Dechen Norbu wrote:
Well, that's what I thought was really weird too, especially when Dzogchen triumphalism was used as a rhetorical device to make sweeping generalizations about "Buddhism", how corrupt it is, it is dying, a mere empty shell, and on and on.
Since Buddhism is a label we use to represent a vast array of teachers, Lamas, practitioners, etc.. it was simply not skillful, or correct for some people to make such sweeping claims.. Especially as you point out, many that fall in this category of "Buddhists" are actually quite sincere and authentic Dzogchen masters. Some of which are my teachers, and some of which are yours, and other people's here.
This is where I think you interpreted things in a very extreme way.
Dechen, I said I would reply to the rest of this, and although some good dialogue has happened since then I will try to stick to my word.. I got quite busy under deadline so haven't really had any time to think about these things or participate until now, and even now I barely do!
I never imagined Malcom meant all the Buddhist world.
Maybe he didn't but, then why would he say things that are clearly directed at the whole Buddhist world? Because from his own words, which is all we have to go on in an internet forum he says these generalizations which are clearly directed at all the Buddhist world:
Buddhism has become in many respects an ossified missionary religion primarily concerned with gaining converts and worshipping in nice houses.
whereas Buddhism is heavily invested in the cause/result paradigm and has an entire intellectual and institutional edifice dedicated to preserving it at any cost.
Buddhism, especially Tibetan Buddhism, is an oligarchy.
There are more quotes like this, but you get the idea. I don't feel like debating these points here and now, but you can see they generalize the entire group of people under the same broad brush.. and if they didn't, I may agree with the statements.. as they stand, I do not.
He too has Buddhist teachers, some very important to him.
It is hard to know what is now important to him unless he tells us, in light of his statements. He has made some clarifying statements about his personal teachers or views in the 100 pages or so of threads... but he also still stubbornly stands by his generalizations..
To me it seemed he was pissed at some movements inside Buddhism that tried to choke Dzogchen. To me it seems he was pissed with all the corruption he saw in Tibetan politics, especially when it is disguised as Dharma. How many threads do we have about these problems? How many more could we have? How many more we don't know? We always see the tip of the iceberg. These abuses are shielded from the public in many different ways. People are devout, people gang those who defy their devotion for the teacher, teachings are misused to blame the ones complaining, the hierarchies do little or nothing in many cases and this is simply maddening... I hope I'm exaggerating, but I suspect when we hear about one case, ten more are hidden. You know Malcom's style and I don't understand why you assume he meant those comments in a sweeping way. He said himself that perhaps he saw one corrupt lama too many.
I do know Malcolm's style, and this is a perfect example: he makes authoritarian absolute statements that are incredibly sweeping and generalized, and then stands by them when they upset people. Any statements like these are provocative, because they clearly are not true, and are a cause for divisionism when they are knowingly made like this. Of course, I do agree, yes, there are scandals among some sanghas and teachers who are Buddhist. Some perpetrating the scandals are Tibetans, some are Westerners, some are Vajrayanists, some Mahyanists, some are Zen and don't even like the title Buddhist just like Malcolm, and some are Theravadans. They are all human. Just like anyone practicing Dzogchen. Until we are "Fully Integrated Dzogchenpas, or Buddhas, or Ascended Light Masters or whatever your label of choice-- we are ill, in a hospital, (call it samsara or state-of-dualism- or distraction what have you) and we shouldn't get too freaked out when we see other sick people in the hospital with us! Compassion is the best reaction, not a diatribe against the names of different hospitals, and saying all doctors are no good because there's been some malpractice with the one exception Dr. _____________ who is my favorite doctor because they help me but all other doctors are corrupt because of the few that have been guilty of malpractice! This is what I see, because of the form of generalization being done. I only joined in these threads to counterbalance the incredibly unbalanced generalizations I started seeing. In many ways, as I've said before, I find a lot of what Malcolm expressed in some of his long posts to be refreshing, heart warming, and totally in line with aspects of my own views that I have had for some time (and which "Namdrol" may have argued against in the past).
I know you for some years and I can bet my neck that you hate abuse as much as I do
. Yes, but I also hate obfuscation and clumsy communication by making gross exaggerated statements that slop everything with the same broad brush.
I have Buddhist teachers I deeply respect. In a way I always think of ChNN as a Buddhist and only after I remember he is not just that.
