Are Vajrayana Teachers Really Buddhas?

One of the core teachings of vajrayana is that we should see our teacher as a Buddha, because, in simple terms,  if we do so we will get the blessings (transformative power) of the Buddha rather than the lesser transformative power of an ordinary being.  But how are we to understand such an instruction when our teacher behaves badly or otherwise does not show the nine qualities of a Buddha?

How likely is it that our teacher actually is a Buddha?

True Buddhahood is not a single-bang event; it is a process of removing layers after layer of ever more subtle obscurations. The Buddhists with their love of enumertation have identified ten bhumis, or levels of enlightenment, and it’s unlikely that any teacher in this day and age has reached the tenth Bhumi of full enlightenment.

“As times have degenerated, nowadays it is difficult to find a teacher who has everyone of the qualities described in the precious tantras.” Patrul Rinpoche. The Words of My Perfect Teacher. P138.

And Patrul Rinpoche is not talking about enlightenment here, just the basic qualities of a reliable teacher.

Seeing purely

Of course if we see with pure perception (‘sacred outlook,’ where everything is seen and experienced purely in its true nature), everyone is a Buddha, the teacher as well as ourselves and everyone else; our Buddha nature is just obscured by our emotional, cognitive, habitual and karmic obscurations.

“The sole purpose of viewing the teacher as a buddha is so we can see these same awakened qualities in ourselves, in others, and in the world around us. It is a tool that helps us to gain confidence in the purity of our true nature.” Minguyr Rinpoche. Lions Roar, Sept 24th 2017

 

So if we see the teacher as a Buddha but not ourselves and everyone else, then we are not truly seeing purely. (Watch out for teachers who don’t make that clear!) The vajrayana path trains us to see purely, but if we don’t have some experience of emptiness/shunyata we may use the idea of pure perception as a kind of a white-wash; we might project our idea of purity onto conventional reality, rather than seeing the actual purity of the essential nature of phenomena directly.

Mistaking projection about a teacher for pure perception leads one to believe that the teacher actually has achieved full enlightenment whether or not his or her behaviour is in accord with teachings on the qualitites of an enlightened being. Clinging to any kind of belief can lead us to deny evidence that counteracts the belief, and if we choose belief about reality over actual reality,  we are increasing our delusion rather than reducing it.

On the other hand, if we focus only on the poor behaviour of a teacher, we will not see his enlightened qualities, and so will not get the best out of our relationship with him or her. (See a previous post on recognising the good and not so good qualities of a teacher.)

How do we avoid this confusion?

To help work this out, I’m returning again to Alexandar Berzin’s book Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2010), to the chapter on  “Seeing a Mentor as a Buddha” ch. 11

Reading the whole chapter (and the chapter that follows) is vital to truly understanding this directive to see your teacher as a Buddha, so I recommend you do read it. But I’ll give some quotes here. The first one gives a perspective we were never taught in Rigpa – the Madhyamaka distinction between contingent and ultimate existence – and it’s one that will make the instruction to see your teacher as a Buddha a great deal easier to relate to:

In A Commentary on [Dignaga’s “Compendium of] Validly Cognizing Minds,”Dharmakirti stated that the defining characteristic of a phenomenon that arises from causes and conditions is its ability to perform a function for a specific audience. Because of this ability, the phenomenon is what it is. Thus, for instance, a watch that performs the function of a toy for a baby is not simply a watch functioning as a toy: it is a toy, for the baby.

The Madhyamaka explanation clarifies this point: the object is only contingently a toy, not ultimately a toy. It is not the case that the watch contains a concrete, findable defining characteristic, like a genetic code, that by its own power makes it ultimately a watch. Nor is it the case that the item here is an object that has two such characteristics in it, which by their own powers make it ultimately both a watch and a toy, either simultaneously or alternatively. Nor is it the case that the object itself is ultimately something undefined, which is neither of the two. It is a watch or a toy contingent on its ability to function validly as a watch for an adult or a toy for a baby, without ultimately being a watch, a toy, both, or neither.

