“Moral concepts practiced without understanding can be the greatest of obstacles to fulfilling the Bodhisattva’s vow of uncompromising compassion.
Do not cultivate virtue and renounce vice. Rather, learn to accept all things as they arise. Penetrate the essence of each experience until you have achieved the one taste.”
— Mahasiddha Ghantapa
The world we live in is getting smaller and people’s actions have tremendous impact.
In the era in which we live people cannot get away with clinging to their beliefs.
I don’t have any personal attachment or clinging to being a Buddhist.
We need to step outside the boundaries of Buddhism and really go out
and share the benefits of our Buddhist practice with the rest of the world.
– The 17th Karmapa
“The Sanskrit word Karmamudra is a technical term utilized in Tibetan Buddhism, specifically in Tantra.
The term can be translated as “action seal” or “desire seal.” is a Vajrayana Buddhist technique of sexual practice with a physical or visualized consort. It refers to a secret level of Tantra in which specially prepared initiates – one male, one female – join sexually in order to harness the power of sex for spiritual development.
Through the “activity” of sexual energy, the initiate can “seal” their consciousness in the clear light (bodhichitta). Karmamudra refers both to this type of practice and sometimes to the woman who practices it.
Karmamudra practice is known in all major Tibetan schools, especially in the Kalachakra Tantra. The prerequisites for this teaching include initiation into the tradition, proven comprehension of the Sutrayana and Mahayana teachings, and the ability to restrain the sexual energy. That is, emission of the sexual energy (orgasm) is not allowed.
By relying upon a Karmamudra as the external condition, the yogi on the high levels of the completion stage practices is led to great bliss…
…here one relies upon one of the four types of mudra, such as the lotus like mudra who possesses all characteristics, has been matured by tantric initiation, and has a high degree of spiritual liberation. Such a consort is known as a mudra, or a Wisdom Lady. For this practice one must understand the oral teachings well and have complete control of the two principal vital energies.
One enters into sexual union with the mudra, which gives rise to the special innate bliss. This causes the vital energies to dissolve just as at the time of death, inducing the clear light of mind to arise with great strength.
This is to be performed not only at the time of controlling the life energies, but also at the time of the three higher activities.
However, this practice is extremely secret and it is not appropriate to say more here. There I will not go into greater detail.”
– Excerpted from “Treatise on the Six Yogas of Niguma” by the Second Dalai Lama.
“Just as bubbles arise and dissolve in the water of the limpid sea,
Just so, conceptual thinking is nothing other than dharma nature.
Don’t see it as a problem — relax.
Whatever arises, whatever is born,
that itself is free by itself without fixation to it.
Aside from mind, there is no other phenomena.
Mind is free of the elaborations of birth and death.
For instance, one who goes to the golden isle cannot find dirt and stone even when sought.
In the equality of the great realm of phenomena,
there is no rejecting or accepting, no equipoise or subsequent attainment.
One’s mind without distraction is dharmakāya.
Non-distraction is the vital point of mediation.
If the tree is cut from the root, the branches will not grow.
Realise the great freedom from limitations.
Rest within the uncontrived natural state.”
From the book:
Niguma, Lady of Illusion, Svayaṁmukti-mahāmudrā
Donating precious energy to others is what is overlooked way too often, especially on the so-called spiritual path, in my opinion.
Instead of looking deeply within and finding what is most alive in there (whatever that is), most human beings look outside…
…and a priori and without ever bothering to really examine what they say and do, follow some gurus, lamas, teachers, instructors.
And although the greatest spiritual masters in human history (Buddha, Krishna, Mohamed, Krishnamurti, Therion, Namkhai Norbu, Goraknath Mahasiddha, to quote a few, see below) have all said not to do that, a lot of human beings still meekly bow down to some authority.
Well, in my opinion, that’s just a phase in the process of growing up, nothing more. A little child does that, a real grown-up person doesn’t need to, does she/he.
Trying to fill in the bigger shoes is still growing up:
Buddha on personal responsibility
The famous Buddha quote “don’t follow me, don’t believe me blindly, etc…” that is floating around all over the internet is, of course, fake, and can be found in none of the available Buddhist Sutras.
This one, however, is not fake:
“Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’
When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.”
Loosely paraphrasing the Kalama Sutra:
“Do not believe in anything (simply) because you have heard it; Do not believe in traditions, because they been handed down for many generations; Do not believe in anything, because it is spoken and rumored by many; Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books;
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
And to drive my point right in:
“You yourselves must strive; the Buddhas only point the way.”
There is no need to give to others (not even to gurus, lamas, teachers) that, which can not be given: responsibility and personal intimate effort.
