While watching the Dalai Lama on YouTube the other day I was struck by a strange sensation.
From the very beginnings of my encounter with Tibetan Buddhism almost forty years ago I learned that the teacher is not only there to impart information, or even blessings.
Tantric initiates are required to see the lama’s behavior as ‘fully enlightened.’ What that means is unclear, though all texts agree that it’s indescribable. But the hierarchy of Tibetan Buddhism has always really bothered me, as it seems more Catholic than Buddhist. Like you I find the Dalai Lama admirable and enjoyable, but I no longer hang on to his every word. Perhaps the enjoyment and interest of the Dalai Lama’s talks are lost in the regular need for translation and their rambling nature.
You mention the Dorje Shugden controversy and I was wondering why you think the NKT has thus far been so successful. Hi Darlene: I have no direct experience with the NKT, but I agree their marketing seems pretty savvy. I sooo understand your perspective, same feeling I had once meeting my teacher from grade 2 when in my 40’s. The adult in me sees him for what he is, yet my experience of him as a child cannot but emerge, confounding the actual encounter. The DL is not funny (comedian funny) he is full of contagious JOY and contentment, he definitely is overwhelmed by all the Science around him and the celebrity status enforced on him…. I wish you success on your journeys to happiness~without dependency on drugs, but instead naturally, by your own mental discipline. Kudos to you for entering the lion’s den of secularism armed only with belief; and for spelling reality with a capital R!
All power to you on your path, dopelotus, and your comments about patience and practice are appreciated. So many people gush when seeing the Dalai Lama on television but he alienated me from Buddhism by his dim views on homosexuality over the last fifteen years. For a long time I shelved Dalai Lama with other religious leaders taking spiritual pot shots at me and my family for being gay while they justify doing so with sacred texts of their tradition. Whatever your denials on the subject, over the last fifteen years the Dalai Lama has a history of expressing his belief that a gay person can’t be a Buddhist.
Mark Twain, reminiscing of his youth before the American civil war, wrote of how Missouri preachers pointed to holy texts to prove that slavery was a settled issue of Christian doctrine. So, whichever one of the two Dalai Lamas, office or person, that presents the idea that gays can’t be good Buddhists, then, is on flimsy ground these days, if not in doctrine, then in dharma. And, one more thing, by the pure nature of the title of this article, there is no way the author gets Tibetan Buddhism-no possible way. One sure touches a wasps nest when suggesting that a religious leader is learning as he or she goes, as we all do.
The central dharma — specifically the four noble truths and their immediate offshoots such as anicha— offer a set of skills for a super life. When I was studying Tibetan Buddhism, and was in my second year, we were studying a text where it said, if one turns away from Mahayana Buddhism, then one will suffer through many rebirths in hells.
I’m very content now to pull out of the text what I can practice in my own life, and pass over anything that would require beliefs. Each time I recall my days as a monk it becomes increasingly clear to me that we were all damaged in one way or another, hanging on for dear life.
All that counts is human motivation, and the plain good luck of finding oneself among others of like mind. I have only seen him from afar once in McLeod Ganj at his temple, been to one of his talks in Melbourne which took place in a frickin stadium and had lots of hippies and all (plus me), read a couple of his books (which were only so-so to be honest) and watched a documentary about him.
I know that he is only a man (and a monk), I know that he’s got some pretty outdated views of this and that and am glad that he has modified his views on homosexuality as I have many gay friends. Nobody should smile at post-modern Marxist professors, unless they are marking your work, of course.
I think there might be a special hell realm for people who sneak beers in while going to see the Dalai Lama.
When I first heard this the idea of awareness as a radical act caught my attention, it’s definitely not the kind of characterization you generally hear of mindfulness related topics. This quote is most well known for being mentioned in the book he wrote called Wherever You Go, There You Are. In the book he shows how the average person can bring mindfulness into their own lives through meditation practice, and what kind of benefits such practice can usher in.
It is possible through meditation to find shelter from much of the wind that agitates the mind. The spirit of mindfulness practice was nicely captured in a poster of a seventy-ish yogi, Swami Satchitananda, in full white bear and flowing robes atop a surfboard riding the waves off a Hawaiian beach. I like it because even if this is the only Jon Kabat-Zinn or mindfulness related quote you ever hear you will be well on your way :).
