Heart in Palm

October 9, 2009 by     Print This Post Print This Post

You can now listen to the September 9, 2009 Halifax Community Gathering with Adam Lobel: the MP3 (right-click to download (on Mac, control-click)) is available on the Halifax Shambhala Centre’s web site [mirrored here]. Shambhala Buddhist Acharya Lobel starts off with a talk on Time and Timelessness, but the vivid discussion by the participants soon cuts to the chase of raw essence, what’s been missing, what is manifesting right there.

This is a two-hour tape. It’s worth listening to the whole thing, but if you’re really pressed for time, start at the one-hour mark, with some eloquent and incisive remarks by Lodro Dorje on how Trungpa Rinpoche’s approach was to create a rich practice container which invited further teachings from the great Kagyü and Nyingma lineage masters.

The highlight though, comes later: Lynn Friedman – trembling but courageous, gentle and articulate. As one text says:

The heart placed fresh in the palm, nothing else.

This is what we miss, but – surprise! – this is what we are.

Madeline Schreiber adds outrageousness and humor, exclaiming about the Rigden Thangka, “it’s bad art!”

There’s a lot more. Adam confirms again that the cornerstone and signature of the Sakyong’s approach is what is being termed “the Shambhala Terma”. A couple of people bring up conflict, skirmish, as itself a vehicle.

At the end, recently-appointed Halifax Shambhala Centre director Yeshe Fuchs expresses dismay at how people are whining.

Listen for yourself. Listen to the voices. Listen to yourself.

Energy fools the magician. – Brian Eno


431 Responses to “Heart in Palm”

  1. Chris on November 25th, 2009 3:12 pm

    This wasn’t a horrendous story “leaked out.” It was there in black and white in that Seminary Transcript. But if you had been an older student , at the time, you would only have read it if for some reason you were reading that transcript. In my case, I was taking a class on his talks , as older students were encouraged to do. We were reading the transcripts and it upset quite a few people , at the time. Other older students did bizarre things like say “yes, I agree, and I never got TGS either.” So the confidence diminishing of older students began immediately after that . The most shocking thing, however, was how easily most, and I mean most CTR students remained silent, or capitulated to what I considered at the time, and still do, not a teaching but a neurotic acting out of repressed anger for years from a son, when there was finally a vehicle for it. That period, i.e. 99 through early 20000’s was like something out of the KGB. People knew what was happening all around us, those of us who protested the bullshit around us, such as desolving the practice container at KCL ( Do people know that they moved everyone out and put the staff in rented housing to make way for the millions that were coming for the first book?) or that they were modeling the centers after Kapula, or Omega Institute? This was the time of literally a corporate takeover of the mandala , why else a President appointment who was a PR expert and not a practitioner who never met CTR? People forget how all this transpired, those of us who spoke out and were dismissed, attacked, even physically attacked for saying anything against all these, well we don’t forget. I don’t forget either, when a person back from that seminary asked the Loppon during a talk at a Vajrayogini intensive, why he never mentioned the Sakyong as an enlightened being when he was talking about our lineage of enlightened beings, such as Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche, or Jamgon Kontrol Rinpoche, (masters who were still honored on our shrines) and the Loppon answered “It won’t do you any good, or him any good to think of him that way.” A wrathful and direct response , don’t you think? . What is shocking is not that his students saw him that way, but that older students such as the Loppon, soon shut up. It would be most interesting to find out the answer to that question. Why? What changed so irrevocably that absolutely no feedback was ever allowed again, at a critical juncture. So people shut up and went along. Only they know the answer to that question. We will probably never know.

    Are people still studying that seminary transcript unedited? It would explain a lot of the last decade of dismissing of older students by this mandala and how it has continued.

    And Rita, some of us did protest what was happening. Particularly the corporate take over of the mandala, the dissolution of the practice container at KCL and SMC, and we were laughed at. I see now in the latest news bulletin that they are now going back to a practice container at SMC by defau

  2. Edward on November 25th, 2009 3:29 pm

    Thank you, Chris, for sharing that.

    Chris writes:
    when a person back from that seminary asked the Loppon… why he never mentioned the Sakyong as an enlightened being … and the Loppon answered “It won’t do you any good, or him any good to think of him that way.” A wrathful and direct response , don’t you think?

