Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

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Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby Steveyboy » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:24 am

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Recently, I read this brilliant book about the spiritual relationship that one builds with one's Guru and it is a frank guide that tells you all the pitfalls and how to navigate all the natural 'landmines' of engaging in a spiritual relationship with a teacher while taking into consideration the modern setting of a Dharma center, the Guru and the spiritual people we journey on the spiritual path with.

Here's what an online summary of the book:-

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The first book of its kind, Gurus for Hire, Enlightenment for Sale provides an insiders guide to the precarious, often tricky Guru-disciple relationship. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche explains with great clarity the meaning of spiritual practice in the context of our contemporary lives and how we can apply it in our everyday lives.

Gurus for Hire, Enlightenment for Sale also dares to reveal and debunk the many myths that surround spiritual practice, Gurus, Dharma centres and all the political games that are played behind closed temple doors. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche reveals the ups, downs, benefits and troubles of Dharma centres all around the world and shows us how, after all, it is one of the most liberating places well ever know. This 2009 Revised Edition also contains additional new material from Rinpoches other teachings.

(taken from http://vajrasecrets.com/gurus-for-hire-enlightenment-for-sale-1.html )

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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:02 am

I hope that there are passages of the book that we can discuss available somewhere on the web. While the premise of the books is interesting what you posted does not give us a real feeling for Tsem Rinpoche's ideas about the controversies you mentioned. You just posted a photo of the cover with a very brief promotional blurb. For there to be a beneficial discussion of the book we would need to actually see TR's opinions on the matter, rather than the promo on the website.
Perhaps people that have the book could post a few passages to stimulate a discussion, and give us a better idea as to why TR's insights on these topics are important and relevant to us as practitioners.
You can see in the Dzogchen Community thread that there is quite a lively discussion of the (open aspects) of the teachings in ChNN's works and lots of question and answer going back and forth between people new to his teachings and the more experienced students. This is a lot more satisfying and beneficial for all.
But it is just my opinion. Discussion on the board has been dry of late and some juicy topics from the book might help stimulate things, rather than brief promotional paragraphs.
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby Steveyboy » Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:39 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I hope that there are passages of the book that we can discuss available somewhere on the web. While the premise of the books is interesting what you posted does not give us a real feeling for Tsem Rinpoche's ideas about the controversies you mentioned. You just posted a photo of the cover with a very brief promotional blurb. For there to be a beneficial discussion of the book we would need to actually see TR's opinions on the matter, rather than the promo on the website.
Perhaps people that have the book could post a few passages to stimulate a discussion, and give us a better idea as to why TR's insights on these topics are important and relevant to us as practitioners.
You can see in the Dzogchen Community thread that there is quite a lively discussion of the (open aspects) of the teachings in ChNN's works and lots of question and answer going back and forth between people new to his teachings and the more experienced students. This is a lot more satisfying and beneficial for all.
But it is just my opinion. Discussion on the board has been dry of late and some juicy topics from the book might help stimulate things, rather than brief promotional paragraphs.


Thank you. I have the book and here's one very interesting topic on Guru Bashing. I typed out the first three paragraphs of that chapter and it does look very interesting already:-

The Phenomenon of Guru Bashing

In the past, Dharma was not really taught to laypeople. It was always Sangha teaching the Sangha. Now there is a phenomenon in Dharma centres where Dharma is being taught to laypeople that just walk in to the centre looking for spiritual happiness and peace.

However, these people listen to all kinds of words and politics, and they start criticising and bashing other Gurus, monks and traditions. Nowadays, there are ordinary laypeople running around criticising other lineages. There are housewives, businessmen and salesgirls who join a Dharma centre, hear some rumours and run around on a rampage criticising high Gurus, reincarnated Gurus, Tulkus and Geshes. But they have not held their vows for even one day and they will not even consider taking ordination vows. They have zero compassion, their refuge vows are in tatters, they do not know what the cause and effect theory is, they have no knowledge or fear of karma and its effects.