The confusion here is that the four logical inferences cited in the graded-path texts demonstrate that spiritual mentors function as Buddhas for their disciples, while the scriptural quotations state that they are Buddhas. By the above explanation, the two statements are equivalent, but only in the sense that mentors are contingently Buddhas, not ultimately Buddhas. Westerners who are unaware of the Madhyamaka distinction between contingent and ultimate existence find the entire presentation totally baffling. Their confusion becomes even more perplexing because a magnifying glass does not need to be the sun in order to act as a medium for the sun. Therefore, when the texts recommend seeing that a mentor is a Buddha, we need to understand this to mean seeing the person only contingently as a Buddha, inasmuch as he or she validly functions as a Buddha for disciples.

Sakya Pandita explicitly made this point in The Divisions of the Three Sets of Vows. There he wrote, “The Prajnaparamita texts state that disciples need to regard their mentors as if the teachers were Buddhas. They do not claim that the mentors actually are Buddhas.”

Berzin goes on to say that there are many levels of understanding, and he looks at the “additional deeper meanings specific to highest tantra practice.”

“The Sakya master Ngorchen clearly stated in A Filigree for Beautifying the Three Continuums that in the context of highest tantra, the tantric master is not merely like a Buddha; he or she is a Buddha.”

He also tells us that a skeptical attitude to this deprives us of realizing the deepest insights to be gained from the teaching.

And yet, he also says:

“Some spiritual seekers take the highest tantra statement to have a literal meaning. Consequently, they view all their tantric masters’ actions, words, and emotional states as perfect. This frequently happens regarding dzogchen masters, since dzogchen supposedly means that everything is perfect. In Ascertaining the Three Vows, however, the Nyingma master Ngari Panchen made the situation clear. He explained that, in private, dzogchen masters may occasionally need to act in contradiction to the norms of generally accepted behavior. However, when in the public eye or in the company of beginners who may lose faith, dzogchen masters need to uphold strictly the liberation and bodhisattva vows. Thus, if popular spiritual teachers act improperly with students at Dharma centers, they are violating the basic Buddhist principles. Naivety over this point may open spiritual seekers to possible abuse.”

Confused? Not surprising. The answer to not taking it literally and at the same time not depriving ourselves of the deepest insights to be gained from the teaching is a correct understanding of the idea of seeing purely.

“The usual human appearance of the body of a tantric master and its simultaneous appearance as the enlightening body of a Buddha, particularly during an empowerment, are two facts about the same attribute of one phenomenon (ngowochigngo-bo gcig; “they are one by nature”). The phenomenon here is a tantric master; the attribute is the appearance of his or her physical body; the two facts about that attribute are that the appearance can validly be as a usual human and as the enlightening body of a Buddha.

The two appearances are two facts about the physical body of a tantric master and, in this sense, our tantric masters are Buddhas – although, of course, not inherently and ultimately Buddhas.”

He goes on to say that “our tantric masters are inseparably ordinary humans and Buddhas.” Then he deepens our understanding of this point by going into the three levels of significance of inseparable impure and pure appearances.

Remember the Heart Sutra? Form is emptiness; emptiness is form; form is no other than emptiness; emptiness is no other than form. When we see like this, there is no contradiction between seeing a Lama who exibits abusive behaviour as a Buddha because on the absolute/pure appearance level of existence he is, as we all are, indeed a Buddha. This isn’t an easy perspective for our dualistic minds to hold, however, and as Berzin and many other Buddhist teachers say, the idea that our teacher is a Buddha must not be taken literally on a conventional level to mean that he or she is actually enlightened and that everything he or she does is enlightened action and therefore acceptable. (“Naivety over this point may open spiritual seekers to possible abuse.” Berzin.)

I think it is always helpful, no matter what level of understanding we are considering, to remember the initial angle Berzin presents that the Lama is a Buddha only in so far as he or she functions as a Buddha for us in terms of teaching and practice.

