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Full Contact Enlightenment
A rather short list of links this time folks since I’m nose deep in Brad Warner’s new book as well as trying to get some local dharma events together in Montreal.
If you’re interested in
A). Helping to bring Brad Warner to Montreal.
B). Participating in a reincarnated Dharma Punx Montreal
C). Getting together with other dharmic folks
then drop me a line and I’ll keep you posted as soon as the causes and conditions come together.
Now for some links that crossed my path recently:
Walk Like a Mountain: The Handbook of Buddhist Walking Practice by Innen Ray Parchelo published by Sumeru Books is a comprehensive guide to walking as a Buddhist practice for all levels and flavours of practitioners. Essentially a ‘how to book’ it provides information on the physical side of meditative walking such as posture, hand positioning, foot mechanics as well the inner work such as breathing and mantra work. It is an exploration as to how wisdom and practice work together and exposes many types of walking practice beyond what many of us are used to, namely the ‘oh good it’s time for walking practice so I can stretch my legs – run to the bathroom- look out the window’ work. We are encouraged in walking practice to work with our minds just as precisely as we do when seated on the cushion.
The what, why, how, where of walking is all covered within the pages and the author draws upon various traditions, from Buddhism to Eastern philosophy and practices such as acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and the like. Small and long journeys are featured as are near and far travels. Details on the materials required, physical goods that assist in journeys, mental and emotional preparations, considerations to take into account for bodies/ages/abilities as well as what to wear are all detailed. Helpful photos related to the mechanics of a step and posture are also found in this handbook.
Honestly, everything related to contemplative walking practice can be found within the pages of this book.
Walk Like a Mountain truly takes the reader on a journey – through time in tracing the roots of various walking practices and through history – examining the start of the Buddha, the noble sangha, past Bodhisattvas and dharma masters and their journeys for teaching and spreading the dharma. Numerous mentions of traditions, geographic locations, spiritual traditions and notable figures are featured throughout the book and support the author in his efforts to cover a lot of terrain on the subject.
The metaphor of the journey is key to the framework of the book and Parchelo structures the book in a way in which the reader/walker prepares for the journey, undertakes the journey and various practices and then returns home. It is a clever technique but also maps the content in a way that progresses nicely for the reader.
One area of interest I had related to the author’s assertion that it isn’t possible for jogging to count as part of contemplative practice as this goes against the claims of several teachers including Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche who wrote a book recently titled Running With the Mind of Meditation which also inspired a mind/body training app.
I can agree with Parchelo that dogwalking is not very meditative given that I have two scramble-footed, loopy pugs that alternate between pulling me into traffic and lagging a far distance behind. Perhaps different dogs might convince me otherwise. Sorry pups.
I appreciated the material on walking as activism as I’ve taken part in a few marches in my days and the author touches upon the idea of alms gatherings as being similar for walking for charitable causes. I think that this is quite an interesting approach to looking at contemplative walking for sanghas to explore and I have to give a shout out to the Montreal Shambhala center as it regularly participates in Earth Day walks.
Walk Like a Mountain: The Handbook of Buddhist Walking Practice by Innen Ray Parchelo is a useful read for Dharma students but it specifically piqued my interest as a budding Dharma teacher as there are many students and fellow practitioners that I’ve met for whom walking practice really resonates for them. This book is a must for those who are so inclined towards walking practice and I’m certain will prove useful for those teachers who also wish to explore walking practice within their communities.
The book is a comprehensive overview of contemplative walking and Innen Ray Parchelo presents a well-documented presentation of the merits of contemplative walking as complementary to sitting practice. It features a comprehensive bibliography full of sutras, articles, and recommended books on the topic to check out and it’s worth mentioning that the book itself was developed as a handbook for contemplative walkers so stay tuned for future add-ons for the book which are in development as well as community-building initiatives. There is also a blog for The Society for Walking as a Contemplative Activity to help organize others who value this practice.
Please visit the book’s website for further information.
