It is necessary to conform to the sensible prevailing attitudes that rule the society we live in. It is true that there are teachings that say we should not judge or condemn the misdeeds of others because they may be bodhisattvas using skilful means to benefit others. But this does not mean that, for example, there should be no criminal justice system, that offenders should not be arrested and tried, or that there should not be reprimand and censure. In the eyes of the world there is right and wrong; professionally, morally and legally. If a lama sleeps with a student it is wrong on that basis, and should be dealt with on that basis. The great Indian master Atiśa, when he was disciplinarian at his monastery, saw a breach of the rules in a monk. He had no choice but to expel that monk, even though in the back of his mind he felt it was not right. Sure enough, the monk turned out to be a great yogi with supernatural powers. However, he followed the norms of the monastic society he lived in. Dharma Centre managers have no choice but to do likewise. It may be that the conduct of the lama has some hidden nature we are not privy to, but that is not the level on which the world operates.http://thedorjeshugdengroup.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/sex-and-the-lama-by-gavin-kilty/
Friday, November 30, 2012
“Being able to have sexual contact without releasing semen is something needed when you practice the advanced stages of the complete stage." - The 14th Dalai Lama (Berzin Archives)
"For Buddhists, sexual intercourse can be used in the spiritual path because it causes a strong focusing on consciousness if the practitioner has firm compassion and wisdom. Its purpose is to manifest and prolong deeper levels of mind (described earlier with respect to the process of dying), in order to put their power to use in strengthening the realization of the emptiness. Otherwise, mere intercourse has nothing to do with spiritual cultivation. When a person has achieved a high level of practice in motivation and wisdom, then even the joining of the two sex organs or so-called intercourse, does not detract from the maintenance of that person’s pure behavior..."
"Through special techniques of concentration during sex, competent practitioners can prolong very deep, subtle, and powerful states and put them to use to realize emptiness. However, if you engage in sexual intercourse within an ordinary mental context, there is no benefit." - How to Practice, Way to a Meaningful Life, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Translated by Jeffrey Hopkins
"Actually, [..] the sexual organ is utilized, but the energy movement which is taking place is, in the end, fully controlled. The energy should never be let out. This energy must be controlled and eventually returned to other parts of the body. And here we can see there is a kind of special connection with celibacy." - Quoted from "The Good Heart," H.H. the Dalai Lama
"There's a great difference between the movement of the regenerative fluids for two individuals engaged in ordinary sexual intercourse as opposed to a highly realized male yogi and female yogini who are engaged in sexual intercourse...
"In principle, the general difference between the two types of sexual act is the control of the flow of regenerative fluids. Tantric practitioners must have control over the flow of the fluids, and those who are highly experienced can even reverse the direction of the flow, even when it has reached the tip of the genitals. Less experienced practitioners have to reverse the direction of the flow from a higher point. If the fluids descend too far down, they are more difficult to control." - Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying, by The Dalai Lama (1997, Wisdom Publications)
"Although I am using this ordinary term, sexual climax, it does not imply the ordinary sexual act. The reference here is to the experience of entering into union with a consort of the opposite sex, by means of which the elements at the crown are melted, and through the power of Meditation the process is also reversed. A prerequisite of such a practice is that you should be able to protect yourself from the fault of seminal emission. According to the explanation of the Kalachakra Tantra in particular, such emission is said to be very damaging to your practice. Therefore, because you should not experience emission even in dreams, the tantras describe different techniques for overcoming this fault." - The 14th Dalai Lama
•••"One night a number of dakinis (female deities) were gathered in Birwapa's room at the monastery. Other monks heard female voices through the walls and the next day, at a gathering in the big hall, the head disciplinarian expelled Birwapa from the monastery. Birwapa left wilingly, recognizing that the time had come for him to practice "union" and to develop the Great Bliss which penetrates emptiness through reliance on an external consort..." - The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple, by Ian Baker, pg. 167 (Thames & Hudson, 2000)
Advice for Keeping the Vows and Beginning Kalachakra Practice
The Vow Not to Lose Seminal Energy-DropsBerzin: Many Westerners are married, what about the close bond of not losing (mi-nyams) seminal energy-drops (khu-ba)?
