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Re: "Doubts about the Dalai Lama"/
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: April 11, 2015 04:24AM

Yes, I've noticed that in the DL's lectures, too. He's been asked if using birth control is ok, and he says yes, and that it makes sense in an overpopulated world. He's been questioned by gays and interviewed for a LGBT magazine, and said that gay sex is ok. But when speaking to Tibetans, he adheres to the teachings, which are very strict on that score, dating back to medieval times. Sex is only for procreation, otherwise it perpetuates pleasure-seeking, which is attachment to pleasure. And only the "appropriate orifice" should be used for sex.

The DL does a lot of adapting to Western audiences, as you say. He also speaks much more forthrightly, even forcefully, in Asia (Japan) on the Tibet question, saying the Chinese "must face reality", referring to uprisings and self-immolations in Tibetan regions there. But in the US, he avoids pointed political questions, and keeps up his jovial Santa Claus act, knowing that China watches his every move and word on his US tours.

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No sex outside of procreation, either
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 11, 2015 07:19AM


Sera monastery is a Gelukpa (Dalai Lama's sect) institution.


At least the Roman Catholic prelates are consistent in their strictures.

Note: As of today, one US Dollar = 62 Indian rupees.

And 1 US Dollar = 94 Euros

One Euro = 66 Indian rupees (rounded up)

Expect more visits to EU nations and to the US by the DL and others
from India.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/11/2015 07:24AM by corboy.

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Forty Years Ago - Conditions at Sera-Je Geluk
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 30, 2015 03:25AM

A condensed autobiography by Stephen Schettini. .

These events took place forty years ago.


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Compassion in Practice - Gelugs in Tibet
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 01, 2015 06:18AM

As an antidote to romanticizing Old Tibet:


And- footnotes 88 and 91 .Stephen Schettini's memoir, The Novice


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Be alert about Nepal Disaster Aid
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 13, 2015 05:40AM

Just in case your Buddhist dharma center pushes for aid to Nepal,
it may be wise to insist on financial accountability -- even if the Dalai Lama or Karmapa plead for aid to Nepal.


Government corruption is linked to death rates from earthquakes.

Speculators get around building code requirements by bribing
local authorities and the buildings are not earthquake safe.


You have every right to determine if your monies will actually aid
those who need help -- and not go into the bank accounts of
corrupt power holders.

Warnings already being issued about Nepal aid scams


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/13/2015 05:55AM by corboy.

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The Dalai Lama as a Brand
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 17, 2015 06:54AM

The Dalai Lama as a Brand


(Small excerpt)


Collecting degrees, attending conferences on science and spirituality (or just spirituality), hanging out with Hollywood household names, and leading his fans in contemplation gives the DL a staggering travel schedule. There is something incongruous about circling the world several times a year, year after year, while preaching, among other things, ecological awareness and compassion. The DL’s carbon footprint is that of a Yeti.

These, and other points found in Goldner’s book, led to some
head-scratching. I felt taken in by the simplest of publicity scams. The DL has successfully branded himself as a modern-age (new-age) prophet of overall goodness.

The trick is that there is no there there.

In the popular perception (my own included until last week) the DL is simply good. If asked just how and why and in which way he is good, what he has done for his fellow human-beings, we may come up with a list of modest achievements, but nothing that seems compatible with his rarefied status.

I then remembered my initial misgivings when reading a book by the DL. It is disturbing to realize that, caught up in the collective delusion of his apotheosis, I rationalized them away.

When reading his Ethics for a new Millennium 10 years ago I was surprised how shallow it was. The DL seemed to think that one word, compassion, is the answer to all problems.

I wondered how he would handle difficult ethical situations, such as moral dilemmas, situations in which different moral intuitions or rules collide.
That’s where I thought (and still think), a moral system with any depth can show itself. How, for example, would the DL handle the trolley problem?
Instead of trusting my instincts, I brushed them away and “got over it.” More recently, I attended a lecture and Q&A session with the DL in Providence, Rhode Island. Again, I felt underwhelmed. It seemed that here was a rather superficial man who giggled too much and dodged complicated (or even interesting) issues.

(Corboy, I attended a two day Dalai Lama event in 2007 and expected something
good. Instead, I saw exactly what the author describes -- a grown man
who giggled like a 12 year old girl -- and who kept scratching at himself.

Distracting as hell. And he took care to sidestep discussing exactly those
topics which distinguish Buddhadharma from other belief systems.)