Me too, I don't think of any of my own teachers -including ChNN as "just Buddhists" either, because if they were, that would mean they had no genuine realization, and I know better.
When I read Malcom, I never assumed he was insulting my teachers or good teachers.
I never took any of it personally, I am just interested in encouraging him and others not to make these invalid erroneous and didactic statements to
support their points, or personal epiphanies, what have you.
http://evolutionwiki.org/wiki/Sweeping_Generalization "For example, "birds can [normally] fly" is a general rule, and doesn't imply that all birds (such as emus or penguins) can fly. To take this general rule and apply it to all birds would be committing a sweeping generalization."
If he altogether avoided this type of speech, and instead tried to communicate more along the lines of:
In my personal experience, a lot what I have witnessed masquerade as Buddhism seems ossified, and missionary, and not effectively transmitting the pure Buddhadharma. It also seems to me that many Buddhists are sadly overly concerned with material things these days, like gaining more followers or worshiping in fancy temples
as opposed to the original:
Buddhism has become in many respects an ossified missionary religion primarily concerned with gaining converts and worshipping in nice houses.
I won't keep giving examples, one should be enough, but you get the idea? I truly think, despite maybe some retroactive context afterwards, that misunderstandings would be much less without this bombastic statements made as if they are ultimate truth. Give a personal aspect, and a conditional aspect.. please, no more absolute objective authoritarian statements. It doesn't work in this type of dialogue. Especially in this forum, where many people such as myself have teachers that truly do not fit into the "Buddhist" mold Malcolm has created, despite sincerely thinking of themselves as followers of Buddha Shakyamuni, Buddha Garab Dorje, and others..And who offer refuge as a profound thing, intertwined with pointing-out, with great sincerity and not fitting into the absolute all-encompassing statements like
The whole refuge thing has been turned into a game of religious politics.
these days, refuge has been turned into a badge, a tool for conversion.
Dechen Norbu wrote:
Just as being attached to the label of Buddhism can be a type of conditioning, so can an aversion to it
Correct. I think nobody disputes that.
Well, see above.. the sweepingly generalized statements certainly read as a form of aversion, and could easily influence new fledgling Buddhists who have come to this forum with a lot of despair and cynicism.. when perhaps they even already have a great teacher and Sangha that does not fit with these accusations!
Dechen Norbu wrote:
Adamantine wrote:And I feel like a lot of unhealthy and unbalanced aversion has been expressed on this forum lately, for no good reason. To quote ChNN: "If we see something we don't like, we say"Oh, I don't like that, and if you put it in front of me, it makes me nervous" That means we are rejecting and are angry with that object. These are our two main emotions, attachment and anger. In this way we accept and reject over and over again, falling in dualistic vision, and accumulating the negative potentiality of karma. When we produce negative karma, it has the potentiality for producing samsara. Therefore, our obstacles of negative karma become thicker and thicker, and we become more and more ignorant of our condition."
Are you sure you are not just perceiving this aversion, interpreting his words in such way? Are you sure Malcom feels aversion to Buddhism, not only corruption inside Buddhist, that which will lead to its degeneration? You know Malcom for a while now. Do you really think he feels aversion for Buddhism? And he fell in love for all other religions? It seems a little weird and I don't interpret him as you do.
I wish that he could communicate with more clarity so that people don't have to interpret him or spend all this time defending what he may have really meant. Only he knows what he meant, and has the power to choose the proper words and sentence structures to properly communicate it without undue muddied waters. If all he was upset about was "corruption inside of Buddhism" as opposed to "all of Buddhism" he simply made a lot of statements that were completely opposite of his intent. I tend to think he is more intelligent than that, but I hope you are right about his intent.
