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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
buddhadharma| 33 |fall 2005 The reality of lineage is not Asian or Tibetan or Buddhist at all. All peoples and cultures have lineages. The core sense of lineage refers to dependent orig- ination: because of a cause, something else can arise. Because you heard about bread and watched bread being mixed, kneaded, and baked, you are able to try it out yourself to confirm whether it works or not. Having done so, you can feel confident that you can bake bread yourself and eat it. Every slice you eat comes about because there is a lineage for baking bread. In the same way, to be certain that insight into the awakened state is for real, it has to be confirmed by someone who came before you and understands what is true. That person acts as your teacher: he explains it to you, shows you how to realize it, and then, when you get it, says, “That’s right − you got it.” That is the essence of lineage. Beyond that, there are also many supporting methods, such as meditational liturgies, or sadhanas. To use such methods, one needs to be empowered by a lineage holder who gives you transmission to practice in a certain way. These methods are all part of the lineage, but the core of the lineage is the transmission of the awakened state. So, whether it’s baking bread or realizing the nature of all bud- dhas, lineage is what makes it possible. Even though the book tells the story of Tulku Urgyen’s travels through Tibet and his meetings with masters, wouldn’t you say that these stories become teachings in themselves, because of how he recounts them? How much teaching comes out of a story depends on where the listener is at in their life and development. In many cases, what we consider a dharma lesson is sim- ply a presentation of a more worthy role model than we have found in our own culture and background. That in itself is a teaching. Often in Buddhist teachings, the life stories and examples of past mas- ters, especially Buddha Shakyamuni, are the main teachings for people to relate to. Somebody was there at a particular time and place, and something actually hap- pened. That lets you compare yourself with a certain standard and ask, “What am I really doing in my life? What kind of virtues have I cultivated?” reflecting on where you are and what you could be is a very important teaching in and of itself. Hearing about masters who, in their virtues and what they accomplished, had “the real goods” that they could pass on to others, and indeed did pass on to others, who exist to this very day, lets us know that the dharma is not just myth and hype. It’s something you can rely on as valid and that you could try to measure up to in your own life. Tulku Urgyen and the other masters in the book seem to handle catastrophe − the devastation that came with the invasion of Tibet and tragic losses of teachers and family members − differently than most people, with openness and an unwaver- ing equanimity. What does this say about who they really are? The story presented in Blazing Splendor is seen through the eyes of someone totally committed to a very different frame of reference than the ordinary person. It is not anchored in house and home and belongings, or nationality and all the stuff that goes along with the normal sense of identity. That in itself brings a contrast between what is normally thought of as being “me” and what Tulku urgyen brings forth as an awakened example of what a human being can be. Sensing that contrast is profoundly help- ful for overcoming many of life’s problems. Otherwise, what is one faced with? The human condition is fraught with prob- lems, anguish, and worries. Every person can readily know the uneasiness of exist- ing. What they don’t necessarily know are the solutions, how to step out of it. There needs to be a contrast, so that one can see a difference and make steps in that direction. The story told in Blazing Splendor helps to provide a role model for anyone, from someone who wants to be a renunciant living and meditating in the mountains to someone who simply loves dzogchen. There are very important examples in the book of “ordinary” people who are also practitioners, like Tulku urgyen’s aunt, who was a very busy woman man- aging household tasks. Even though she spent her time ordering the grain, or tell- ing someone to fetch water, she practiced. The teachings can be applied to people on every level, from master to servant. It’s up to the individual leader to determine how these teachings can be used to inspire the different kinds of people he leads. What happens, though, if one has no role model, inspiration, or leader? The intelligent person who sees the futility in normal endeavors becomes depressed at ➤ continued page 64 eRiKPemaKUnSanGGRahamSUnSTein Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche seated next to Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (right), and members of Tulku Urgyen’s family.