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

Archive

  • Is the SIAE as bad as they say? 25/06/2014
    If you happen to have ploughed through http://alex-wilding.com/2014/03/busking-in-italy/ you will not be surprised about the resentment felt by many musicians regarding the SIAE (the Italian copyright-collecting agency). In the past, this had been a matter of stories that I had heard, but now I am in the middle of direct experience. We Read more... Is the SI
  • Doing more music 25/04/2014
    Since I have started to do a bit more music – blues-based guitar playing, to be more precise – and since I hope to continue, I set up a Facebook “musician” page the other day. Thanks to the people who “liked” it, I got to the count where Facebook lets you set a URL that is Read more... Doing more music
  • Busking in Italy 23/03/2014
    This post began as a response, on a closed Facebook group, to a question about busking in Italy. By the time I’d written it I realised that I have collected a fair amount of information and it might be worthwhile “putting it out there”. On the other hand, I am well aware that there are things Read more... Busking in Italy
  • A sign of the times? 23/03/2014
    The property market is not exactly bubbling here, any more than in many places, but a couple of days ago this notice appeared on a lamppost at the corner of the village: It says that this estate agency, with an office in Pontremoli, is looking on behalf of Russian clients for farms (poderi), houses (casali – a Read more... A sign of the times?
Wednesday October 28th, 2009. Posted by Alex W:

John Painter

I remain uncertain about “Biff Painter“.

I half expected him to ignore my query, but I got a clearish answer:

I first learned Gtumo as a Daoist inner heat practice from Li, Long Dao of Sichuan then later from Lama Trangu Rinpoche the Tibetan version of Gtumo practice, Medicine Buddha meditations and Mantra and Chod Ritual. This took place in various locations beginning with his visit to my school many, many years ago. I am afraid I was a very poor student.

And we see that he really did meet Thrangu Rinpoche once at least:

Painter Thrangu

Wednesday August 5th, 2009. Posted by Alex W:

Wisdom Sun – Yeshe Nyima

That’s the name of the Harris Park centre. After the splash as it opened, I’d almost begun to wonder whether it was time to be disappointed – little or nothing was happening. But now things really do seem to be on the move.

A newsletter has been published. You can get it from them, or download it from here.

And the E-Vam site also now has a webpage for this centre.

It’s just a pity that so much is happening all at once, what with this, the visit of Lama Pema Dorje and the visit of Dekhung Gyaltsey Ripoche (see this recent post). Where to go? What to do? Who to see? When to get round to actually practising?

Sunday July 26th, 2009. Posted by Alex W:

Forthcoming events NSW

I’ve been busy lately, but have time now to report that

  • on the Kagyu side, Dekhung Gyaltsey Rinpoche will be here in August - if interested, check the Kagyu Samten Choeling site.
  • on the Nyingma side, Lama Pema Dorje Rinpoche will be here in August too. Here is a flyer about his visit to Canberra, Sydney, Blue Mountains and Bellingen, while this link is to a flyer specifically about the Sydney visit, where he will teach on Guru Yoga, Dzogchen and Lu Jong.
Tuesday June 30th, 2009. Posted by Alex W:

Old chestnuts about the Karmapa and the Dalai Lama

My good friend Dave Lawson sent me a link to an article in the Times Online by Michael Binyon. Written some three or four weeks ago, it is entitled Disunity threatens the Dalai Lama’s timeless authority. It is full of tired old chestnuts, and the comments that have been added by others are sadly full of ideas that I thought had curled up and died in a dusty corner long ago. We are only allowed 300 characters with which to comment on the Times site, so although I did that there, I wanted to expand on it here.

Binyon starts the article by referring, as if it were news, to the story of Lama Tenzin Osel, who “has changed his name, denounced the Buddhist order that revered him as a man of spiritual authority and is now studying film in Madrid”. Perhaps somebody can explain to me why this story suddenly spread across the news media a few weeks ago? In the cases that I read, it was always tied in, almost gleefully, with the idea that “See, things in Tibetan Buddhism are not as happy as people like to pretend”. I can certainly see that this case is not a happy one, and I can see that it does raise question marks, to some extent about the Tulku system in general, and more particularly about the recognition of little western boys (as Tenzin Osel was). The puzzle is, however, that it is old news. Tenzin Osel has been – and has been known to be – moving away from his role as a Tulku for some years. Clearly somebody decided recently to make it a campaigning point, but I don’t know who.

