On Authentic Teachers: From Aug 2014

August 3, 2014
On Authentic teachers and misuse of Lama-Disciple relationship

Dear Venerable Geshe-la, Gen-la Khyenrab, Gen-la Kunsang, Gen Jampa, and Gen Rigpa,

I am writing to express my interest in continuing with your school as Geshe-la intended it; I am especially interested that we continue with the essential practices and instructions Geshe-la emphasized, especially Heart Jewel and other Shugden practices. In the introduction to Heart Jewel it says, referring to the Guru Yoga of Je Tsongkhapa and the Practice for relying on Dorje Shugden, that these two practices “are the very essence of the New Kadampa Tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.” I would like to discuss what I perceive as a choice between the very best kind of Dharma and essentially the worst ‘dharma’ imaginable. I am going to discuss this, both with what we should know from Geshe-la, and also from another source, which corroborates, in my opinion, how Geshe-la teaches dharma according to his own lineage, and also gives some arguments against the bad dharmas we face in the modern world; the corroborating arguments are from the recently late Shamar Rinpoche from the Karma Kagyu tradition; I include this so you may understand that in the modern world, teachers of varying schools teach against the sort of ‘dharmas’ that popular and political Buddhism teaches. Since we have Geshe-la’s pure teachings in the NKT being corrupted by popular ideas of dharma, I thought it would be helpful to include a perspective from another source.

I understand as I write this, that theoretically, I am never to mention any source outside of one of Geshe-la’s books, at least not in an up-front way; while I think it is a good idea to stay with Geshe-la’s study programs in class, and not mix the dharmas, I do not accept that Geshe-la said that we could never mention another lama’s writings ever, not if our intention is pure, and our motive is to keep with Geshe-la’s teachings. I do think we have had this twisted and misused, that we cannot ever even look at another teaching anywhere and still be Kadampa, meanwhile people come in and read a line from one of Geshe-la’s books and launch into pop dharma talks clearly plagiarized from outside sources; I suppose it is supposed to be how they interpret what Geshe-la said, but never does it have anything to do with how Geshe-la actually taught. People like Atisha, Rigpa, and Jampa, have always taught in a perfect way, according to the qualifications of a Mahayana spiritual guide. Unfortunately, Gen-la Dekyong’s policies of giving us teachers who have barely practiced, have been untruthful regarding length of affiliation, untruthful regarding true affiliation, and have little to no scholarly training, are the type of ‘teacher’ that sensibly one avoids, rather than follows. I bring a brief article by Shamar Rinpoche into the picture, because it describes qualified teachers, and I bring it in honestly, which is a departure from how many of Gen-la Dekyong’s teachers quote outside sources. I feel, yes, in class, we should try to stay only with Geshe-la’s books, because of the fact that we want to stay on topic, and not inadvertently mix dharmas, however, in a writing, I am just trying to corroborate the idea that we would need qualified spiritual guides, since some of the people have twisted what Geshe-la said so much. The following paragraph is an excerpt from “Four Ways to Authenticate a Genuine Buddhist Teacher” from Shamar Rinpoche’s official website http://shamarpa.org/teachings/:

“When you set out to examine a teacher, you will see that there are four kinds. These four kinds of teachers can be categorized according to two things: their scholarly understanding of dharma, and their mastery of essential instructions. Essential instructions are the key to unlock the heart of the teachings. Each practice has a key that is not openly explained, and it is held by those few serious practitioners who were taught it by a long line of the most experienced meditators. Some teachers are scholars who have no essential instructions. Then there are teachers who have key instructions but no scholarly training or ability. There are also teachers who are both key holders and scholars. The fourth type of teacher is one who has no key or scholarly training. Among the four, only the last needs to be completely avoided.” (Emphasis mine)
“Of course, each type of teacher can benefit you in a specific way. If you only follow the dharma that is explained in a scholarly way, that is good. To only follow key instructions without scholarly training is very good. If you follow both the scholarly training and the key instructions, that is supremely good. It perhaps goes without saying that having neither scholarly access to the dharma nor key instructions does zero good! But in any case, to reach the goal you need the key.” (Emphasis mine)
I would like to say, that when I received teachings from Gens Atisha, Rigpa, and Jampa, I felt they are the sort of teachers who are both key holders and scholars; I do not know much about higher advanced meditations, but the key holders for anything they teach seems right, as they give, for instance, instructions that unlock the lojong teachings perfectly, so that they go within us, and we can practice them. I also perceive that they hold the “key” to the Dorje Shugden heart commitment as they actually embody Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings and hold their commitments, including those to Dorje Shugden, purely. Whatever Shamar Rinpoche meant by keys, there are variations among lineages, so I don’t think debating the difference is a good use of time; however, I just want to say that I do think we have some NKT teachers with our key Kadampa instructions, who are also perfect scholars. From my perspective, and which I have argued before, and with no response, we gave up people who were perfectly trained at Geshe-la’s dharma and also held the heart commitment; we could also from a general Buddhist perspective say we gave up the most qualified of Dharma teachers in favor of the least qualified, or fourth type of teacher that Shamar Rinpoche wrote about in his article. Shamar Rinpoche’s article continues:
“For a general audience in need of the most basic introduction, the type of teacher who is only trained as a scholar is very good. For very advanced practitioners engaging in intense practice, the teacher who only holds key instructions is excellent. Finally, the combined scholar/keyholder is perfectly suited for any type or level of student. The fourth type of teacher, the one with neither scholarly training nor key instructions, is perfect for nobody. Ironically, it is also the type of teacher that many may be tempted to follow.”
In other words, Gen Atisha, Gen Jampa, and Gen Rigpa, would be the combined scholar/keyholder sort of teacher, who is suitable for any level of student. The people Gen-la allowed to teach from the 6 month teacher training as well as other random appointees like Amy Peng, who expressed to the kids’ class that we might be switching Dharma Protectors, as well as most of Chokyi’s teaching staff in recent years, have been the fourth type, “with neither scholarly training nor key instructions” who is “perfect for nobody.” Now, under Gen-la Dekyong, we have the same sleight of hand we see all the time in the Dalai Lama school; she puts someone in charge or in a teaching position with no qualifications and then we aren’t to talk against their teaching, or we will be labeled as disharmonious (disagreeing with the dictator) or criticizing others, thus we are non-virtuous friends thus we must be shunned and shut off from all contact with anyone legitimate in our school. It’s not really hard to see through that, and there is no reason to accept teachers who have no discernible qualifications to begin with; they don’t qualify by standards of enacting the heart commitment; they also don’t qualify by general Buddhist methods of looking at teachers. Shamar Rinpoche’s article continues:
“You might wonder how it is possible to judge if someone is truly learned, or if they are a great meditator who holds the essential instructions. To start to determine if someone is learned, you can begin by looking into this person’s background – check their scholarly training and qualifications. Do some research in the community where that person was trained or teaches to make sure they have the training and qualifications they claim. A thorough investigation of their background is the best way to know if they are qualified or not.” (Emphasis mine)
In the case of many of the recent appointees, I was there, in the community, when these people came in and started lying about the length of time they had spent with the Kadampas. These people started teaching and taking management positions; then Gen-la Dekyong, while knocking people away from their posts who were really perfect and qualified teachers, instigated a program where she had to have a lot of new RTs quickly, so if they claimed to practice for 2 years, she would let them study for 6 months, and then force them on the NKT community as resident teachers. All of this is a complete sham of Dharma, and may likely be a mean trick by people who have no respect for any lineage that doesn’t listen to their teacher: the Dalai Lama. Furthermore, when a person or a group pretends that we are non-virtuous and should be shunned or are non-virtuous and therefore getting bad karma by speaking against their bad decisions, then we are not, according to traditional Buddhist view, supposed to rely on them, as we can see from the continuation of Shamar Rinpoche’s article:
“One thing is for sure – if someone is claiming to be a great meditation teacher, or claiming to be enlightened, that person is not at all reliable. Anyone who consistently claims greatness, who tries to control his or her students strongly by claiming that is the nature of samaya, who tries to tell you that if you don’t obey their commands you will go to hell, who is clearly trying to collect money, should not be trusted.” (Emphasis mine)
I feel Gen-la Dekyong has been guilty of the point where the teacher tries to control their students strongly by saying that is the nature of samaya (commitments to the teacher); this is also a normal hallmark of the Dalai Lama school; while I do not have her tantric commitments (may all beings experience pure teachers and pure lands) I can see I wouldn’t want to take them with her, since she uses even lojong to try to control others. I notice that we are not to speak against anything that is going on; in a lojong teaching from 2010 or so, Gen-la Dekyong emphasized that what we are going for is if things go as we want, we are okay, if things go a way we don’t want we are okay. While that would be a perfectly good, if partial teaching if the intention were pure and if it were explained and used correctly, instead it has been used against Dorje Shugden practitioners; oh, if you are upset with the teachings, then you are not a good lojong practitioner, and if you are criticizing others, by saying the teachings aren’t following the Kadampa tradition, then you are not following Gen-la’s lojong instructions and you are talking against virtuous people, so you are getting bad karma, which will harm your rebirth and are a bad friend so we will have to ignore you and cut you off. All I can really say to such a misuse of dharma, is, how sickening, and how very par for the course coming from what may likely be followers of the Dalai Lama. (Please see numerous previous writings as to support for why these people appear to be with a lama who is either the Dalai or following the Dalai Lama).
In closing, please understand, that I am writing in a way that gives the highest praise to all genuine teachers of Buddhism; while we do not normally mix teachings, I do not feel this constitutes mixing, as it is general Buddhist advice from a genuine spiritual guide, who corroborates what another genuine spiritual guide (Geshe-la) is doing. I feel it is also appropriate in occasional cases, especially since I quote my source, rather than pretending that I got it from a Geshe-la book when it was really Zen, Pema Chodron, Deepak Chopra, or whatever they are teaching all over the place under the political and false dharmas available under Gen-la Dekyong.
I write to help preserve the Kadampa lineage to help all living beings and to help keep people from being confused and potentially mislead by the Dalai Lama’s followers while they are being told that it is really what Geshe-la would want. Their heart commitment was never existent to our school, so it is not just broken but invalid in many cases to the point where they are misleading beings to impure political paths. May all living beings benefit, and may Venerable Kelsang Gyatso and all pure Dorje Shugden lamas have a very long life.
Yours pure Dharmas,
Kelly Inman

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