These are laypeople that have been running around chasing money, fun, entertainment, position and titles their whole lives. They come into Dharma for one or two years and all of a sudden, they think they are higher than every Guru in Tibet!
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby Indrajala » Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:48 pm

Steveyboy wrote:These are laypeople that have been running around chasing money, fun, entertainment, position and titles their whole lives. They come into Dharma for one or two years and all of a sudden, they think they are higher than every Guru in Tibet!


Is this more common with men than women, I wonder?
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:39 pm

It is an interesting passage. I wonder what the differences might be between Tsem Rinpoche's audience in the Chinese diaspora of SE Asia, and the audiences at the centres in the West. My first question would be, are most of the students of Tsem Rinpoche coming from families that are Buddhist in name?
If this is the case, then it seems likely that peoples affiliations with teachers with important names and titles may help them to improve their reputation in their social circles and society.
In the West it is a bit different. Because the culture is not at all Buddhist and most people do not know that much about Buddhism, if you tell your co-workers that you had Lama XXYY over for dinner they might not necessarily be impressed.
What I do see though is the competition for the lama's attention which can lead to very interesting politics. (As a translator you can often find yourself in the middle of things, a real challenge to one's skilfullness). When a person does not get perhaps the care they expect from the lama, they often go around to other centres shopping.

ON THE FLIP SIDE
Old students and the inner circles of a particular lama are not always welcoming to newcomers. They can be quite unfriendly and downright cold. Correcting people in a very uncaring manner for not knowing Tibetan customs they would have never come across before.
As my mother mentioned to me after a visit to a teaching at a centre "I would become a Buddhist, dear, if the people were nicer. To be honest some of them are more uptight than the church women I grew up around as a girl".
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby Indrajala » Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:07 pm

JKhedrup wrote:ON THE FLIP SIDE
Old students and the inner circles of a particular lama are not always welcoming to newcomers. They can be quite unfriendly and downright cold. Correcting people in a very uncaring manner for not knowing Tibetan customs they would have never come across before.
As my mother mentioned to me after a visit to a teaching at a centre "I would become a Buddhist, dear, if the people were nicer. To be honest some of them are more uptight than the church women I grew up around as a girl".


I've had similar experiences.

I even got a phone call once at home about apparently violating unspoken rules in the center. I was told in no uncertain terms I was being disrespectful.

I think in the context of guru devotion, many disciples will feel threatened if newcomers approach the teacher and stand to potentially take away some of his/her time and energy. The teacher only has so much time in a day to spend with people, so the more students the less time to go around.

It is an interesting psychology, but to many people it is a complete turn-off.
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby Astus » Fri Sep 28, 2012 5:18 pm

The monastic rules contain many precepts that are about according with worldly conventions in order to avoid blame from laypeople. That's because ultimately the community of monks are supported by those who have jobs, like the mentioned businessmen and salesgirls. So I'm not sure if the blame should be put on ordinary people, although it is a possible strategy to deny guilt.
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:00 pm

Astus wrote:The monastic rules contain many precepts that are about according with worldly conventions in order to avoid blame from laypeople. That's because ultimately the community of monks are supported by those who have jobs...

Blunt, but so true!
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:16 pm

You make a good point. But we should note that there are not so many monastics in the West who are supported by the lay community.
Certainly, if one is a lama or Geshe, or perhaps a very senior Western practitioner with years of study and practice and a delivery interesting enough that people will attend their classes, one received support. But for the vast majority of Western monastics in Tibetan Buddhism they often work outside to support themselves or do the equivalent of full time work in administration for example as centre director or programme co-ordinator, or as a translator or fundraiser.
I think your point still stands, especially for monastics with the merit necessary to be supported by laypeople. But I don't think it is accurate if people have the impression that there are all these monks and nuns supported by Westerners- it is a rarity. The first question I am forced to ask when people send me PMs about ordination in the Tibetan tradition is, how are you going to support yourself?,
Even in the traditions with good support of monks and nuns, the sangha works very hard for the community. In Viet Namese temples for example there are programs for the kids, daily repentances, visiting the families of the deceased, language lessons on top of the unexpected roles of social worker, conflict mediator, cook, babysitter and other unexpected roles that come upon us.
I read an article in a Canadian newspaper a few years ago about people who work the most hours. Right near the top of the list along with anesthesiologist (sp?), chef and other high demand jobs was Christian pastor/reverend/priest. They were at the end of the list in terms of pay and benefits. I am not saying these things should be expected at all, but I bristle a bit when some assume monks and nuns live "the good life" of luxury. It can actually be pretty demanding.
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby Malcolm » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:22 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
ON THE FLIP SIDE
Old students and the inner circles of a particular lama are not always welcoming to newcomers. They can be quite unfriendly and downright cold. Correcting people in a very uncaring manner for not knowing Tibetan customs they would have never come across before.
As my mother mentioned to me after a visit to a teaching at a centre "I would become a Buddhist, dear, if the people were nicer. To be honest some of them are more uptight than the church women I grew up around as a girl".


