May the Schwartz Be With You Your Holiness

It’s Third Friday here in Chicago.

Japhy and Gigi were at the opening for “Ego Exploitation Glorification” at the Zhou Brothers Arts Center in the Bridgeport neighborhood earlier this evening.

His Freshman year roommate from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Harold Sudman, had a photograph in the show.

Japhy has been going to his openings since 1976.

Ar the gallery there was the kind of mix of old and young people that would make a KTC director green with envy/

Japhy liked this from William.


Personally glad you turned on the spam filter. Quite enjoy thoughtful, articulate, sincere differences of opinion, and will not stick around for thuggish, tedious, group-think or disingenuous ones.

A big difference between HHDL and HHGK is that the former succeeded to an inherently political position, and the Karmapas have had the good fortune and/or sense to be out of that game at that level for quite a while. There is nothing to be gained from getting into it again, although HHGK might be able to negotiate a better deal for the Tibetans in Tibet by remaining independent of the “government in exile” and dealing directly with the Chinese government instead.

Haven’t read _The Heart Is Noble_, but the stuff I have read from him in translation would not be considered remarkable if it had been written by Harold Schwartz of the lower Milwaukee KTC instead of the Karmapa. That’s sort of my test. If Harold Schwartz had written _As It Is_, I would be paying close attention to Harold Schwartz. Probably, most of his fellow KTC members would be shunning him as a pretentious poser. Form follows function.

What does “root teacher” mean in Karma Kagyu. In Dzogchen, it’s almost always described as the teacher who pointed out one’s true nature such that one could effectively take that experience as the basis for practice; so, if one hasn’t had that experience, one shouldn’t be talking about having a root teacher quite yet. Most people in Karma Kagyu talk about HHGK as their root teacher, even though they’ve never personally studied with him, let alone gotten a pointing out. It seems a little bit like the line, “God bless and keep the Tsar . . . far away from us.” If the Karmapa becomes this abstract symbol that people venerate without expecting it to impinge on their mundane lives any, then he seems sort of like a cargo cult, where people make up elaborate mystical transports over what washes up on the beach.

Hierarchy is not a substitute for direct spiritual transmission.

There’s a lot going on in this post.

William’s “Harold Schwartz” critique of the Karmapa as a Buddhist author being no more insightful than a randomly selected KTC member is spot on.

Japhy imagines the Karmapa with his English translator.

Karmapa, “Dumber?”

Translator, “Dumber.”

He is writing for people that think they can silence a blog without making the it go viral in the process.

Karmapa Chenno!



Filed under Buddhism

75 responses to “May the Schwartz Be With You Your Holiness

  1. Jed

    Alls I know is that in doing the Karma Kagyu Guru Yoga, Karmapa, whether you have met him or not, recieved instruction or not, pointing out instructions or not, is the root guru. That’s the way four different Rinpoches taught me over fifteen years ago. This is, I believe the transmission standard.

    I ultimately I agree that ones root guru is the one who points out the nature of mind- in this way, there is little difference between the Mahamudra and Dzogchen systems. It all becomes very different though as a Karma Kagyu when you practice guru yoga.

    Is this a political tool? Nope.

    Is this a way of the old guard to hold onto power? Nope.

    Was this designed so that Gyuto/KTD could maintain hegemony over the rest of us? Nope.

    This goes back to devotion- real devotion: the devotion of an open heart and of vulnerability. This is about the intimacy of relationship between oneself and one’s lama- and essentially it is about exploring how the two are in fact, interconnected.

    Karmapa is not Big Brother; that is a mis-read.

    • Karmapa is big brother?

      That is your misread.

      Root guru?

      In Mahamudra the root guru points out the true nature of the mind.

      How do I know?

      For over thirty years Mahamudra has been my practice.

      When will the Karmapa be free of those that put him on his throne?

      Stay tuned.

      Every Karmapa has to at some point be free of those that put him on their throne.

      Karmapa Chenno!

  2. phil

    my read was Japhy as warm hearted big brother to

  3. I’ve read the 17th Karmapa’s book. From my perspective, it is written for a younger audience (perhaps 14-25), although I benefitted greatly from it.