His Holiness puts this in perspective in a statement during the Conference with Western Dharma Teachers in 1993:

“I have had many teachers, and I cannot accept seeing all their actions as pure. My two regents, who were among my sixteen teachers, fought one another in a power struggle that even involved the Tibetan army. When I sit on my meditation seat, I feel both were kind to me, and I have profound respect for both of them. Their fights do not matter. But when I had to deal with what was going on in the society, I said to them, “What you’re doing is wrong!” We should not feel a conflict in loyalties by acting in this way. In our practice, we can view the guru’s behavior as that of a mahasiddha, and in dealings with society, follow the general Buddhist approach and say that that behavior is wrong.”

Berzin concludes by pointing out the reason why we practice seeing our Lama as a Buddha and why seeing the flaws that obscure his or her clear light mind (Buddha nature is also important:

“In short, the deepest basis for mentally labeling a tantric master as a Buddha is the master’s clear light mind. The basis for labeling is not the fleeting stains that may or may not be obscuring that mind. Nor is the basis the strength of the manifest qualities of that mind. Thus, the mental labeling of a tantric master as a Buddha based on clear light mind is always valid.

… Seeing that the flaws that appear in our external gurus are dependently arising fleeting stains enables us to see that the flaws that appear in our internal gurus – our clear light minds – are also dependently arising and fleeting. This insight is essential for actualizing the Buddha-qualities of our own clear light minds.

Click here to read the whole chapter. This is only part one of his teaching on this topic; at the end of the page, in the right hand corner, you’ll find a link to part two where Berzin goes even more deeply into seeing the Lama as a Buddha in Tantra.  I highly recommend both chapters.

 

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33 thoughts on “Are Vajrayana Teachers Really Buddhas?

  1. HH 16th Karmapa has said that there are gurus of different levels, they are benefitting beings in different ways.

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  2. In order for the teacher to play his role of magnifying glass, the texts state clearly that the student should have devotion and the teacher be qualified or authentic.

    I was rather shocked by the latest statement of HHDL about Sogyal Rinpoche. By saying that Sogyal Rinpoche doesn’t have the necessary level of practice and that he abused his students, he is implying directly that Sogyal Rinpoche is not a qualified teacher. It must be hard to hear for the students of Sogyal Rinpoche especially if HHDL is one of his gurus (apparently Sogyal Rinpoche has received empowerments from HHDL).

    Sad situation for everybody. Hopefully nothing is permanent and it is up to Sogyal Rinpoche to practice the dharma (regret, purification, following the teachings…).

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    1. Yeah, devotion.

      But to have that you have to give the student an EXACT definition of what EXACTLY that means in this context. And what it does not mean.

      Because the word devotion is tainted by all kinds of meanings from our own Christian culture that have nothing to do with tantric buddhism.

      And I imagine that not even the average Tibetan who went for blessings and ceremonies with high lamas on occasion and didn’t him or herself work with a personal teacher knew much about it beyond the stories about famous historical lamas and their disciples..

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  3. One of my teachers said that we can get too fixated on the teacher being totally pure and enlightened.

    He used a great analogy that if you want to learn to swim, you don’t have to wait for an Olympic champion to come along. There are many peole you can learn from. That helped me to accept the flaws of some teachers, to take on board the teachings that make sense and to simply let go of what isn’t relevant. And there’s no need to give up the whole thing when a teacher’s all to human qualities get the better of him or her.

    I think if a teacher is deceptive and manipulative though, as SL seems to have been, then to try and convince yourself that he is a Buddha is just folly.

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  4. It doesn’t matter if the teacher is enlightented.

    Your plumber needs to be able to fix the plumbing in your house. The vajrayana teacher needs to be able to teach the student everything he needs on the path to is own enlightenment and give the support needed. That’s all. The teacher doesn’t have to be a conventionally particularly nice person. Just like the exterminator you call when you have a cockroach infestation doesn’t need to be a particularly nice person. A working relationship is perfectly sufficient.

    Honestly, sentimentality and glorifying someone for the sake of glorifying the person is a total waste of time on that path.
    This is not Christianity where you get saved by worshipping someone. Clinging to adoration and adulation are emotions that are obstacles to liberation just as the clinging to other emotions.