    It was a good and presumably helpful response to that person’s question. But what makes it wrathful? It sounds almost like the response of a loving uncle in speaking about a nephew. And what about all the people who have not asked him that question?

    For people to sit in the room with Mr. Lobel and not give him “direct and wrathful” feedback does lend the impression that they feel he’s doing a good job, or at least, you know, on the right track more or less.

    Silence is acquiescence, in some settings, isn’t it?

    My question is “when is dropping hints not enough?”

    There are enough CTR students scattered around here and there to lend a great deal of credence to SMR and his people. That’s the way things are marketed. Whenever I’ve been to an introductory event at my local center, they always introduce the speaker as having “30 years experience in the Shambhala Buddha lineage” or they point to CTR’s photo on the wall as the source of all credibility for what happens, the famous teacher who’s given his approval for all this. This happens constantly.

    If CTR’s students have low self-confidence, they should look around and realize how much they are used to give credibility to things.

    . . . .

    Let me ask one final question. If CTR says “you can do it”, you’ve got lots of qualifications, and he says he’s counting on you to play an “advisory role” in his work…. and then SMR comes along and says you’re worthless and you have no role…

    If you reject CTR’s comments and embrace SMR’s comments, then which one of them is your guru?

  3. Edward on November 25th, 2009 4:08 pm

    Just to clarify, I’m not trying to attack anyone here. And I can’t imagine going through the experience you describe, Chris. It sounds awful and painful.

    I’m just trying to provoke a discussion (or “introspection”) about how powerful each of us is– how strong of an effect each of us can have, both through our action and through our inaction.

    The only reason I’ve been following this website is because I have tremendous respect for CTR and his students and look for ways to interact wtih them, because I receive so much benefit from it.

  4. John Tischer on November 25th, 2009 5:42 pm

    What can anyone do? Impeach the Sakyong? Storm the Castle? I think what can be done is being done
    to an extent…this site…people like Ray and Karelis striking out on their own…getting support from other teachers. What else can be done? Work within the mandala for change? Good luck to those people.

  5. James Elliott on November 26th, 2009 3:10 am


    The problem you/we butt up against is: it’s religion.

    Douglas Adams gave an insightful and humorous lecture to a gathering of botanists about this in the book “The Salmon of Doubt” titled “Is There an Artificial God?” (Yes, but…) That talk, even if you didn’t like “Hitchhiker’s Guide…” is worth the price of the book

    In that, among other insights, he points out that in politics we can disagree. If we have different points of view about health care reform or who should be president, corruption on Wall Street, whatever, we can and are even expected sometimes to have fairly heated debates and discussions.

    Ideas in these realms are fair game. An idea is put into the public sphere and must walk the gauntlet, poked at and argued with until it can prove it is legitimate. This is how science works as well. An idea is not, may not, be adopted unless it proves to be true based on a number of reliable factors. You can’t just say something and have it accepted as truth based only on the power of one’s personality or credentials (except it would seem in psychology).

    But if you say to an orthodox Jew that the rule about not being able to flick a light switch on the Sabbath is ridiculous, well, then you are attacking their religion! And being disrespectful. You are simply not supposed to talk that way about such things because (black box here with no logical algorithm) and those kinds of things are ‘sacred’ dammit.

    Douglas Adams thought that was bunk. I tend to agree.

    The problem we are having and witnessing, is the inability or inadmissibility of discussing people’s sacred cows without some having a Bart Simpson cow.

    It is not everyone’s intent here to storm the castle, upset the herd, and create more craziness. And, as John rightly points out, even as we do talk about problems that arise, what difference will it make? It’s religion. Even if we make perfect sense, the religious table’s gonna maybe sneak a peek over at us, and continue on with their liturgy.

    The best we can do from our lowly perches is to help people be as well informed as we can. To that end, at least, it is helpful to discuss these kinds of issues. It is a form of vaccination against the kinds of baseless belief required of people sometimes and against abuse one may encounter. (Lack of accountability, abuse of position, a disconnect from earth, group think, the differences between ideology and the truths Buddhism teaches, and so on.)