And other great teachers and sacred texts also say as much:
Krishna on personal responsibility
In essence, the Gita recognizes individual liberty and leaves the ultimate choice in the hands of the seeker. Liberal and without prejudice, the Bhagavad Gita is Lord Krishna’s gift to humankind, to help us deal with the turbulence of life in as rational a manner as is humanly possible.
Sri Krishna, considered by millions and millions of Vaishnavas to be the one Supreme Personality of Godhead, goes all out and shares his wisdom about many many important things (the text we know now as Bhagavad Gita) and in the end, he says to Arjuna: do as you wish:
Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge.
Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.
There is no need to suppress personal nature:
Even a man of wisdom behaves according to his own nature.
Beings follow (their) nature. What can restraint do?
One’s own duty, though defective, is superior to another’s duty well-performed.
Death is better while engaged in one’s own duty; another’s duty is fraught with fear.
Clearly, Sri Krishna says here that it is better to follow your own path even if it leads to death than follow the path of others.
Quran on personal responsibility
“You began to say: Whence is this? Say: It is from yourselves.” [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 165]
Allah also tells us:
“Truly, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves.” [Sûrah al-Anfâl: 53]
No one can do that (change what is within) apart from ourselves, not even Allah/God (if you believe in God), so why seek on the outside?
Jiddu Krishnamurti on personal responsibility
“Responsibility has quite a different meaning when there is freedom. Responsibility does not deny freedom, they go together. When there is the deep fundamental reality of freedom, responsibility is concerned with the whole of life and not with one fragment of life; it is concerned with the whole movement and not with some particular movement; it is concerned with the whole activity of the mind and the heart and not with one particular activity or direction.
Freedom is the total harmony in which responsibility is as natural as the flower in the field. That response is not induced or imposed; it is the natural outcome of freedom. Without responsibility, there is no freedom. To respond to every challenge out of freedom is responsibility. It is an inadequate response that is irresponsible. The mind that is dependent on attachment becomes irresponsible to the whole.”
(Book: The Whole Movement of Life Is Learning, CH. 66, Without responsibility, there is no freedom.)
To drive his point right in, here is a jackpot:
Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
Being the first Dzogchen master that openly taught in the West the highly secret and precious teachings of Great Perfection, Namkhai Norbu’s approach was open, real, down-to-earth, and non-dogmatic.
On many occasions, He stressed the importance of an individual over traditions and societies.
He obviously understood the need for individual development (a daring statement for a Tibetan, in my honest opinion):
“The truth is that a better society will only arise through the evolution of the individual. This is because society is made up of millions of individuals.
To count to a million, one has to start with number one, which means one has to start with the individual, the only real place one can actually begin to change something.
This doesn’t mean putting oneself first in an egotistical way, but rather it involves our coming to understand the condition of the whole of humanity through understanding our own experience.
With this experience as our guide, we will know how to behave with awareness in any circumstance in every type of society.”
Thelema, the system of spiritual practices brought forth by Master Therion, is very articulate about the individuality and personal and transpersonal liberty.
He uttered many important things, this being appropriate for the subject under discussion:
“It is necessary that we stop, once for all, this ignorant meddling with other people’s business. Each individual must be left free to follow his own path.”
Mahavatar Babaji on personal responsibility
“I am against non-violence that makes a human being a coward. Fight for Truth! To face life, you must have great courage every day!
Everyone must be courageous, facing the difficulties of life with bravery! Cowardly people are like dead people!
I want a world of brave and courageous people.
Indeed, those who work hard and are agnostics are more acceptable, for a time, than lazy spiritual hypocrites.
Through hard work, you can do what even God cannot! Through hard work, you can change the Nature itself!”
As challenging as these words might sound, the immortal Goraknath here hits the nail straight on, doesn’t He. It is so easy to be “spiritual” and “non-violent” when in truth we are only being silly, passive, childish, and irresponsible and waiting for something to change or happen while nothing ever does. It cannot unless we instigate things.
And we can do it! It is as simple as that; we are all perfectly capable of finding out the Truth for ourselves, no need to blindly follow others.
Still growing up
To donate life and awareness energy to others means to not follow our own Heart. It also means that no real responsibility is being assumed which in turn means that no real progress can be made (because inner personal content of awareness is being ignored or/and suppressed).
In (my) reality, there is no need to do that whatsoever. Personal is not in conflict with the transpersonal. Mahamudra is not some trance devoid of the aliveness of everyday life. Mahamudra is what it is, both personal and transpersonal, and beyond them both.
– Whom do you donate your life and awareness energy to?