Book Review : Thubten Chodron – “Don’t Believe Everything You Think- Living With Wisdom And Compassion “
Venerable Thubten Chodron is a notable author, Buddhist monastic and the founder/abbess of Sravasti Abbey, a meditation community in Newport, Washington. She also hosts the Bodhisattva Breakfast Corner channel on YouTube which I highly encourage you to check out as well as her website which is chock full of information. It’s quite remarkable how often I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of Dharma discovery when visiting it.
Her latest book, Don’t Believe Everything You Think: Living with Wisdom and Compassion is a commentary on The Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas by Togmay Zangpo, a Tibetan monk and Bodhisattva. Within in the pages, she offers up a crystal clear interpretation and explanation of the Dharma by providing an in depth, yet accessible commentary on each of the 37 verses and then providing a myriad of stories from others on the path who exemplify the teachings within the verses based on experiences they’ve encountered within their lives.
The book is a helpful guide as to how to apply these practices in one’s life in order to work towards the enlightenment of all sentient beings and to support one’s efforts as a Bodhisattva. It is a nourishing read and covers a lot of ground – everything from meditation, practice and study to friendships, relationships, karma, adversity and so very much more. Don’t Believe Everything You Think offers guidance like that of a warm friend rather than of disciplinarian as Thubten Chodron shares her personality and experiences with honesty and generosity. This book leaves readers in a way that one is left with a method to live and exist in a manner that brings less suffering for self and others.
Don’t Believe Everything You Think: Living with Wisdom and Compassion is the perfect companion to one’s study of the 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas and comes with my high praise for being so well-written and offering teachings that are easy to grasp and put into action. Now reminding oneself to do so – that is the real work of Bodhisattvas.
I’d like to leave you with a few links to check out from Thubten Chodron which are referred to within this book as well as from her website.
- ‘Game of Tibet’ from Lhakar Diaries brings the story of Rignam Wangkhang, a Canadian-Tibetan (or Tibetan-Canadian) graduate of Queen’s University who writes of their current experience with the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet internship program on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
- I just read about Faith in Action DC from Jack at Dharma Punx DC and wanted to share it as it looks like an amazing “multimedia project that documents and celebrates the community service and social justice work of diverse people of faith throughout the DC region”. More of this everywhere please!
- Josh Korda on “Awakening Together”
When we take the risk to step out from behind the wall of our social mask, we grant ourselves and others a safe space to be authentic. In being vulnerable we may experience, at times, the feeling of not being met, understood, or wounded. Yet we must continue. For the real misery and emotional pain lies in staying remote and hiding behind our views and opinions, rather than our empathy and compassion. The reward of taking risks and daring to be emotionally exposed is that, with persistence, it will lead to real deep connection and growth in unison with others.
- I love Kate Leth (Kate or Die) and everything she has ever put a pen to. She is just wonderful. Witness her work. Gawd. So good.
Dungse Jampal Norbu will be teaching in Montreal on June 26th and 27th, 2013. The son of son of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche and Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel, he is a proficient teacher in his own right who has grown up with the dharma and brings his real-world experiences to students along with his easy sense of humour.
He will be speaking on the topic of ‘Fear and Fearlessness’ -
“There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
We may have heard this phrase often, but what exactly is fear? Is it the excitement one finds on a roller coaster, or the anxiety of being alone in the dark? Is fear the product of rejecting change in what we love? However it manifests, we instinctively know we have to face fear in order to live life fully. As we face fear, we often miss its deep roots, which grow beneath the surface, in other words, the attachments we have to things, people, or thoughts and ideas. As we unearth the roots of fear, we develop courage. In the end there is nothing to fear. Not even fear itself.
The talk during the weekend will be held at the Mangalam Dharma Center of Montreal and you can register via email
I wanted to share this post from Derek Rasmussen who blogs over at Derek’s Dharma Blog and had this guest post run on the Buddhist Peace Fellowship website on the topic of Qallunology 101: A Lesson Plan for the Non-Indigenous.
The Inuit word for Euro-Americans is Qallunaat. Over the last century, Inuit have observed the strange and peculiar behaviour of these visitors, and it was only a matter of time before someone like Nunavik CBC commentator Zebedee Nungak coined the term “Qallunology,” shorthand for “the study of white folks.”
