A Report from Sera and Some Advice

An American woman offered this report from Sera Monastery India:

You are probably more interested in the Dorje Shukden (sp?) fiasco. What a stupid thing. I just can’t get over the fact that they are tearing the monastery apart about something that doesn’t exist… The thin veneer of Buddhism cracks to show what superstitious people they really are.Yes, there was a lot of angst and problems. I’m afraid all I could do was laugh about the whole thing. One morning the place was absolutely teeming with Indian police from Bangalore. I counted at least 60 officers swarming around Sera Mey temple. Khen Rinpoche had sent for them. Apparently the local and Mysore police are in the hands of the Shukden party, as it is called. They receive bribes, as do local people in the surrounding villages. It is alleged that the Shukden people are very rich, being financed by the Chinese who are absolutely ecstatic to see the monks at each other’s throats. Khen Rinpoche decreed that every Sera Mey monk must come to the temple and swear not to uphold the ghost. Of course, the Shukden practitioners didn’t come. Rinpoche threatened to resign if they didn’t come, but nothing happened. In the end every monk in the place now has a photo identity card in order to enter the temple. The Indian police are checking. That went on for a couple of weeks and there were notices up all over the place telling that worship of a ghost wouldn’t be allowed, but it went on anyway. As a lot of the activity took place in the early morning, I didn’t see much of it. I was frightened a few times by the police, as I didn’t have a PAP, despite having applied for it 5 months previously. When it finally did come, it was for a few days that had already passed. I never did like Sera very much, having gone there by mistake in 2001 thiking it was a Kagyu monastery.

Geshe Jamphel from Nalanda Monastery France offered the following advise regarding those Westerners who took a spiritual teacher too quickly:

If someone, perhaps when they were new to Dharma, took a teacher who later turned out is against His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which would not be the view of an enlightened being, you would be wise to disassociate yourself from such a person. However, despite him having turned out wrong, you still received a lot of benefit from him.

Now that you have faith in His Holiness, focus on him and see him as encompassing all of one’s teachers, see all your lamas dissolving into His Holiness. Now you can cut the connection with the first teacher, but you don’t have to destroy the faith you had in him, but rather place it in His Holiness.

In a situation where you rely on someone as your teacher, you will feel that he is a Buddhist, take refuge, see him as a Buddha and study with him. Later if you find out he is not a Buddhist, because he is taking refuge in false gods, there would be no fault if you turned away from him. It would not be that you were breaking your samayas with this person. (Full article Nalanda Newsletter)

Geshe Tashi, Jamyang center London, about the NKT ordination:

Recently I was informed that in a website which related to ex NKT students, it was stated that as an FPMT Geshe I approve NKT ordination. I would like to clarify that I never made such a statement. Within FPMT, as in all other Tibetan Buddhist traditions, in the mula-saravastivada system, novices hold 36 vows. This is the system I uphold. (Jamyang Newsletter August 2008)

Sakya Pandita:

Examination of Bad Conduct

Deceivers , well-mannered and smooth talking;
Should not be trusted until scrutinized.
Peacocks have lovely forms and pleasing calls,
But their food is extremely poisonous.

Commentary: The beautiful, well-groomed appearance of those who deceive others is pleasing simply to behold. One is enchanted upon hearing their suave words.

But they are not to be trusted until they have been thoroughly investigated; they must be identified as cunning, bad-natured people, always sizing up others.

The peacock possesses a beautiful rainbow-hued body and a very sweet voice, but its food is a powerful poison found in dangerous, precipitous places.

Verse 152 • Ordinary Wisdom • Sakya Pandita’s Treasury of Good Advice • Translated by John T. Davenport • Foreword by His Holiness Sakya Trizin • Wisdom Publications • 2000 • Boston

Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen Pal Zangpo wrote in his “Dom gsum rab dbye”:

“I have love for all beings
and I do not speak ill of anyone.

If, perchance, I have lost my composure
and disparaged another, I renounce and confess that misdeed.

Whether the Noble Doctrine
has been misunderstood or correctly understood
is a theme that affects our long-term future destinations,
so if someone calls the positive and negative assessment
of these ‘hostility’, he is himself at fault.

Does one label as ‘hostily’
all the refutations of all false doctrines –
held by non-Buddhists and Buddhists alike –
that were made by all the wise men such Nagarjuna,
Vasubandhu, Dignaga and Dharmakirti?

Were all the Fully Enlightened Ones
merely jealous when they refuted
demons and non-Buddhist sectarians?

The wise are guides for blind fools,
and if you call it ‘hostily’ to lead them
well in matters of correct or mistaken teachings,
how, then, is Buddhism to be henceforth preserved?

A guide holds back the blind
from stepping over precipices
and leads them along a safe path.
Is that jealousy? If so, then how else
are the blind to be led?

If you say that it is due to a physician’s hostility
or jealousy that he urges,
‘Stop eating the foods that hurt your body
and eat only those that help’
then how else are the ill to be healed?

If to distinguish between true
and false teachings is to be called
‘hostility’ and ‘jealousy’, then just how else are beings
to be rescued from the ocean of Samsara?”

For those seeking balanced information see also Jigme Duntak’s Blog: Western Shugden Society.