My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Moving on to the big shit…

This Saturday morning of July 23rd, I woke up the sideward falling of the monsoon rain which did so as if cut by the sideward glances of a flirty young hot shorty. Still in mind remained the confusion of thinking that the F.B.I. had busted into my room here at Sarah and tore my all shit asunder in search of illegal contraband. To my relief and like everything else mental, it was all in my head. Yesterday, our Morpheian teacher led us to the end of the terrain that consisted of the mind. Out of our study of the “Presentation of Mind and Awareness” (blo rig) many of us have been painful debating about mind and its accompanying mental factors i.e., emotions which consist a different strain of study as compared to the other presentations found in the “Presentation of Mind and Awareness”.

Mind and its mental factors (sems dang sems byung) is mainly based on the Indian text called the “Compendium of the Abhidharma” (chos mngon pa kun las gtud pa/ abhidharmasamuccaya) written by Asanga. The previous presentations mainly dealt with how the mind knows things, either validly or not, either correctly or not, either directly or not, etc but with this presentation we studied mainly the emotions that must arise when a mind i.e., consciousness arises. There are 51 mental factors that arise with a mind, meaning that for each mind, lets take for example a mental consciousness apprehending a pot, there are out of these 51, 5 that must arise in tandem with it.

Thus that mental consciousness is also called a main mind (gtso sems). To keep this short and not to bore you death, there are many requirements that they must fulfill. The 5 mental factors act like a king’s bodyguard or to put in a more modern sense, like the secret service that must accompany Prez Obama wherever he goes. The main mind and these 5 mental factors a.k.a the five ever-present mental factors (kun ‘gro lnga) of feeling, perception, intention, contact, and attention, must have five aspects that are congruent with each other. Both have to be congruent in time, in object of observation, in aspect, in basis, and in substantial entity meaning that they are made of the same stuff. Thus when ones mental consciousness apprehends a pot at that time the other five aspects congruent with it also arises and so on and forth. But in the debate arena keeping this plus other points in one mind straight and clear is quite a messy business. This is just to give the reader some idea of what we have been dealing with for the pass two weeks since classes started.

This coming Monday, we will for now leave this terrain behind and move on to the big shit, our first look at a major Indian Buddhist text as I have mention previously. We will officially begin the first year of the “Perfection of Wisdom” course which lays out the entire Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) Buddhist path to liberation. I am quite nervous about all this, as I have seen that though I study my ass off, it takes me a really long time to get even a miniscule taste of W.T.F is going on. But it is all good. The commentaries are gargantuan and just looking at them without opening the cover causes the butterfly to run wild in my belly.

Anyways, I have just been recently introduced to the concept of ‘Ego’ music by a young American lady. It was a term I had never heard before and thus I was compelled to learn with it is. It was quite simple, as this lady stated, it music that one listen to feel like “I am da shit”. Wow, quite a revolutionary concept I might add. When I checked her ‘Ego’ music playlist I saw that most of those songs would not make me feel so and so I started wondering what would be my ‘Ego’ music? For a person like me who has been struggling with self-confidence, some ‘Ego’ music might be in good order. So one day while studying a song popped out on my I-tunes and as I listened to it and got up and started rocking to it and thought, ‘hey, I feel like I am da shit right now!’ regardless of whether I am or not. It’s kinda like a fake it til make it thing, it didn’t really matter what the lyrics were about but about the energy of the song that pushed the issue.

This caused me to mull over other candidates for ‘Ego’ music, with first contender being Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” which came out when I was like a thirteen year plimply lil jit in NYC and which was the first rock song that I actually ever liked, with its hard grungy guitar licks and Kurt Cobain’s wailing voice, I then thought of other rock songs and even I dare say heavy metal songs that could serve up the same purpose. The hit of all ‘Ego’ music for me I think will have to be some good ole’ gangsta rap regardless of its misogynistic lyrics; nothing can’t make a brotha feel like ‘da shit’ like some straight up, ‘bitch slapping, bust a cap in da roof, don’t fuck with me, I don’t give a fuck!’ gangsta rap. Of course I don’t necessarily agree with the lyrics but it is the feeling that pushes da issue.

I have always had my ‘I need to love myself’ music which mainly consists of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s ├╝ber bad ass quawwali licks of the Sufis, when I feel lacking in intimacy but this ‘Ego’ music idea it one that I am looking forward to exploring more. But now there is a catch, with being a practicing Buddhist and all there is always the danger of it backfiring; quite the oxymoron ain’t it? We are striving to reduce and ultimately eliminate the ego entirely not boost it up, so what gives? My thoughts on it for now are that in my case seeing that I have been struggling with my self-confidence forever that some ‘Ego’ music could be helpful. Like I heard the English nun Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo say once, “Many westerners with low-esteem levels need to first boost it and then work on eliminating it using the path”. For some reason, it does not work well at all if one confidence is already low and so I am looking at it with that in mind. And so, last night before I had to sit and defend my assertions with a fellow clueless classmate in front of a bunch monks at a damja, I stood in the middle of my room with my “air” fender Stratocaster in hand and now that my dreads are once again long, I slammed that guitar and banged my head to those grungy licks I mentioned earlier, and though during the damja I was being stumped, ridiculed, laughed at and getting caught in contradictions left and right, at the end I did not feel like shit but like I am da shit.