I really have no problem personally with the idea that the state of realization that is pointed towards in "Buddhism" or "Dzogchenism" (I wouldn't normally separate the two) etc. does not need the label, or stamp of "Dzogchen" or "Buddhism" to be the real thing. They are both just words.
dechen norbu wrote:Well, but words have meanings and sometimes these meanings cause great impact. If you say that one needs to be a Buddhist to practice Dzogchen, that's a claim with a big impact. So is its opposite. [/b]
I never said one needs to be Buddhist to practice Dzogchen, although many have attributed that view to me based on my questioning approach to the sweeping claims being made. For the record, I do not believe one has to be Buddhist to practice Dzogchen. However, I do think there are a whole bunch of views and beliefs or behaviors based on those which may completely contradict Dzogchen view and practice (including what ChNN quotes regarding karma above and what many other great masters teach re: this), and as such either cause conflict or derail the said practice. So maybe there are some people practicing under ChNN who don't consider themselves Buddhist.. Maybe they don't identify with the Nirmanakaya Buddha Shakyamuni as Malcolm says they don't take refuge in him, and reply that they are taking refuge in Guru Yidam Dakini or whatever.. Does this really make them NOT Buddhist? (I am not talking about the external label here). Anyway, if they are conducting themselves with sense of interdependence, compassion, altruistic intent, devotion to their teacher and his advice (who is a Buddhist), and not also following the advice of another religious teacher that is instructing them to suicide-bomb for the will of God and they will go to heaven as a result-- then clearly, there is not much of a contradiction and probably they will develop through experience. But, sometimes views are impossible to reconcile, when they are opposing... and to get to a place where one's practice and personal experience of it takes over and wipes away all views that lead to actions is quite advanced, and usually all along the way teachers including ChNN are teaching from many POV that are "Buddhist", not just "stand-alone" Dzogchen.. why? Because it is incredibly important to practice holistically, while we are still "practitioners" and not fully realized Buddhas.
However, it has not happened to me like that, and as such I have a great devotion and respect for the various Gurus of mine, and what they have been able to show me. And all of them never hesitated to teach Ati yoga, regardless of their association with the Buddhist tradition, the Nyingma lineage, etc. I do think that for all of the time when we are not fully integrated, (a good deal of the time for most of us, if we are honest) we would be much better off to be sensitive to the laws of karma. Just as Guru Rinpoche recommends.
Of course. That was never disputed.
Well, it certainly is disputed if we are proposing that someone with a belief that does not accord with karma can fully follow the path without error or problems.
What is more, if we hold to a religious system that has beliefs contrary to karma (which many do) and may cause us to perform negative actions that accumulate negative karma, --then we will be producing samsara and we will become more and more ignorant of our condition, just as ChNN says in the quote I transcribed above. In my experience, I know spiritual people who meditate and who have quite profound experiences.. but they don't hesitate to grasp after sexual gratification to extremes and to kill insects (or rodents) they feel aversion for at any cost. This is perhaps one example of how subscribing to a Buddhist view can clarify karma, and help stop us from becoming "thicker and thicker, and become more and more ignorant of our condition".
Morality can be built without the notion of karma, around empathy. I find moral built due to fear of consequences rather primitive.
Yes, but this is a straw man, in my view. I don't, and have never thought of karma as a reflexive reward-punishment scheme. This is an incredible dense way to view karma, and maybe it is spoon fed to simple minded people this way as a skillful means, but it is certainly not how I or most practitioners I know view it. To me it is a deep understanding of the interdependence of relative-reality.. understanding how interrelated and inseparable all sentient beings are, and thus, the infinite power each individual has in the larger sense, for help or for harm. It is also related to cultivating positive and beneficial patterns of thought and action, for the sake of others and for one's own sake. Of course, even this is illusory but while we are "in the dream" it is important to know it and not pretend we are already awake, and as such to proficiently relate to the dream-circumstances.
But then imagine there are people who believe animals have no soul (but believe humans do). So they kill animals and don't see anything wrong with it. If these people recognize their natural state, this will change them deeply. You don't recognize the natural state and stay the same. It isn't like that and if your teachers shown that to you, you know it. The more they work with this deeply transformative experience, the more compassionate they will become. I believe things will fall in place naturally. I also assume that nobody disputes the transformative power of Dzogchen practice. This doesn't mean it transforms you into a Buddhist. It transforms you, at its greater extent, in a Buddha. For instance, you don't become a Theravadin and they are Buddhists! :lol
Dechen, the hypothesis that one can start as a Dzogchen yogi while following a belief system that denies karma, and/or promotes harmful activities towards oneself and others.. and still transform naturally and become realized.. this is a great idea but it is just an idea, a belief-- you could say faith based, even blind-faith based, until there are some examples historically or in the present moment to look at and say, --see, this is how it happened for this person, who became a Buddha without giving up whatever extreme belief or harmful action. At least, with examples we know such as Angulimala or Milarepa, there was remorse and a drastic change of heart before they started really practicing authentically. You see, I believe ChNN and other great Dzogchen masters teach Karma, because it is an essential ingredient, even if it is ultimately irrelevant once one is abiding 24-7 in Rigpa. If one was already abiding like this, no need for practice, for labels such as "Dzogchen" even, especially "Buddhism"! I don't think any of the labels are important.. but they are just referents for containers that hold the teachings. The liquid in the cup is essential. Many people reading some of the generalizations may just throw the cup away with the liquid too! I do not find this skillful! But yes, sure we can call attention to a chip in the cup, or a greasy finger-print. . . but don't tell them to throw the cup away altogether, just encourage them to sip from the other side. You get me?
