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Today is the full moon! Therefore I am listening to some soothing Amitabha mantras, and of course posting something that is due on my blog. As you may have noticed, I have been selling items for a friend of mine, who is cleaning out her parent’s storage. I have very busy selling some bizarre items – which was exemplified recently when a friend called and asked what I was doing at that moment. I said, “you know, taking pictures of campaign buttons from 1964.” I mean, what else would I be doing on a Tuesday evening?! I just sold a used chemistry set from the early 60’s and my next task is finding some leather oil for a 1950’s baseball glove… Yeah, sales can be a real bear, and I do not mean the positive connotation type of bear either, if that exists. I am finding it to be mucho work and low return. Anyway…
So, a couple weeks ago, we had Khenpo Tsultrim down to C’ville to teach on
the the great Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna’s text, A Letter to a Friend. It is so amazing. [I am going to explain this vague comment.] The Dharma is amazing, this text is amazing (I believe the entire Buddhist path is covered in its verses, provided one has a good commentary or teacher), a qualified lama’s ability to recall pertinent metaphors, facts and anecdotes is amazing and being among a great group of sincere and honest practitioners is amazing. We are very blessed here in Charlottesville with the Drikung Kagyu Ratnashri Sangha – not a huge group (yet), but very dedicated, kind-hearted folks!
The text has over 110 verses, each of which can be unpacked. Don’t worry, I am not going to try to do this – my ignorance would shine forth like… well it would not be pretty.
However, Khenpo was very eloquent, sharp and occasionally comical as he shared his knowledge and stories with us. On the first day, he went through ~50 verses. Then, he said that the latter verses were pretty much straight forward, so we had a bit of a (pleasant) Dharma speed drill in finishing the final 25 or so, and hence we finished early. Very nice – having the late afternoon of a Sunday more free than I expected.
Now for a change of topic…
For this paragraph, I might be repeating a trend I have noticed in my mind and expressions over the years, however I am going to plow forward. The trend is to say, “hey – I understand that completely,” when in reality I have much to learn about the very subject I thought I had down. Well, yep, you guessed it, this pattern is up again. I have been diligently studying Tibetan Buddhism since January of 2006 and I started studying Zen Buddhism in 2002. However, I am just beginning to familiarize myself with some of the deeper practices of the Vajrayana path. Oh, I do not mean to suggest that I am understanding the deeper practices or even putting them into practice, rather I am just getting introduced to them. I plan on being a novice for a long time! [Some people suggest that I have a glossary on my blog / website and I completely understand – however I am too lazy to do that, so kindly look up any words you may not know and get back to me if you can’t find them.]
For instance, I have considered myself a practitioner of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism since 2006.
However, without a lot of knowledge about the founder of this particular lineage, and knowing what makes this lineage different from others, I might be running around (dogmatically and possibly ignorantly) speaking my superficial knowledge. By the way, there are currently several divisions within the umbrella of the overall Kagyu lineage, of which Drikung Kagyu is one, and in the past, there were dozens of different Kagyus! Lots to keep up with.
Okay, on Friday morning I am off to Davidson North Carolina for a teaching on this very subject – the founder of the lineage, Jigten Sumgon, his family and in particular, his grandmother, who turns out to be an enlightened being who promised to protect authentic pracitioners (thank you Achi Chokyi Drolma!). You can expect an update about that weekend within a few weeks. Then at the end of August, whoa – three weeks away, I am resuming school (UVa) for another semester – Hooray!