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Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 5:27 pm
by Jinzang
I was surfing the web and came across this curiously cool reaction by Lama Lodu to Kalu Rinpoche's recent visit to San Francisco. I found this startling, knowing how reluctant Tibetans are to publicly criticize high lamas. Did anyone here see Kalu Rinpoche on his recent tour and do you want to comment?

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:17 pm
by meiji1
The lama seemed more nonplussed by Kalu Rinpoche, than anything.

Kalu Rinpoche was here in Vancouver, recently. I should have gone to see him, but stupidly I did not.. everyone I talked to about him here seemed quite impressed, though.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 3:35 am
by conebeckham
I don't know if "cool reception" is what I'd call this...perhaps it's an apt description--keeping in mind that LLR was a very close student of previous Kalu Rinpoche's, and has known Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche for decades as well. I don't see that LLR said anything "negative" about Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche in the interview.

For what it's worth, I agree with LLR's characterizations. Keeping that in mind, I think Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche was honest, true, and spoke from the heart...and he stressed the essentials of Dharma, and pointed out some of the "misgivings" we may have with the institutions of Dharma. In my view, it was an "Interesting beginning" for Yangsi Rinpoche's relations with his Western students, both old and new. Time will tell how it develops.

Of course, you should all consider that I am quite close to LLR, and have spent limited time with Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche, though I, too, have known him for decades. I also didn't have the good fortune to meet Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche in his last life, though I did see him, once, from afar. Long story.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 5:04 am
by Tilopa
conebeckham wrote:I don't know if "cool reception" is what I'd call this...
Reading the interview I got the feeling LLR was disappointed Rinpoche wasn't taking a more traditional approach to teaching which could be an understandable reaction under the circumstances.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:24 pm
by Dechen Norbu
That's how I understood it. I was a little :jawdrop: when I read the interview. If it was a westerner speaking like that, I wouldn't be surprised. But for a Tibetan lama this is not usual when speaking about the tulku of a great lama, especially one's own teacher.
I don't know any of the involved, although I know some of the work of the late Kalu Rinpoche, but I've seen a few "new generation" lamas teach and, honestly, I usually prefer the eldest, with a few exceptions. You are either casual or traditional or know how to be both in the appropriate circumstances. I don't fancy hybrid versions. They remind me of those younger catholic priests trying to be cool (and failing miserably)l. Only their devotees think they are. To the rest of the world they are neither one thing, not the other. This doesn't mean Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche won't become a good teacher, if he alredy isn't. I guess in the end we have to go back to the flaws of the tulku system. If there weren't such high expectations upon him, perhaps things were different.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:55 pm
by deepbluehum
The previous Kalu Rinpoche did ngondro 70 times! Two things come to mind. 1) does this one really need to do all that again? Because karma is not lost. So 2) either a) we are seeing some really subtle wisdom from this guy or b) this guy isn't a real tulku. Word around the teapot is something went wrong in the process. But I'm of the mind that this guy might have done so much practice in the previous life, that he is not feeling too motivated this go around. I mean 70 ngondro? And we have masters these days that are even excusing ngondro. Anyway there's a letter from the previous Kalu that talks about the importance of practice that they had translated and were going to hand out at this Kalu's talks, just to nudge him in the direction of tradition. In my opinion, direct introduction or initiation followed by practice of channels and winds and other practices from mahamudra or dzogchen are more than sufficient. That's how it was done in the Milarepa days. The Tibetans started a war of accumulations of practices, treating practitioners like asses having practices packed onto their backs. Also Westerners work so hard, their hardship is already unbelievable. Americans especially are working several jobs and are packed down with burdens. If they can practice anything it is great. In the context of their deep suffering I can imagine a real master would see, after looking into their bloodshot eyes, that there is no need to give a talk about 1 million repetitions.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:51 pm
by Dechen Norbu
This will take some time to put into words, so bare with me, please.