His Holiness: What lay householders should do, I don't know.
Berzin: Is this just referring to when practicing the complete stage (rdzogs-rim)?
His Holiness: What should I say? In Kalachakra, for achieving a devoid form (stong-gzugs), you need supreme unchanging bliss (mi-'gyur-ba'i bde-ba). Kalachakra speaks a great deal about the necessity for maintaining non-weakened seminal energy-drops and therefore not losing semen. That being the case, then if a person practicing the Kalachakra complete stage is a male, it would seem that it is pervasive with the person abandoning home life (rab-byung) and becoming celibate. But, I wonder if that is so? I don't know.
Berzin: For instance, Serkong Rinpoche said when you are practicing the complete stage, this is an absolute necessity. But before you reach that point, if you simply have confident belief in this and set the intention that when you reach that point you will practice like that, then it is probably OK.
His Holiness: Probably it is like that, better to explain it like that, because being able to have sexual contact without releasing semen is something needed when you practice the advanced stages of the complete stage. But to say that you are not permitted to before you reach the point [of being able to dissolve into the central channel the downward-voiding energy-winds (thur-sel-gyi rlung)] so that you are able to have sexual contact without releasing semen, that would be difficult, wouldn't it? To say that it is necessary for everyone who takes the initiation to act like monks would be difficult.
On the other hand, if I give the impression of telling them to go ahead and release semen, that wouldn't do at all. This is because if you really are practicing Kalachakra, you need to have no release or loss of semen whatsoever. Moreover, there is probably no division to be made in this respect between practitioners of the generation stage and of the complete stage. To state this clearly is probably better.
Now, as for the actual root downfall of discarding bodhichitta, this is talking about having the mind that wishes liberation through the bliss of orgasmic release ('dzag-bde grol-ba 'dod-kyi sems). As for this bliss of orgasmic release, some non-Buddhist traditions (mu-stegs-pa) assert that offering a homa fire puja of semen in the reality source of a woman pleases Ishvara (dBang-phyug, Shiva) and that through this one can achieve moksha, liberation. But, liberation doesn't happen like that. Therefore, specifically to stop this mistaken practice, the vow was made that if, with a mind wishing for liberation through the bliss of orgasmic release, one ejaculates one's constituent source energy-drops externally (phyi-rol-du khams-phong-ba), it is a root downfall. Usually, however, when one has and ejaculates semen, there is no thought of wishing liberation through the bliss of releasing it. Thus, it is not a root downfall.
However, there is a transgression and ignoring (chag-'dor) of the root vow. One was not taking care about one's seminal energy-drops (khu-ba bdag-po-ma-byed). Thus, there is a transgression of the root vow, but not a complete root downfall. If one is a practitioner and one's constituent-source energy-drops are lost (khams nyams-pa yin-pa), then one weakens the generation of unchanging bliss.
Kadrubjey said that in Kalachakra, it is necessary for constituent-source energy-drops never to be lost at all. He states this in conjunction with the point concerning methods for actualizing blissful awareness. In Chakrasamvara and Guhyasamaja, one actualizes an illusory body. In Kalachakra, however, one actualizes a devoid form and a devoid form is actualized within a state of supreme unchanging blissful awareness. Because of that, it is extremely important never to degenerate, weaken, or lose one's constituent-source energy-drops, he says.
Therefore, to constitute a root downfall, one needs the mind of wishing liberation from the bliss of orgasmic release. Furthermore, although root downfalls will not occur [without such a wish], still the flaw can occur of being stained with the fault of an infraction of the vow. To avoid this, one needs to safeguard against losing one's seminal energy-drops [if one is a serious practitioner of Kalachakra, at any stage of the practice.] Nevertheless, to say that this pertains mainly to complete stage practice and leave it at that is probably OK.
Women Not Emitting Seminal Energy-DropsBerzin: How should women understand the vow not to emit seminal energy-drops?