My name is Anita and this blog is dedicated to posting the best Jon Kabat-Zinn quotes, videos, links, etc that I come across.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is an accomplished scientist, meditation instructor, and teacher who has dedicated his life to bringing mindfulness to the mainstream of medicine and society.
Jon Kabat-Zinn has made many contributions to the field of medicine, most notable being the various clinical applications of mindfulness meditation training for people with chronic pain or stress-related disorders.

In a video of a Mind and Life Institute conference, packed with academic brains like Richard Davidson and Jon Kabat-Zinn, I noticed without surprise that all eyes were on His Holiness.
Many insiders, especially younger ones, presume it to include telepathic powers, perfect virtue and inscrutable intentions.
Even after years of practice it withers quickly away without the consensus of the faithful.
He is one of the world’s elite few whose primary job is to promote world peace in the most warm and fuzzy, non-specific ways.
In them I discern a flesh-and-blood Buddha who questioned life’s purpose with the angst familiar to thoughtful human beings of every time and place. After eight years as a monk in the Tibetan tradition he decided that ritual, tradition and belief were an unnecessary burden, and returned to secular life. I admire how open he is to western thought, other religions, and how easily he says Buddhism is not the path for everyone and his religion is Friendliness.
I can’t imagine someone like the Buddha being ok with how the teachers sit above the students, how lamas are revered and thought to have magical powers, the ability to bless.
The NKT day events I attended were accessible (intellectually and location-wise) and lots of people attended (170 at one of them). I’d love to hear him say we should be cautious about what we believe, but let’s not hold our breath.
It is something that must be refined, i believe, if the West is to have a chance to understand how to achieve Peaceful states quickly.
But, as with exercise, you cannot simply read books to realize physical changes; so to is the mind. And yet you perfectly illustrate the error which this piece is about: taking Tibetan personality cults and ‘higher’ teachings as primary, abandoning the basics of epistemology and justifying magical thinking in the name of hidden, exclusive knowledge. When you train the mind, unless it is a special case or an emergency or accident (and there are those, of course), mental illness disappears and health improves naturally, hence the elimination of much of the dependency on drugs which we currently experience. The closest English term for me is apostate: One who abjures or forsakes his religious faith.
Heated discussion is oh-so Buddhist, at least judging from stories in the Pali canon and from Tibetan monks debating among themselves in school.
There was just a pinch of Buddhism in there, enough to make me think they were on to something, but had dumped a heap of religion on top. Many of us feel relieved when we come across others who had managed to leave the brain washings for the goodness that is to hold. When a zealot wants everybody to go forward in peace (or PEACE), it’s their way or the highway. It was literally so for me; I was drugged out, with no moral compass and bursting with anger. On the surface I’d been open to other ways of thinking but underneath was sure I was on the One True Way.
I credit the Pali Canon for taking me through my salvation to the other side, but not all my old colleagues made it. I might also have seen a movie about him but that was a long time ago before I became a buddhist and I remember being really bored. I would like to be able to cry and hurt and get angry and still come back and truly smile like he does. I have no idea if he is actually like that but he represents what I would like to be one day. A realm in which people who sneak beers, Secular Buddhists and Speculative Non-Buddhists go after they die for all eternity.
I had a long private audience with him years ago in Dharamsala that left me flying high for weeks afterwards, and met him again on several occasions. Every one was primed to smile instantly at his magical touch, to erupt in indulgent laughter at the corniest joke. Unlike their brethren from other Buddhist cultures, Tibetans favor the tantric method, said to be the highest, most secret and most sublime of the Buddha’s teachings.
When I disrobed and drifted back to the material world, I found myself thinking of people like the Dalai Lama as ‘just’ human. Considering he’s the product of a medieval monastic system he’s made great strides, widely outpacing his Tibetan contemporaries.