    This is why Trungpa Rinpoche encouraged cynicism. Although he asked us to tone it down at one point, it was becoming too embedded in the communities social skills, we were starting to “bite our own tails” he said at one point, nevertheless the need not to buy whatever is handed down from on high in a devotional gaga, was an intrinsic part of what he taught, in particular: cutting through spiritual materialism.

    In the inspiration that sacred cows sell for well over $200/lb. (much more than Kobe beef), and secular for only $8.99/lb.

  6. rita ashworth on November 26th, 2009 9:19 am

    Dear All

    Thank you for your discussion above.

    Edward of course I am aware of the splinter-splinter groupie thingie about religion and politics I do have a BA in Religious Studies so I have studied religious history and philosophy. Thing is the splinters sometimes grow into trees witness the Quakers and the Methodist church and I believe in the present age anything can happen re religious thought and practice and indeed politics -we are in strange times and I dont know for sure what we dissenters will encounter out there.

    But I know it is good to go with ones heart on things and thats what I am doing in my locality as I apprehend at the present time.

    I am also aware of Rays position on the shambhala teachings -he is a clever man and I can see his reasoning behind it in the sense that the shambhala teachings have the flavour of dzogchen to me. I am open to seeing his viewpoint on things.but that doesnt mean I will be his student but I think people can still work with Ray on projects in this respect I mean CTRs students -we can do things together likewise with Midal aswell.

    Now as to SB…what can one say…….merely that from my own experience and heart I think it is limiting and caged with prohibitions as to who can receive the teachings and who can ultimately spread the teachings -thus to me that is not something I can dialogue about. Shambhala vision is for me thats where I stand and probably die perhaps! (tho metaphorically of course I add!?)HO-HUM -slings and arrows of outrageous fortune kind of take!

    James that Trungpa story made me laugh about the enlightened idiots and the religious table – one for Choggie resurfacing! Perhaps we should have a Choggie joke column.

    Lastly all I can say is I am open for the people business of Trungpa Rinpoche -I hope we have success in the coming years. Cheers!


    Rita Ashworth

  7. Chris on November 26th, 2009 1:41 pm

    John wrote:
    “What can anyone do? Impeach the Sakyong? Storm the Castle? I think what can be done is being done”

    We can look at this thing directly in the face and not cower from it. We can see directly without equivocation anymore, what has happened over the last 20 years as the biggest teaching of all and we can say no to samaya corruption which reached its full force as we compromised and went along with every little change that marketing MBA’s concocted out of greed and egoism, until it resulted in the lineage being broken… maybe CTR’s lineage irrevocably.

    We can still connect with our Kagyu/Ningma lineage (which was always more important to CTR anyway) by confessing our ignorance and stupidity for going along with any of this samaya corruption and pray for the blessings of the lineage of the Kagyu/Ningma lineage to descend again.

    We can recite the Kagyu lineage prayer which is in our bones and blood. We can do the Sadhana of Mahamudra as though we meant it, and consider the words of our teacher who warned us for years about spiritual materialism. We are experiencing the two sides of it, East meets West, the spiritual materialism of corrupt Lamaism which is about preserving their dead 9th culture of serfs and slaves catering to an outdated aristocratic/monastic oligarchy that they want to revitalize, hooked up with the slavery of Anglo/Saxon Capitalism that keeps people in another form of serfdom, marketing the dharma to enhance the resumes of con artists who mingle the dharma with new age/psychotherapy and call it the same as genuine dharma. Or sit around in board rooms concocting the latest “benefactor” trap, such as “Living Peace” which is another fund raising scheme and no more. A genuine teacher helps people to practice, not save the world ,but first save ourselves. We say NO to this corruption of the dharma which is simply two sides of the same coin of spiritual materialism.