Nonetheless, I got caught up with his reputation and the positive collective response. When people asked me how it was, I said it was fine. The DL made 3 rather simple points. Because he is the DL, however, I thought we ought not hold him to a higher standard. We should not demand novel, deep, or useful insights. With him, because he already is so transcendent, the trivial is sanctified. This reaction, it now seems to me, is precisely backward. We should ask the most prominent (and presumably most accomplished individuals) to deliver the deepest and most progressive insights.

The DL’s three points were these: First, he said he felt that he already knew us because all people share so many similarities (true).

Second, he said that there are unique group characteristics (e.g., cultural practices or oral histories) that are worth preserving (true).

Third, all people deserve to be happy because they can be happy (arguably true).

I suspect that if anyone else made a speech like this, we would demand to hear something that we didn’t already know.

You may not (and perhaps should not) give this essay too much credence. I relied on one book as a source and referred to two personal experiences. From a psychological perspective, however, I ask that you consider the pull
of collective valuation, the need to revere at least someone, and the
fragility of the human thinking machine. In the end, there is no substitute for doing your homework.

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Dalai Lama as Rock Star
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 17, 2015 06:58AM


The Dalai Lama likes to emphasize that he is an ordinary person and monk.

This is both true and false.

He is like the rest of us physically, mentally, emotionally.

Yet he sits at the hub of a highly asymmetrical social network, jetting around the world to collect honorary degrees and mingling with the Hollywood cognoscenti. Most high-status individuals do not stress their ordinariness. They fear that it would undermine their position if it were believed or seen as a coquettish tactic...

".....celebrity status is by definition a collective phenomenon and self-reinforcing.

A newcomer who wishes to declare her admiration for a representative of Tibetan Buddhism will do better choosing the Dalai Lama than the Panchen Lama.

Her admiration will be understood, shared, and validated by many others.

This is good for the Dalai Lama too. His next incarnation being uncertain, he is making the best of the present one


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A Provocative Essay
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: June 20, 2015 10:03PM

(Diclaimer: Corboy has never consulted the author of this essay for advice nor attended any of his events or retreats. The "Two Paths" essay offers some
food for thought, and that is why it is mentioned here.)


A Tale of Two Paths: The Renunciate and the Householder - Lorin Roche, Ph.D


In the ancient teachings of India, two distinct paths were set forth: the path of the renunciate (Sannyasin or Sadhu), and the path of the householder (with the dumb name, Grihasta). There are many variations and sub-paths on each of these two great paths, but essentially, renunciates take vows to irrevocably cut themselves off from the world, and householders live in the world and evolve through working and playing with it. In the ancient cultures of Asia, everyone understands what the paths are about. To the inhabitants of North America, the boundaries are not as clear. It is not obvious to students of meditation, upon encountering renunciate ideals in a basic meditation text, "Oh, that is for monks. It's not for me."

There are many kinds of renunciates - monks, nuns, hermits, and recluses. They may be called swamis, lamas, rishis, sannyasins, sadhus, or gurus. Whatever their name, these renunciates have for thousands of years kept alive the wisdom of meditation, and almost all the teachings on meditation in existence owe a debt of gratitude to them.

Also, however, everything we know about meditation is lightly or strongly tainted with attitudes of renunciation that are only appropriate for those who wear robes and live in religious orders. Almost all books on meditation available today are written by people who were inspired in one way or the other by the great monastic traditions of India and other Asian countries. Almost all teachers of meditation are either monks or nuns, were trained by monks or nuns, or were trained by students of monks or nuns. So attitudes of renunciation have come to be synonymous with meditation.

In a nutshell, monks and nuns evolve by living a life of detachment, disconnection, and aloofness. They may be very attached to their robes and their spiritual order, but their practice is about renouncing their desire for "worldly things." For them, spirituality is irrevocably tied up with denial.

Non-monks, on the other hand, evolve through working with the material world. Detachment is not the primary attitude to cultivate. Rather, the opposite of detachment is indicated: being involved, close, committed, and intimate. For some odd reason, (ignorance? unskillfulness?) this distinction is not being honored, and the wrong techniques are being taught on a wide scale – “sadhu-style” practices, which may be appropriate for 1% or less of the modern Western population, are being recommended for the 99% of the population that are householders.

