that there was a very large contingent from 'Catholic' countries - maybe Tibetan ritual, incense etc. is a good fit if you were brought up with Latin chanting, lots of robes, saints etc etc.
I think it comes back to the old 'motivation' question. It's a bit like the Ngakpa 'hair cutting' - not such a good idea if you just want it as your 'freak flag' (apologies Crosby) or to attract attention as 'holy' person.
Aro aren't far from me and although there seems to be a kernel of sincere practice, the terma controversy and the fancy dress puts me off. Maybe it is just me. I find all group activity stressful, perhaps because I always seem to end up teaching or organising things, not to mention the performance anxiety if I had to work out how to wear those hats.