    The question is, can that teacher do the job and help you fix the samsara infestation of your mind or not.
    Dharma doesn’t work if you don’t have the discipline to stop running after every random emotion popping up in your mind. And that includes useless guru adoration. Because if you get high on your own emotion, and you find that somehow spiritual that’s not buddha dharma, not even in vajrayana. or, especially not there.

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    1. @Solenodon, I agree with you – once a teacher is qualified to perform a role, that is sufficient.

      The problem we’ve encountered here, is an unqualified teacher, meets uninformed students.

      Let me explain that more.

      Here is a description that is the basis of what SR says samaya means:
      http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-masters/lala-sonam-chodrup/brief-guide-to-samaya-commitment

      Please read that fully.

      SR claims that anyone who he has taught while giving an introduction to the Nature of Mind, has a samaya connection with him. Everyone in the Dzogchen mandala, for sure, must maintain that connection.

      Now, consider the implications of that, with the above definition of the samaya commitment.

      Here are some phrases to consider, and tell me if this makes sense to follow, for a teacher who is not enlightened, and how they might be allow the possibility of abuse:

      “Avoid contradicting anything the guru says, even if it is seemingly unrelated to the Dharma.”

      “Whatever the guru says, guard it carefully as if your very life were at stake, and carry it out unfailingly.”

      “Avoid even stepping on the guru’s shadow. Regard all the guru’s physical actions positively.”

      Who could possible maintain that kind of connection responsibly, with thousands of students?

      Also, this description goes against what HHDL himself says, about student-teacher relationships.

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      1. As I understand it, with Dzogchen you only establish samaya if you get an experience of the ultimate nature out of the transmission.

        A failed attempt doesn’t come with samaya because it can not serve as basis of dzogchen meditation practice. You can not get samaya while still not being able to do the practice.

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      2. As for the other points you mention. They certainly leave a lot of room for an imposter or abuser.

        But that doesn’t have anything to do with whether the teacher is a fully enlightened buddha. The teacher doesn’t have to be a fully enlightened buddha to be a responsible and successful vajrayana or dzogchen guru.

        But beyond that taking this advice literal could even cause harm by accident, if the teacher tries do do something that requires worldly knowledge (like driving a car, rescuing wildlife etc) and nobody tries to correct false ideas he has about it.

        In that sense it would also diminish the teacher’s competence if he is in a new city and has to ask for the way. Not omniscient, so no buddha….

        I personally think a dharma teacher needs to know dharma, he or she is in no way diminished in that role by not knowing how to repair a car and I’d be most happy to provide that knowledge if I have it and the dharma teacher needs it. After all, shouldn’t we offer everything we have generously to the teacher? For me, that includes any worldly knowledge the teacher doesn’t have.

        Regard all your guru’s physical actions positively, yes, but only if you have taken the time to examine that teacher BEFORE you establish a commitment. So you already know what the spectrum of behaviours are to expect with that teacher.

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        1. A guru needs more than just knowledge of Dharma. A guru needs HEART and COMPASSION. Without those qualities, he/she is NOT qualified to be a Vajrayana guru. Someone who mistreats people and is cruel to people, especially with bad results, is NOT qualified to be a Vajra master. Bodhichitta and loving compassion are important qualities for ANY worthwhile teacher to have. Also, common decency and a sense of ethics is also important, even for tantric teachers. Tantra is not some free for all where one can do anything they like. There are vows and ethical standards involved….at least there should be.

          I do agree that if you don’t have a Dzogchen transmission that is actually experienced, there can be NO samaya with the teacher because there was no basis for any transmission to occur. Also, he shouldn’t offer transmission when people don’t ask for them, or without warning.

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          1. But you mistake sentimentality with compassion.

            Means, what is good for you may not always be what you find comfortable or what you like. And a person who really loves you may not think that coddling you is good for you.

            You may think that your relationship partner loves you. But just look how that ends in so many cases. That’s emotional attachment, not actual love.