    We find another Kagyu or Ningma teacher who has kept their samayas with their lineage intact in an unbroken stream and we never , never follow a teacher again without examining him, because it is not alright to follow a charlatan, because as one great Dzogchen master said recently, the “dog’s bone is a myth”. If you follow a charlatan the blessing don’t come no matter how much devotion you have. Or as Penor Rinpoche said in Words of My Perfect Teacher, if you follow a son or nephew of a famous lama, puffed up by the idiot faith of others, with no more realization than yourself, you will wander blind for many lifetimes. As for a Vajra Master, there is no such thing unless you choose it knowingly and you have an intimate relationship with the teacher. Intimate means “one on one” they know you and examine you, and you get to know them and examine them. It only existed between yogis and a few disciples, so we stop bandying that “varja master” jargon around. It probably doesn’t exist except in the most unique of circumstances anymore.
    Most importantly, we must never, again forget the inner guru which is really our ultimate guide.

  8. Chris on November 26th, 2009 1:57 pm


    Patrul Rinpoche in “Words of my Perfect Teacher”, not Penor Rinpoche.

  9. JB on November 26th, 2009 9:34 pm

    After listening to this recording I feel like I’m better off getting out of Shambhala now rather than later. I am relatively new to Shambhala and was planning on getting into the Sacred Path and moving onwards. But now I see no reason to go further. I do not want to end up being 65 years old and heart-broken like so many that I heard from tonight. I think I am better off getting out now. I don’t see a resolution here. It all sounds like a bad relationship where you know that you got to get out before you get too deep. I already feel the pain and have felt the pain for a while. I feel a connection to CTR and the original vision of Shambhala so why strain myself knowing that a resolution is not coming in the future? Why walk down the isle when you know it’s not right? I might be able to return the ring and get my money back… Why go through with the wedding when you know it’s not right… I wish it could work out but I don’t think it ever will. Not with the direction of the new Sakyong. What’s the point of pulling out my hair and fighting a lost cause? What’s the point of making new friends and staying up late and wishing things were different when I can just leave and search for another sangha that has a proper vision. Shambhala broke my heart already. There is a new group down the street, some Eckhart Tolle group… Who knows!? I don’t want to end up like these poor souls on the recording who have to answer to a young kid standing in for the Sakyong.

  10. damchö on November 26th, 2009 10:49 pm

    Chris, thanks for your comments about the 1999 seminary. I didn’t know any of that.

    James, it’s so good to hear of Trungpa Rinpoche encouraging doubt, and his comment about religiosity. I’m reminded once again of that moment in the movie “Words of My Perfect Teacher” where Luc is really challenging the other student (a lovely person whose name, alas, I can’t remember). He really grills her about the nature of devotion, saying something like “how does what you’ve just expressed of your feelings differ from a follower of Osama bin Laden”? And their teacher, Dzongsar Khyentse, is this way too. In my experience, Shambhala today does not encourage serious doubt.

    I must say I find the “true believer” one of the most terrifying phenomena on earth. Maybe I’ve read too much literature and seen too many films about it all. But having thought about the distinction I mentioned above some more, I really think I’d take the cynic over the true believer any day. More often, I feel, the cynic’s heart will have a better chance of being broken than the true believer can find a way out of their absolute conviction that God / History / Truth is on their side. There is something horrifyingly potent about spiritual materialism when it pervades a political / religious / religio-political institution.

    So I’m very sensitive to even its scent. Current Shambhalians will say: too sensitive. Most would find it difficult to detect even a trace of it in the sangha. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with them.

    “I was talking with a non-Buddhist colleague the other day and he remarked how he had no enemies. I recalled I had said the same when I was about his age. Now I know there are people who loathe me, who have even wished me and others I care about dead. The remarkable thing is, they are all Buddhist.”

    I can say the same James. It’s really something.

    “If we see an MI, a teacher or acharya abusing power, lying, bullying or manipulating people, and all attempts to stop him or address the situation in any way fall on deaf ears, then we have a problem that is not simply whether or not someone has chosen a particular teacher.”

    Absolutely. This is as basic as it gets.

  11. Jim Wilton on November 27th, 2009 10:51 am

    Chris, I find your photoshop of the Sakyong’s picture remarkably offensive.

    I really hope that you are able to find a good teacher. I worry that with the solidity of your views that you will never be able to make a connection.

    As Tsoknyi R. says, being deceived by others is not so bad. What is the real problem is when you fool yourself.

  12. Edward on November 27th, 2009 2:01 pm

    As Tsoknyi R. says, being deceived by others is not so bad. What is the real problem is when you fool yourself.