Most important than the actual format of the practice (Ngöndro or any other) is its the deep meaning and purpose. How this will be achieved depends on the teacher, the student and their relation. When I talk about lamas of the older generation, I'm not specifically addressing the format of the practices they handle to their students, but mostly about the perception of their deep realization, whose effects we may realize at some extent if we spend enough time around.

We also have our projections, expectations and so on and so forth about how a teacher should be like. They may doom us or help us. We need to analyse the teacher, but prior to such endeavor we need to learn how to do it. Some manage, some don't and this is particularly connected with the humbleness we approach the teachings and the initial insights we may gain through study and a little practice. None of the above is without relation to our karmic potential, current circumstances and so on.

There are some teachers who, in my obscured opinion, became too "westernized" in a bad way. Let me try to be clear about my take concerning this issue. It's likely that Dharma needs a new approach when being presented to the West in this day and age. This has more to do with the way it is presented than the actual content that shouldn't be corrupted. The way practitioners live the Dharma is the same. What may change is the presentation, never the deep meaning. Externally things may look a little different, but internally in terms of what we realize, it must basically be the same: cutting through obscurations we gain realization.

It really doesn't matter how odd the teacher acts and looks if he gets results with his students (at least some of those who do practice). It's a matter of keeping the water pure and clear inside the container. The container may be a glass, a jar or a paper cup, whatever is more appropriate to the needs of those listening, but the water must remain pure, not mattering its storage. However, my perception is that is not always the case when traditional training is lacking to the teacher. Lamas who don't do extended retreats, who never were particularly bright in theirs studies and don't show particular insight about the more subtle aspects of the Dharma simply shouldn't teach. This doesn't mean they need to be intellectuals. It means they must have gained some degree of realization. A blind leading the blind gets everyone to fall from a cliff. What is important is to realize if a lama is casual and looks "westernized", but has deep realization or he is simply frivolous and makes his living by teaching Dharma, career style. It doesn't matter if he is a tulku or not, as we know there are fake tulkus. It's easy to make a living if you have a big title. This doesn't mean that all tulkus are fake or anything of the sort. This means it is up to us to do our best to understand who we have sitting on the throne. Is it an attempt or is it the real thing? Unless we are realized, we can't really know for sure, so we need to go by our best guess and this leads us to the preparation that needs to come before the analysis. we also need to be very honest with ourselves when we do it, because sometimes we just need someone to hold on to. This frailty often leads to poor choices.

The point I am trying to make is that one needs to learn to recognize a good teacher, especially when there are some who, IMO, use their fame to act more like pop stars than anything else. In the end, it's our responsibility.

edit: I just want to make clear that I don't have any opinion regarding Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche in particular. He may be a Buddha for all I know.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:24 pm
by Grigoris
C'mon everybody, sing along: "The wheel of samsara goes round and round, round and round, round and round, the wheel of samsara goes round and round, all the live long day!"

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:30 pm
by lisehull
To get a feel for where Kalu Rinpoche is coming from, check out this website:" onclick=";return false;
He also has a Facebook site.
I attended his teachings in Ashland, OR and found him interesting. I understand Lama Lodru's apprehension. The new Kalu Rinpoche is quite untraditional.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:54 pm
by Dechen Norbu
I checked your link and it's not exactly my cup of tea, but perhaps for others he rocks. He sure seems nice. :smile:
Btw, Buddha wasn't exactly a "human being just like us", but I guess the point is that we can attain Buddhahood while being humans. See Dona Sutta.
I'm just saying this because the debate concerning Buddha being simply a human, or a special human or whatever we prefer to call him happens so often that it's better if we cut it by the root so that nobody comes here saying "but Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche said Buddha was a human just like us". Usually it happens with people used to the "westernized Zen" and then we see posts that make our chin drop from people who start affirming that Buddha had flaws and the like. A Buddha can't have flaws, by the definition of Buddhahood. Being a Buddha means no cognitive or afflictive obscurations, so no flaws. We are the result of our karma. Buddha was a nirmanakaya. I wish I was just like him instead of him being just like me. :lol:

