Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly - summer 2012

The Wisdom Mind of Thinley Norbu: A Selection of Teachings

Wisdom Mind and the Birth of Samsara
I bow to my own Wisdom Mind
which is my best wisdom teacher,
the source of all visible and invisible qualities.
Sentient beings are always in time and place.

Commentary: Don’t Blame the Messenger 

Photo by Linda Fisherby Rita M. Gross

Sometimes I am accused of “genderizing the dharma.” It is true that I have taught and written extensively about Buddhism and gender, including in my book Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analy­sis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism. But why leap to the claim that I’m genderizing the dharma in that work? How could anyone possibly genderize the dharma if the dharma were gender neutral and gender free, if there were no gender biases and hierarchies in its institutional and doctrinal expressions?

Journeys: No Ordinary Teacher

Illustration by Kim ScafuroBy Julianne Victoria
Sometimes a teacher will come into our lives at just the right time, regardless of whether we’re looking for one or even know we need one. Two years ago this happened to me, quite unexpectedly, when I met Simba. My teacher wasn’t a Zen master, or a lama at the local Buddhist center. He was a dog.

Profile: Rangjung Yeshe Institute

Photo by Michael EisenbachBy Andrea Miller
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche was inspired to teach Western students by his own teacher, the Sixteenth Karmapa. “He told me many times that you’ve got to teach whoever is interested in the dharma,” says Chokyi Nyima, “and Westerners are really hungry.”
The firstborn son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima was twenty-five when he became the abbot of Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery in Boudhanath, Nepal, in 1976. He soon began to give weekend teachings to Western travelers, but thought it was important to offer nonmonastics (Western and otherwise) a more comprehensive Buddhist education.

Inside Film: Johanna Demetrakas, Crazy Wisdom

Photo by Karen RoperWhat inspired you to make a film about your teacher, Chögyam Trungpa?
In 1983 I was in Boulder editing the film The Lion’s Roar. At a private interview with Rinpoche, he asked me to make a “Shambhala film.” Frankly, I didn’t know what a Shambhala film would or could be, but I said yes. Four years later, he was gone. I directed the filming of his cremation and made a short edit from the sixteen-millimeter footage, but there was no funding to develop a proper film. Years went by, during which I taught a lot of Shambhala training. Then one day I woke up and realized what my Shambhala film had to be.

Book Briefs

by Michael Sheehy
What’s striking about Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s new book, Open Heart, Open Mind (Harmony Books 2012), is that it’s so personal. It’s unusual for a lama to open up about his own vulnerabilities and fears, particularly in print, and Tsoknyi Rinpoche does so in a way that is both touching and reassuring for practitioners. He writes about being a father, husband, and Dzogchen teacher, and growing up among some of the legendary Tibetan meditation masters of the previous generation.

An Ambitious and Unorthodox Pioneer

Photo Courtesy of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Regents of the University of California Theos Bernard, The White Lama:
Tibet, Yoga, and American Religious Life

By Paul G. Hackett
Columbia University Press, 2012
$32.95; 494 pages

White Lama:The Life of Tantric Yogi Theos Bernard, Tibet’s Lost Emissary to the New World
By Douglas Veenhof
Harmony Books, 2011
$27.50; 446 pages

Reviewed by Michael J. Sweet

The Dharma of Ubuntu

Photo by ThanissaraIn a country ravaged by poverty, violence, and AIDS, Buddhists Thanissara and Kittisaro are finding ways to make a difference in people’s lives—and discovering South Africans’ own deep sense of interconnectedness.
All dharmas are forms of emptiness, not born, not destroyed, not stained, not pure, without loss, without gain. Bodhisattvas benefit living beings, but do not see any living beings. This is indeed a difficult and yet exquisite point; one cannot grasp it.

Are We Really Taking Refuge?

Photo by Craig J. Barber Carolyn Rose Gimian reflects on modern-day practitioners’ ambivalent commitment to the three jewels and considers what we might be losing out on.
How remarkable it must have been to be one of Buddha’s direct students. But surely it was no walk in the park. The first followers of the Buddha were a tiny minority within their society. Although there may have been an acceptance of contemplative and ascetic practice in India, the Buddha and his students were doing something radical and unique.

Pulling Strings

Sangye Khandro recalls Thinley Norbu’s unusual but highly effective method for training translators.
Kyabje Thinley Norbu Rinpoche was fond of quoting Omniscient Longchenpa’s Treasury of the Dharmadhatu and in particular the following verse:
Everything is Samantabhadra; the Ever-Excellent;
there is nothing that is not excellent.
Without good or bad there is only the oneness of
the Ever-Excellent; Samantabhadra

So it is.