TIME magazine did a cover story on meditation in August 2004, and they estimated that over ten million people in the United States practice meditation. Newer statistics suggest that number has gone up considerably. There are millions more in Canada, Europe, Central America, and South America. And many of us, myself included, have been strongly influenced by the monks from Asia and have wound up doing techniques that harm us. Since I have devoted my entire adult life, since I was 18 in 1968, to promoting the practice of meditation in the United States, I thought I would mention briefly some of the negative side effects that people have been encountering due to the confusion between renunciate and householder.

As you read the following, keep in mind that I myself have never had a bad experience with a monk or a nun, in my occasional encounters with them the last 40 years. I love them and honor them for what they are doing.


Monks and nuns, by definition, live in the context of religious orders and have taken vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience. These vows are the essential act of renunciation. When renunciates meditate, they meditate within the context of their vows. They need to meditate in a way that tunes them to be obedient to their superiors, and to kill off any rebellious or independent thinking.

Renunciates give their lives to their religious orders, profound spiritual traditions that have continued with great stability for hundreds and often thousands of years. The tradition has their total devotion. As part of that tradition, they have to kill off any creative impulses they have to improve the tradition. A nun is not supposed to get up in the morning and say hey, we need new, more fashionable robes....... .

Extraneous desires must be snuffed out.

They have sworn to be celibate, so they have to kill off any sexual desires they have. And they have taken an oath of poverty, so they have to kill off the natural impulse to accumulate stuff. When done properly, all these impulses are deconstructed, taken apart, and their energy is recycled and dedicated to the spiritual life.


One of the impulses behind meditation is the desire to turn one's body into light, and then disappear, to merge with the Great Void. So, in spite of the rigors of the vows, the renunciate life has incredible allure. They get to be nuclear engineers, supervising the process of turning their individual existence into emptiness.

To protect this process, recluses are insulated from much of the difficulty and uncertainty of life. They live in some ways as people did a thousand years ago in the feudal systems of Asia.

And the feudal system, with its intricate rituals of submission, humiliation, and domination, has a magical attraction. Think of Star Wars - it takes place in a feudal universe, with Knights and Slaves and Masters and Merchants and Princesses. Even Darth Vader bowed down and humbled himself before his Master, the Emperor. Lord of the Rings is a feudal world.

The Dalai Lama is an emissary of the feudal world of Tibet. He is a reincarnating god-king, who comes again and again to rule. And he couldn't be more charming. He is releasing tremendous energies across America and advocating the practice of meditation


We householders do not know a lot about why a certain person may wish to take religious vows and renounce sex, money, and independent will. Personally, I do not begrudge anyone this decision - it is an important sacrifice that some people make, that has benefitted humanity immeasurably over the millennia.

This is certainly a grave decision, like having a sex-change operation. Ordinarily we wouldn't want to comment or speculate about why a given monk would take vows. Let that be his secret. However, these monks basically set the tone for the teaching of meditation the world over. What they think of when they sit in their rooms staring at the wall becomes sacred text. So when these monks, who consider themselves enlightened, go on and on at great length about how degraded we all are, we have to stop and inquire, just who is this that's talking? If something gets into the record, into the tradition of meditation literature, does that mean that it is holy? What if the writer is a really sick person, who was so tortured that he took vows to never have sex again, because his desires were so degraded and abnormal? What if a given saint is gifted in some ways and also, a deeply disturbed human being?

Not everyone who shuts himself away all day, year after year, cutting off all the parts of himself that do not seem monk-like, and leaving only the parts that hate life, gets enlightened.

We householders need to understand that some of the people whose writings make up the "tradition" are perhaps partly brilliant, partly demented, from the extremes of denial they have subjected themselves to.

What Nagarjuna, in the example below, is a master of is deconstructing the self - showing how there is no "there" there in the self.

You are made up of parts that have no real existence.

In other words, Nagarjuna has convinced generations of monks that they don't exist anyway


The Precious Garland of Nagarjuna

When renunciates find themselves teaching householders about meditation, odd juxtapositions sometimes occur.

When the Dalai Lama lectured at UCLA in 1997, a book,The Precious Garland was handed out as you walked into the Pauley Pavilion to hear him talk. His Holiness read the 88 page over a period of three evenings.

The following quotation from The Precious Garland starts from the top of page 32 and goes to near the bottom of page 33:

"Gambling causes attachment, dislike, and anger,
deception, trickery and an occasion for wildness,
lying, pointless chatter, and harsh speech.
Therefore, always refrain from gambling.
Most attachment to women comes from
the belief that women’s bodies are pure.
But in actuality there is no purity
in a woman’s body at all.