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:56 pm
by Karma Dondrup Tashi
As DN says as long as the content of the cup is the same what does it matter what the cup looks like from the outside. This appears to be a more sane and healthy approach to the "westernization" issue than some others have taken - I'm thinking of the thread about Trungpa. I say if the path being taught is the same path, good for him, his website looks great. I have not been around the scene as long as some of you old timers here but I personally found Lama Lodu Rinpoche's remarks to be completely bizarre and inappropriate. I've just never heard a lama speak that way about another lama.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:00 pm
by Dechen Norbu
Yes, it's not common, unless he means to hint something. I'm not sure he is in complete and hearfelt agreement with the choice of this tulku. From his words, one would wonder... Kalu Rinpoche left very big shoes behind, if you get what I'm saying.
Anyway, I think it may be better to let people judge for themselves. I'm tired of all this tulku sh*t anyway and for me it counts zilch these days. :smile:

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:26 pm
by conebeckham
Read it again, there is Absolutely No Question about LLR's conviction that he is the Tulku of previous Kalu Rinpoche.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:32 pm
by Karma Dondrup Tashi
The bottom line for me was:

"I must say that what I heard did not impress me"


"Q:So we should not judge teachers?

A:Best not to judge anyone, especially one who is an incarnation of a bodhisattva."

I mean I'm really, really sorry but this just appears Bi. Zarre. Also appears to speak more to me about Lama Lodu Rinpoche's older approach than Kalu Rinpoche's newer approach.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:40 pm
by conebeckham
I see no contradiction.

I hear things from people that do not impress me, but that doesn't mean I judge the person in his or her entirety on that one experience. Owning one's own feelings and experiences isn't the same as judging another--there's a difference, though perhaps it could be subtle. And I think you'll find a few instance of LLR saying that he has no "special perception," etc.--he's honestly reporting his experience, but at the same time he's clear that that is "his" experience, and not one that negates the experiences of others. No doubt you're familiar with the stories of Buddha teaching, and different students hearing different things?

Perhaps you could ask him yourself, if you desire clarification. I've discussed this with him in depth, so I'm sharing this much...but I don't wish to speak for him, or, goodness knows, "defend him." (AS IF....) :shrug:

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:28 pm
by Dechen Norbu
I honestly find it a bit contradictory. Too many "maybes" and reservations for someone who knows for sure that this person is the tulku of his great teacher, Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, but as he says, I'm not omniscient. There's no way to know since I can't read his mind.
Cone, he is in a tough spot, that's what it is and we all know how it goes when it comes to high tulkus. The story Rinpoche tells goes a long way to explain his "certainty":
Rinpoche: There was a teacher, very learned in the Dharma, who had no time to keep up with his practice. He never revealed this to his students. Because of their pure view and devotion for him they all realized the true nature of mind. After they were enlightened they could see their teacher as he was and they liberated him as well. Thus, pure view and devotion are very important.
This story doesn't come by chance and he didn't tell it for no reason. First he speaks about the qualities a lama should have. Then he tells us a story about a lama who hadn't them and even so lead his students to enlightenment. It is sort of a tranquilizer to those who find the Yangsi so different from his predecessor and may feel insecure. As I said, too many maybes.
By the way, I don't know Lodu Rinpoche, but his honesty touched me. Quite refreshing (not the usual when it comes to high tulkus) and I appreciated his interview a lot. This lama has balls. He is prudent and wise. We should have more like him, if you ask me.

I know some of the work of the late Kalu Rinpoche and after seeing Yangsi's site, I hope he is right and that the Yangsi can benefit as many beings as his predecessor, being the tulku of Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche. There's no way of knowing what will happen. I'm not omniscient and as far as I know, he may well be a Buddha. :lol:
I also liked that part where he says:
So one may choose to keep the image of the first Kalu Rinpoche in one's heart?