– And while you are doing that, who is taking care of YOUR inner needs and YOUR inner tendencies?
Jiddu Krishnamurti, my favorite author when it comes to the non-dual states of awareness and everything else, for that matter.
He is direct, honest, unfettered by any tradition, and in my opinion, a fresh breeze in a world full of dogmatic and traditional hangups that are most difficult to awaken from for many “spiritual masters”.
Jiddu Krishnamurti on the Truth:
“I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally.
Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path.
If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others.
This is what everyone throughout the world is attempting to do. Truth is narrowed down and made a plaything for those who are weak, for those who are only momentarily discontented.
Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley. If you would attain to the mountain-top you must pass through the valley, climb the steeps, unafraid of the dangerous precipices.”
—Jiddu Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti: 100 Years
“If you think you are a Buddhist, a Bodhisattva, a Tantrika,
an idiot, mere mortal human being or
you are not a Buddha yet.”
This is a rather difficult subject as (from a relative point of view) there are so many cultural hangups, fanaticism and blind faith in ancient tradition, lack of true spiritual insights, lack of grounded realizations and mutual respect out there, and since I am involved in teaching Vajrayana by choice (meaning, appointed by no religious establishment), I will take this opportunity to express a few notions, ever so gently.
Some thoughts expressed below might be perceived as sacrilegious especially if you follow some orthodox religion or tradition.
I mean no disrespect; and truth, sincerity, and freedom are very important to me.
These words are not meant as a validation of any existing tradition or teacher. Needless to say, all of this is just my current subjective perception conditioned by what I call common sense (which, in my case, applies only to me).
Whom to follow and why?
Let us perform a thought experiment:
you have a spiritual teacher, who is widely recognized and was appointed as, the living incarnation of some famous teacher from the past. He gives you empowerments, instructions, and spiritual guidance.
Then, one day, just out of the blue, he hits you hard with his fist.
What do you do?
And after some time, he invites you to his private chambers and asks you to give him oral sex.
Do you decline or go down to your knees?
Whom do you follow, the great spiritual teacher or that little voice in your head that whispers to you that none of this is simply OK?
Do you respect yourself enough to say NO?
Or, do you deny your freedom of choice and just bend over?
Reality of abuse
As strange as it might sound, similar scenarios do happen, and not just in the imagination of a thought experiment.
People really are physically and sexually abused, all in the name of spiritual advancement.
This article speaks openly about such abuses:
<longer pause for your reading of the article>
Have you read the article entirely?
How do you feel?
More info on the subject of abuse in spiritual communities (new pages open up):
– Can a cult stop being a cult? >>
– The Belief at the Root of Abuse in Tibetan Buddhism >>
– Tibetan Buddhist Tulku Privilege – a Cultural Clash >>
– Who is it that’s Damaging Tibetan Buddhism? >>
Possible causes for abusive behavior
It is my observation that in some theocratic traditions (theocracy: relating to or denoting a system of government in which priests/monks rule in the name of divinity), there is no clarity regarding what an individual in power may and may not do, and anything is allowed.
An individual in power in this context translates to an appointed ‘spiritual master’ that may or may not possess the inner realizations, compassion, and wisdom to be a teacher in the first place.
So, where does this lack of clarity come from?
In my humble opinion and according to my observations as a layman, from a tradition and culture that doesn’t really honor and support individuality and freedom of choice.
For example, years ago, I was still a bit naive and I was really surprised to hear and see an unnamed highly respected spiritual teacher (not the one pointed at in the above article, by the way) openly stating that he had no choice but to “become” a spiritual master. He was taken from his parents at the age of five and trained against his will.
Surely a five-year-old child has no capacity to decide whether or not he wants to become a spiritual master. Heh, had such a drama happened here in the West, you would have been arrested for child abduction, and rightly so.
Moreover, the spiritual master under discussion also shares that for years while he was “trained” he had no real toys to play with, no compassionate support, and de facto grew up in an environment that condones beating, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse of children.
And this abused child, now all “grown-up”, is sharing his wisdom and compassion and teaching others how to be free.
Am I the only one that perceives this as completely counter-intuitive, to say the least?
Such abuse in the early years of a child cannot but leave emotional and psychological scars, no matter what…
It is not surprising that the same spiritual teacher claims:
“…once you have completely and soberly surrendered, you may not interpret certain manifestations and activities of the guru as the abuse of power. If you want to be fully enlightened, you can’t worry about abuse.“
From where I stand, the above statement is complete nonsense and only shows how ungrounded and disconnected from real personal compassion such an approach actually is…
Maybe such practices in bringing up children and training them to become spiritual masters (by appointing them and without respecting and hearing their personal inclinations in the first place) might work in some underdeveloped feudal society where superstition and lack of basic human rights are normative, but in a world where I live in, such practices are, how shall I put this gently, well, downright destructive and very, very far from spiritual and compassionate life Buddhism advocates (in my opinion).