Binyon then feeds a couple of foolish misconceptions, to which I will return soon, by stating that “the Dalai Lama’s choice as his successor appears to have fallen on Ogyen Trinley Dorje”. Ogyen Trinley is, of course, the one we generally know as the 17th Karmapa. There are three problems here. Firstly, it is altogether jumping the gun. Secondly, the question of what is meant by “successor” badly needs clarifying. In the light of his age, intelligence, importance and charisma it is perfectly possible that the 17th Karmapa will become a semi-political figurehead for the Tibetans, just as the Dalai Lama is a semi-political figurehead at the moment. If the Dalai Lama were to give appropriate indications, there is no doubt that it would strengthen the possibility that this would happen, but he is not in a position to “appoint” the Karmapa in that way; it is simply a matter of popular feeling amongst the Tibetan people. Thirdly, however, there are also those who are frantically waving the nonsensical red herring that the Dalai Lama wants to appoint the Karmapa as the next Dalai Lama. This is, I suppose, intended as a form of scaremongering, but the idea could only be entertained by those with no clear idea of how these positions hang together.

A little further down Binyon asserts that “there is a major difficulty to any smooth transfer of authority to Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje: the Tibetan community is deeply split over his claim to the Karmapa throne”. This is just wrong. To the best of my knowledge, only a very tiny fraction of the Tibetan community have any allegiance for Shamarpa’s “rival Karmapa”. His followers consist almost entirely of those still loyal to Ole Nydahl and the “Diamondway” organisation. Binyon goes on: “A large number are loyal instead to the handsome and charismatic Trinley Thaye Dorje”. Apart from the fact that this is not true, and the number is not particularly large outside of Europe, he raises some almost embarrassing points here. While we would love to think that good looks and charisma are not important in these matters, we should perhaps be realistic. These are public figures. But “handsome and charismatic”? To judge from the photographs, Trinley Thaye Dorje is not as weedy as he looked a few years ago, which is pleasing no doubt. But if you want “tall, handsome and charismatic”, and if you feel that these issues have a lot of weight, then you simply cannot get past the more generally recognised Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje:

karmapa_0609

(Oh, did I mention intelligent and artistically gifted?)

The next chestnut is Binyon’s assertion that “The Supreme Court in India has backed Thaye Dorje’s claim”. It has not. The endlessly slow court processes in Sikkim are still proceeding. Some years ago – and this seems to be the basis of Binyon’s statement – the court did make a procedural ruling on the question of whether Gyaltsap Rinpoche could appear in a particular role in the court proceedings on the same side as the supporters of the generally recognised Karmapa. The Supreme Court said that he could not, and Shamarpa’s followers trumpeted this as a victory. In fact it was nothing of the sort; it had an effect on the way that the court case was to be heard but said nothing about the final conclusions, for which we are still waiting.

In his remaining paragraphs, Binyon manages to insert one or two more unlikely claims. He suggests that the Karmapa is “pro Chinese”, a point of view widely promulgated by the opposing side, but one which requires considerable intellectual acrobatics when explaining the Karmapa’s escape from the Chinese at the beginning of the millennium. He says, for instance, that “many commentators” consider the script of the letter that played a part in the Karmapa’s recognition was very different from the normal writing of its claimed author, the 16th Karmapa. One wonders who the “many commentators” are – I suggest that there are one or two commentators who take that point of view, some who say that the handwriting is like that of the 16th Karmapa, and quite a number who said that it is impossible to tell.

Some of the comments added to this article are even more tired. Morgan Camp, for instance, asks “Is there a historical precedent for the Dali (sic) Lama choosing a Karmapa or is this the first time this has ever occurred?” The implication, of course, is that the Dalai Lama did in fact choose this Karmapa, which is simply not true. The Dalai Lama confirmed and added his own recognition to the recognition presented to him by three of the four “regents” of the 16th Karmapa. But I must leave you to read them for yourself.