Her mouth is a vessel of impurity,
with putrid saliva and gunk between her teeth;
Her nose is a pot of snot, phlegm and mucous,
and her eyes contain eye-slime and tears.

Her torso is a container of excrement,
holding urine, the lungs, liver and such.
The confused do not see that a woman is such;
thus, they lust after her body.

Like unknowing persons, who have become attached
to an ornamented vessel filled with filth,
Unknowing and worldly beings
are attached to women.
If the world is greatly attached
to the noxious objects that are bodies,
which should cause non-attachment,
how then can it be led to non-attachment?

Just as filth-loving pigs are greatly attached
to heaps of feces and urine,
so too the filth-loving pigs that are desirous people
are greatly attached to heaps of feces and urine.
Foolish persons imagine
that this city (of bugs) that is the body,
with cavities that are sources of filth,
is something conducive to pleasure.
When you yourself see the impurities
of excrement, urine, and such,
how can the body, being composed of them,
be something pleasant for you?

It is produced by a seed of impure essence,
an admixture of ovum and semen.
How can the lustful be attached to it
when they know its nature to be impure?

One who lies with this filthy mass,
covered with skin moistened by these fluids,
is doing nothing more than lying
on top of a womans bladder.
Whether it be beautiful or ugly,
whether it be young or old,
the body of any woman is filthy,
so to what special quality could you be attached?

It is not right to yearn for a pile of excrement, even if it has a nice color
or is very fresh or nicely shaped;
likewise, one should not yearn for a woman's body."

- The Precious Garland, translated by John Dunne and Sara McClintock, Wisdom Publications, Boston, Massachusetts, 1997. P 32-33. Cited with the permission of the translators. For an audio tape of the series, check here.

So here was the Dalai Lama, being his charming self, talking in a kind of Pidgin Engish, partly incomprehensible, saying “Practice compassion. Feel afraid? Meditation. Anger no use.” Then turning back to the text and reading, “In actuality there is no purity in a woman’s body at all, putrid saliva and gunk between her teeth.”

The text continues in a similar vein for several more pages. The English translation of the text runs from page 9 to page 88. So out of about 80 pages of teachings, 4 are devoted to a description of how disgusting women are. That's about 5 percent of the text. If you didn't know that this is a sacred text, you might think that it is just hate speech. The ravings of a deeply disturbed individual. Perhaps a transcription of a psychiatrist's interview with a man who has a terrible eating disorder. Or maybe the script from a Beavis and Butthead cartoon.

A Note To the Reader at the front of The Precious Garland states, "This book was produced for the special occasion of His Holiness the VIVth Dalai Lama's teaching in Los Angeles in June, 1997 . . . The book consists primarily of a new translation of the Precious Garland of Nagarjuna, which was undertaken by the translators especially for this auspicious occasion. It is this text which will form the basis of His Holiness's teachings each day on June 5th, 6th, and 7th."

On June 5, 6, and 7, the Dalai Lama read from and gave a commentary on The Precious Garland, and on June 8 he gave an "Empowerment for the Meditational Practice of Sakyamuni Buddha."


A woman psychotherapist who attended the Dalai Lama's talk opened The Precious Garland and exclaimed, "Why, this is exactly how bulimic women think of their bodies, that is why they are always bingeing and purging." Perhaps in the future, psychoanalysts will take a look at the origins of this attitude in monks and nuns, and map out how it arises and influences or distorts their approach to spiritual practices.

Someone in the audience asked about the anti-female teachings in the book. The Dalai Lama laughed and said, "That's because it is for monks." There, in sentence of six words, the Dalai Lama summed up the whole gist of what I am discussing in this little essay.

So universal is the love for the Dalai Lama that there was no public discussion of how bizarre some of the ideas in The Precious Garland are. Thousands of people were in the auditorium, including many famous actors and actresses, some of whom have been declared to be tulkus, reincarnated Tibetan lamas. Newspapers and television stations covered the talk, and everyone was given a copy of the book, but there was no mention of the fact that the teaching was partly about how women's bodies are vessels of yuckky fluids.


People who have families, jobs, pay rent or mortgages, and live in the real world, have very different needs in meditation. Recluses call us householders. Houeseholders do not need to constantly kill off their natural impulses. As a matter of fact, the last thing they need is to weaken their desires, instincts and intuition. The path of the householder involves working with attachment. It is very daring to be attached. Tolerating the experience of attachment takes courage. Personal bonds are attachments. Loving someone is an attachment. Householders, when they meditate, should savor every sexual impulse, cherish every desire, honor and listen to all their instincts, and cultivate their general enthusiasm for life.

