I'm on the lookout because I recently found out the first center I went to is widely considered a cult, the second I spent more time at is ALSO considered a cult with a whole support forum for ex-members, one I was going to visit next week lists a controversial anti-Muslim teacher that many here on DW advise against... So I'm a bit on edge for charlatans or those whose actions are controversial to the extent that they're easily researched online or on here.
I haven't been able to find any information about the Karma Kagyu center here in Portland, Oregon online other than their website. It doesn't give much info aside from saying Lama Michael Conklin studied with Kalu Rinpoche in the '70s.
Here is the info in question: http://kcc.org/about-kcc/teachers
Thank you very much for any help in this! I had circled back to zen practice for a while because of the local priory, but a strong interest in Chenrezig practice has me looking towards the Tibetan traditions again.
In 2001, Bokar Rinpoche renewed his request that Michael be responsible for offering the annual Mahamudra instruction and retreat.
The page also indicates that they maintain connections and attend events with the lamas of the Bokar Monastery in India, the monastery of the late Bokar Rinpoche. This is also a good sign. But you might want to ask someone with a closer connection to the Shangpa Kagyu lineage for more information.
Thank you also for the Maitripa College reference. Portland simultaneously has lots of Buddhist centers and not many at all. I was disappointed to have to cross four off my list for the reasons I mentioned. I'll look into Maitripa as well.
--Dudjom Rinpoche, "Nectar for the Hearts of Fortunate Disciples. Song No. 8"
Dzogchen Community is also active...
http://www.oregondzogchen.com/oregoncom ... -community
and there's the Zen Community of Oregon, Dharma Rain, Robert Beatty's group... &c.
For all that, KCC is a very good place to practice Dharma, and if I ever get a chance to move home, you'll find me there regularly.
You needn't worry about KCC or Lama Michael Conklin. While discussing the Nyungne retreat I had just done with my teacher we got on the subject of beliefs and views. As a friend of Lama Conklin, my teacher told me about a practice that the Lama does where he generates a certain belief or view and lives with it for a few days, just to see how it affects his perception of experience. To me the ability to adopt the views and beliefs of another person or culture expresses a very open attitude. It also gets rid of any suspicion of KCC being any sort of cult, as a cult usually starts and stops with one persons (the cult leader, or cult leaders teacher) strong beliefs and views of the world.
Not to mention any student that is ordained a Lama by Kalu Rinpoche is at the very least an authentic teacher, and the western ones (Lama Conklin, Ken McLeod) aren't trying to get rich off of the Karma Kagyu teachings. It's usually a good sign that a teacher has completed a traditional three year three month retreat, as it means they've had enough experience dealing with problems in their own practice (in Ken's case almost 8 years of intensive retreat including two 3 year ones) that they can be effective teachers.
K, Kool-Aid's been drunk, now for some non biased advice: I recommend checking out unfetteredmind.org, they have a section on how to find and develop a relationship with a teacher, just look for "teacher" in the index on the right side of the page. Www.naturalawareness.net has a section on picking a teacher too, it's in the "resources section" at the bottom I think.
The main thing to remember when looking for a teacher is that they aren't just teaching you a bunch of techniqued, they're tailoring a practice for you as an individual. Best to find a teacher that seems similar to you, because they've probably faced and overcome some of the challenges that you will face. And also, the teacher-student relationship is a mutually beneficial one, a good teacher doesn't want praise or gifts or any of the 8 worldly concerns, they want to help you find an end to your suffering. In helping you their benefit is expanding and deepening their own practice. K, enough rambling, you all probably know all this already. Since I found this page on the first page of google I thought I'd write this for the benefit of newcomers, who might make the mistake of worshipping a man, and not the teachings. Trust the Dharma, Trust the Buddha and Trust the true Sangha.. Don't put all your faith into an imperfect human being.
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