Wednesday May 20th, 2009. Posted by Alex:

Apropos the Harris Park centre

Or apropos the last post, I had earlier said I’d give a general report, so here it is: teachings clear, house pleasant, atmosphere very relaxed and friendly. All-round good.

That’s so boring, I offer a funny fact. Having mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago that the Australian Club website just might make one think that one had stumbled on an exclusive and very discreet brothel (quite incorrectly, I should stress), and having mentioned the Kagyu centre in Harris Park, the blog logs show me that yesterday Google directed someone in Sydney to this blog in response to a query for “Brothels in Harris Park, NSW”. What do you know!

Saturday May 16th, 2009. Posted by Alex:

The day that Mahakala broke the table

So a couple of posts ago I mentioned the course this week-end with Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche. Day one was today. For lunch we could choose the meat option (spag bol, I think) or the “vegitarian” option. Confident that the cooking would be better than the spelling, I booked for veg.

As we moved towards the kitchen, I asked Gary (one of the pillars of the new centre) if it counted as a Karma Kagyu centre. He wasn’t sure what I was getting at, and I explained I was commenting on the wish of “His Holiness Karmapa XVII” that all his monasteries and centres should stop preparing meat in their kitchens. Many a Tibetan monk has been dismayed by this, but they have done it. You do realize I was, though admittedly making a point, being fairly light-hearted about this, don’t you?

Well someone in front of me got their food, I got mine, and so did a couple of others. Then BANG. The left hand half of the table (with the cookies and bread on it) was spared. The right-hand half simply broke, dumping broken glass, crockery, bolognese sauce and veg sauce on the kitchen floor. Most people had to go out to local restaurants. Here’s a couple of pictures of the mess:


There have been jokes about Felicity’s powers – she is Rinpoche’s wife, and was the cook. So whereas you or I might look in a mirror and break it, the joke was that she only had to cook food and put it on the table to break it. There have been “sensible” explanations about “well the food was hot, of course, so it would break the glass, wouldn’t it?” (Of a purpose-made dining table, it should be said!) But we know the truth, I think, don’t we? Mahakala stepped in to say that the centre really should do what HH Karmapa said. That was the outer warning – next time will there be an inner warning, and a secret warning the time after? I shudder to think!

Monday May 11th, 2009. Posted by Alex:

Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche in Sydney next week-end

For reasons not known to me, the E-Vam website still doesn’t carry even the briefest mention of the new centre in Sydney. So here is the contents of the flyer for the coming week-end.

“Mindfulness Living”

Weekend Course with Renowned Tibetan Buddhist Teacher and Author Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche.

16 & 17 MAY 2009 Harris Park NSW

Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche was recognised as the ninth incarnation of the Traleg lineage at the age of two and was enthroned as Abbot of Tra’gu Monastery in Kham, Tibet. Rinpoche has undergone rigorous scholastic and meditative training under various Tibetan Kagyu and Nyingma masters in India. Rinpoche came to Australia in 1980 where he subsequently established Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute in 1982. He regularly conducts courses and retreats and has travelled extensively in U.S.A, South East Asia and Europe conducting lectures and courses. Rinpoche is author of various books including the best selling The Essence of Buddhism and Practice of Lojong and has now established a number of Centres in Australia, New Zealand and U.S.A..

In this course Rinpoche will be discussing how mindfulness practice relates to all aspects of our life.

TIMES: Saturday 10am to 4 pm; Sunday 10 am to 12 noon

VENUE: 49 High Street, Harris Park, NSW 2150

COST: $65.85

Enquiries and Bookings: Yeshe Nyima Office Ph 02 9893 9008

Felicity: 0449579509, Email: yeshenyima@live.com.au

Pre booking is encouraged, Visa, Mastercard accepted.

Travel: Free Onsite Parking.

Yeshe Nyima is 3 minute walk from Harris Park Railway Station or 10 minutes walk from Parramatta Railway Station.

Lunch & Refreshments: available for purchase, complimentary tea and coffee.

Event proudly presented by Yeshe Nyima, Harris Park NSW.

I will report!