When The Paths Become Confused

When householders practice meditation in the style of a recluse, and practice detaching from their desires, they often find that over time their instincts become weaker, their intuition becomes flawed, they become confused about their desires, and they start looking for an external authority to dominate them and tell them what to do.

This is what happens when you practice detachment.

When you internalize toxic attitudes toward your desires, attachments and your identity, such as advocated in The Precious Garland, you will indeed find over time that your individuality is weakened and you start longing for some dominant male to tell you what to do.

You will long for shelter in a religous organization, spiritual collective, or cult. As you separate yourself from your personal desires, you become magnetically attracted to people who have strong, dynamic egos. In other words, the center of life is moved from being inside your body to being out there, somewhere.

For the entire essay, read here:


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Enter Vajrayana Tantra
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: June 20, 2015 10:16PM

Much of tantric ritual entails transgression of taboos against defilement.


One who lies with this filthy mass,
covered with skin moistened by these fluids,
is doing nothing more than lying
on top of a womans bladder.
Whether it be beautiful or ugly,
whether it be young or old,
the body of any woman is filthy,
so to what special quality could you be attached?


So, in the preliminary studies, male monks were taught that women and women's bodies are vile, sources of contamination, disgusting.

Then, having established this tension of repugnance, the advanced adept, after years of exposure to anti woman teachings, undergoes the tantric path, and must seek out that which is vile and disgusting -- women.

I am getting a feeling here that one recipe for blazing ecstatic release is to put the aspirant in a state of high tension by teaching taboos, inculcating
fear and repugnance, and then instructing the aspirant to violate these very same taboos after the taboos have been supercharged by years of practice.

Boundaries make transgression possible.

That means some human being must be recruited, then degraded so as to signify the mudwallow of defilement into which the aspirant must cast himself, then wallow.



Many forms of Tantric practice do involve explicit forms of ritual transgression. The ritual consumption of meat and wine, and in some cases sexual intercourse in violation of class laws, can be employed as a means of awakening and harnessing the awesome power or shakti that flows through all things.

Yet at the same time, as Brooks, Sanjukta Gupta and many others have argued, Tantra is really by no means the subversive, anti-social force that many Western readers imagine it to be.

On the contrary, it is in most cases a highly conservative tradition, which ultimately re-asserts the ritual authority and social status of male brahmins. Social relations and sexual taboos are typically only violated in highly controlled ritual contexts and are generally re-asserted -- indeed, reinforced -- outside the boundaries of esoteric ritual: "Anti-caste statements should never be read outside their ritual context. Returned to ordinary life, no high caste Tantric would think of breaking social taboos. ..The ritual egalitarianism of Tantrism in practice acted as a caste-confirming ...force."[/[/i]quote]

Sanjukta Gupta, Dirk Jan Hoens, Teun Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1979), 32.

On this point, see Hugh B. Urban, "The Conservative Character of Tantra: Secrecy, Sacrifice and This-Worldly Power in Bengali Sakta Tantra," The International Journal of Tantric Studies 6, no.1 (2002), on line at: [];

and Douglas Brooks, The Secret of the Three Cities: An Introduction to Hindu Sakta Tantra (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 70.

"Tantrism...does not intend to be revolutionary in the sense of establishing a new structure of social egalitarianism...It opens its doors only to a few to empower themselves" (Brooks, The Secret of the Three Cities: An Introduction to Hindu Sakta Tantra [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990], p.70); cf. Urban, "The Conservative Character of Tantra."

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/20/2015 10:25PM by corboy.

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Mantra Brain -- Ngondro is not innocuous
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 04, 2015 05:54AM

Repetitive speech elicits widespread deactivation in the human cortex: the "Mantra" effect?


This has made a multitude of lamas and rinpoches rich and influential - perhaps by making followers' minds docile.



We compared, using blood oxygenated level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a simple task of covertly repeating a single word to resting state activity, in 23 subjects, none of which practiced meditation before.

It would be interesting to repeat this study with persons who
have practiced high dose meditation for months, even years, as ngondro
and tantric practitioners do.

Corboy dares wonder whether a medication that produces such an effect would
be prescribed only with mandatory counseling from a pharmacist as a condition of having the prescription filled -- and with limits on how often that RX can be refilled.

Yet no one blinks when told to do thousands of mantra repetitions as part of ngondro and various tantric practices.

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