The post is a important one that really gets at the core of the dilemma of the saviour mentality that can take place when working with indigenous culture and it traces it all back to how we shouldn’t be doing any harm in the first place. In Buddhism we place quite a bit of emphasis on interconnection, motivation and considering our actions be the to cause future negative karma. This post puts these concepts all into perspective and I highly encourage you to read it and put it into practice. I know that I am going to be examining this in my own day to day experience.
There is nothing inherently wrong with acting to support Indigenous peoples fighting for their land, except this. Without a background in Qallunology, the pull toward “rescuing” instead of addressing our own role can be irresistible. A Qallunologist would say the first question before rescuing should always be: did we cause this problem in the first place? And if so, ‘ceasing to do evil’ always oughta come before anything else. And since a lot of the evil done is land and resource theft to fuel the uprooted Qallunaat economy, we are going to have to start turning our attention to the uprootedness of those we currently consider to be the richest and most successful people in the world.
Recorded at Hartford, CT on May 2013
Random Linkage: DPR in NYC, Brad Warner on Your Couch, Buddhism & Mental Illness, Undercard Superstars
- DPR Teaches in NYC: Dependence and Interdependence from the Nalandabodhi US blog.
- Brad Warner’s headed to a living room near you in support of his latest book ‘There Is No God and He Is Always with You: A Search for God in Odd Places’
- Please do read this blog post titled ‘Buddhism and Mental Illness’ by Justin Whittaker over at American Buddhist Perspective. If you’re so inclined, please do share your story in the comments section on his blog.
There is no grand optimistic twist in the story. To tell you everything will be okay would be a lie. Things will still get shitty. But not always as shitty as before. And sometimes life will actually be pretty damned good. And it’s that ‘good’ that we strive for: the moment of peace with the 3-month old baby, the colorful sunset after the cloudy day, the hug from a friend or parent after a long time apart. There is so much to discover in live that connects us with the truths of impermanence, interconnectedness, and ultimate nonsubstantiality of the self; concepts that seem on the surface to be merely theoretical, but must be experienced to be truly realized.
- ‘Cult Mentalities, Hero Worship and the Pitfalls’ from Undercard Superstar (Yes I know this is a blog post about martial arts, but with a blog name like Full Contact Enlightenment, you know I had to post it here for its relevance to the situations of abuse going on in the Buddhist community.
She started with the question “Are you supposed to do anything to become a World Champion?” I replied, “Yes, there are sacrifices you must make to become a World Champion and you are going to have to do some things that other people won’t do to become a World Champion”. She began to cry as she explained. She said that when she first joined the team she was given a set of rules. She was told exactly how she should act.
I was so very excited to read of this book as I am an avid ‘devourer’ of books written to express the experiences of fellow sisters on the Buddhist path. From Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 Years of Buddhist Wisdom by Sallie Tisdale to Women Of Wisdom by Tsultrim Allione and several other books that rest on both my physical and digital bookshelves, this book has now become a treasured guide to help inspire me through its presentation of strong, determined and steadfast feminine energy.
In her book ‘Dakini Power’, author Michaela Haas has gathered together the fascinating biographies of 12 diverse women who have been pivotal within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition as it moved from East to West. The women featured (from left to right in the image below) are: Khandro Tsering Chödrön, Pema Chödrön, Roshi Joan Halifax , Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Thubten Chodron, Dagmola Kusho Sakya, Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Sangye Khandro , Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel , Chagdud Khadro and Lama Tsultrim Allione .
Each story unique and each biography offers up a vibrant glimpse of how these women discovered the dharma, met their teachers and the challenges and successes they may have encountered on their individual paths as dakinis – “female messengers of wisdom”. Several married, others unmarried or previously married (some have even married their teachers) and many have borne children and balanced motherhood with spiritual practice and study. A fully detailed experience is presented here via the stories and interviews between the pages of ‘Dakini Power’ and as such, topics including: geography, politics, cultural barriers for female practitioners, love, the issue of women’s ordination within Buddhism, sexual abuse within the Buddhist community among many other aspects of the human condition all are presented and explored with a mixture of humour, wisdom and passion.
