Harassment at Shugden Empowerment Part I– involving “NKT” teacher Maxine Wright

Please note: the usher mentioned below turned out to be a resident teacher from an NKT Center; she sides with an anti-Shugden (set up looks like) where people who hate come to the empowerments to disrupt us. We never had such a complete mayhem as at this empowerment’s kid’s room, and it’s odd how a supposedly NKT teacher will side with making it impossible to hear a very rare transmission on Dorje Shugden’s practice (we made it throught the empowerment, barely) but would rather argue that children should be allowed to play with bubbles (incites running around) rather than listen to Jampa.  Please also see that Gen Choma at the same empowerment disregarded Shugden.  Nothing was done about this by the NKT office, nothing was done about anything I reported for two years.

Dear Wangpo, 2-23-2013

I am delighted that my daughter and I along with several others today received the blessing empowerment of Dorje Shugden.  I am not pleased, however, to report, that I have experienced issues with the sound system in all last night’s and today’s empowerment and teaching, along with issues with common sense prevailing in the kid’s room.  I want to say first of all, that I think we had a successful empowerment, thanks to Dorje Shugden himself.  After all, even, when, I believe it was Vasubandu, would read sutra to birds, even without understanding the words, their karma cleared so much as a result of the transmission that they were later born in the god realm.  While I hope we all can avoid all 6 realms and take rebirth in the purelands, I do think that hearing and receiving the empowerment of Dorje Shugden occurred for all of us in the CADC today.

Concerning sound issues, our problems were twofold: one, in each session of the teaching or empowerment someone had to go and ask for the sound to be turned on for us.  Another issue was with volume; after we got the sound turned on in Choma’s teaching last night, we really couldn’t hear her, until Amy came in and fixed the volume.  We also had some logistical concerns, starting with the room size; in the previous two CADCs we had very large rooms for a small number of parents with children; this was a much smaller room, with many more parents and children.  Someone put out some craft items, puzzles, etc., just like in the other CADCs, but this time someone also put out, before the empowerment began, some balloons and bubbles, which obviously are not conducive to children being quiet during an empowerment.  I am not certain who thought that would be a good idea, but obviously the point during an empowerment or teaching is to have an appropriate noise and activity level, so the children can imprint and receive the blessings and transmissions, and also so their parents can participate in and follow what is being said in the empowerment.   I have never witnessed such a commotion as during this empowerment, but this is also the first CADC empowerment in the last three years where we did not have anyone monitoring the room.  I believe we had a sound person the first year, and perhaps the 2nd year one of the teachers from KMCLA Kid’s class that were there to facilitate.  This year there was no one in our room to turn to for help; so when we needed sound, someone had to leave and go get a sound person.  Also, at this morning’s empowerment, we had a very wild bunch due to in part to the balloons, which I hid under a chair at first opportunity; there was one father who kept trying to entertain his kids with them until his wife asked him to stop.  Apparently common sense prevailed, and he quit by the time we got sound.

I had an actual issue with a mother, whose name I don’t know, but whose son got along very well with my daughter; they made friends easily, and he seems like a very nice boy.  His name is (name deleted), I think, and his mother was saying that she works in Tuscon.  I rejoice that (name deleted) received this empowerment today, along with his mother; unfortunately his mother only asked him to stop talking twice in two hours of empowerment and WFJ.  He is six, I believe, and kept up a nearly constant stream of talking in a voice as loud as Jampa’s.  His mother really didn’t seem to understand that we need more like whispering to very soft talking and playing with quiet toys; she seemed to be under the impression that any level of noise is fine, as long as we aren’t in the actual gompa.   I know at least 3 of us at various points would ask him and other children to be quiet if others engaged in loud conversation with him, but there didn’t seem to be any way to ask anyone to help us without disrupting the main gompa during an empowerment.