    What’s the difference?

    I think being deceived by others sucks. Plus it’s an expensive habit.

    I remember sitting in the room with my old teacher once when he talked about this. He said “There’s a sucker born FAR more often than once a minute.” He told a story about a crafty salesman who purchased some inferior goods once at a deep discount, and then played on his customers’ weaknesses by announcing that the defect was really an asset. People were so eager to believe bullshit that the goods sold like hotcakes, and the crafty salesman turned a nice profit.

    My teacher said the reason we’re so gullible and get conned all the time is because we’re addicted to hope and fear and illusion. We require a constant diet of illusions and refuse to see things as they are.

    He said as long as we do this, there will always be con men in our lives to play the complementary role we demand.

    We can avoid religious organizations, avoid romance, avoid people, but I’m not sure doing any of those things would truly solve our problem.

    . . . .

    damchö writes:
    Chris, thanks for your comments about the 1999 seminary. I didn’t know any of that.

    This gets back to my original point. Newer people are left in the dark about some of these things, aren’t they?. SMR tells his version of the story, and all the students of CTR who disagree with him… are they effectively his accomplices by staying silent?

    Does anyone else feel that a few relevant facts could be sifted out from these discussions and summarized all in one place, for the benefit of new people? Or is that being too direct?

    On the other hand, perhaps there’s no substitute for getting conned and learning through one’s own experience. My old teacher used to love playing tricks on us– there was nothing that made him laugh harder.

  13. Edward on November 27th, 2009 2:27 pm

    JB writes:
    I do not want to end up being 65 years old and heart-broken like so many that I heard from tonight.

    Is being heart-broken bad?

    I don’t see a resolution here.
    Sounds like the first noble truth!

  14. John Tischer on November 27th, 2009 7:17 pm

    JB…Do what’s best for you. People dropped out of Trungpa Rinpoche’s sangha for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes a person would ask Rinpoche
    if they could study with another teacher, and sometimes he said yes. Get what you need for your path

  15. Rob Graffis on November 27th, 2009 11:16 pm

    What picture are you talking about? If it was posted here, or some other Buddhist site, thank goodness, I didn’t see it.

  16. Chris on November 28th, 2009 9:42 am

    Dear Jim:

    If you find the photo offensive, I suggest you write the Coast who made it and attached it to their article. Apparantly ordinary Haligonians have not yet gotten the sacrosanct transmission re: all this, even after 25 years. Their feet are still on the ground.



  17. Rob Graffis on November 28th, 2009 6:33 pm

    Seems like President Reoch needs to do a little more home work on PR.
    I remember a few years back, I read an article in the LA Times when there was a fund raiser with H.H. The Dalai Lama present, with many celebs in attendance. Sharon Stone introduced His Holiness as “The hardest working man in China”. Not only was she comparing H.H. with James Brown, but assumed Tibet was part of China.
    The article went on to say that even though The Dalai Lama was hip cause, what people forget or don’t know is that The Dalai Lama is a strict and humble monk. Different Lamas behave in different ways. Some disagree with each other. That is why they’re are debates. Apparently, that hasn’t been working very well either, especially lately.

  18. madeline schreiber on December 1st, 2009 10:44 pm

    Electronic Consorts

    This is very very fine
    Top o’ the line
    Top o’ the line
    Talk to my friends any time
    Day or night, any time

    Hang together vajra lovers
    Hang together, don’t let go
    Turbulences always happen
    Don’t let go, don’t let go

    There never was
    There never is
    This path of ours is joy
    It has its own logic, fractal logic
    Our path is colourful and curvy

    After spending time in limbo
    It is apparent; there is no choice
    Following bright lights
    Exploding with colour
    Following the path
    The path of joy
    Letting go will be required
    Letting go is recommended
    Thinking this way, once again
    I feel familiar crazy wisdom

    Lovers stand steady
    Lovers hold firm
    Keep your eyes clear
    Your voices are sweet
    Your smiles eclipse the sun and the moon
    Your tears wash away the eons of karma
    Your blood holds the messages of the ages
    Your skin is a safe place to land
    Your teeth and nails are sharp enough
    Your heartbeats are inscrutable

    This is very very fine
    The love we share is
    Top o’ the line

    December 2009
    Nova Scotia

  19. John Castlebury on December 25th, 2009 4:50 pm

    To the maker of the TinTin comic panels [Mark, could they be posted here so everyone can see?]: this is a miniature masterpiece — a brilliant stroke of art and magic. Bravo!