The impact that each of these women has made in the global community is also highlighted as each have used their precious human birth to assist in the spread of the dharma in their own ways, be it through becoming high ranking spiritual teachers, authors, lecturers, translators or founders of spiritual centres. To read of their motivations and their desire to be of service is truly a gift.
‘Dakini Power’ isn’t afraid to dive into the choppy waters of gender politics and Buddhism and the book opens with a quote from Padmasambhava - “Whether male or female, there is no great difference. But if a woman develops the mind of enlightenment, her potential is supreme.” A nuanced approach to gender runs through the book and each biography offers up whether the woman featured has a specific take on feminism as it has applied in their respective lives. In the case of Tenzin Palmo, she mentioned how at one time or another each of us has been male and female and she is dedicating herself to becoming enlightened in a female form since she believes in the importance of there being more women teachers and role-models. Khandro Rinpoche in the book when commenting on why some female students place so much importance on having a female teacher or on gender politics, she dismisses this kind of thinking and says, “If being a woman is an inspiration, us it. If it is an obstacle, try not to be bothered’ and later goes on to say, “There is no need for aggression or for sadness about discrimination. One just works harder, works harder… This is what I would like women to know – you need a lot of patience, you have to work towards it, and if you are really serious about equal qualities of women, then you have to work by example”.
With her book ‘Dakini Power’, Michaela Haas has provided an important contribution to Buddhist scholarship in compiling research and conducting interviews with these twelve women as it is an essential snapshot of time showing the contributions of several modern female Buddhists and to see where the future of Buddhism ends up. Several of the women featured are some of the first wave of Tibetans to be forced from their land by the Chinese and this book captures their stories. Other women were those who traveled from the West over to India and Asia to experience and discover the wisdom traditions of the East. We must ask ourselves now what the next generation of female Buddhists will contribute.
The e word. Enlightenment. It’s a pretty polarizing word. Many folks are getting rich off of selling the enlightenment experience. Others are using it as part of their blog’s title.. Ahem.
Brad Warner recently wrote a post titled ‘ What is Enlightenment?’ which resonated with me and I wanted to share some thoughts on. While I can attest to having a few ‘awareness’ experiences in my life, I don’t really hoot on about them, go off writing books like ‘The Secret’ or crafting pithy blog posts about how realized I am. I think there’s a fine balance between the humility that I hold my practice with combined with the strength that’s required to pursue being a functional Buddhist in today’s modern world. It truly is a balance- much like one can become that annoying person on the airplane that doesn’t shut up about their wife, kids, peanut farm for 20 hours non-stop or the glassy eyed stranger that doesn’t even smile or engage after you accidentally bump their table tray. There are some out there in the world that just get off on selling enlightenment and there are many that are just craving the possibility that comes with meeting an enlightened being.
The movie ‘Kumare’ really got to me as it was one of the most genuine portrayals of the spiritual seeker that I’ve seen in some time. The ability to see the perspective of what people were looking for when they chose to follow this learned man was a precious one for those who work in spiritual communities because it shines a light on the need for absolute care that has to be taken when individuals enter a spiritual center seeking – whatever it is they are seeking… answers, relief from suffering, community, meditation instruction or any of the reasons one walks through the door of a Buddhist/spiritual community.
So back to enlightenment. I think in many ways it’s seen as a goal. An attainment. Similar to how my Pentecostal family would herald when someone received the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues or rolled around on the floor or ran around the perimeter of the church. Sometimes the idea that it can take several zillion lifetimes for enlightenment is lost on us. We want it NOW, but we don’t even really know why.
Do go over to Brad’s site and read his post as it is a great read and worthy of discussion related to the topic of spiritual masters and spiritual seekers.
After being fully stoked over my chat with Miguel from Teenage Bottlerocket last week, I careened into a set of weekend talks from Nalandabodhi’s dear Lama Rabten who is visiting our local centre for this auspicious month of May and offering teachings on Lojong. It has been lovely and incredible to be together with my local sangha to study, practice and be present and also the dual opportunity for me to practice my French skills as there is translation from English to French for each talk.