            Bodhicitta means, I want you to attain liberation from samsara, not I want to give you a sentimental relationship experience.

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            1. I’m slightly bemusing how the extensive testimonies have been now reduced to merely “not coddling”.

              How do we distinguish between those who have received many teachings and can transmit them, but have not “accomplished” them, versus those who have accomplished them?

              What are the signs of accomplishment you look for? What guide do you use, to know a genuine teacher, from someone who says the things they think a teacher should say? Or is there a difference?
              Some details are here, that some people try to use as a guide, should clear this up:

              https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2017/09/24/certain-types-of-teachers-we-should-avoid-%E2%80%A8by-patrul-rinpoche-chatral-rinpoche/

              But if that is not sufficient, then consider this.
              Were you in Lerab Ling when that new Australian girl spoke about her “very intimate” encounter?

              A French ex-Rigpa member wrote this about the incident, and said it could be made public:

              A very fresh and beautiful young girl (like 18 or so), I think just arrived from Australia, visibly lost and shocked, took the microphone for a public comment, in substance :
              « I’d like to say that yesterday, Rinpoche asked me to do something really intimate that I didn’t want to do at all…
              Out of faith, I eventually reluctantly accepted and felt very embarrassed… I later understood that Rinpoche’s request was not for his own pleasure but merely a skillful provocative way of testing my devotion…»
              I can still remember the surrealistic silence in the crowded tent after that, and then Sogyal breaking it with a playful, self-indulging and flattering comment about how it was a perfect example of what ‘pure perception’ should look like etc.

              Now, if you have been with Rigpa for many years, that probably seems a-ok.
              But consider carefully who needs to be shaken up from their comfortable relationship.

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              1. Someone who cares for your future is not necessarily someone who love-bombs you.

                That French ex-Rigpa member you cite on an online site is again just the hearsay that I refuse to take as fact.

                In 20 years I have never witnessed an incident like this and I don’t know anyone in Rigpa who has, and I know several long term students who agree with me, that it’s quite likely that he had sexual contacts with totally inappropriate young women.
                This, as you describe it, in a public situation, would be something that had gone around in the sangha as rumour at least because a lot of people in Rigpa are horrible gossips. So, no, I don’t buy. I’d have heard about something that obvious.

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                1. Yes, someone who care for your future is not necessarily someone who love-bombs you. But that’s not what I was asking at all.
                  In that link, is a quote from Chatrul Rinpoche. It’s quite inspiring – please read it, and then please let me know how it applies to Sogyal Rinpoche’s solitary retreat experiences.

                  If I may ask – what about the story I recounted makes you reject it?
                  Leave aside, for a moment, whether or not it is fact that it happened in the Dzogchen retreat in LL in 2007. Treat it as a hypothetical instead.

                  You already admit he had “sexual contacts with totally inappropriate young women”.
                  You already know about the public humiliations. So it’s not those two factors, right?

                  What about this story makes you refuse it?

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                  1. I have been there, but cant remember anything like this. But 3 Lerab Ling people I know personally very well told me of similar cases, but asked not to make it public, which I promised. So, is this hearsay or a little bit more solid stuff ?

                    A handful people with “strange” experiences with Sogyal, but still connected to Rigpa refuse now to speak about their experiences, but I remember very well. Its not just a crusade or witchhunt.

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                  2. “In that link, is a quote from Chatrul Rinpoche. It’s quite inspiring – please read it, and then please let me know how it applies to Sogyal Rinpoche’s solitary retreat experiences.”

                    I know The Words of my Perfect Teacher and I sympathize with what Chatral Rinpoche said.

                    I personally believe that SR has inherited the inclination for these teachings and “knack” for transmitting them from his predecessor (yes, I believe he is a genuine tulku of a master) but due to the circumstances of his growing up never got the training and meditation retreats that he would have additionally needed.

                    I knew from reading his biographical data that he couldn’t have.

                    Which sets him up for problems.