This is a problem with religion in general. It fosters this stupid us vs. them mentality and reinforces tribalism. This is among the many reasons why I eschew the label "Buddhist". I have no interest in religion, per se. Religion, such as it is, is pretty evil.
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby Indrajala » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:23 pm

JKhedrup wrote:The first question I am forced to ask when people send me PMs about ordination in the Tibetan tradition is, how are you going to support yourself?


Rice and dal, and not much else?
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:25 pm

That's if you can get the visas to stay in India, or the airfare to go back and forth ;). Plus to really function well sooner rather than later Tibetan lessons are a good idea.

And don't forget the tea....
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:31 pm

Malcolm,
Although I don't want to agree with you, in one sense I feel it would be dishonest completely discount your remarks. In many cases the labels we pick up, including religious ones, are done to feel a part of something/belong, or to feel important, or to show that we are more evolved/enlightened than others.
On the same hand, if one chooses Buddhism for the purpose of trying to transform one's mind and interactions with others, this is a very worthy thing.

I have several friends who for the reasons you mentioned do not tell anyone that they are Buddhist- people who have been practicing for 15+ years. The reason is that they feel their spiritual practice is a personal matter and there is no benefit from telling everyone they are a Buddhist unless they can embody the teachings. An interesting take.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby heart » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:33 pm

Malcolm wrote:
JKhedrup wrote:
ON THE FLIP SIDE
Old students and the inner circles of a particular lama are not always welcoming to newcomers. They can be quite unfriendly and downright cold. Correcting people in a very uncaring manner for not knowing Tibetan customs they would have never come across before.
As my mother mentioned to me after a visit to a teaching at a centre "I would become a Buddhist, dear, if the people were nicer. To be honest some of them are more uptight than the church women I grew up around as a girl".


This is a problem with religion in general. It fosters this stupid us vs. them mentality and reinforces tribalism. This is among the many reasons why I eschew the label "Buddhist". I have no interest in religion, per se. Religion, such as it is, is pretty evil.


I have seen plenty of us vs. them mentality outside of religion, so much indeed that I don't think it has anything in particular to do with religion.

/magnus
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby MalaBeads » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:43 pm

Having grown up Catholic, I learned a phrase, that interested me. It was: "in it, but not of it".

This phrase was attributed to Jesus Christ and was supposedly his description of how to be "in" the world but not "of" the world.

However, I think it applies equally well to religion.

Most people who are "in" a religion are also "of" it.

I find the phrase "not to close, not too far" to be quite similiar.

Those who follow a religion "too closely" are as likely to miss the point as those who follow from "too far" away.

And of course, there's the dualism of good and evil, us and them, this and that and so on. All extremes in their own sphere.

So how to be "in" something but not "of" it? Whether it be a religion, a country, an organization, a body.

I have been contemplating this "in but not of" for decades now. It's an interesting flow.
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby Tarpa » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:53 pm

Seems to be dharma center specific in my experience, the first 3 centers I attended were like this, all smaller centers and not very active, but I found 2 that weren't like this at all, luckily Garchen center isn't like this but I think maybe the fact that it's so far out in the middle of nowhere and so many people just travel from afar for empowerments and leave, the local sangha is pretty small because of the location, I've met some of them however and they were all very nice, but I'm sure they are used to so many people passing through and showing up for so many empowerments and teachings, maybe that helps.

