Living with a Venerable Monk, a Re-Education, summer 2011

This is a post about Kirby’s experiences of living with a Drikung Kagyu Western monk.

This material is copyrighted by M. Kirby Moore and reproduction without permission is prohibited.

This summer I have been living with a Drikung Kagyu monk, a venerable being who keeps many of his qualities secret. However, as I have slowly opened myself to him, I have been learning much. Perhaps I should say, re-learning.

A re-education:

Previously, I tended to use the words “wisdom beings” a little too often. I have no inner qualities, so if I was saying “wisdom beings” once or twice a day, it was purely conjecture and I had no idea whether or not actual wisdom beings were behind what I was claiming. In living with a monastic, I am learning that we should only share our spiritual realizations or experiences with our heart teachers and NO ONE ELSE. I have many poor habits but I am glad I have the opportunity to clean some of them up.

One of the reasons we avoid speaking about anything remotely special is that it can water down any merit or blessings one is receiving. Because the moment the Ego gets involved, ooph! Things can get hairy. For instance, saying, “the wisdom beings won’t let me send an email to a friend who I am presently in contact with,” tends to say more than I mean. I don’t know if this statement is true – it could be a faulty connection, a poor router, etc.

We should also be careful what we say regarding the Dharma. My intuition is rather refined and I go as far as saying that I am proud of the work I have done around this topic. Just because my intuition is refined a little, does not mean however that I can or should be confident about things I only know superficially! I am becoming reeducated around truly knowing something versus intuitively knowing it. So you have a great intuition, can you tell me what Vasubhandu says about that subject? Nope! So get educated, then and only then can you speak with confidence. No matter how many Dharma brothers and sisters have repeated something, it might not be true according to the root texts (in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Pali, etc). Confidence derived from intuition is a little dangerous, because without wisdom, compassion can be very very foolish. I am unlearning a lot this summer…

There are many careless people in the West. When I say the word “careless” here, I do not mean to be derogatory. Rather, there are many people who talk about subjects that they should reflect about first. I myself am VERY GUILTY of this conduct, or now that I know, hopefully I will change my ways.

Those people who know and who are qualified to teach about “Mahamudra,” “Dzogchen,” “Chod,” “Emptiness,” “The Five Buddha Families,” “Winds, Drops and Channels,” “Six Yogas of Naropa,” any Highest Yoga Tantra, etc etc only say the bare minimum if anything at all, and these teachers who are qualified to teach about advanced topics know when to stop. These teachers have special inner qualities derived from many years of study and time in supervised, solitary retreats. They know when a student has heard enough, they know what to talk about and when. And most importantly, they know if a student is at all ready to hear about a certain subject.

So often you hear relatively new people talking about advanced topics and you know they don’t meet any of the following criteria to be teaching about these advanced subjects:
– attending a Buddhist philosophical school (Shedra or monastic college is anywhere from 10 to 20 years in length).
– attending a Buddhist Tantric college after completing a teacher’s degree as a Buddhist monastic (that means they have completed Shedra).
– completing at least a three year retreat under a qualified master, although many masters do anywhere from 6 to 21 years of solitary retreat.
– having many years of study and practice under their belts and then, out of sheer merit (and humility, refining of their ego, developing good qualities, etc), having an honorary teaching degree conferred on them, like Khenpo, Khenmo, Lopon, Drupon, etc.

I wonder however if it is someone’s aim to teach, if they should be allowed to do so. Because we should first spend many years cultivating the desire and yearning to be a better student, and only a student. However, if someone just prefers to practice – like the story of Drubwang Konchog Norbu Rinpoche, who did not want to leave retreat until H.H. the Dalai Lama told him he had to go out in the world and teach – then they are probably ripe for teaching!

The reason I am explicit about who should be teaching and who should be working on modesty is that occasionally you get people with secret shadowy sides – some hidden pockets of narcissism that they keep a secret for a long while. Then, without meeting the above criteria, they eventually attain the status of “senior student” and they feel they are ready to teach. Not good. Luckily this does not occur very often.

Finally, if you are still with me… Here are some final does and don’ts that are getting reinforced as I live with a Venerable member of the monastic community.

If you happen to live with a monastic, don’t bring any romantic partners home with you. No, I have not learned this the hard way and don’t plan to, but I’m just saying, in case… There is a field or a frequency that is generated from living with a sincere, practicing (completely celibate) monk who keeps most of his 200 plus vows and strives to improve himself on a daily basis. Disrupting this energetic field is not good.

Don’t engage in the “crazy” behavior described above. Simply put, know your limits and don’t go wandering into territory where only qualified Lamas and Masters should be venturing.

Do cultivate as many good qualities as possible: the six perfections – intelligent generosity, sound moral ethics, fearless patience, skillful persistence, well-instructed meditative concentration and profound wisdom awareness. Right view – get a qualified teacher to explain this one. The Four Immeasurables – Loving Kindness, Vast Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity without Indifference. Then you will gain the trust of the monastic community and many blessings will befall you – but you must be sincere. Without a little bit of gentle but firm effort, we will never attain effortlessness – I love it when Khenchen Rinpoche says this!

Do be very mindful of all your conduct – actions, words and thoughts – if you stay on really good terms with your teachers and venerables, they possess potent teachings which they might share with you if you are ready.

I realize I have been very didactic, but if you stuck with me, thank you for reading. Do not fret – more posts in the future will be more laiszez faire.


Published by Kirby Moore

Kirby Moore is a healing facilitator based in the beautiful rolling hills of Charlottesville, Virginia. He does sessions in-person and long distance via Skype and Zoom, working with Spiritual Astrology, Somatic Experiencing, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and Birth Process Work. His healing work is informed by fifteen years of meditation and Qigong practice. He works with client's intentions and deepest longings to attain clear, tangible results. Contact him for more info at (email): kirby [at] mkirbymoore [dot] com

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