    Captain Haddock falls to his knees surrendering to the pomp and circumstance of his own mind — created in reaction to the pomp and circumstance he has just observed — [why O why did they look, not supposed to look!] and TinTin is asking [fill in the blank] —

    “Are you going to let a little thing like that disturb your samadhi?”

    ..that’s my guess…

  20. Chris on December 27th, 2009 1:26 pm

    “Years go by, and their practice deepens, not into insight territory, but into epoxy-like faith and further fixation on content. They learn how to “talk Buddhist.” They learn the “culture” of Buddhism in just the same way that they learned the culture of transpersonal therapy, transactional analysis or French existentialism. They become fascinated with their growing knowledge of Pali, their fancy brass bell from Nepal, or their knowledge of Tantric iconography. They have taken Bodhisattva vows 108 times.
    They may become neurotic about “right speech” and self-righteous about “Noble Silence.” They may begin to adopt the gently condescending and overly deliberate speech patterns and mannerisms that quietly scream, “I am sooooo spiritual and aware!” They may become fixated on complex, arbitrary, restrictive and even disempowering models of what is “proper Buddhist behavior,” trying to be a “good Buddhist,” whatever that is. In short, they become very religious. At worst, they become gaudy and distorted caricatures of the spiritual life. Such people are generally very tiring to be around.
    They may even get sucked into the all too common trap of praying for a “better rebirth” and “making merit” rather than actually trying to master the art of meditation and wise living here and now. In short, the trappings, dogma and scene become everything, and penetrating the illusions that bind them on the wheel of suffering is lost in the shuffle.
    At its worst, they can go on like this for enough time so that they develop quite a retreat resume but little or no insight, and then get caught by this. They have been to India, sat with this teacher and that teacher, had Tantric initiations, or been sitting for twenty years. They begin to become fascinated by all o”f this and somehow they begin to feel “wise” despite the fact that they may have no insight whatsoever into the universal truth of things because they never actually learned insight practice. They use the word “emptiness” in casual conversation when they don’t have Clue One what it means. But they feel they do, as they have spent so much time hearing it, “meditating” on it, and being spiritual. They talk about “letting go” and “mindfulness” as if they are the experts.
    They may even begin to teach, and to do so they find themselves having to subtly or overtly rationalize that they completely understand what they are teaching. After all, they want to encourage faith in their beautiful tradition, and so try to appear clear and unconfused. They get stuck here, stuck in the muck of their rationalizations, the misapplied lingo, the sugarcoated dogma, the role of teacher, and the cultural trappings that they have become experts in. From this point it can become nearly impossible for them to actually learn anything, as they are now trapped in the very teachings that were originally designed to free them from just such a situation.”
    Tuesday, March 20, 2007 From Mastering the Core teachings of Buddha :an Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book by Daniel Ingram

  21. mark a smith on December 27th, 2009 8:08 pm


    Thanks for posting the quote above.
    Did you read the entire book? Can you recommend it beyond the quoted portion?


    Mark A. Smith

  22. Chris on December 27th, 2009 8:38 pm

    Dear Mark:

    I am reading the book as an e-book now, free from his site. You can also order it from Amazon in traditional book form. Here is the link to read as ebook. He comes from a Theravadin Tradition, but CTR is heavily listed in his bibliography, as is Korean Dogen. He debunks most of what is now “posing” as feel-good dharma “mush” and talks about the Mushroom Effect of most dharma scenes, i.e. growing mushroom students, left in the dark about what the Buddha really taught, and being fed a lot of bullshit. He has a direct voice, which is refreshing.


  23. mark a smith on December 28th, 2009 12:17 am


    Thanks for the link.

    He seems more than a bit ‘harsh/judgmental’…I will read some more of his book over the next week or so….