And what world do I live in?
I live in a world where freedom of choice is sacred. In this world, superstition has no place and intelligent and informed decisions are as common as sunshine.
I live in a world where education is readily available and sciences like cognitive neuroscience, neurobiology, humanistic, transpersonal, and developmental psychology and powerful tools like NVC (nonviolent communication) are employed to further develop the potential for human wellbeing and ultimate spiritual freedom.
In this world, there is no need to force the spiritual awakening and there is plenty of time to gradually and thoroughly experience every single stage of identity development. There is no need to suppress anything or idealize something or someone else.
In this world, spirituality does not overpower the personal life, transcendence is not more important than profane, and embracing everyday notions with compassion is all-important. No need to deny my emotional and bodily needs or the needs of others.
I also live in a world where respect for a child’s feelings, emotional needs, and integrity is of paramount importance. Love, respect, and warmth are what is at the center of my world, maybe not always shining, but very important nonetheless.
In this world, questioning spiritual or any other authorities is most welcome. There is no place for idiot compassion, blind faith, deification and there is no need to suppress my own intellect and capacity for decision making. Quite the opposite: not bowing down to some authority and thinking with my own head is as natural as breathing and is in fact encouraged. Clearly, independence and freedom are very important in this world.
Individuality is respected and responsibility for my own life, personal growth, and spiritual awakening is quite pleasing in the world I live in. I embrace assuming responsibility fully as no one, not even my Spiritual Master, a Mahasiddha, can do anything instead of me.
I am supported as I am, and there is no need to beat me or abuse me in any way to make me wiser (which is impossible anyway – nothing from the outside can give us wisdom, for true insights only come from within).
And in this world, there is no need to become someone better, more spiritual in the future. No, in my world, supported by my Spiritual Master, what I perceive now as my current state of awareness is quite welcome, for this (my current state of awareness) is where true transformation can take place from the inside.
Unethical conduct, obvious ego-trip, and harsh abuse of power (documented in this video >>) have no place whatsoever in the world I live in, and it never ever will.
Also, I do not need suffering to wake me up, I do not need others to abuse me or enemies to “contribute” to the development of my compassion.
In my world, normal relationships and everyday life do that. A loving relationship with my lovely daughter does that. Suffering is pointless (to me) and yields no progress at all (as far as I can see).
Hmm. At first glance, the world I am describing might seem quite trivial and not at all spiritual (from some theocratic point of view maybe). Non-dual states of awareness, anatta, and sunyata insights, entering samadhi and sambodhi at will, “visiting” Pure Lands, completion stage, etc., however, are a completely normal state of daily affairs in this world.
Also, I live in a world where Spiritual Master (not someone abused in childhood and later on appointed as a teacher by some religious authority) has since 1993 uttered not even one single harsh word and has supported my freedom of choice completely.
I remember at the beginning of my relationship with Him I was insecure, powerless to live as I desired in my heart, and very lonely. I needed to belong, to be a part of something bigger than my fucked up little life.
I was able to notice, however, how much He has given me already. And in a moment of genuine openness, I asked Him: “Master, what do You want me to do now? I will do anything You ask of me.”
And He said:
“Every breath you take,
every move you make,
I will be watching you…”
And He has kept His promise throughout the years. Mahavatar Babaji (see the photo) is always here with me, supporting my free will, showering me with blessings and lovingly embracing everything.
This is a completely different approach from the abusive one, isn’t it? It is the so-called power-with, not power-over relationship. For me, that is the only viable way of progress.
Abuse NOT welcome here
I admit I do not know enough about the history or anthropology of the aforementioned tradition and culture to make any kind of reasonable conclusion…
…what I do know, however, is that in the Lineage and spiritual tradition I belong to (which is Mahamudra in essence, streaming from an immortal Mahasiddha), abuse of any kind is neither welcomed nor needed.
Personal development and spiritual awakening really happen when it is a choice and the road I travel on (and I try to make that abundantly clear to my students as well) is the one that is paved with freedom of choice and joyful effort.
What about you?
What road do you travel on?
In general, people say, ‘We are following Dharma”, and speak of it as a kind of religion created by Buddha Shakyamuni.
That is not a correct point of view.
Buddha never created any kind of school or religion.
Buddha was a totally enlightened being, someone beyond our limited point of view.
The teaching of the Buddha is to have presence in that knowledge.”
~ Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche