Impoverished Western Practitioners

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Re: Impoverished Western Practitioners

Postby Sara H » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:32 pm

pemachophel wrote:"They can't get the experience because they don't have the retreat experience, and yet they can't go on the retreats because they don't have the money or the cost to do the retreats."

The real hermitage is within our own heart-mind. One can be "in retreat" and yet our mind is busy in samsara. One can be seemingly busy in samsara and yet our mind is merged with the practice/the Guru's wisdom mind 24/7. The outer situation is not the key. It's the inner situation that divides between one being realized or an ordinary sentient being.



" Although the Buddha had great wisdom at birth,
He sat in training for six years; although Bodhidharma
Transmitted the Buddha Mind, we still hear the echoes of his
nine years facing a wall. The Ancestors were very diligent.."

From the Fukan Zazengi -Eihei Dogen

Maybe it's just a Zen thing, but I still believe people need more than just their own understanding of the Heart-Mind. ; )
A great breakthrough is wonderful, but one still has to train. Living a retreat full time is quite different than doing one for a week or weekend.
You are right that we should sit still in every moment as best we can, however we still need training time and experience to help us to learn to do that.

An experience of the Heart-Mind helps oneself, but that does not make one qualified or experienced enough to help others.

I have gone to many retreats and drubchen in America and Asia. In both places, during the breaks, I see most people rushing outside to eat, drink, and gossip, totally forgetting their pure vision. Those practitioners who truly devote their entire lives to the practice of Dharma, regardless of their ethnicity, place, or station in life, will eventually radiate the unmistakable glow of wisdom and compassion, and, sensing that, others will ask them for their help. That is how true Gurus are made, not some official ceremony or bestowal of some title.


Well people do have to eat sometime. "We eat lest we become lean and die". If the people you are training with don't seem to take it seriously though, maybe you should consider training elsewhere. Though, I don't think polite socialization stands against training. We are social human beings after all. But if a more serious tempo is what you are seeking, I would suggest a different training center. There are places where people take it quite seriously, though still with a light heart.
A title isn't supposed to be about ego, it's supposed to be a certification of experience, that guarantee's the listener that the person speaking has at least some idea what they are talking about.

IOW, if we want more Western Lamas, each of us needs to really carry the practice on the daily path of our lives. Money or no money, neither is an obstacle to realization if one wants it bad enough.


Well as I said before "realization" is only a part of it. The ongoing training that comes after realization may even perhaps be more important.
It's not enough just to have an experience of enlightenment. That's just the beginning of spiritual adulthood. One still needs to train and practice.

"Going, going, going on beyond, and always going on beyond, always BECOMING Buddha, Hail, Hail, Hail!"

A teacher or Lama degree or certification is supposed to say that they have enough training experience that their practice is stable, or relatively so. Beyond just having an experience of the Heart-Mind,
And they are versed in the Dharma, and the methods of that linage and can teach it, including knowing which pitfalls to avoid, and how to identify and correct mistakes, and nurture and grow training and practice in their students, and to help them grow into full fruition.
That's why the formal training time is important. It also give's their own teacher time to mentor and instruct them as well, and help get them stable and train and get them ready to teach others.

But maybe I'm just misunderstanding you.

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Impoverished Western Practitioners

Postby Sara H » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:08 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
It seems to my mind, that sometimes Western practice (especially with the Tibetans) is more geared toward mining Westerners of their money to support efforts in other countries, more than it is to support a sustainable practice here.


While there are problems this statement is broad and unfair. I agree Vajrayana is behind in supporting monastics, but in other areas they are ahead of the other traditions. When you look for example at Tibetan-connected publishing outfits like Wisdom and Shambhala, they have done a huge service in terms of making qualified translations and commentaries from all the Buddhist traditions available in English.. If you look at what HH Dalai Lama does for the visibility and respect of Buddhism in the world, you see that all of us Buddhists in the West benefit from his work. I think you should do a little more research on the Tibetans before making sweeping generalizations.

I mean no insult freind,

It's just that as others have pointed out on this thread,

Western dollars and finances are being used to back the support and training of low-income Tibetans, but that same income and financing isn't being allocated to back the support and training of low-income westerners.

I think it's fair to point that out, and that that needs to be addressed.

Otherwise it's pretty clearly biased in favor of the Tibetans.

It could be simply that they don't quite understand that we're not all rich or well-off.

There seems to be a stereotype impression of westerners that people in third world countries sometimes have, that we're all just rich and well-to-do.
Along with a lingering impression that the Dharma is more of a luxury hobby among westerners.

It may not actually have occurred to them that there are actually people over here who are not as well off, and would like to practice the Dharma seriously.

It may be that their priorities are simply to help themselves first, and that establishing the Dharma in the west is something of an afterthought.

While that's understandable, given all they've been through, it does mean that western practitioners may need to stand more firmly, and remind them that our practice is still important. And that no, we are not all as wealthy as some might believe and the needs of western practitioners, as well as low-income practitioners are important, and need to be addressed in a practical way.