So on my radar as a few items that made an impression lately:
- Check ins and being present from @Mindonly
- Day 219: The Banana Stand
- Pouzza Buddha image from their upcoming Montreal punk festival
- iMeditation – by David Allen McKeel
- The Unborn a blog post by 108 Zen Books is just wonderful. You must read it.
How to sit without the hope that some intense curiosity or vibrant joy will infiltrate, breaking our shell, opening us. If only to see that what we were intended for is no longer possible. And yet, what we are is immense in its possibilities.
- I have to thank dear Fitri for sharing this most meditative cake baking sequence that I’ve ever seen.
Last week while flipping through my RSS feeds to keep up to date on the goings on in the punk rock world, my beady little eagle eyes spotted a ‘Meditate and Destroy’ t-shirt on Miguel Chen, bass player for pop-power-punk group Teenage Bottlerocket.
Now I fangirl adore Teenage Bottlerocket. Hailing from Laramie, Wyoming, they are pure in your face, three chord harmonious, snotty punk that’s hooky, tight and just done ever so right.
I was really curious to find out more about Miguel’s connection with Buddhism so I dropped him a line and he was kind enough to answer some of my questions about how he discovered Buddhism, details on his personal practice and a bit of information on how BDSM figures into his life. He’s very open in both being a Buddhist and his participation in BDSM and I found it both interesting and important to find out more about his perspective on something that I quite honestly have not really read or heard many Buddhists speak of aside from that filthy Brad Warner fellow
How did you discover Buddhism? Describe the circumstances.How long have you been interested?
About 7 years ago we went on tour with The Epoxies. I was kind of going through a rough time in my life and their lead singer Roxy gave me a copy of ‘Dharma Punx’ by Noah Levine. At the time the book helped me relate to someone who had been through similar suffering to my own, but it wasn’t until a few years later when I revisited it that the Dharma really made it’s way into my daily life. When I revisited the book I was going through a really dark time, doing lots of drugs and generally being depressed. I knew that when I played shows and connected with people I wasn’t depressed, but that was only for an hour a day, I needed to find a way to be happy the rest of the day. And so I revisited Dharma Punx. This time around it made even more sense than before and it lead me to many other Buddhist authors including Tai Sheridan, Charlotte Joko Beck,Thich Nhat Hahn, Brad Warner, Lodro Rinzler and many others. Over the next few months I read every book on the subject I could get my hands on and my life really began to transform. I started meditating every morning and finally began to feel like I’d found what I was looking for.
What school of Buddhism do you follow?
My initial reaction is to say I relate most to Zen Buddhism. I believe in keeping things simple and Zen offers a lot of that. I basically sit every day, then spend the rest of my day trying to do my best. There’s not a lot more to it as it applies to my life, people are often surprised when I tell them that. For me, Buddhism boils down to realizing we are all connected, we all suffer, and we all want to be happy. Those simple lessons have had a major impact on my life. Noah Levine once said he considers himself and American Buddhist, a combination of several schools and I might agree with that. A lot of the schools that work in the East don’t translate so well into our day to day lives over here. I really like that. Maybe I’ll say I consider myself a Mexican-American Buddhist.
Are there any specific teachings that resonate with you?
I’ve read the Dhamapadda, The Art of Living, The Lotus Sutra etc, however I find the teaching I relate to the most is of course the 4 Noble Truths. I interpret them to be first that all living beings suffer. Secondly, the reason we suffer is attachment to a self and that this self creates differences in the way things are and the way we think they are. Third there is an end to suffering and that can be found by following the 8 fold path. When I’m asked about the 8 fold path I generally tell people it’s just about trying to do what is best for each situation we are presented with, and to focus on living now, not in the past or the future.
Do you have a teacher?
I wish! Again, there are not a lot of Buddhists in Wyoming, so finding a teacher has yet to happen. I do have some friends around the country I will talk to when I get the chance, but no formal teacher.
Do you have a meditation practice? How is that going for you being on the road touring?
Every single morning I wake up and sit on a cushion for 20-45 minutes. On tour it’s usually on the shorter end of that spectrum because we have so little free time. I will spend the first part of my meditation calming and clearing my mind, and the second part working on metta concentrations. I also wear a mala on my wrist that I will use to count my breaths or go through mantras whenever I get a free moment on tour.
