Tuesday, 1 May 2012

How you can help us!

You can help us by creating links to this website and spreading the word. Also the more comments on articles the better! If you wish to write articles I can publish them also. I am quite flexible on editing my own articles if you have any comments in this regard. To submit an article anonymously however is more difficult. My suggestion is to create an anonymous email address at google or yahoo and then email the article to myself at anonymous_wone@yahoo.co.uk. Another option is to use this website http://justpaste.it/ and just post the link to me in comments.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Focus on meaning of Dharma

Western teachers can talk about many different subjects. Comedy stories, Geshe Kelsang, up and coming festivals, ebooks, cds, temples, future courses, voluntary work, fundraising. They can spend a large amount of time advertising. This would be an example of future degeneration. Laziness is defined as a dodging of meaningful activity. As trainees in virtue it would be very easy for this to filter into every area of our organisation. We stop studying, teaching in detail and make it more basic for example. It is far easier to spend an hour talking about how much you like Geshela and applying the teaching on love than it is to explain the details of what Buddha conveyed to this world.

Geshe Kelsang always conveyed the details of Buddhas message, without watering it down and omitting parts. He gave a full and complete path with many scriptural examples to show it was Buddhas instruction and not his own ideas.Even when he retired he spend 100 minutes explaining Dharma then 2 minutes giving his goodbye speech. After 30 years of teaching us he chose giving us Dharma as more important than saying goodbye to us. If then is not a time when other topics are of importance on the throne we have to ask ourselves, when IS it more important to say an administrative or social topic on the throne IF EVER?

Did Geshe Kelsang ever advertise books or courses during his discourses? How much of his discourses did he devote to praising people or revering his root guru? How much time did he discuss his own social life or daily routine?

Equality love

When some teachers teach they look at their favourite listeners and ignore the rest. Sometimes the teaching becomes what their preferred students need. At festivals for example the teaching is sometimes more catering for people who have been attending for many years.
At other teachings the teaching can be given as a beginners teaching because there are one or two new people. And since there are always one or two new people topics become habitually omitted until they are removed from the course altogether and become only spoken of in teachings that are not drop in/open to the public (such as foundation programme).
Geshe Kelsang never compromised the teaching in this way. He nver omitted topics. He gave teachings in such a way that all levels of listener could learn about and enjoy BUDDHISM. He was not afraid to teach BUDDHAS WORDS. He believed that people would like Buddhism and that they would appreciate it and use it and if they want a filtered version they could filter it themselves.
He believed in and valued everyone without having people he preferred, or favourites. When he went to greet a group he would greet everyone equally, not moving towards familiar faces and blanking strangers. In this way he put thought into his teachings and how to fulfil everyones wishes who attended.

Humble love

When Western teachers give discourses they often appear very different to how Geshe Kelsang did. They have an aloofness, sometimes with a mocking sarcasm. They say I know this and I know that. They can appear very holy or in a deep trance, rolling their eyes in ecstacy.
Geshe Kelsang never did any of this. If anything he appeared very bashful, like a servant and occassionally a cheeky but shy boy. He was simply passing on a message that he saw as incredibly important without omitting or adding anything, and especially not wanting any credit for it. When he gave his final teaching and retired he spent the whole discourse discussing pure holy Dharma and it was only in the last two minutes he said goodbye, He was more interested in conveying the Dharma topic. When he waved and said goodbye he was very shy. He didnt want any special ceremony or ritual of appreciation.
We have to ask ourselves as westerners if we convey the same, or do we have large parties and recieve lots of gifts

Unrestricting love

Western teachers often make a mistake of being graspy or clingy when teaching when giving pointing out instructions or advice. They will say we MUST do this or that. Many years ago a famous teacher would say when you first wake up you should think this as your 1st thought. After a while he had said so many things we must think when we wake up! Some Dharma teachers get so excited they start to sound fanatical or domineering.

Geshe Kelsang never did this because he was demonstrating respecting others and allowing them freedom to be themselves. This is part of love. Many times he would say its up to you if you want to do. You have freedom. You have choice. And he would not make the practice restrictive. He would make it flexible. He was also one to rebel against rules - removing restrictions. When it was raining and we were all camping he would say "someone could stay in my room", during the discourse. He was flexible not rigid. He was not trying to chain people or control them so its important we represent his energy to future generations by demonstrating this form of love.

Faith in Others

Geshe Kelsang always did something completely different that perplexed me for many years until I realised his nature.

When Western teachers taught they would always say we are rubbish, we are deluded, we are failures, we are bad Buddhists. After such discourses I would come out discouraged and deflated or fired up to change.

But I was highly aware that Geshe Kelsang never did this in his discourses. When I came out of Geshe Kelsangs teachings I always felt confident and encouraged in my practice. I felt positive about myself and my activities and keen to develop them.

It is because part of his love is to believe in people with no thought of underestimating, undermining abilities but believing in ability and being very positive about it and about the future. This powerful positive energy and the fact he believed in the people he was talking to was a blessing and part of the teaching. He was demonstrating that Dharma makes you feel good and people would have incredible positive minds coming instead of self chastising and self effacing.

I also found it damaging to my faith if a senior teacher was looking at all the monks and nuns and telling them they were not practicing Buddhism when I was trying to see them as Sangha Jewels. Geshe Kelsang taught correctly and we should follow his example.

Unassuming Love

Many Western teachers are assuming things or not realising things when they are teaching. Geshe Kelsang took everyone from the start of the path to the final stages of the path. He always began at the start, our basic wish for happiness and took us to Enlightenment. In this way everyone was included and able to make progress. The beginner was taken from the beginning and the senior students strengthened their beginning and middle and tried to get to the end!

As Western teachers we are not doing this. We make the following mistakes

General Program including festivals and courses:

1) We use words people dont understand ASSUMING they understand them - Dharma Sangha Geshela 3 jewels delusions etc
2) We ask people to do prayers ASSUMING they know the words and not giving prayer sheets to read from
3) We say terms such as GP FP TTP KMC KMB and most people are simply baffled
4) We do not explain the entire path because we assume people will not like Buddhism


1)It is assumed that long tireades of praise of the spiritual director or founder will help many people - But to the people who do not know the person being praised it makes no sense. We need to ask ourself. Did Geshe Kelsang mainly focus on praising people or did he focus on the holy Dharma. How big a portion of the teaching did he dedicate to his root Guru or the lineage Gurus? If we fill a quarter of the discourse with this is it beneficial?
2) Lack of definitions- I have just returned from a festival review where half the discourse was praising Dharma using many analogies followed by a plug for the book Modern Buddhism. The teaching was simply the benefits of Modern Buddhism and encouragement to read it. As well as an encouragement to devote oneself to Geshe Kelsang. There was no explanation of Geshe Kelsangs qualities either simply that he is incredible and magical. Geshe Kelsang NEVER taught like this. This could be the discourse of the future if teachings degenerate. No explanation of what Dharma is. No giving of Dharma but simply a motivational speech with no explanation of WHY we need Dharma just a proclaimation that we do and that it is amazing. If we do not reveal what the Dharma is at a festival because we assume everyone knows it already it is a big mistake. Because even senior people need to be told what the Dharma is, who is Buddha, what is Sangha, what are delusions etc. If we do not give a detailed explanation when the clearest teaching of the year is traditionally given, when will clear teachings ever be given??