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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
firSt thouGhtS think twice Prior to giving a Vajrayana empowerment (abhisheka), Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche sent this message of caution to people thinking about taking it. I would like to give you all some time to think about this, as an abhisheka is not a small matter in the vajrayana tradition. I’m sure that some of you know this already, and that this knowledge must be making many of you uncomfortable. Some of you might feel that receiving an initiation from another master might be an act of disloyalty to your own master. This is completely understandable. In Tibet, lamas apparently do things in two dif- ferent ways. Some lamas stress that students should follow one guru and one practice, with obvious benefits such as not confusing the students or dis- persing their energy. Other lamas take a different approach. In my case, I have been labeled as an incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. When once in a blue moon I remember this, I aspire to emulate his example. He had more than one hundred gurus, and Jamgön Kongtrül lodrö Thaye, his close asso- ciate, claimed a similar number. So in trying to follow in their footsteps, I have not really discour- aged my own so-called students, who are really my victims, from following other teachers. In fact, in the case of some lamas, I could not encourage them more strongly. I have also been fortunate to receive teachings from many masters – more than thirty. And I also have personal and completely selfish reasons not to be too possessive when it comes to my students. I’m afraid of committed relationships because of my completely unreliable nature. nevertheless, if you choose to receive the abhisheka from me, our relationship will be changed for a long time, if not forever. And I should warn you that, from a mundane point of view, there will be no equality in this relationship, and no negotiation! There are only two ways you might find solace. First, you might assume that I have compassion and kindness, and that I will not mislead you no matter what happens. But this doesn’t mean that I’m promising you that I have any compassion or bodhichitta! Second, and more reliable, is the fact that I am a completely samsaric being, and because of my own insecurity and love for attention and fame, and my fear of developing a bad reputation, I’ll behave properly. But let me tell you honestly: I’m not an enlight- ened being, and even the wish to attain enlighten- ment doesn’t come to me every day. I don’t even have any of the qualities of a Shravakayana master or Mahayana master, let alone those of a vajra acharya. And as a human being, I’m completely unreliable. But I have received teachings from some of the greatest masters, buddhas in the flesh, so the lineage is definitely there. Isn’t it painful to be in a situation where you need something from someone who is completely unreli- able, especially when you know that if you ask for what you need, you’ll be stuck with him forever! So please, think twice. what’S up with BuddhiStS and the diSaBled? Mary Anne Lewis of the Dharma Access Project asks able- bodied Buddhists to remember the sightless and disabled. “May all beings abide in equanimity, free from attach- ment and anger, which holds some close and others distant,” it says in the Four Immeasurables. So I ask you, what’s up with Buddhists and the disabled? not long ago, I rounded the corner to the dharma center in my wheelchair, my excitement growing as I anticipated the next lamrim class. When I got up to the door, I was greeted by a sign that read: ClASS CAnCElED. I rang the bell and the volunteer cheerily answered and explained that there had been a last-minute change. “Oh well, that’s samsara,” she said. I asked if I could use the phone to call someone with a ramp on their van who could drive me back home. She said she wasn’t sure she could do that since the center didn’t have insurance, and what if something were to happen to me while I was in there? So I asked if I could just have a look at the books in their lending library. She wasn’t sure that was a good idea, since she’d just vacuumed and didn’t want my wheelchair to leave marks in the new carpeting. “May all beings have happiness and the causes for happiness.” now, about causes for happiness: where are able-bodied Buddhists with that? My friend Shirley has been blind since her early thirties, when an explosion in a lab where she was working changed her karma in an instant. Her interest in Buddhism intensified and she began looking for Buddhist works in Braille. Guess what? There weren’t any! Islam is in Braille in every lan- Brush drawings by Keith Abbott