His Holiness: When Kalachakra speaks of constituent-source energy-drops being emitted, they are not necessarily a gross liquid and do not necessarily have to come out of the body externally. What we need to eliminate are the propensities for these subtle energy-drops to move (g.yo-ba'i bag-chags). We have to cease (' gag, stop) all movement of the constituent-source energy-drops and bind them unmovingly.
For instance, in terms of men, not merely is it not having constituent-source energy-drops fall (lhung) outside the body with gross liquid drops of semen. In addition, when the constituent-source energy-drops cascade down (mar-babs) first through the chakras in the central energy channel [as white bodhichitta], we need to make that which has fallen remain stable (brtan-par gnas). That is what unmoving means.
[In other words, when the subtle constituent-source energy-drops descend in the central energy-channel through the burning of the inner heat of tummo in advanced complete stage practice, they need to stay put there. One does not put an end to the blissful awareness by having the subtle drops join with seminal fluid and move outside the body. One needs to maintain this blissful awareness to have it focus on voidness.]
Not only outside, but even inside the central channel, the constituent-source energy-drops may move back up (yar-log-pa). We must bind them so that they don't return up. This requires stacking them inside the central channel, like building a wall - stacking or piling them up one on top of the next.
This non-moving of the constituent-source energy-drops comes from relying on a devoid-form mahamudra (great sealing partner). In the stages of meditation, union with a visualized jnanamudra (deep awareness partner) causes the constituent-source energy-drops to drip down and brings moving blissful awareness (g.yo-ba'i bde-ba) [since the drops move back up the central channel]. Practice with a devoid-form mahamudra brings the unchanging blissful awareness of the constituent-source energy-drops not moving or shifting, either externally [outside the body in connection with gross liquids] or internally [back up the central channel].
Berzin: So women have this vow too?
His Holiness: Yes, yes.
Berzin: Is it to be understood only on an internal level of not having their constituent-source energy-drops move in their central channels? Or, does it also refer to their worldly bliss of an orgasmic external release of constituent energy-drops?
His Holiness: I really don't know. It is difficult to say, since it is not clear in any text, but women undoubtedly have something similar. If we consider men, when constituent-source energy-drops fall outside (lhung-na), then at that point, since the basis for the blissful awareness has been lost (bde-ba'i rten nyams-pa), the blissful awareness itself ceases, doesn't it? So if men can bind (bcings, hold) the basis for the blissful awareness, the bodhichitta drops, without it being lost (nyams), the blissful awareness will not go away, will it? Women must have something analogous, whether or not it entails a release of gross fluids.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Is it acceptable for a lama to sleep with a student?
However, there are those western students who defend such activities saying that while there is no specific teaching on this topic, there is the general injunction that the disciple should do whatever the guru asks of them. Also, they point out that it does not behoove us to judge the actions of a lama, because they are the deeds of an enlightened being, and as such are far beyond the scope of mere mortals such as ourselves. Finally, some women justify their sexual cooperation with a lama by saying they have become “consorts” of the lama. There are then three justifications given for a lama having sex with a student:
1) We should do as the lama asks.
2) We are not capable of judging the lama’s motivation.
3) These women have become consorts of the lama, and so the relationship is perfectly acceptable.
Let us look at these three claims. First of all, there is no general teaching in Buddhism that the disciple should do whatever the lama commands. Any teacher of Buddhism should be examined well before accepting him as a guide on the path. This is stated many times in both Sutra and Tantra. Until that examination is complete, it goes without saying that you should not blindly follow his commands. The Sutra criteria for being qualified to take on the responsibility of leading students on the path are set out in Ornament for Mahayana Sutras by Maitreya. There are ten qualities that include being disciplined, having a pacified mind, possessing qualities greater than those of the student, love, wisdom and concern for the student, and so on. That work states that it is not essential for the mentor to possess all ten qualities, because it is difficult to find someone endowed with all of them. However, they should have as many as possible. It seems highly unlikely that a teacher whose five senses are disciplined, and who has the student’s welfare at heart would seek to take sexual advantage of a female student. Therefore, if a teacher does make approaches to a student, it is quite likely that he is under the sway of worldly desire, and so in such cases the student does not have to accede to these desires simply because of the instruction, “Do whatever the lama commands.”