Pax

P.S. the above pic is of my nativeHimacheli orchid Anasazi flowering this pass summer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thrown back into it…..

Summer vaca is now done son and as many of you have noticed I have not written a god damn thing since school has let out a little over two months ago. At the beginning of the summer vacation I was not sure if I will write anything or not thinking that this blog should be mostly about my activities with class and not about my lame ass summer musings. Thus, I wrote jack shit. But on the other hand, my internet access was minimal throughout the summer and it has continued to be so. My friend who had kindly let me use his USB internet drive has moved on and as many of you know unless one purchases one of those expensive ass USB internet drives web access at Sarah fucking blows. It seems to me that the frequencies of blog updates this year might be diminish as compared to the previous year but I will try my best. I definitely would like those who were regularly reading this blog to please continue to do so. You have no idea what that means to me. Unfortunately, since I have not been writing for the pass few months this entry is bound to suck due to lack of practice.

On the recapping side of things, my vacation began rather shitty due to my usual problems of being smitten over a very uninterested female. Ooohh!!!, my sour emotional woes knew no end for a time. It seems to me that if I fall for one, I fall for the one that wished that I was a eunuch. Thanks to kindness of my friend Cynthia, I slowly licked my wounds and was back to normal (whatever that means!). Sarah had a Geshe ceremony towards the beginning of vacation, where the first female ever has received the title of Geshe or to be more precise in this case of Geshema . If you remember Geshe is a degree that a student of Buddhist dialectics receives after they have successfully completed all their studies, which at Dialectics School consist of sixteen/ seventeen: it has been compared to a Doctorate in Buddhist philosophy. The German nun Ani Kelsang Wangmo has now received worldwide notoriety with the awarding of this degree. The degree that she and her fellow classmates have received is called a Rime Geshe degree lit: Non-sectarian degree. This is a degree that is allotted by I.B.D.

Normally, if one wanted to become a Geshe, regardless of where one studies the exam and classes for that degree most be taken at one of the three big monasteries; either Sera, Drepung, or Ganden monastic colleges and nuns are not allowed to study there. One needed to be a fully ordained monk in order for that to happen. Nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition are not fully ordained, though some revolutionary nuns, Ani Thubten Chodron etc, have started one but outside of the fold so to speak. Because of this, many do not consider Ani Kelsang Wangmo reception of the degree as a true Geshe degree. But you know what! Fuck all you haters out there. This nun is one of the most qualified persons I know who is deserving of the degree. Folks love to get all caught on the dumb minor technical details that don’t mean shit when one considers that the depths of her knowledge and her realizations and the clarity she brings when she teaches is what counts. People tend to be all hating for the wrong things. Many including myself have benefitted from the knowledge which she selflessly gives. That is tremendous and I am glad that regardless of the conservative factions that exist at Dialectics School that that first step in empowering female scholar practitioners has finally been taken. Hopefully this is the first step with more empowerings to come, Inshallah!

For one a few days I was hanging out in Bir, to attend the teachings of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, on “The way of the Bodhisattva” (Bodhisatvacharyavatara, spyod ‘jug), which I owe to my friend Apey who kindly provided me a phat ass crash spot. I also participated in a one week camp for 8th grade TCV students to help them with their English skills which was very fun, though I was very reluctant to go because I hate teaching English with a passion. The camp was at a newly founded monastery called the Dorzong monastery. It was in an isolated and beautiful place not far up the hill from Gopalpur. The rest of my summer was boringly spent at Sarah watching a shit ton of movies, a friend loaned me a 265 gig hard drive packed full of movies. Sarah was hot and it fact it still this though the monsoon is in full effect.

Classes started last week on the 7th of July and thus a full week has passed, a full week of doubts and frustrations. I have already had two migraines back to back this week due it. I get flustered because I can not pick it up as good as my classmates and I wish that I was not so fuck stupid. I know that that is my insecurities talking but it drives me mad. I just might not be meant for this, but everyday a Korean nun in my class encourages me and that has been so helpful I so appreciate her advice. She is older and she sees that the younguns in class have fresher minds that us geezers so they are more fluid with it but we will get it eventually she said. It still have my doubts, I have never been a philosophical inclined person to beginning with.

We are currently wrapping up our lesson on the “Presentation of Mind and Awareness” mainly dealing with the section of mind and its accompanying emotions, which is a bitch to grasp. Soon, we will be moving on to study “The Ornament of Manifest Realization” (mngon rtogs rgyan, abhisamayalamkara) our first look at an Indian Buddhist root text alongside with the massive commentary on that text by Panchen Sonam Drakpa, the 3rd Panchen Lama. We made some offerings to help remove obstacles and to provide us with the mental imprints so that we can correctly understand this text. We will be studying this root text for the next six years. Though the actually root text is only 33 pages long, which most be memorized, the commentaries on it are some thing to be reckoned with it since they are mad huge thus taking all those years to study. Well, everyone I will stop here. I hope that this finds you well, to those that I personally know, though I might not be in contact much if ever I still love you and I think of you often.

Pax