The Tara Rokpa Centre hosted Drupon Rinpoche for a week-long dharma retreat in early September. I was fortunate enough to attend and it was fabulous! With a reputation for being fierce preceding him, one of the teachings Drupon Rinpoche gave really struck me. He said that the purpose of a good Lama is to point out faults in our thinking. Logically, it makes perfect sense. Samsara is all about delusion and mistaken view, so having someone point out where we are making errors sounds great. Right?
Ja, well, no, not really! The tricky thing about Dharma is that hearing about it and actually putting it into practice are two entirely different things. So here’s how it panned out when I was given an opportunity to apply this profound wisdom in my life. I may as well give you a heads up, it didn’t go so well!
I do a fair amount of writing for my business blog, so when Lucy asked me to revive the Lazy Buddhist column for this newsletter, I was happy to do so. Or at least I was until I sat down to write an actual article.
Suddenly I was assailed by all kinds of Dharma doubts. What if people didn’t like what I had to say? What if I said something wrong? Or horrors, made some kind of serious Dharma faux pas and someone pointed it out? This train of thought was such reminder that to have our faults pointed out, even by a Lama, may not be quite as easy to bear as it seems.
Essentially, this is the work we have to do to free ourselves from samsara. It’s within our own mundane everyday experiences that we navigate the minefields of samsara. This is where we really get to see what suffering is made of. Suffering is here in our pride, in this deep-seated need to belong and to impress others. We find it in the pain of being criticized or disagreed with, and in an endless striving to make sense of a world we don’t understand. Mostly, we find it in the self-interest that has us clinging to our conclusions no matter how wrong we suspect we may be.
To truly be able to hear a Lama when he points out ‘my’ personal faults to ‘me’ takes an extraordinary amount of trust. Doubts and an urge for self preservation don’t miraculously disappear in the presence of a Lama. Instead, we find ourselves having to trust some process that is outside of everything we know and believe to be true.
We are being asked to manoeuvre through a confusing grey land that is contrary to everything familiar, trusting a guide that is often not being all that nice or supportive to us. It takes some doing. Just ask Milarepa!
Till next time,
Tania Potter, the Lazy Buddhist