You are open about being a member of the BDSM community and see a tie in (ha ha) between BDSM and Buddhism. How so?
As far as letting go of your ego and becoming truly present in the now, few things will get you there as quickly as being tied up and beat with a paddle. Nipple clamps are a great tool as well because they will put your focus on one thing and keep your mind from wandering. The feeling I get after a good BDSM session is very similar to the feeling I get after a good meditation. There is a lot of power in just being present, for whatever we are doing when we are doing it. BDSM allows me to let go of control, to just exist in one exact moment in time. It’s really very Zen-like for me!
In his book ‘Sex, Sin and Zen’ , Brad Warner wrote about some misgivings he had about BDSM but overall spoke to the responsibility involved with all who participate. He mentioned trauma and power exchange and how it’s can be somewhat similar to cult-like behaviour within some Buddhist communities. How would you respond to this?
I would say there is definitely potential for that sort of abuse of power, but I have never had experiences like that. When done properly BDSM is a good way for people to really connect. There is a big stigma over BDSM but I think really a lot more people might like it if they went in with an open mind. Again it’s all about giving yourself completely to the moment and if you are doing these activities with people you can trust to care for you it can be a very rewarding experience.
How do you relate to desire and attachment as a BDSM Buddhist?
All humans have desire and I believe that is okay. The problem becomes our attachment to it. If you can work on accepting things as they are over how you think they should be, then desire isn’t much of a problem. It’s okay to desire something as long as it doesn’t consume you and if you can’t have it, just let it go.
Do you feel that the Buddhist community is open enough about sexuality as a whole?
One thing that really stuck with me about Buddhism is that it’s not necessarily a religion. I forget who wrote it, but I once read something along the lines of “Don’t practice Buddhism to be a better Buddhist, practice Buddhism to be a better whatever you already are.” With that in mind there are Buddhists of all walks of life, some are monks who perhaps aren’t open enough about sexuality, others are Dominatrixes and punk rockers. My Buddhist friends tend to be pretty open, but that might be because they are also punks.
Is there anything you’d like to share relating to anything I haven’t asked? Advice. Questions.
I can’t really think of anything. Thanks for the interview. May we all be happy and free from suffering!
I am so very happy to share this information with you as it is quite exciting…
Tergar Montreal is delighted to present two teachings by H E Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche
- Path to Compassion: Essential Teachings on Training the Mind ~ August 9, 7 – 9 PM, August 10, 9 AM – 5 PM
In these turbulent times, it often seems that uncertainty and challenges surround us in every direction. Meditation is not meant to remove us from the world, but to open our hearts and minds to the beauty of what we already have. In this teaching, renowned Buddhist teacher Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche will share her insights in this journey, showing how we can generate compassion and train our mind even in the midst of our busy lives.
For more information on how to register, click here.
- Teaching and Empowerment of Yeshe Tsogyal ~ August 11, 9 AM – 5 PM
Yeshe Tsogyal was a direct incarnation of Dhatvishvari Vajra Yogini in the form of a woman. She was one of five dakini emanations of Vajra Yogini and, in essence, also a manifestation of Guru Rinpoche himself. She appeared to assist Guru Rinpoche in spreading the Vajrayana, especially the terma teachings, in the Snowy Land of Tibet. Yeshe Tsogyal is also considered an emanation of Arya Tara, Vajra Varahi, Prajnaparamita and Samantabhadri — all enlightened buddhas.
For more information on how register, click here.
H E Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche
Born as the eldest daughter of Kyabje Mindrolling Trichen Gyurme Künzang Wangyal – the 11th Mindrolling throne holder of the renowned Mindrolling lineage, Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, as a Jetsünma within the Mindrolling lineage and a Tulku within the Kagyu lineage holds both the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions. Rinpoche speaks fluent English. For a full biography please see http://www.mjkr.org/biography.cfm
Yesterday my friend Martin passed away. This is a photo which was on the dust jacket of a novel he had written. It was shared with me yesterday and I think it best personifies who he was. An intellectual. Deep. Probing. Don’t be fooled though. He had a laugh like lightening cracking through the night sky. It would shoot out and cut through any tension in a room. It was a generous and hearty laugh.