A:If they visualize Kalu Rinpoche with devotion and practice according to what Rinpoche taught, there is nothing better than that. In the Kagyu tradition, a renowned master said, “When you do not meet a teacher (in this life) for whom you have heartfelt trust, you can choose a great master, one who demonstrated, before he passed, the conduct and qualities of a bodhisattva.
Good advice and always useful at least for those who aren't omniscient and, with their "ordinary perception", "want him to be like his predecessor, displaying the same inner and outer attributes". Those were indeed the attributes of a great being. So it's natural that we more or less expect his tulku to show them. :smile:

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 1:20 am
by Jinzang
The question in my mind is not why is Lama Lodu uncomfortable with Kalu Rinpoche's non-traditional teaching style, but why did he feel so strongly about it that he put up a page on the KDK Center website?

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 1:32 am
by Heruka
gregkavarnos wrote:C'mon everybody, sing along: "The wheel of samsara goes round and round, round and round, round and round, the wheel of samsara goes round and round, all the live long day!"
second verse the same as the first verse..

im henry the 8th i am, iam,
im henry the 8th i am, i am....

watching the path of this kalu with interest... :namaste:

theres a quality spark, like with the 17th karmapa that is present.

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 1:35 am
by Heruka
Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote: Also appears to speak more to me about Lama Lodu Rinpoche's older approach than Kalu Rinpoche's newer approach.

like with trungpa, or the shamar rinpoches, its not a cookie cutter dharma factory.
the late bokar rinpoche saw great things in this yangsi.

lets just wait.

btw why no Bokar rinpoche tulku?

Re: Kalu Rinpoche: Panned in San Francisco

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:00 am
by Dechen Norbu
A good start by Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche is this message of his:
My monasteries: A new vision and approach

My dear friends, I want to share with all of you the vision I have for my monasteries.

From outside everything looks very beautiful. But looking behind the glossy cover of the magazine, the reality is quite different. I really feel that a lot needs to be changed:

Young children are mainly brought to the monastery to become monks because of their families’ financial difficulty. This is not the choice of the children .

Then they receive a religious education but not a regular education. This means that when the children grow up, if they decide to leave the monastery they have no way to live a good life. I have close friends who left the monastery when they became 19 or 20 yrs old, and now they are washing dishes in a restaurant or driving taxi. Since they have no training or education for living in the world, they will have a very difficult time to have a full and happy life. This breaks my heart.

Also I see the young monks learning about Dharma without having any direct experience of life; nor without the expericnce of Dharma in life. For example, I learned, as many young monks learn, that samsara lies outside the walls of the monastery; that those who are in relationship, those who are married, those who work and are fully engaged in life are in samsara while those of us in the monastery are not in samsara. We are educated with this kind of pride, this kind of prejudice. Some of these monks then go into retreat and come out as Lamas. They are invited to the west to live and teach in a Buddhist center. And when they arrive, they discover that “Samsara is Beautiful”. They then want to experience everything that life has to offer, and too often get involved in dharma business, and abusing and taking advantage of innocent people. Too often they use the Dharma to cover up and justify their personal behavior.

Another person might grow up outside the monastery, receive a regular education, and experience the joys and difficulties of life. And then having really understood that samsara is our own state of mind and our own attachment, decide to enter the monastery and follow a spiritual path. This to me is a much better approach.

So my idea is to create a school for children whose families have financial difficulty. The children will receive both normal and religious training. Then when the children reach 19 or 20 years of age, they can freely decide if they want to leave and have a personal life with work and family which they can do in a good way, with full appreciation of Dharma in their lives; if they want to join the school and education system, they will be welcome; and if they want to enter the monastery and follow a spiritual path they will do so fully and completely as their own decision.

For me the point of Dharma is to give us freedom and possibilities. Currently the system does not do that. I hope that this new approach will do so in my monasteries and Dharma communities.

This is my vision. And I am determined to make it happen.
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This deserves a big :thumbsup: IMO.
It's a great idea. Let's see if he gets it done. That would be quite an accomplishment.