I don’t think there was any good way to make that clear to (name deleted’s) mother, because I tried, during the afternoon teaching to explain to both children (mine and hers) that I didn’t think playing with a balloon or bubbles would be very good during a teaching.  I suggested that they instead draw or play with play doe or puzzles, which is what was left in the room.  The mother kept allowing her son to have the balloon, saying “you can hold it but not play with it.”  When he would start to play with it she would do absolutely nothing about it.  When he tossed it to my daughter, I took it from her and threw it away.  I asked the mother on several occasions to try to keep the noise level lower if they were going to remain, and though she nodded at me, she did nothing to stop her son from talking.  When I went for help about getting the sound hooked up, I told a male usher whose name I didn’t notice that another family was being very noisy.  (Name deleted) and his mother went somewhere else, but then returned a few minutes later, to resume noise.  When he broke out the bubbles and started to open them, again I tried to redirect both children, as my daughter was also interested in bubbles.  When he continued to open them, his mother, who had previously told him not to play bubbles inside, did nothing.  At this point, I said to her, “look, you need to set some boundaries here.”  She looked at me blankly so I went to go and get help.  Thinking the ushers to be fairly unhelpful in this regard, I put on the sternest face I could muster (I used to teach freshman English while I was a young grad student— I used that one), and pointed at Ryan, the webmaster who was also acting as a hall guard earlier in the day.  I indicated that I needed him to come there, and tried to explain what was happening.  The other usher having allowed the return of the noisy family, Ryan went and got another usher named Maxine Wright, who after asking the other parent what was happening, asked me, and when I told her we had had balloons and now bubbles, she informed me that she didn’t think balloons made any sense but bubbles might be okay.

I said, okay, well then if you’ll excuse me, we’ll be going.  I got most of our things and left, but not before Maxine accused me of being angry; angry wasn’t really the right one; I was shaking, because I shake when I get nervous.  Opening a gompa door in the middle of a big teaching for the 2nd time in the teaching makes me very nervous, especially since my daughter is no longer allowed at VBC puja due to alleged noise, and I didn’t want to seem disruptive or actually disrupt the teachings.  I was also nervous because the other mother said something about “you really need this teaching and you seem to have a bad spirit;” I said ‘which one, Nechung?” he being the only spirit in Buddhism that I am aware of.  I sincerely hope I wasn’t being accused of worshipping Nechung; I assure you that I only go for refuge to Buddhas, dharma, and Sangha.   Maxine told us we were both acting like children and kept saying I was angry and  laughed at me as she closed the door.

I need to let you know that if someone were angry, the Buddhist response could be that it is understandable that people sometimes feel angry; however, I have a very long fuse, so I tend to lojong away on my anger and other negative emotions when they arise or in analytical and emptiness meditation before acting.  I don’t generally act on anger when it arises, but rather try to combat it; I have done this my whole life but am much better at this now that I have received Kadampa lojong teachings.  I can usually avoid acting in anger by using this method; I find it odd that I am being accused of a negative emotion while the other woman isn’t; however, Maxine may not have shown very skillful means with the other mother in the sense that she told her that she ‘wasn’t acting Buddhist.’

The upshot here is that we should work on how we do our children’s rooms; I can think of nothing more beneficial to families than making the transmissions and blessings of Kadampa Buddhism available to their children than by providing venues with video link for empowerments and pujas, and even teachings, if that is the families’ wish.  However, I must say that we could handle all of this better by having some common sense noise level guidelines, and of course by providing activities for children that are quiet rather than disruptive.  Any normal child will head right for balloons and bubbles and have an entire room full of running and yelling and disruptive people; on the other hand we do not want guidelines so strict that we may as well be in the gompa.  If a baby makes a baby noise or a 3 year old whispers, that really shouldn’t be a problem in a video link, and I think we can all use common sense to figure out when we would need to take kids outside if they seem to disrupt the room; I generally gage that based on the room dynamics and common sense at the moment; however, I would be happy, having done video link with my daughter at VBC for nearly four years (including 3 empowerments at VBC) to help formulate the guidelines with a committee somewhere.

I am asking you Wangpo, since the sound itself was also not working or not working well, and also due to disruption, if I could, at no additional cost, receive a copy of Gen Jampa’s teaching from today and those from tomorrow on MP3 in lieu of returning to the CADC.

Please give my sincere appreciation to the other mother, and tell her that I am very happy she wants her son to get dharma, and that my problem is not with her as an individual, but rather with the way the sound was being handled generally, and the general lack of guidelines or help available for parents at this particular event.  Please also tell her that I very much like her son and find it understandable that he would want to play with balloons or bubbles if that is what was put out on the kids’ tables.  Thank you Wangpo.

Best regards,

Kelly Inman

 

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