    As you are clearly aware, many, if not almost all, of the greatest/most realized Tibetan masters have simultaneously stressed the path of meditation in its fullest/deepest aspects with the goal of enlightenment (for the benefit of ‘others’ and ‘oneself’) in one/few lifetimes (‘accummulation of wisdom’) AND the need for continual accumulation of merit and an orientation toward the next life as an antidote for attachment to this life.

    Having been raised by the Vidyadhara (and the Regent) and ‘innoculated’ against many of these tendencies, it has been very interesting to become ‘multi-cultural’ as a student of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche in whose Sangha the accumulation of merit and the focus on the next life (and thereafter) is much more prominent.

    The two aspects can certainly be practiced simultaneously (and maybe must be)……


    PS–maybe we will overlap sometime in Crestone area…

  24. Chris on December 28th, 2009 12:31 pm

    Dear Mark:

    Ingram is definitely coming from a “insight meditation”, “by the book/map approach”, of stages of insight according to a Theravadin path. (Insight meditation students are considered by one Dzogchen master to be very well-prepared for Dzogchen practices, interestingly) and therefore different from the way we have been taught but there are some very interesting areas in the book, however, which could be very helpful, i.e. seeing the nyams and stages of meditation we pass through and “just keep practicing” approach instead of getting derailed into taking these experiences as anything more than that, just experiences and stages of realization.

    Yes, maybe our paths will cross. The Kontrul Rinpoche students here seem to be the best practitioners, and thank goodness there are some pristine lamas still, like Kontrul Rinpoche and Trangu Rinpoche and a few others, that can navigate through all this new age, psychologized, western, feel good “dharma” and not get trapped into accommodating to it, to keep the western students happy . Kontrul Rinpoche, I hear, actually makes sure that he takes on only students that really, really want to seriously practice the dharma. Rare now, in this atmosphere of keeping a constant fund-raising “stream”going as the main practice, and which is how the “merit” thing is being abused and leads to a corruption of the dharma, . I think his students, and others, practicing up in the mountains here are, actually protecting the genuine dharma and keeping this a retreat environment. I wonder if this is because Dzigar Kontrul R. actually knows the west, because he has plunged into it, and knows its trappings. Most Tibetan lamas don’t really know the West, in my opinion, and are fooled into giving western students what they “want”, i.e. feel-good dharma, instead of what they need, as long as the money keeps flowing into the coffers. If you give students the genuine dharma, it isn’t going to make them happier and content in samsara, quite the contrary, and teaching the genuine dharma, people will start falling away. I remember my Shambhala levels as an example of this, when it was a real commitment, and Level III was the litmus test, because you had to give up two whole weekends, (full weekends!) in a row to do it. Level I had usually about 100 people on Friday night ( by Sunday this had dropped down to 30). Level III had about 12 people left .

  25. Chris on December 28th, 2009 12:53 pm

    And that was attrition levels for Shambhala Training the so-called “dharma light”. It would be interesting to see how many people would actually attend a seminary these days if it was still 3 months long, a real shedra, and instead of seeing this fewer number as a failure in “revenue” and therefore cancelled, it would be seen as the right number of serious students of the dharma,even if it was only 12.people.

  26. mark a smith on December 29th, 2009 12:41 am


    Thanks for your response.

    I skimmed Ingram’s book last night (very quick scrolling) and while I like his attitude in many ways, his narrowness of view (which he denies while ‘…protesting too much..’ ), as evidenced in his gloss on the kayas, etc. , traps him in an almost ‘classic hinayana’ stance at points…..

    Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche has not sought out students who do not (at least make the aspiration to) practice this life (and the next). The Mangala Shri Bhuti sangha has a very different flavor (of kindness and consideration) compared to either the Vajradhatu world we grew up within or SI now.

    Despite the differences in flavor of the sanghas, Kongtrul Rinpoche’s core teachings bear more resemblance to the teachings we received the Vidyadhara (whom he holds in the very very highest repute as a fully realized mahasiddha as communicated/transmitted to him by HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and from his study of the Vidyadhara’s teachings and mandala) which is not surprising given the lineage streams each holds/embodies.

