Sunday, August 22, 2010

Navigating the Perils of Hubris, redux

I wrote the below essay earlier in the month. Since then I've heard from a number of people from varying traditions, saying that their lama's are being unjustly accused of being false teachers and so on.

Because of this, I have decided to republish  this essay and present it to you once again, because I  think that this is the antidote for all those wanna be Dharma protectors out there who waste their time putting up walls of shame and uttering false accusations, instead of practicing what Buddha taught.

For those of you who feel sighted and disparaged, I want to ask you a couple of simple questions:
  • Do you follow your teacher's instructions?
  • Do you take time to notice the results?
  • Do those instructions free you from the tyranny of suffering?

If the answer is yes, then who gives a big old hairy rat's ass about what someone online or elsewhere thinks? I know I don't.
And now, onward to the essay.
may you all  benefit from these words.

 I no longer frequent web forums. Over the course of years I have come to realize that they are little more than vomitoriums. Every time I logged on to one I left feeling as if someone had barfed on my shoes. Which is reason enough not to go there.

When someone came to me yesterday with information about another Lama (and no I won’t tell you who that person is, because that would be tasteless and distract from the point of the essay) who was making false accusations about my teacher on a public web forum. I have to admit I was a bit irked, and shocked, because one doesn’t expect to see that sort of behavior from someone who claims to be a high Lama and a Tulku.

It was a tremendous temptation to join that forum, pounce upon the Lama as well as his students and defend my teacher to the death. But it wasn’t the right thing to do. I was aware of that and didn’t indulge those particular impulses. It might have made me feel good to vent on that forum, fling accusations the same way an angered chimp flings shit, but what would doing so have accomplished? Nothing.

H.H. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama once said anger is a useless emotion. I happen to agree with his assessment. But anger has to go somewhere. You can’t hold onto it, otherwise it will manifest into the burning sensation of an ulcer or escape like toxic fumes through your actions, upsetting everyone around you. Instead of indulging in rage and hubris, I chose instead to put those emotions to work, the way Lama Jigme taught me.

I went to my altar, blessed this particular Lama as well as his students; prayed for their good health and fortune. I put my rage on the path of liberation by taking away the anger of the universe, and giving everyone, including myself, peace. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to let it all go. It was far more fulfilling than flinging emotional poo.

One of the books Lama Jigme has me read on a daily basis is Dilgo Khyentse’s “The Heart of Compassion”, which is a commentary upon Gyalse Nulchu Thogme’s “Thirty Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva”. This morning’s reading took me to the fifteenth verse, where it is written:

If even in the midst of a large gathering
someone exposes my hidden faults with insulting language,
to bow to him respectfully, sincerely regarding him as a spiritual friend
is the practice of a bodhisattva

This particular Lama’s actions made me think deeply about how I should treat others, how I should never judge, or fall prey to fear or arrogance or elitism. I learned quite clearly, that my actions are a reflection upon my teacher. Without ever speaking to me, this particular Lama taught me a valuable lesson on how NOT to deal with anger hubris and fear. How could I ever repay such kindness?

So I respectfully bow to this fellow, and regard him as a spiritual friend who had just pointed out a very nasty obstacle upon my path to enlightenment. To you, sir, I thank you.

May you be healthy and happy.


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