Friday, January 11, 2013
Many years ago when I was living in San Francisco I was enrolled in a movement class. One evening as I was doing my movements, I saw (in my mind) an image of a figure looking down at me. I did not recognize him, but noticed that he was dressed as a monk, was very plain looking, younger than most gurus, and had extremely long arms. Soon thereafter I saw his picture in some current publication and learned that he was visiting in the San Francisco area where he was to appear in a major spiritual gathering in a few days. From the picture, I learned his name and that he was based in England--but that was all I ever knew about him and I even forgot his name over the years.
Yesterday, at the grocery store, I was looking over the magazines in their racks and--for some reason--picked up a copy of Tricycle, the well known Buddhist Review. Part of me did not want to do this, since often when I buy such publications, I never get around to reading them. But this time I picked it up and opened it at random--to a page which carried a picture of "my guru" as well as an announcement of a new book he has just published. This time I looked up his website and discovered that he is now a famous spiritual teacher who has written many books and has established numerous New Kadampa Buddhist centers across the world, an order which he founded.
I am sure that I shall never meet this man (unless he visits Colorado), but I continue to be interested in him and his approach to spirituality. He website (he also has books listed on Amazon) offers a free download of a three-volume work (on Modern Buddhism: the Way of Compassion and Wisdom) he has written. It includes such topics as sutra and tantra and will, I am sure, benefit many. I ordered all 3 for my kindle on my computer.
The Amazon site offers this brief description of him:
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was ordained as a Buddhist monk in Tibet at the age of eight. He is a fully accomplished meditation master, prolific author, and international teacher who has lived in the West since 1977 and has founded over 1,200 Kadampa Buddhist centers.
I discovered that his name means "spiritual friend," which happens to be how I describe myself on my (personal) business cards.
I looked over his volume on Tantra and was pleased to discover that he describes various levels or types of tantra, including both sexual and non-sexual. I practice the latter, but he did not include a description of my practice, which now exists as neither sexual or non-sexual, nor does it include meditation on a deity. Rather it focuses on circulating the pure, blissful energies, in the way I described in my last post (through the aroma of essential oils). These energies can be accessed through aroma, slow movement, music, yoga asanas, mudra, yantra, chanting, personal puja, sacred locations, group ceremony and various other ways. I feel that mine is a major form of tantra, one not associated with a deity or particular lineage, but rather connecting with ultimate source, or the creative energy of the universe.
I have heard other people who have "seen" their guru in their mind's eye before meeting him. However, as always, I am again on my own, with no one to discuss these fascinating experiences with.
The following information is from the Wikipedia website:
Consistent with the lineage teachings he received from his root Guru, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Kelsang Gyatso believes that the practice of Dorje Shugden should continue to be practised by any Gelugpas who wish to do so. This view differs from that held by the Dalai Lama XIV, who, despite having received the same lineage teachings, after long consideration has renounced this practice and actively discourages it as he considers it detrimental to the unity of the various Buddhist traditions of Tibet.
As I understand it, Dorje Shugden is considered by some to be a "angel protector" of the Dharma. By others he is classed as an evil spirit. It seems that Buddhism, like all organizations, also has its splits and differences of opinion.
Kelsang Gyatso has retired from his position as head of the order he founded. He set up 4 types of "members"--male monks, female nuns, laymen and laywomen. The Kadampa communities consist of all of the above categories, and ordained monks do not take precedence over lay people, nor men over women. He has also said that a simple
vow will suffice for ordination (not the 253 prescribed in ancient texts). These are the vows, which he points out are for the most part contained in the 10 commandments:
Throughout my life I will abandon killing, stealing, lying or cheating, sexual activity, taking intoxicants and engaging in meaningless activities. I will practice contentment, reduce my desire for worldly pleasures, maintain the commitments of refuge, and practice the three trainings of moral discipline, concentration and wisdom.