                    He shouldn’t go into retreat now, he should have 40 years ago, when it became clear to him that he wants to teach dharma in the west, investing 10 years of retreat practice back then. But even tulkus can be young and stupid I guess…

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                2. @Solendon Why do you think it’s acceptable for a lama to have unwise relationships with young women, repeatedly?

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              2. By the way, I have nothing to lose in this at all, SR is not my main teacher. I see this rather unemotional.

                I refuse to partake in any witch hunts based on “what people write on the internet and mass media”. If i chose to believe something I base that on arguments I myself can verify.

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                1. You often raise good points, which are the points I try to work with.

                  But you go to far when you say people are not telling the truth, without you knowing otherwise. Or that you know the letter writers were not victims themselves.

                  We can treat the testimonies as hypothetical to an extent, and in that, I think you are still emotionally defending the “role” of actually abusive behavior, where there is no such role, even for a vajra master.

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                  1. I’m not saying they are not telling the truth, I’m saying, I can not verify what in this mass of accusations is true and what is not. Something like that can be true, can be the personal interpretation of something somebody has only seen, or can be total fabrication.

                    Some of the accusations circulating on the internet sound suspiciously like malicious fabrications or dumb projections, some sound genuine, some, I just can’t tell

                    And therefor I refrain from simply believing everything anybody claims to know.

                    What I know that there are people out there with a personal, malicious intention to destroy SR and Rigpa, who partake in the accusations. Which is totally against everything buddhism teaches, even having been hurt or wronged doesn’t excuse this type of behaviour.

                    Since so many people have come and gone in Rigpa over the decades, of course many people are involved and those have totally different backgrounds and also agendas.

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              3. In that post I have not written about SR specifically. I have not even mentioned him, so one can assume that it wasn’t a statement specifically about him but about the functional relationship between a student and spiritual teacher in general.

                People coming to Tibetan buddhism are seeking all kinds of relationships with the lama and some of these motivations are not spiritual.

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              4. So the guru forces himself upon a VERY young woman in order to give her a teaching. Then she addresses the entire Sangha on how skillful the guru is? Did the latter part happen for sure? I find this incident more chilling than the anecdotes about his meanness & hot temper. I’m not doubting the veracity of the description, rather, just hoping that its heresay. If that makes sense.

                I wonder where that young woman is now, and how she feels about it, in hindsight.

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            2. How on earth did you get genuine compassion mixed up with “love bombing” and “coddling?” Did I say a teacher has to “coddle” students? It seems that you can’t distinguish between compassion (without coddling) and abuse.

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              1. A lot of people seeking dharma teachings seem to expect of the teacher that he is in a worldly sense nice to them. They bask in the personal attention of the teacher.

                And while that isn’t a problem I noticed that a lot of people receiving teachings are a lot more after the teacher being nice to them and getting a repeated “fix” of the teacher’s attention than to get some teaching that enables them to curb their samsaric attitude.

                This is an observation that I have made in a Tibetan buddhist group where the main teachers are fully qualified, peaceful and kind.

                A teacher alwas being kind and nice to people just encourages the students to perpetuate certain deluded behaviours.

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      3. @RH This gets right to the core of the problem. The statements you’ve pulled out from this article on samaya from Lotsawa house indicate exactly why Sr got away with his behaviour for so long. These kinds of beliefs, taken literarly, are what turns Rigpa and other Tibetan Buddhist communities into little more than cults of Lama worshipers. These are the ideas that keeps members silent in fear of retribution.

        And since he told everyone who ever received a dzogchen teaching from him (which since he was so generous with such teachings was most everyone who attended a retreat) that they had samaya with him, they believe that they do have samaya with him and so are subject to the fear of breaking it. I suspect that feeling you have samaya and actually having samaya works the same when it comes to shutting people up.

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        1. “And since he told everyone who ever received a dzogchen teaching from him (which since he was so generous with such teachings was most everyone who attended a retreat) that they had samaya with him, they believe that they do have samaya with him”

          No, SR has never claimed such a thing. Haven’t heard that in 20 years hearing him teach.