It's a bummer encountering dharma center attitudes, I think it's just a social clique thing, add religion to the mix and u have super cliques, cosmic snobs, but there's no need to be a dharma center groupie so it's not relevant to ones practice, it can be a huge bummer if one was looking forward to meeting dharma friends and feeling comfortable in a community, it can be quite a put off, very dissapointing. But there's always going to be these sorts in any crowd, whatever it may be about, human nature ( to some ).
Last edited by Tarpa on Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
The nonexistence of the transcendence of suffering
is what the protector of the world has taught as the transcendence
of suffering.
Knots tied on space
are untied by space itself.

May I never be seperated from perfect masters in all lives,
and delightfully experiencing the magnificent dharma,
completing all qualities of the stages of the paths
may I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby MalaBeads » Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:18 pm

Tarpa,

When you use the initials D.C. I'm assuming you are referring to the generic dharma center and not to Dzogchen Community.

Or are you?
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby Tarpa » Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:21 pm

Yes, dharma centers, I've edited the post to avoid misunderstanding.
The nonexistence of the transcendence of suffering
is what the protector of the world has taught as the transcendence
of suffering.
Knots tied on space
are untied by space itself.

May I never be seperated from perfect masters in all lives,
and delightfully experiencing the magnificent dharma,
completing all qualities of the stages of the paths
may I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby MalaBeads » Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:20 pm

Tarpa wrote:Yes, dharma centers, I've edited the post to avoid misunderstanding.


:anjali:
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Re: Gurus For Hire Enlightenment For Sale

Postby Steveyboy » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:09 pm

JKhedrup wrote:It is an interesting passage. I wonder what the differences might be between Tsem Rinpoche's audience in the Chinese diaspora of SE Asia, and the audiences at the centres in the West. My first question would be, are most of the students of Tsem Rinpoche coming from families that are Buddhist in name?
If this is the case, then it seems likely that peoples affiliations with teachers with important names and titles may help them to improve their reputation in their social circles and society.
In the West it is a bit different. Because the culture is not at all Buddhist and most people do not know that much about Buddhism, if you tell your co-workers that you had Lama XXYY over for dinner they might not necessarily be impressed.
What I do see though is the competition for the lama's attention which can lead to very interesting politics. (As a translator you can often find yourself in the middle of things, a real challenge to one's skilfullness). When a person does not get perhaps the care they expect from the lama, they often go around to other centres shopping.

ON THE FLIP SIDE
Old students and the inner circles of a particular lama are not always welcoming to newcomers. They can be quite unfriendly and downright cold. Correcting people in a very uncaring manner for not knowing Tibetan customs they would have never come across before.
As my mother mentioned to me after a visit to a teaching at a centre "I would become a Buddhist, dear, if the people were nicer. To be honest some of them are more uptight than the church women I grew up around as a girl".


That's a very good observation and question. Tsem Rinpoche is based in Malaysia, a moderate Islamic country with a sizable Chinese and Indian population. Ethnic Chinese are majority Buddhist for generations and also descendants of merchants and peasants from Southern China. Hence, Buddhism is a religion of simple beliefs and on the other hand, Malaysia was a former British colony so English is one of the more widely spoken and written language till this day. Therefore, you have western educated Chinese and who nominally Buddhist and so they know very little of Buddhism.

Hence, you have all sorts of characters in the Chinese temples and Tibetan Dharma centers. I have no experience of Dharma centers in the West as I am from Malaysia myself but from what I heard of comments from Rinpoche, Western students do not have much of a concept of donating to the Dharma but are very learned and hungry for Dharma teachings while in the East, it is easier to raise funds for the Dharma but are not as hungry for the teachings and especially amongst modern Chinese - there is a reluctance towards monastic ordination as there's a prevalent view that ordination is something that one does when one retires or when one has failed in life (career/business). Hence, you will see very few Chinese monks and nuns especially of the Tibetan tradition but the Chinese are very kind generous sponsors of monks and the monastery. I believe these the general overview and there would be exceptions to this of course.
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