He remains an admirer and student of the historical Buddha without any Buddhist affiliations. But when he’s on roll with his own jokes, I can count on getting a moment of true delight. I recently downloaded some Dalai Lama talks about the Four Noble Truths and only made it to the end of the first one. This is precisely the reason advanced practices are not suggested for those who do not yet comprehend, Tibetan Buddhism, or the Mahayana path. Aside from that, it has been my experience, that with practice and the attainment of enlightenment, which comes in stages, one’s mind becomes intent on reaching ever more mindful states of consciousness and powers due instinctively. There are other perfect systems, many indigenous, the Tao, and etcetera, and should be studied for further understanding. I am trying to find what you are talking about but have not been able to find anything legitimate. Do you not think it wise to first understand the belief system and then to think critically and review legitimacy?

I have an irrational fear that the mere act of engaging with such zealotry might infect me with my interlocutor’s certainty and sense of purity — a fate worse than death.
What you should have been taught is that, after having genuinely found a means to live empathically, turning back to self-absorption is painful. Perhaps for some people embracing any belief system can never be done with a certain lightness. Either their immersion in Buddhist religion led to a grotesque entanglement of beliefs and rationalizations (e.g.
The reason why I love HH the Dalai Lama is because from what I have seen and heard from him, he represents the kind of person I would like to be – warm, emotional, naturally expressive and very human. I would like to be able to smile like he does to the people I dislike (yes, even Post-modern Marxist Professors).
With the Secular Buddhists and Speculative Non-Buddhists together forever we are going to need those beers.
It’s amazing how many scientists jump to less than critical conclusions about the insightfulness of his remarks. In theory, it’s accessible only to those who have already mastered both the narrow path of personal awakening and the broad way of the bodhisattva. I maintained a view of the infinitely wise teacher through ongoing conversations with others of like mind. When he made questionable remarks about homosexuals, inexperienced judgments on marital relations and fuzzy statements about science, I noticed that many of his Western believers leaped into the breach to quickly rationalize his words. Even the extraordinary Dorje Shugden affair, in which a murderous schism followed his remarks about an invisible demon, was quickly ignored by the press. The oldest of those, with whom I studied years ago, exhibited levels of chauvinism and intransigence that surprised me and hastened my withdrawal from formal Buddhism. That’s how, when I don’t understand him fully, I think he might have been on to something, and don’t just dismiss it. Probably says more about me than it does about the Dalai Lama, however, as I managed to watch four hours straight of The Voice on the weekend. Rushing ahead of yourself will teach you patience, but it will take longer, as you can attest to. That statement was no different than my grandmother telling me I would go to hell for rejecting the Christian god. An ex-colleague of mine is ordained in the Triratna Order and note that both groups are subject to a bit of animosity. Alan Wallace) or they were left with no foundation at all, plus a sense of bitter disappointment. Hopefully he’s at least in a better place than he would have been without the Tibetans. I would like to see them as old friends who happen to be very annoying and a bit dense but still old and valued friends.
Audiences invariably chuckle along with him, not because he’s mastered the art of comedy but simply because his mood is infectious.
However, judging from the way that Tibetan Buddhism is transmitted, you’d be forgiven for thinking that tantra is not the pinnacle of all practices but their very foundation. Seventeen years later wounds still run deep within Tibetan society and clearly will do so for years to come.
The usefulness of faith it that it gives you time to gain your own experience and come to personal conclusions. And, if he rambles on before getting to the point of his lecture, I don’t feel guilty about changing channels. A teacher’s responsibility is to undermine students’ fantasies and trigger counter-intuitive reflections. All the studies i have seen resemble the telephone game in second grade-not so good for analysis. Presumed, in part, that this is to do with relative newcomers offering people a chance to become involved in groups that aren’t the dominant ones. I personally know two ex-monks who spent time in jail since returning to lay life, and many who just don’t know how to relate to their own past.
We put our hands together reverentially when mentioning a teacher by name, never criticized any of their decisions and shut doubt resolutely out of our hearts. Leaning on it blindly without trying to understand is one of those unfortunate human failings that give religion a bad name.
The problem with the Mahayana is that it is the most complete and so the most difficult to teach to others. I think some people brought incense, wore those yellow om fabrics and sat in the lotus pose all the way through looking very very holy indeed. The few things that troubled me and i was skeptical about, i found, i could not understand without a proper foundation. The fact that i sense a negative, judgmental behaviour, signifies to me you clearly do not understand.

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