We came to know one another through Buddhist studies as he opened up his house to a rag tag crew of us to sit, study and discuss the dharma. Each week, he’d have us over for tea and cookies and for about 5 years, this was our regular way of being. I’m not sure of his interest in the dharma but he was deeply philosophical and a man who ‘rolled his own’ spirituality which I admired him for. I also admired him for his steadfast questioning of the teachings. He was to me, one of those people that questioned everything (and I mean everything).
He drove me nuts.
Oh the debates. Oh the roughness. It was like a wrestling match. I think he loved being able to dismantle and deconstruct what we were studying so that it wasn’t just blindly accepted and re-quoted. He forced me to explain why I felt the way I did. What experiences led me to the beliefs or assumptions I was making. All of this made me dig deeper, read more and truly explore what I was reading.
He was one of the best non-Buddhist, Buddhist teachers I’ve had.
Recently he had fallen ill. Quite suddenly. I’d come to know this from a friend and gave him a call. A bit week but in good spirits, we spoke for a short time and then radio silence until yesterday when I was reading over some teachings on the Bodhisattva Vow and thought of him. We had the great battle of the Hinayana vs. Mahayana once in our discussion group. A staunch “Hinayanaist”, Martin dug his heels in and there was no moving towards the territory of the “Mahayanaist regime”.
Reminded of this, I sent him an email thinking that maybe he’d prefer this to a call. It wasn’t long after that I had reconfigured an email address that I rarely use. I had removed it from my ipad last week as it kept re-retrieving messages from the server so I wanted to see if I could fix this somehow. It was then that I saw a flood of emails with his name as the subject from people I didn’t know. The first one being ‘Martin in the hospital’ and then moving towards yesterday morning with just his name as the subject and the body copy told me the news of his passing.
What continued to follow were emails with stories and photos. Tales of his great generosity. Students who mentioned how he built up their confidence in their writing or acting. Stories of his creativity and artistic flair. Emails piled up from around the world who came to know and love him. Mentions of his compassion. His wisdom.
Take a bow Martin. You were magnificent.
There’s been a few changes to the schedule of events / topics for Lama Rabten Tshering’s upcoming teachings in Montreal. Consult the poster for full details.Lojong: Seven Points of Mind Training Includes pith instructions for working with our mind in meditation and everyday situations as a way to awaken. The study and practice of the Seven Points of Mind Training provides a method of training our mind to reverse self-centeredness and open us to compassion. Lojong was introduced to Tibet in the eleventh century by the great Indian master Lord Atisha. The teachings focus on the development of Absolute Bodhicitta and Relative Bodhicitta in seven stages. Many meditation and contemplation methods are employed to transform the mind, such as Tonglen (exchanging oneself for others), and the Lojong Slogans. Lama Rabten will offer teachings on this precious text over two weekend. VENUE : Centre communautaire Villeray 660 Villeray East (metro Jean Talon or metro Jarry) TEACHING SCHEDULE Seven sessions: Friday, May 10, 2013 7 :00 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11, 2013 9:30a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, May 25, 2013 9:30a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. Sunday, May 26, 2013
9:30a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 4:00 p.m.Suggested donation per session: $10 members /$15 non-members
Red Tape Parade vocalist Wauz Kenobi passed away last week after a battle with cancer. He was the founder of the Berlin chapter of Dharma Punx and left quite an impression on the German punk scene.
A few things on my radar:
- A call out for information on Buddhist hospice care in Hamilton or Toronto over at the beloved Sumeru blog. If you have any lists of individuals or institutions, please leave a message over in the comments for this post.
- Call for Papers: The 2013 Claremont International Jain Conference - Women’s Perspectives in the Dharma Traditions
- “Three Kinds of Compassion” – a post by Tyler Dewar over at the ID Project.
- “Ladakh means “land of the high passes”. Is one of the three provinces of Jammu and Kashmir and it´s the highest plateau in India. Shot mostly in Alchi, Saspol and Likir between March and April 2012.”