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My Experience in the New Kadampa Tradition - The Robert You Can Know

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April 1st, 2009

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01:31 pm - My Experience in the New Kadampa Tradition
Someone mentioned an interest, so I think I'll write a bit about my experience within the NKT:

About the Dalai Lama vs. Dorje Shugden and the NKT issue, the NKT members engaging in protests were encouraged by their teachers to do the protesting and shouting with a peaceful mind and a good intention, and thoughts of aggression were not encouraged towards the Dalai Lama. I know this because I myself took part in 3 of the protests.

I had a peaceful mind and I enjoyed the protests, but to be honest, my heart wasn't in protesting. I was happy to see the Dalai Lama when he waved at us from his black van, and I was really inspired by the wave of peace coming from the crowd of Buddhists that passed us who had just left the Dalai Lama's teachings. I felt love for them, and felt like I shouldn't be protesting, it just didn't feel right.

I mainly went for the free trip down to London, and the free sandwiches. I like adventures.. and sandwiches. ;)

Other NKT members, including monks, were quite angry when protesting. I overheard the resident teacher of the centre I was living say, "I'm gonna follow the Dalai Lama around and give him shit!" This was strange to hear, coming from a Buddhist monk, especially a teacher of a Dharma centre.

I was also unimpressed by the brochure we released, which was not much more than childish name-calling to the Dalai Lama, calling him "the safron-robed muslim". I think that's even racist. I don't know if Geshe Kelsang wrote the brochure or not, but it's certain he approved its distrubution. You can download an e-copy of the brochure at westernshugdensociety.org, if anyone is interested.

In my opinion, the whole issue is ridiculous on both sides, but that's because I no longer believe in Dharma Protectors. Does the Dharma need protecting? This is, to use a modern word, bullshit. But the gripe against Tibetan Buddhism will have to wait for a later post (maybe tomorrow).

Getting back to the NKT, I would advise anyone reading this to stay well away from it. If you don't and they get you inside, you will find yourself locked in beliefs and fear. You will be overloaded with practices and commitments prematurely, and then you will be afraid not to do them for fear of hell. Once you're deeply submerged in the NKT, it is very difficult to get out again, because in a way you get brainwashed.

Even if you're getting little peace from your practice, you will find it extremely difficult to change traditions, because you will believe you will go to hell.

It was a miracle that I made it out, but I went through hell doing it. I had to unbrainwash myself. Luckily I had the support of a Theravada practicioner living near me, and the refreshing teachings of Ajahn Brahm.

I did learn a valuable lesson from it all, which was not to believe anything that didn't depend upon experience, otherwise you get trapped in fear. And I learned to be self-reliant, not reliant on some Guru without thinking for myself.

Some people say our human minds are very limited, so we have to rely upon a higher being's mind like our Guru or the Buddha, but this is pure bullshit in my experience. The human consciousness shouldn't be underestimated. But, if they mean the thinking mind, then I agree, but generally they don't mean that, or they don't make the distinction between the thinking mind and the consciousness.

What is more reliable? Your own awareness, or the hearsay from another's mouth? Granted, listening to others, especially Dhamma teachers, is important, but at the end of the day it's our own investigation that leads us to true understanding. No one can do that for us.

My thought is, as soon as we think, "I'm a Buddhist", at that point we've lost it. The Buddha was not a Buddhist. He wasn't anything. He started as a Hindu, and he trained as close to enlightenment as he could following their path. He gained deep, profound concentration, but then he realized he still wasn't enlightened, suffering wasn't completely gone. At that point, he had to leave and investigate for himself.

It was only by way of thorough investigation into his mind that the Buddha cut the root of suffering. He is the best example of self-reliance. Though I'm not saying we should break away completely from Buddhism, because we're probably not as hard as the Buddha, I don't know. So maybe we need to hear the wise words of those who have done it, but these wise words are just a finger pointing the way, they are not the Way itself.

We should listen to the advice of others from the place of self-reliance. We are doing it ourselves, but we're also collecting these helpful hints, applying them if they seem useful to our aim.

And our aim is bigger than Buddhism and the Buddha. Religion is not the point. The point is we are here, right now, in this existance. We long for the truth, for the true Dhamma, the true knowledge and understanding. That's why we grasp at beliefs, because we want so strongly to KNOW, but beliefs are just a quick fix, an artificial knowing.

