Saturday, March 12, 2011

MEETINGS WITH THREE TIBETAN MASTERS

I found a small pamphlet at a used bookstore called MEETINGS WITH THREE TIBETAN MASTERS by William Segal (Green River Press, Stillgate Publishers, Sunderland, Massachusetts, copyright 1993, 33 pages). It seems that the author made a trip to India in 1971 and recorded some conservations on tape and then transcribed them and an editor named James George decided that they were worth publishing in a largely unedited form, just as they were. The booklet does not give enough information for a beginner to really get what meditation is about nor for a seasoned student to get a depth of detail about some facet of the dharma. But the booklet is nonetheless interesting for a long time devoted student of meditation because it has some subtle points about various things, like about how Vajrayana Buddhism interfaces with Zen Buddhism and Sufism. I wanted to put the notes on this blog for reference, because I think there are people out there who will find these notes valuable.

WS observed that when we are sincere, then we tend to put out a vibration or influence that inspires people to also be sincere, extends an influence that changes the town that a person is in. He wondered whether this was true with the capacity to hold attention on something, whether or not this could also be inspired by someone else. The Dalai Lama replied, "Yes, yes, although I am not exactly answering your question, one person's attitude and influence does affect the other, but only to a certain extent. But the main thing depends on one's self. Control of mind or real peace -- permanent peace, limitless peace -- depends on one's self. If you try, your practice brings something. You cannot get peace -- a good result -- through someone else."

The conversation continues where the Dalai Lama talks about how there are many branches of Buddhism, but that only in Tibet did Buddhism arrive at a very complete teaching with all the integral levels of the Dharma, that in other countries maybe a few saints had all the levels, but that as a country Tibetan Buddhism had a social system where the complete teachings were present in its fullness. Evidently Lhalungpa had told His Holiness that Bill was familiar with Zen Buddhism, and at one point (not recorded on tape) the Dalai Lama explainted with gestures that the robe of Zen reached only to the knees, but that of Tibetan Buddhism, covered everything, right down to the feet.

On page 3: "As nearly as we can now know, Chatral's reference to Gurdjieff's stint of two or three years in a Tibetan monastery at the beginning of this century has historical validity. From all that I have been able to learn from my Tibetan teachers, my best guess is that Mr. Gurdjieff was thoroughly familiar with Dzogchen practices, as transmitted by the Nyingmapa Lamas."

On page 28: "Here the conversation touches on the Gurdjieff teaching. Chatral Rinpoche indicates that Gurdjieff himself received training at a Tibetan monastery in the Swat Valley referred to earlier in the tape."

On page 20: "Here , Segal speaks of his relationship to Ouspensky during the 1941-46 period in American, and to Gurdjieff in 1947-49. He also talked about his friendship with Daisetz Suzuki, 1950-66.) Can you tell about training or esoteric centers in Tibet?

"Chatral Rinpoche: Your question is about the Swat Valley in Pakistan, which was center of Tantric practice? Your question concern complete solitude? because we mentioned a Sufi monastery in Pakistan and there is a description of this Tibetan lama by the name of Dnujembe, the Swat Valley was the important center from which many teachers came.

WS: When did they visit it, in what period?

CR: In various periods...thirteenth...twelve, thirteenth century...I think.

WS: Do you think the monastery still exists?

CR: No. This monastery, this center was Tantric, for Tantric practice; most of the devotees attained enlightenment. And so you have only the ruins, nothing left. There is also a very great stupa which contained many of the favorite writing on esoteric teachings and also relics."

On page 21: "Chatral Rinpoche: This Swat Valley was certainly an important esoteric center and, according to our literary sources, somewhere near there was a great teacher, Padmasambhava. And so there was a good deal of spiritual activities propagating teachings. Even earlier, this was an important center during the lifetime of the Buddha. While in India, Buddha propagated the teachings conducive to the temperamental need of people. These were mainly exoteric teachings. And then, in this Swat Valley, there was a king called Endabuddhi at the time of Buddha, and he wanted a very special teaching which he could practice without giving up any of worldly ties, worldly pursuits. Therefore, our Buddha found that the king was now ripe for receiving esoteric teachings. Thereupon, Lord Buddha gave him one of the highest teachings, giving him initiation, and also instructions and, ah, they then followed the teachings, practiced, and most of them in their lifetime got enlightenment -- the enlightenment not only of the spiritual but even the physical. All of them obtained their radiant forms, and all of them taking their radiant forms. The whole place was filled with great yogins."

3 comments:

  1. Footnote1: I found these passages interesting, because they dovetailed with some research both about Gurdjieff that relates to his trips to Tibet and with my triangulation that the Sarmouni (Surmang in Tibetan, where Padmasambhava came from) were near Pemir, Afghanistan. Gurdjieff did study with the Sarmouni. Bennett was one of the few students of Gurdjieff who found and interviewed some of Gurdjieff's own teachers. Bennett said that some of them were about 500 years old when he had met them. It does seem, too, though that the statement about these centers no longer being there is true. Quite a few key centers, that had lasted for possibly a few thousand years or more, are no longer around. I found it interesting that these interviews gave the reason that the students (students on one level and masters on another level) had run their course and had attained the rainbow body or physical enlightenment. The places are now empty shells of a once powerful and complete teaching. I feel we are in the "portable dharma" time period, where the centers are shifting around. It coincides with wandering magnetic fields and the north pole moving. In short, these passages fit my sense of how Buddhism and Sufism link together, both as valid repositories for many transformational teachings, blessings, and methods, both sharing with each other and supporting the intention of each other. That Sufism may have absorbed a Tantric influence seems likely, because the Sufis mainly feel it is important to practice in the world and the original Tantric teachings could be practiced while keeping worldly ties.

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  2. Are you familiar with the 5 or 6-volume (depending upon pub.ed.-date) set of books entitled, "LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF THE MASTERS OF THE FAR EAST" by DeVorss?

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  3. Yes, I am and have read them. I like them a lot. I am not sure if they are historical or deeply inspired spiritual fiction, but the lessons inside them ring true in either case. I love the first discourse where the masters speak, about how we are born into a pre-existing system and how this system responds to our every thought. The most practical chapter, for me, is at the other end, which is the one about pranayama. I have practiced Rebirthing breathing and then Tumo Yoga with its two breathings, for over a decade and still feel its good effects (practicing daily). I feel that if we do one session a day where we really feel the pranic energies tingling our bodies with the breath, then we are doing very well and moving along the process outlined in these volumes.

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