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Re: Experience & Buddhism

Jan 31, 1995 08:19 PM

Please allow me to intercede in your conversation.  The Dalai
Lama's amplification of the Kamala Sutta shows the gnostic
foundation of core buddhism.  The only caveat is this: one of
limited, especially immature gnosis, is without qualification to
make claims of knowledge and understanding beyond his or her
current status.  The Dalai Lama like all who base themselves on
certain core teachings of bodhisattva buddhism make use of a kind
of developmental model formualted in the dasabhumi sutra; that
sutra was incorporated in the huayen/kegon sutra in China,
readily available in Cleary's wonderful translation through
Shambhala (The Flower Adornment Sutra).  As Buddhism grew and
evolved in sophistication and understanding of how perons wake
up, the dasa model was formulated (dasa=ten, bhumi=stages or

Rereading the foregoing I confess to making no point, or
obscuring the one I began to make.  Gradual unfolding of
wisdom/compassion means that what I don't understand today -
which is what we all think we do understand, not being able to
recognize that "what we don't understand is that we don't
understand".  When the buddha proposed to the Kamalas that they
be the judge of the efficacy of a teaching through its outcomes,
he was not talking about the philosophy of a teaching: rather,
the methodological procedures or practices which brought about
the kind of gnosis a teacher claimed as truth was his subject.

Those who've read Arthur Versluis' wonderful new book TheoSophia
will recognize the gnosis based common ground of the Buddha and
Western gnostic currents.  Neither reduce spirituality to
philosophical statements; both recognize the problem of Hermes.
Spiritual teachers worthy of the title face the great difficulty
of "reporting back" from ultimate knowledge, stuck with
conventions of ordinary language referring to ordinary
experience.  At least Sanskrit has a rather well evolved language
pointing to extraordinary states.

The Dalai Lama's commments are often made in reference to what he
knows very well as the "papamitras" of Buddhism.  In traditional
buddhism, it is held that you need the coaching and mentoring of
a guru or personal trainer.  Suchpersons are known as
kalayamitras, good teacher/friends.  On the other hand,
papamitras are those whose teachings are falsified by hidden
agendas, insincerity, power trips, etc.  In various publicaitons
and public talks, the Dalai Lama has stood up for the integrity
of individuals.  In a Swiss study called The Testimonyh of the
Tulkus, he is very calculated in remarks about tulkus these days,
sayhing he prefers a geshe (like a spiritual director with a PhD)
over tulkus.  Why? In India and in the West tulkus of little
distinction trade on their titles for wealth, fame and lots of
sexual advantage.  In the context of spiritual counterfeits, HH
is especially concerned.

There is, of course, much more to say on this matter.  The two
most important points are the context in which the Dalai Lama,
like Oshakasama long ago, speaks: claims and counter claims of
the "experts." Second is what the Church for long regarded as one
of the great heresies: the gnostic heresy.  With gnosis, middle
men - be they churches or gurus - take on a consulting or
advisory role, not the ultimate dispense & interlocutor between
God and persons.  Gnostics are dangerous- they see the Emperor
has no clothing and that the guru is just as human as you and me!

Ken O'Neill, Kyoshi
White Lotus Society
Tucson, Arizona

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