    We are so fortunate to inhabit a world filled with (accessible) Trungpas/Khyentses/Kongtruls/Choklings/Karmapas…

    Kongtrul Rinpoche is the only person I have had the opportunity to know personally other than the Vidyadhara who I can, without any level of doubt see/proclaim as a ‘man of Ati’.

    We (my wife Kelly & I) live at Samten Ling Retreat Center above Crestone.
    I will be returning to Crestone later this week…..will you be attending the New Year’s Eve (afternoon) Sadhana of Mahamudra practice in town?



    PS–please send me your email/phone number.

    PPS–No single version of the path is appropriate (in any given lifetime) for all practitioners which is ‘why’ there are 9 yanas and 84,000 (million?) collections of Dharmas….It is so necessary , at least for me, to work to overcome my overly critical view of others (and their paths) and view each and every being(from vajra broythers and sisters to the limitless expanse of beingswho have been my mother..) with kindness….

  27. Chris on December 29th, 2009 12:26 pm

    Dear Mark:

    Yes, we will be at the S of M and gathering afterwards. Hope to see you there.
    I think this is a very interesting time again regarding the dharma in the West. I think there is a major shift happening where pop culture “dharma” that appeals to a wider mass audience, (which I don’t think applies to the 84,000 dharmas but is something else, i.e. I think the 84,000 dharmas refer to actual paths that will liberate people) and Tibetan cultural trappings mistaken for the dharma are going to implode and authentic teachers, will be the one’s surviving. So we live in very interesting times. If we had been brave enough to be more critical “instead of wringing our hands” and spoken out 15 years ago, things might have gone in a very different direction, so I don’t agree that one should never criticize things openly, or speak out, that is an inherited eastern cultural trapping superimposed on the dharma, in my opinion. This worked very well in monastic, medieval cultures, where you needed a very compliant serf and slave population to believe there fate was thier “karma” and that to speak out then, as a peasant or serf, was grounds for serious consequences. We were not taught that by the Vidyadhara. The Buddha was very outspoken about what was going on around him and was considered a revolutionary. So if one were to follow in the Buddha’s footsteps etc, etc….

    I think that we have not been respected as Westerners, and have been seen as a source of fund-raising where millions are sent back to Asia to support monasteries and the spiritual paths of Western students have not been the primary interest of most of these lamas and people are sick of it and are speaking out. I think this is a good thing because when East meets West in the dharma there should be a reciprocity of feedback and communication. Not communication going one way all the time so that western Buddhists live in a fantasy projection about Tibet . I believe this has been an obstacle to our spiritual path for decades where “enlightenment” is always far away, esoteric and projected onto these teachers, who may or may not have realization. I also think that we have been very confused about “compassion” and have had a very “constructed” and artificial view of what that means.. Even from a Mahayana view one should first understand voidness before one talks about compassion. We should understand that we “don’t exist” and phenomena “don’t exist” before real compassion arises. To do that we have to strip away all our notions of ourselves, all our hidden corners, and that is what practice is all about, stripping away. I am reading now the two volume work recommended by a Rinpoche , “A History of Modern Tibet 1913- 1951: Demise of the Lamaist State” and a History of Modern Tibet, 1951-1955 Vol 2 The Calm before the Storm” for a very good history of Tibet. I think it behooves us to at least investigate the culture we have wholesale taken on these past 30 years . That I am only reading this now, after almost 30 years is quite amazing, and I am sure I am not alone.

  28. Chris on December 29th, 2009 12:35 pm

    P.S. and I would venture to say that your sangha probably experiences more kindness, because it comes from a lot of practice, real deep practice, out of which real compassion can flow. I would be so bold as to guess that Dzigar Kontrol Rinpoche’s sangha is working on themselves first , diligently, before they try to save the world.

  29. mireille chemin on August 17th, 2010 2:37 pm

    I would like to have the complete adress s of DILGO KHYENZE to write to mathieu ricard Please

  30. rita ashworth on August 17th, 2010 4:03 pm

    Mireille there are addresses for DKR in India/and Nepal at http://www.shechen.org -look under contacts


    Rita Ashworth

  31. rita ashworth on August 17th, 2010 4:22 pm

    oops should read http://www.shechen.org -sorry Mark -changed it but it did not save