Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Date: February 11, 2009 11:54PM
Having an idol is incompatible with Buddhist practice, because idols are exempt from insight and scrutiny.
In relation to an idol about whom nothing negative must ever be said, and whose bad behavior must never be subjected to seaching scrutiny, Dharma practice comes to a halt.
If any area is made exempt from penetrating insight ones entire Dharma practice becomes compromised. Nothing can be exempt, not even one's root guru.
I am not in the Vajrayana and am free to say this--not as an authority but as a private person who corresponds here and has no special rank.
As a result of being in this discussion for the past week or so, Ive reached the following conclusion:
I have satisfied myself that the practices of all forms of Vajranaya Buddhism, even when of legitimate lineage and correctly transmitted teaching, have the effect of inculcating blindspots in relation to teacher behavior that bring insight to a halt.
This leaves an area exempt from scrutiny making it impossible ever to do a sustained and objective examination of the teacher role, the possibility that power could ever be abused in the teacher role.
All this is considered negative, in appropriate for discussion, a zone of silence. Thus if any teacher in this tradition does misbehave, it cannot be spoken of or named as possibly originating from the teacher.
One can never speak of the teacher as having any active agency if something has gone wrong--even though in the Vajrayana the teacher has immense authority.
So with the Vajranaya taboo system making teacher agency/responsiblity a forbidden subject when power is abused, the only alternatives left are:
The tradition was incorrectly transmitted to the teacher
The students did something to corrupt the teacher--its common to blame the students for giving away their power.
Most of the blame gets shifted to the students.
So when things go well, most of the honor goes to the powerful teacher.
When things go badly, most of the blame goes to the students, while the powerful teacher retains the privlige of being exempt from accountability.
His or her very potent contribution to the chain of cause and effect is not fully scruntized with the same rigor applied to examining the role of the students.
It all serves the interests of the Vajrayana power elite by making them exempt from scrutiny, not only if something goes wrong, but especially when something goes wrong.
Because of the Vajryanan taboo on naming negativity and the taboo against extreme view, the more extreme the power abuse and the more negative its impact, the harder it is to name it within the permissible guidelines of the taboo system that others call Dharma Debate--but which in my private opinion, deflect and disable dharma, and dont support it when its full and insightful practice is most desperately needed.
The guidelines of dharma debate protect the system from the kind of searching analysis in which no one is exempt from scrutiny, no matter how exalted their rank.
Persons not bound by the taboo who do try to speak up get hounded, or demands are made that the RR.com forum operate according to the guidelines of dharma debate--which would make any discussion of teacher misbehavior off limits and cause RR.com to serve the interests of the very groups and persons that want to remain protected by taboos that foster idolatry.
This taboo, especially reineforced by imaging the teacher as Buddha or Padmasambava or whatever revered figure in the Tibetan pantheon) has had the effect of protecting the power structure of Vajrayana Buddhism, by making it unimaginable that the teacher role could be abused, or that any teacher could do wrong.
Instead of seeing the teacher or teacher role as merely a chain of cause and effect, not different from any other chain of cause and effect, and that therefore can be subjected to penetrating insight, the Taboo that forbids anyone to say anything bad about the teacher, treats the teacher and the teacher role as something having special, inherantly separate existence, and removes the teacher and teacher role from the field of consciously applied insight.
And it may be that the worse and more negatively a teacher behaves, the more the taboo against discussing the teacher applies and the more blame and shame are shifted, by default to the students.
The students part in the chain of cause and effect is identified and carefully scrutinized in this system, but the teachers' part in the chain of abusive cause and effect is never examined--or, at most mere lip service is briefly paid and the subject quickly dropped.
We are often given the advice to study the teacher for years before becoming students.
1) Many of us dont have that opportunity.
2) Some teachers are capable of lying, keeping secret consorts and behaving one way in public and another way in private.
3) A teacher may meet your standards after years of scrutiny, you become their student, but then after you have become their student, the teacher's behavior may deteriorate due to old age, or the tempation of riches and power acquired after youve become their student.
If, after you become a student, and a formerly good teacher either deteriorates in character or reveals a secret dishonesty that he or she concealed successfully during your years of evaluating that teacher--unless you can allow yourself to see that a teacher is capable of bad behavior, you will be trapped.
Two, if you and others are unable to name a teacher's behavior in specific terms as being harmful, there is no way to reform the sangha from within.
In traditions where so much authority is vested in the teacher, a taboo against ever saying anything negative about a teacher leaves no way to reform the sitaution if a teacher abuses power.
Thats the power of what I call the Tibetan/Vajranya taboo.
And RR.com is not a Buddhist website and is under no obligation to follow Taboos implanted to serve the interests of gurus and protect them from scrutinty.
The worst of it is, this taboo and guru yoga practices may well mean that the ability to apply insight (vipassana) stops and Buddhist practice stops when one reaches the forbidden zone of Harmful Teacher Behavior.
Time and again in debate fora where the Tibetan Buddhist taboo applies, you can discuss anything except negative behavior generated by the teacher. The tools of Buddhist insight suddenly become disabled and are deflected away from the teacher, making it impossible to conduct any kind of analysis of power and power abuse.
The onus of the problem is constantly put back onto the student. Its an exercise in futility trying to apply Dharma Debate to the role of the teacher or to power abuses that stem from the teacher, because its a taboo area that must never be examined if one is to be considered an insider within this system. Once you refuse to honor the taboo, you're an apostate and considered delusional or unqualified.
Give me American democracy and the Lifton Criteria any day.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/12/2009 12:18AM by corboy.