The real path is a path of knowing, of understanding, overcoming ignorance, seeing clearly what's going on. That's what "Dhamma" means - "the way things are". The real path is not trying to do something, or attain something special, but simply to understand what's going on, to learn from life and reality. Everyone is on this path, not just Buddhists, because life and reality teach us whether we want it to or not. Our experiences teach us.

This is the meaning of life, to learn. It's a learning experience. As Alanis Morisette sings, "you live, you learn.. you win, you learn.. you lose, you learn.. you die, you learn."
We're all learning, no matter what happens, it can't be stopped. This is the enlightenment process, and this is why many people say that eventually everyone will become enlightened, because it's unstoppable.

I've written now much more than I thought I would, but this is coming straight from my heart, not my thoughts, so I hope it is beneficial to any who read this.

Thanks for reading.

(9 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 1st, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
I am SO GLAD that I have found you and you have decided to post again! Voices of simple calm and reason are so rare in this age. It seems we are surrounded, berated by dogma, ignorance, apathy and fear. I am very grateful that you were able to un-brainwash yourself. Having done it that once, you may find that it's much easier to avoid getting brainwashed in the future. Thanks for posting. You have a friend in Portland, if you come here before I leave.
[User Picture]
Date:April 2nd, 2009 08:58 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoy my writings. :)
[User Picture]
Date:April 1st, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your story. It sounds like you've had a tough time, the past couple of years. I'm glad you found your way out relatively easily, and didn't turn away from the Dharma as a result of this exploitation.

I agree that the whole thing is ridiculous. Tibetan Buddhism is like the Catholicism of the Buddhist world. Because its leaders also had substantial temporal power, highly materialistic interpretations evolved which cemented that power. This happened with all Buddhist organizations to one degree or another (even Theravada), but Tibetan Buddhism definitely seems to have the worst of it. However, when stripped of the cosmological dogma and authoritarianism, the practices of Tibetan Buddhism can have great utility, and some of them don't seem to have direct cognates in the other schools. It sounds like you've already found a way which works for you, but in case you're interested this series of talks shows how that kind of modernization can work for the protector framework. This article gives a briefer overview. (Full disclosure: I'm highly biased, because I regard the author of those links as my teacher.)
[User Picture]
Date:April 2nd, 2009 09:00 am (UTC)
That's a good website, I think I'll check some of those audio teachings out. I have a lot of respect for the old traditions in Tibetan, such as the Kagyu. They teach meditation very well in my opinion.

[User Picture]
Date:April 4th, 2009 10:39 am (UTC)
Thank you for the post.

It reminds us how we begin to lose sight of the "truth" when we struggle and try to define and make absolute sense out of something which is ethereal. The more we are losing the point.

I can't comment on the NKT issue, but I tend to find similar trends occurring around us.

Thank you for the reminder to keep ones mindfulness I shall ad this to memories. :)
Date:April 5th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)

Where are the ugly and the beauty???

Hi Robert,

if you are unhappy with "something" - e.g. with the nkt - so of course you will see bad things in this "something".

I am a NKT-practitioner and never unhappy with the NKT. In your eyes, the NKT is an "ugly brainwash-monster". For me, the NKT is a wonderful source of inspiration for a happy life...

The ugly and the beauty is not inside the NKT - its only in your mind.

Relax and enjoy :-)
[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2009 10:44 am (UTC)

Re: Where are the ugly and the beauty???

I don't see the NKT as an ugly monster. I'm just sharing my experiences here, as this is my journal. I did try to be as objective as possible, and I did mention that the NKT practicioners were encouraged to keep peaceful minds while protesting.

It is true that we view things differently depending upon our mental state, but something is not good just because we view it as good. I could view killing children in a vicious rage as good, but that doesn't mean it is.

The problems in the NKT can be viewed as good or bad, but regardless of how we view them, suffering is still caused - suffering that I have seen first hand in myself and other NKT practicioners.

I hope reading this didn't disturb you, but be warned that this journal will be very frank, so in the future, read at your own caution.

Date:August 5th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)
I admire your bravery to challenge so many learned thinkers to defend their beliefs.

Just so you know.

I am often critical of your entries, but just because I disagree sometimes does not mean I do not also learn from your approach. I appreciate your frank and honest words.

[User Picture]
Date:August 5th, 2009 11:56 am (UTC)
Thanks for saying. And I always expect a lot of criticism when I post, since I tend to challenge the validity of Buddhism in a Buddhist community, lol.

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