There is an instruction specifically in tantra to do as the lama commands. But what does this mean? A vajra or tantric master is sought by those whose minds are well trained in the preliminary paths of Sutra. Anyone who jumps straight into tantric practice with a worldly mind will reap only worldly results, and many of them may not be that palatable. The path of the vajra vehicle demands that the mind uses its ability to transform the perception of the ordinary into the divine. The guru who gives initiation and who guides a tantric practitioner cannot be viewed as an ordinary person. Only Vajradhara can confer and transmit the phenomena of initiation to the student. After the initiation, only Vajradhara can impart the necessary core teachings on the generation and completion stages.
Tantra simply does not work on the ordinary level or everyday perception, and every instruction from the guru is an instruction from Vajradhara. The tantric practitioner has committed himself or herself through various profound pledges to life on the tantric path, and following the lama’s commands is part of that pledge. It is said, for example, that if the lama asks you to eat his own shit, you should do it without hesitation. This is the ideal. This is the practice for someone who, having spent many years training their mind, is now ripe for tantra. And it is in this advanced environment that one must do as the lama commands without question. However, this is not the case for many of us who attend initiations without being ready for them, or just for the “blessings.” Therefore, if a western student has not reached such an advanced level of tantric practice, then they are within their rights to question the commands of the lama, especially those that appear particularly worldly.
One of the reasons why students take on the belief that they must do whatever the lama asks of them is that this instruction is often broadcast in teachings right from the very beginning. This leads the student to believe that it is applicable from the beginning of practicing the path, when, as described above, clearly it is not. These days more and more Western students come across lamas at Dharma Centres in the West. Often they are attracted by the promise that Tibetan Buddhism brings, and they can easily rush in and embrace the teachings more in hope than in a definite knowledge of what benefits they will bring. Their own enthusiasm carries them unthinkingly into the practice of guru devotion. This is where it can start to go wrong. Having embraced too much without enough introspection and analysis, they are faced with demands from the guru and feel that they cannot back down now, for to do so would constitute breaking samaya, or bond, with the guru. This is a sad situation, and not at all what the profound teachings on guru devotion were designed to bring about.
The second statement that is often thrown out to support a lama doing as he pleases is that he is an enlightened being and the rationale for his actions, however bizarre and unseemly they may appear, is not within the scope of our perception. Therefore, we should maintain a “pure view” of his conduct, and not judge or condemn him as we would an ordinary being. For the individual this can be dealt with as above, by assessing their own level of practice and their relationship with that lama.
However, this rationale is often used by the members of a Dharma community in the West as a way of responding to allegations of irregular behaviour in their lama. It is true that we do not have the ability to judge a lama’s actions, but Dharma communities in the West carry the responsibility of presenting the teachings of the Buddha in a modern western environment. If the Dharma is to find its place in the western world, it should, as far as possible, conform to the conventions of the society it finds itself in. It is simply unacceptable in the world these days for those in positions of power and influence to have sexual relations with those who look up to them, or who defer and rely upon them. No doctor or teacher would last five minutes in his job if he was discovered having sex with his patients or pupils. Why should it be any different for a lama in a position of great influence over the minds of others? Therefore, members of a Dharma community have a responsibility to provide a public response to any allegations of sexual abuse in their community. To turn a blind eye is to evade that responsibility, and to counter allegations with talk of maintaining a pure view of his conduct is essentially to do nothing. This is not the same as condemning the lama. If he is seen to be breaching the codes embedded in that society, he should be approached and the issue addressed.
