My Path

Purpose of Weblog

I have been studying a chart that shows how our lives as we experience them right now correspond very directly to the volitional actions we have taken in the past. I was struck by one non virtous action and its result in particular, namely, the action of holding wrong view (i.e. not understanding how karma works) can result in stupidity and being easily deceived by others.

It becomes vitally important, then, for us to understand how karma works.

We think we understand the law of karma, of cause and effect. Perhaps we have an intellectual, conceptual understanding. But when we feel that we are in a crisis of some kind — usually when our familiar reference points have shown themselves not to be so solid after all —  we realize that we need a deeper level of understanding.

The core purpose of the blog is to draw together a community of people who have realized the importance of understanding the nature of karma and how it impacts our life on the outer, inner and secret levels.

What this site does and does not provide:

  1. I don’t claim that you’ll find “the answer” on this site. It’s more about away of being that allows us to make decisions based on awareness, not a site that offers prescriptions. Participating in it — and being part of an online community — might provide some clarity.
  2. While my personal path involves Shambhala Buddhism, this is not a “spiritual” or “religious” site in the sense that you have to belong to a particular group or groups.
  3. This is not an academic site. It’s a practical one. Understanding cause and effect, seeing how all things are interdependent, is a very practical activity.
  4. It is personal.
    • I use my own experience in a straightforward, non-indulgent way to try to understand why our life is the way it is.
    • Any opinions or views expressed are my own. No group, individual, or spiritual guide or teacher is responsible for them.

You’ll get the most out of the site if you adopt this attitude:  even if you don’t believe in past or future lives, act as if you do! Why? Because you get a bigger perspective on things beyond the tiny, self-centred present. In other words, you don’t have to believe in or know your past lives to get information from this site on how to rule your own life.

My background:

In brief…
I believe that everyone is on the path to awakening. But as individuals, we also have our own personal paths. Mine involves the recall of past lives so that I can understand karma in all its facets. Another way to put this is that if I were going to understand why I was suffering so deeply, then I had to understand karma beyond the superficial notions about it. I began to keep a journal in 1970 of what I was discovering.

Transformation became my passion.

I feel that it is time to share what I have learned with others, and to provide a site where you can share your own insights and questions with those who share this personal path. Thus, this weblog.

In detail….
I, like most people, came to study Buddhadharma out of a lot of suffering. My usual reference points were fraying at the ends. Here’s a quote from the preface of the play entitled Doubt – now a movie that stars Meryl Streep and Philip Hoffman Seymour – that reflects what I’m trying to say:

There is an uneasy time when belief has begun to slip, but hypocrisy has yet to take hold, when the conscousness is disturbed but not yet altered. It is the most dangerous, important, and ongoing experience of life. The beginning of change is the moment of Doubt. It is that crucial moment when I renew my humanity or become a lie.

Actually, my first introduction to Buddhadharma was through my mother, who bought some books on the Buddha’s teachings. I was about 15 years old. I was also shaped by Abraham H. Maslow’s concepts of actualization and peak experiences.

While in university in Toronto, I met His Holineses The Fourteenth Dalai Lama at BrockUniversity, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada in 1967. He had been out of Tibet for about eight years. He gave a talk on happiness, karma and mind.

In August 1969, I was on a camping trip with a few others at Bark  Lake in the province of Ontario in Canada. I told one of the campers that I had been feeling a lot of depression lately. He told me about a buddhist teacher, a monk, Ananda Bodhi, who was a Canadian from Hamilton, Ontario who had studied in Burma .

I dropped in one morning to a house on Gerrard Street in Toronto, Canada to hear this teacher. I felt like I had “come home.”

July 1971 visiting HH Dalai Lama XIV, India

July 1971 visiting HH Dalai Lama XIV, India

In May 1971, Ananda Bodhi – who later became Karma Dorje Tenseng Namgyal Rinpoche – took 108 of us to India and once again, I met the Dalai Lama at the seat of his Tibetan Government in Exile in Dharamsala. I still have the notes I took of his teaching to us. It was about “minor minds” – attitudes. It’s frightening to think of how little security there was then around His Holiness.

After  meeting the Dalai Lama, I went to Sikkhim to visit His Holiness The Sixteenth Karmapa. I took refuge with His Holiness, had a “death dream,” and met the four princes of the Kagyu lineage some of who were then under ten years of age.

My next stop was Bodhgaya, the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment, or awakening. For details of my train ride to Bodhgaya, where I was held prisoner by gun-toting revolutionaries,  please click here.

People ask me what I experienced at the site of the Bodhi Tree, under which it is said the Buddha was sitting at the moment of awakening. I think Daniel Goleman says it best: “Its beauty is commensurate with what happened there.”

When I returned home, I had heard of a monk, Chogyam Trungpa XI (who later married), who had escaped from Tibet in 1959 and who was now teaching in America.

His book, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, was very popular as soon as it was published in 1973. I read it. I could “feel” Trungpa’s enlightenment coming off the page. I had to meet this teacher and become one of his students. In January 1974 I travelled to one of the large contemplative centres called Karme-Choling in Vermont, met him, and got the kind of simple meditation instruction I had been looking for. This Tibetan monk became my main teacher until he died in 1987.

One of my favourite memories is his saying to a group of us

The main point is to have a heart! If you don’t have a heart, you have to build one. If you need further reinforcements, take a piece of my heart. You have it. It is yours.

In 1984 I met the nun Pema Chodron, whose teaching on Shenpa – getting hooked – has helped so many people. One of my favourite books of hers is When Things Fall Apart.

For those who didn’t want to be “buddhists,” Trungpa introduced the Shambhala warriorship teachings. “Warriorship” in the sense of courage, not aggression. It’s about “the rising sun” mind rather than setting sun mentality.

If the warrior doesn’t cut his own [ego] ambitions, then he does not conquer other kingdoms at all.

I now study with his son, Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche. He has brought together the two strands, Shambhala and Buddhadharma. Two of his books are called Turning the Mind Into an Ally; and Rule Your World: ancient strategies for modern life.

Here is a quote from the book that reflects its perspective. I have highlighted the sentences that particularly touch on the theme of this weblog:

Virtue is practical, not moralistic. It consists of cultivating thoughts, words, and actions that will help move us out of the “me” plan. As we change our habits – what we do and don’t do – we are changing from the inside out. At the same time, what’s on the inside begins to come out. We have more space in our mind, and our view gets bigger. We begin to see our inherent richness, the brilliance that’s been hiding behind the clouds of stress and anxiety. The nature of our mind is pure, like the sky. Like space, it has a quality of accommodation. Like water, it is clear, with no obstructions or opinions. This is basic goodness, the indestructible nature of our being.