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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
winter 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 11 first thoughts the dharma should disturb you If dharma teachings always leave you feeling good, says John Peacock, then someone isn’t doing their job. If this stuff isn’t disturbing you, then it’s not working. If it isn’t shaking up your coziness, then it’s not working—all you’re hearing is the bits you want to hear. Now, that’s always a danger, and we can’t legislate against it. But I think it’s the job of teachers not to tell people what they want to hear. Part of the integrity of teaching is being able to say what people will find uncomfortable. I still adhere to the importance of the dana tradition in the West and some of the consequences of that tradition. Teachers don’t get paid fees, in general, which gives them a degree of license to say things that are often uncomfortable: You’re not pay ing me a fee for this, so I’m not going to pander to what you want to hear. I’m going to tell you the way I see it. I will personally own it and say, “This is my interpretation.” This might actually be what’s going on in the text, but I have a license to make it as disturbing as I can because some of your growth emerges out of that uncomfortable feeling. You’re not going to change if you feel comfortable! If you feel you’re being sold short in this way by your teachers, you should tell them. I think there ought to be a bit more proac- tiveness on behalf of those who are involved in the dharma, not just to take everything that the teachers are saying, particularly if it’s anodyne, as so much of it can be; it can be just made too deliberately inoffensive. Now, I say these things with a degree of his- torical awareness, in that people were trying to make the Buddha’s teachings anodyne in his own lifetime. They would come up to him and say things like “Oh, you’re really saying this,” and he would say “No, abso- lutely not,” particularly when they were try- ing to place it in some category they already understood or something that felt a bit cozier. He’d say, “You haven’t heard me”— he would actually say to people, “Have you ever heard me say this?” I know I’m sounding quite cynical here about some aspects of dharma practice, but I don’t think it should ever be cozy. It should be that irritant that gets you to want to change things and see how you live your life. FROM InsIght Journal 2015 www.kagyu.org Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Woodstock, New York ktdpublications.com Gathering the Garlands of the Gurus’ Precious Teachings www.NamseBangdzo.com 845.679.5906 Ext.1000 Available January 2016 Milarepa: Tibet’s Supreme Yogi A Play in Six Acts by The Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje The story of Milarepa’s life and liberation is perhaps the best-known narrative in the Tibetan Buddhist world. It tells the tale of a great sinner who became a saint through devotion to his master, dedication to his practice, and perseverance through even the most arduous circumstances. Milarepa’s songs of inner realization illuminate the fundamental truths of Buddhist practice and realization. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa’s masterful adaptation of the story continues a long tradition of re-imagining the yogin’s life. This play in six acts truly brings to life for a contemporary audience the story of Tibet’s beloved poet and saint. It is essential reading for anyone interested in Milarepa’s life and the origins of the Kagyu tradition. – Andrew Quintman, Yale University Cover painting by HH the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje Includes the Karmapa’s original script, still photos from the performance, and images from the nineteen Milarepa thangkas Paper, 6” x 9”, full color, 2015 Available through