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  5. Thank you for another really helpful post and for the link to the two chapters by Berzin. It’s a very confusing issue but it’s right to the heart of the problem. I didn’t understand all of the chapters, but I a lot of it helpful, including the section in the second chapter on impure and pure perception and the different meanings of these words in different texts, and this piece on what that means for abusive behaviour:

    “Thus, the practice of seeing that one’s tantric mentor is a Buddha in no way negates the conventional validity of impure appearances. An impure appearance of an abusive spiritual mentor as having inherent flaws is ultimately invalid because inherent existence, independent of anything, is impossible. Nevertheless, the impure appearance may be conventionally valid concerning the fact that the behavior of the abusive teacher is faulty and has caused suffering. All Tibetan traditions accept a valid distinction between accurate and distorted conventional truths. All Tibetan traditions equally reject the so-called Hoshang position that constructive and destructive actions lack any distinction.”

    And on using abusive behaviour as a teaching:

    “Learning a lesson from the faulty behavior of one’s mentor, however, does not mean denying that the behavior was faulty. After confirming the validity of our perception of the behavior, we may correctly conclude that the conventional appearance of it as faulty is accurate. If we find the fault unbearable, we may follow the advice of The Kalachakra Tantra and decide to keep a distance from the teacher. This advice applies, with a general meaning, to all levels of teachers. Nevertheless, a healthy stance would be still to maintain respect for the person’s good qualities and appreciation for his or her kindness. Without such an attitude, we may damage our spiritual progress by fixating on feelings of bitterness, outrage, recrimination, or guilt. On the other hand, with such an attitude, we may still transform negative circumstances into positive ones and gain inspiration from the good qualities that a faulty teacher nevertheless has.”

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  6. Just a suggestion:

    When someone posts a facile comment here, it’s normal to want to respond in a rational way that refutes their argument.

    For instance: they might deny that something ever happened or insist that a statement was never made, on the flimsy basis that they personally didn’t witness it or hear it, and then go on to confidently dismiss it entirely as hearsay, as if this was an entirely reasonable conclusion.
    ,
    Of course for this to be valid, it would require their presence at all times and in all places….making them omnipresent and omniscient, being able to transcend time and space…..a Buddha perhaps?

    Because this is so obviously ridiculous, even to the most fervent Buddhists, it’s tempting to tell them,
    ( politely of course, ) that their comment hasn’t been thought through at all.

    Possibly you might also want to point out that they weren’t actually present during the lives of the lineage holders, and didn’t personally witness their words either, but they still accept the truth of the stories and the teachings that derive from them, rather than dismissing them as hearsay……reserving that description instead for things that threaten their world view, that they’d rather just ignore.

    But this approach may well be futile……and even counterproductive, simply because if someone’s grasp of logic is so poor that their comments regularly display a pronounced lack of it, then they’re not usually receptive to logical counter-argument anyway and often too arrogant and dogmatic to ever admit to being wrong. ( It can go together in some people. )

    Often, if you check back through their previous postings, a pattern of this kind of behaviour will be present. Their real motives for posting may be obscure, but whatever they might be, an honest exchange of rational ideas probably won’t be among them.

    So perhaps it’s better not to engage with them at all, until and unless they post something a little more considered, otherwise the thread gets sidetracked and bogged down and it’s benefit diminished.

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    1. Yes thankyou Michael.
      As an example, this person themself brought up the topic of persistent contrails/geoengineering which I then responded to. They then criticised me for responding saying it wasn’t a topic for discussion here!
      They then went on to imply I was stupid and gullible and shouldn’t be using the internet as a research tool!
      Having spent much time researching in depth the topic and merely asking others who are concerned for their own health and the environment to look into the legitimate subject of weather modification, the response of this person has all the characteristics of a ‘troll’.
      Your advice is pertinent and beneficial so thanks again.

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      1. Can you please spread your conspiracy theories on a website dedicated to the topic?

        This discussion is about Sogyal Rinpoche and samaya in Tibetan buddhism, not chemtrails.

        The world has enough real problems that needs dealing with, we don’t need to fantasize up additional ones.

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