DPR: Challenge the Status Quo

Question the status quo. Yeah, right on, dude. Everywhere. All the time. That is my practice as an engaged Buddhist.


And whether or not I am officially a “student of Dzogchen Ponlop” i.e. a member of his sangha, is entirely IRRELEVANT. What matter is that I’m inspired by his teaching and practice what he teaches.


5 thoughts on “DPR: Challenge the Status Quo

  1. Shaun, OK, good! I feel that way about Trungpa Rinpoche. (Maybe you, though, do an Ixnay toward Trungpa due to the sexing and drinking?) The problem is the ill-defined tern “post-Buddhism.” You aren’t a “post-Buddhist,” you’re a post–This or That Buddhist organization or sangha. (I found your piece a while back, about the group of young women you did a retreat with, very moving and understood instantly where you’re coming from.)  But when I hear “post-Buddhism,” I hear a rejection of Buddhism by people who don’t even know, have barely a clue, of what Buddhism actually is–like the Ph.D candidate rightly, though, trashing Sogyal’s approach! People might reject actual Vajrayana Buddhism [Trungpa, + Ponlop, Dzongsar, Dzigar, Khandro, who all see Trungpa as the trailblazer–even Suzuki’s Roshi’s heir, Kwong Roshi, has a shrine to Trungpa at his center in Sonoma–in the West, irregardless of the sex stuff and drinking–which, as I said, and this is a personal thing, as a tabloidy side-show to the real problem with him–the politics, which I’ve been grappling with, and continue to grapple with, for over 4 decades!]–based on just the antics of Sogyal–clearly a thorough bastardization, misrecognition, rip-off, of an ill-understood teaching of Trungpa’s. To say “post-Buddhism” is like saying “post-Space” or “post-Prajna,” two irreducible aspects of how the universe works. Buddhist didn’t make that up–they discovered the intimately united fiunctioning of those “two,” and built Buddhism around that reality–they didn’t fabricate anything. And I think–as gary Snyder said decades ago–that way the universe works works, on the individual level, can be re-discovered by the mediation practice. Anyway, I think the term “post-Buddhism” is misleading. We need a new term, I think, or brand new people will boycott the heart of Buddhism, toss out that golden babk with the organizationl/sangha bathwater. Jim

  2. Post-Buddhism and Non-Buddhism is not ANTI-buddhism. I define post-Buddhism as a kind of “Buddhism without walls.” It’s a practice of Buddhism that is outside the traditional sangha, outside the institutions of classic and contemporary Buddhism. Here’s my definition of non-Buddhism:

    “Non buddhism takes seriously the Buddhist dharma of non-self. Buddhism deconstructs the self to show us that it is at most a contingent property that cannot be located in any physical or mental experience. One of the tendencies of Buddhist practitioners is to replace the false identity of self with another false identity as a Buddhist. One of the goals of non-Buddhism (as I see it) is to deconstruct Buddhism so that it doesn’t become yet another false identity. Buddhism has ‘no self nature’ either; thus all dharmas are empty. Non-buddhism deconstructs Buddhism from an ‘outsider’ perspective to show that there is nothing to identify with.”

  3. I think Ponlop is very good, that mix of Mahamudra and Maha Ati, but I wonder–when he speaks of the system as a “system of beliefs”–does he ever challenge the “status quo” of the neoliberal regime, and its “set of beliefs”? In fact, I wonder if he’s even aware of what those beliefs are [ideology] involved with that system? Probably not. And I wonder if that’d be “off-limits” if he were to be pressed on that subject? I attended one absolute great weekend seminar with him. If I ever get the chance again, I’ll ask him about that. In the meantime, and please correct me if I’m wrong, you seem to hold the view, I’m assuming, that Trungpa Rinpoche was–something like, I’ve heard these exact words coming from NAROPA people more than once–“an alcoholic who harmed people,” something akin to that, the “sexual misconduct charge,” at least, sticking, in your mind? I’ve made clear my views on that. What’s yours?

    Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2015 18:37:21 +0000 To: dshedong@outlook.com

  4. The point I would make about CTR is the same point I made about Sogyal. Abuse doesn’t begin solely with the guru. It begins with the sangha power structure that he builds, and that his closest disciples build around him. The cult of personality must be carefully constructed first, and then imposed on all newcomers with tremendous social pressure and with impunity. The cult of personality, the sangha power strucuture, the devaluation and disempowerment of the newcomer, and their willingness to surrender their own critical thinking, all must work together to create a situation in which people can be exploited. Otherwise, what did CTR have to offer all these women? He was a short (5″) fat, rather homely Tibetan monk. Granted, he had an electric personality and the capacity to charm everyone, but outside of that, there wan’t much to be attracted to. What these women willingly fell for was the cult of spiritual power that had been built up around him and was continuously reinforced by the system of cult indoctrination. As guru, his disciples were required to regard him as Buddha, so all his faults and misdeeds had to be rescripted as ‘vajra’ or crazy wisdom. None of these gurus has the power to do anything, good or ill, except for the power that we give them. So stop giving them that power, and stop surrendering your own power and ciritical thinking to the guru and the sangha power structure, and you can’t be exploited. And that’s all I have to say about it.

  5. As for Ponlop, he’s one teacher appears to disdain the guru bullshit that some of his forbears perpetrated. I think his continuous joking is a way to subvert that kind of guru-cult situation, because frankly, while some people think it’s cute, it turns a lot of people off. As for his critique of capitalist society–no I don’t think he’s interested in social justice or critiques of capitalism. In fact, he seems to be moderatley conservative. He likes the idea of challenging the culture, but he doesn’t make a link between “culture” and “capitalist system.” That appears to be the extent of his ‘engaged’ Buddhism’. He once quipped that the liberals buy groceries at Whole Foods Market, which earns a huge profit for the conservatives who own the corporation, and isn’t it great that the liberals and conservatives benefit each other? Of course, he says this tongue-in-cheek, but the overall effect is a kind of conservative stasis. His sangha is so filthy rich and conservative, he’d best not piss them off or he won’t have a job as a ‘professional guru’ as he calls himself. So I see him as a great teacher who can teach the dharma like no one else, but I don’t find him personally inspiring as an engaged Buddhist. I like some of the more offbeat things he says, that’s all.

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