Okay, “Enlightenment or bust” might be a bit dramatic, but…

"Dang Zang" is an empty name. The blog has to do with the dharma; material related to Buddhist teachings (Tibetan style in particular, Kagyu in even more particular), meditation, gurus and lamas be they genuine or flaky, books and events. I do have a more personal blog, Pica Pica, and a site for my work.

Oh yes, it's by Alex Wilding


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Thursday November 8th, 2012. Posted by Alex W:

Gratitude to Trungpa

I was doing my regular practice this morning, for which I use a moderately extensive text that was translated by a group of Trungpa’s students, and with his close guidance. No doubt, given time and greater knowledge, tiny faults could be found in it, but it has been wonderfully well done. The work that Trungpa and his students put into it has been extraordinarily helpful to me, and I am grateful for it.

I felt like writing about this because I have from time to time received flak for failing to be convinced or impressed by a lot of Trungpa’s behaviour. Never having met him, I’m not sure why that should be a problem, as I never had a personal relationship with him. But that does not stop me from being grateful to him for some of the work that he did.

Devotion to the lama – “seeing the lama as Buddha” – is an important aspect of Vajrayana Buddhist practice. There are some people who seem to understand this to mean that we have to invest our lama with something like papal infallibility in all matters. This is sometimes taken to the extent that whenever the lama says or does something that, by all normal standards, is entirely wrong, an effort is made to somehow see this as a “skilful means”, a “test”, or as something that will, in some mysterious way that is understood only by the omniscient lama, work out for the best.

In these times, as we increasingly become aware of all kinds of abuse perpetrated by all kinds of authority figures, the dangers of this simple interpretation must be very obvious. It’s also, I think, completely unnecessary.

One can have devotion to one’s lama, see him (or indeed her) as an embodiment of the Buddha, and still recognise that he or she is capable of simple mistakes, of misunderstandings, and may even have moral failings. I don’t mean to suggest that someone who is muddled, stupid and wicked makes a good lama. Nevertheless, to demand that the lama be perfect in every word and deed, or that the student perverts their own intelligence to pretend that the lama is perfect in every single word and deed, is a recipe for, at best, a completely fake relationship.

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