In terms of merging Dzogchen practice with Tantric practice, -I think ChNN is also quite clear on this, and it is really no different than the way many traditional Nyingma lineage Lamas teach it:
"Many Westerners feel that the Tantric teaching is very interesting, but they do not like to practice; in their view it is not really meditation, but instead only chanting and ritual. Such people do not really know what contemplation is, and consider meditation to be only sitting in silence without moving. The real meaning of meditation or contemplation, as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni, is to dwell in our real nature. How can we find ourselves in this real nature? Since our real nature is not just emptiness, but also includes clarity and energy, we must find ourselves both in our energy and our clarity. If the nature of our energy is movement, not silence, then how can we be in that nature without moving? Practicing Dzogchen does not mean just remaining in silence, but also involves moving, integrating with clarity, and integrating with the movement of energy. Thus you can easily understand why, in Tantric practice, there is so much chanting, singing, moving about, and so on, because that involves integration with energy in movement. Sometimes you can find explanations of this in Tantric teachings, but generally it is only applied and not explained, though you can discover and understand the principle if you think about it. In the Dzogchen teachings, these are things to be learned directly."
You see, this is very much how other Dzogchen teachers who some seem to accuse as being stuck in the two stages, etc. place their emphasis... To me ChNN does not seem that unusual in his approach. So I am a bit surprised by all these denunciations of the "tantric approach" or "Buddhism" or cause and result, etc.
Well, perhaps because I've seen many different presentations of Dzogchen...many "direct introductions" that lead nowhere or where to supposed to lead but just in the future, many practices that also didn't lead to the recognition of the natural state, let alone learning integration... in fact I never seen a similar presentation, at least that is not built ad hoc, after the fact, after ChNN way of teaching became widely known, and perhaps that's why I have this idea. Maybe I'm wrong. But I suspect reality is quite different from what you are saying, at least not as bright. As ChNN says," many people are now teaching Dzogchen. I don't know if they are..." etc. He doesn't say these things just for fun. There's a warning here, a warning those who trust him need to consider.
Anyway, I don't really care what method teachers use as long as it works.
It's the students who must be honest and see if it is working. It's their ass on the line, not mine. So it's up to each person to access this and see what's better to do, if anything.
Well, DN, that may be your own experience. . but I know of many Lamas who teach Dzogchen openly. At the very least, many many give pointing out-
and instruction on Trekchod view meditation and action. Generally, instructions on more esoteric practices such as Togal are more kept for those who have been discerned as serious disciples, and not just "spiritual" dilettantes
of which we know there are many!
Why? Because it could become harmful for them and also degenerate the lineage. I believe ChNN is cautious about teaching some things like this too openly, or am I wrong?
u]PS[/u]- I forgot to mention... long ago I read something about those spontaneous recognitions of the natural state. Don't know where or when and I'm not very sure what to make of it. It's seems unlikely in lives as agitated as ours. But even if this very brief experience happens, then what? One needs to work with it after. By itself it has a very solid impact, but if one does nothing it passes and memory fades, to the point of becoming a shade of what it was. This is what happens to people who recognize the natural state briefly but then lack diligence. So I think the same would apply, but I don't know.
[/quote] I know of a number of examples of this, although of course they don't use Dzogchen lingo to describe their realization, although it sure sounds quite parallel. Since we can't truly know the experience or realization of another, and since most of us have are not fully realized Dzogchenpas, it is worth not discounting entirely. All we have telling us that lineage and masters are absolutely essential, are lineage and masters! Of course, we'll only know if it happens to us that way, and if it doesn't we should look to lineage and masters, where else? Catch 22.