In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Impoverished Western Practitioners

Postby Luke » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:10 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:There are these opportunities now, but they are rarely taken up. I think we need more small communities of lay practitioners with communal land, sustainable agriculture and housing. I think this is a more effective model than monastic institutions at this point. I am surprised more have not sprung up. With techniques like earthships, straw bale building, permaculture, etc. we could build dharma communities that are self-reliant and focused on practice rather than the rat race. I think it's just a fact that dharma is more of a hobby for most people than a way of life.

Yeah, such a community of Buddhists could be amazing if it were set up well! :thumbsup: It also might create some useful jobs in this lousy global economy.

A big test of any sangha is how much the long-term members can rely on each other and trust each other. It would be great to have more sanghas in the west which are communities as well as being dharma practice and study groups.

It could be a great feeling to be around people every day whom we trust and who also practice Buddhism.
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Re: Impoverished Western Practitioners

Postby Tsultrim T. » Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:02 am

Just a few thoughts about this post...
It is my experience that in the East people donate to support Dharma practitioners mainly because they are relatives, sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews and not so much because they want to help "the Dharma".

I think it is fairly ignorant to say that Tibetan teachers (or any really) are trying to mine Westerners for money. There may be a very few out there, but for the most part it is usually a group of Westerners at the highest levels within the teacher's organization who organize, promote and charge for events. Often time the lama or teacher may have no idea how much people were charged to come to an event and pay for lodgings etc. I know of an event that took place a few years ago at a very expensive hotel and at the end when the bill came the cost of the event was more than had been collected (even though hundreds of people attended and paid hundreds or thousands of dollars each to be there), the teacher in charge of the event ended up paying the balance of the bill out of his own pocket!

Also I know of at least four large centers/organizations who from the out side appear very well supported by their large Sangha and appear to have more money than they know what to do with. In all four cases however it is actually only one Sangha member who is quite rich and supports the entire organization, paying for land, development, salaries of employees, etc. The other students in the organization contribute very little comparatively. I know of others that have centers in both the West and Taiwan and it is surprising how much the Taiwanese students donate compared to the Westerners and often times the teacher has to move funds collected from the Taiwanese students to pay for large projects or events in the West.

I think it is more ingrained in Asian cultures to donate (a lot) to teachers for their projects etc. with no string attached, just as a way of supporting their teachers' vision, which is something that has not yet caught on in the West. Many Westerners often donate for a specific reason ie for attending teachings or empowerment, building a structure, but rarely are there no strings attached. I have witnessed multiple times Westerners donating money to an organization and then questioning what the teacher spends the money on afterwards! They feel they should get special or preferential treatment because they donated a large (by Western standards) amount of money.

All of these things contribute to many Tibetan teachers losing interest in traveling and teaching in the West. They feel it is not worth their time trying to create a new tradition when the causes and conditions are not present. As others have pointed out many Tibetans are concerned with ensuring the very existence of their centuries old traditions and need lots of capital to do so. Many Rinpoches from large monasteries are responsible for 3 meals a day, the education, and health care (just to name a few things) of thousands of monks and nuns.

If we are honest with ourselves then it is our duty to offer our body, speech and mind to our Guru. I think it all comes down to priorities; are we really spending our money on the right things? Could we live more cheaply in order to attend more Dharma events? Also I don't know of any teachers who encourage their students to be poor. Most say you should try to maximize your income in order to create easier circumstances for practice now and later in life. I have even heard of one lama joke that the first part of ngondro in the West should be the accumulation of wealth since our society is so expensive and it is so hard to practice without enough money! On the Vajrayana path aren't we supposed to transform obstacles into practice and realization? My teacher has encouraged me to practice while I am at work, reciting mantra mentally and sending out the blessings to all the people I interact with. There is no reason why we cannot transform our everyday actions into the path regardless of our relative wealth.
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Re: Impoverished Western Practitioners

Postby vajraheart » Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:18 pm

*yawn* westerners, by and large don't support each other's practice financially. most are satisfied in showing a semblance of a practitioner, to strengthen their own egos and facade. of the westerners that do actually donate, it is the poor ones that are themselves struggling financially. a western "practitioner" that has a good financial situation is more apt to support large projects, or give to someone in the tibetan community, rather than give to dedication westerners, monastic or otherwise. the retreat support foundations are managed by westerners, to get a donation from one of those -institutions- is not possible , unless there is some contact within the institution . in the end, a serious dedicated western practitioner wishing to embark on retreat, or ongoing , long-term practice is going to continue to have a very difficult time. it's a sad situation, but it wil not change until the western population of wanna-be-practitioners develop as a whole. in other words, perhaps in a few generations when the current generation is gone, much like the politicians of india. not much hope right now for the political situation , 100 years down the road....yes , maybe.
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