It is necessary to conform to the sensible prevailing attitudes that rule the society we live in. It is true that there are teachings that say we should not judge or condemn the misdeeds of others because they may be bodhisattvas using skilful means to benefit others. But this does not mean that, for example, there should be no criminal justice system, that offenders should not be arrested and tried, or that there should not be reprimand and censure. In the eyes of the world there is right and wrong; professionally, morally and legally. If a lama sleeps with a student it is wrong on that basis, and should be dealt with on that basis. The great Indian master Atiśa, when he was disciplinarian at his monastery, saw a breach of the rules in a monk. He had no choice but to expel that monk, even though in the back of his mind he felt it was not right. Sure enough, the monk turned out to be a great yogi with supernatural powers. However, he followed the norms of the monastic society he lived in. Dharma Centre managers have no choice but to do likewise. It may be that the conduct of the lama has some hidden nature we are not privy to, but that is not the level on which the world operates.
The third reason that is given for women consensually sleeping with lamas is that they have become the lama’s consort. Well, taking the meaning of “consort” to be that as described in the tantras, and not just “wife” or “mistress,” then these women should know that they must possess certain qualities and characteristics that are either innate or have been developed. Wishing and hoping that they will be imbued with blessings is not one of these qualities.
In short, the transmission of Buddhism in the West is still in its infancy. Like a fragile shoot in the ground, it needs care and protection. The damage that would be inflicted on its growth if our rapacious media got hold of these salacious stories does not bear thinking about. Within the confines of the Dharma community too it is our responsibility to ensure that the teachings of the Buddha are not sullied by misunderstanding, and that we do not stray from their independently minded and altruistic message, and sink into a spiritual world ruled by personality cult alone.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Posted on by chris
“One must note the feature of religion that keeps it on the front page and on prime time: it kills.” Martin MartyAn uncritical reading of this statement from the eminent scholar Martin E. Marty might see it as promoting some sort of anti-religious tirade in the style of Christopher Hitchens and other contemporary ‘New Atheists’. However, this reaction must be tempered by what is observable on an almost daily basis in the mainstream media, and should not discourage scholars from taking seriously the issues that it raises. Is there something particular about religion which makes it a more potent ‘violence enabling mechanism’ than other factors? Are some religions more likely to inspire violence than others? And why should scholars even care? In this interview, Chris discusses these issues and more with Professor Brian Victoria, who, in addition to his scholarly credentials, is a fully ordained Zen Buddhist priest.
The interview proceeds in two sections. First of all, Professor Victoria delineates his understanding of Holy War, which are expanded upon more fully in his freely available article Holy War: Toward a Holistic Understanding. Discussion flows from Karl Jaspers’ idea of the Axial Age and a movement from ‘tribal’ to ‘universalistic’ religions, through to the potential connections between religion, nationalism, and threat perception, with potentially controversial examples from contemporary conflicts in Iraq, Israel and Palestine being cited along the way. The interview shifts its focus to the specific example of violence associated with (Japanese) Zen Buddhism, providing a stark contrast to its (admittedly positive) stereotypical reputation. How could the precept ‘there is no self’ be connected to violent acts? And what about the widely known idea of karma? You’ll have to listen to find out…
We’ll be publishing a response essay to this on Wednesday, from our very own Kevin Whitesides. Listener’s might also be interested in our previous interview with Jolyon Mitchell on Religion, Violence and the Media, and Zoe Alderton’s response to this – Anzac and Awe: Religion, Violence, and the Media in Australia.
Dr. Brian Victoria is Professor of Japanese Studies at Antioch University where he has been Program Director of Japan and Its Buddhist Traditions since 2005. He trained at the SÃ´tÃ´ Zen monastery of Eiheiji and is a fully ordained priest in that sect. He is also the author and co-author of numerous books and articles on Zen, including “Zen Master DÃ´gen“, “Zen at War” and “Zen War Stories”. The Japanese language edition of “Zen at War” served as a catalyst for MyÃ´shinji, the largest branch of the Rinzai Zen sect, to publicly apologize for its role in support of Japanese militarism during WWII. During the program in Japan, Brian teaches Development and Doctrine of Buddhism. Together with other program instructors, he also supervises a select number of student field research projects.