    He’s not writing for people who want to silence your blog. He’s writing for youth, who will have the opportunity to re-think our environmental choices.

    He’s writing for the engaged Buddhist movement–one who wishes to effect change in the ecosystem of interdependence.

    He’s challenging the carnivores of the world to become vegetarians or at least limit meat consumption. Imagine all of us taking a pledge to reduce our meat consumption. That challenge is not to silence this blog but to disrupt the continuity of big business, Monsanto, even the oil companies.

    If we take on the Karmapa’s ideas, we might be bodhisattvas again by saving the precious animals who deserve a better life than mass consumption, butchery, and massive pain. (And, yes I know the 16th Karmapa ate meat and all that.)

    • Does what you describe support a path of liberation?

      Obviously, not.

      It’s juvenile.

      Karmapa as Pied Piper.

      The 16th Karmapa was put on his throne by people that murdered a child in the process.

      The people that put the 17th Karmapa on his throne did so by hook and crook.

      The 16th went on to be one of the greatest Karmapa’s ever.

      The 17th Karmapa?

      It remains to be seen if he will ever be free of the people that put him on his throne.

      As the heir apparent to the Dalai Lama the Karmapa is expected to produce titles for his adoring public to purchase, read, and hopefully repeat in the future.

      This is good brand management.

      And nothing more.

      Karmapa Chenno!

  4. Is there someone at his side, saying “dumber?” It seems very likely, though it might be a part of him, too. A lot of these people really do seem to be suffering from Post Trungpa Stress Disorder, though not in the sense of being horrified at his decline and consequently hating the West, but rather in the sense of feeling a need to live up to the standard of “magnetizing” comparable numbers of westerners and influencing the culture to an equivalent degree. I got a clear impression of that during the unprecedented, coordinated marketing blitz that preceded the release of _Rebel Buddha_. Very good book, Ponlop Rinpoche is a very good teacher, and I’m sure it enhanced their numbers, but he didn’t become the next Trungpa as a result. There are reasons why Trungpa became Trungpa. One is just the times themselves, but another is that he allowed himself to become infected with the culture to an extent that most other heavy lamas aren’t willing to. Oddly, none of them seems to be asking us whether we actually _want_ another Trungpa.

    I was talking with Khenpo Jigme at Vajra Vidya once about how all the “books” in English by contemporary Tibetan lamas seem to be transcripts of oral teachings, and I asked him whether he ever just sits down and writes out something about Buddhism. He said that he does, and circulates it among people back home, but hasn’t thought about publishing any of it in translation here. He thought we probably wouldn’t be interested. Khenpo Jigme got selected to run Vajra Vidya by excelling in one of those monastic colleges with a few hundred students where they spend a couple semesters on Dharmakirti, and do those debates where they get in one another’s face and say demeaning things about one another’s ideas, so that you need to be both very sharp and also very much in control of your ego and mind to succeed. There had to have been significant competition for what he ended up with. Intellectually, he’s probably at the level of being a journal editor at Harvard Law. If he’d studied economics, maybe he could have been on Obama’s staff. He just directs that part of his efforts elsewhere.

    It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that a lot of the hierarchy is just treating us like mushrooms, with about the same amount of respect that one would expect for stuff that grows on shit. Trying to market KKGK XVII as something like a Karmapa for the rest of us is really not a good thing. The people who like that stuff would like it just as well coming from Ponlop Rinpoche or Younge Mingyur Dorje Rinpoche or a couple dozen others. The people who love Tibetans because of their childlike purity aren’t tracking anything anyway, so it doesn’t make any difference what HHGK writes to them. I think, though, that the only way to start getting the real stuff is to send the message that we expect to see the real stuff.

  5. James

    Wait! What does this refer to:

    “The 16th Karmapa was put on his throne by people that murdered a child in the process.”

  6. I guess you guys are too evolved or advanced, but I’m finding that the Heart is Noble is completely delightful. I’ve been a Kagyu since 1973. I admit it’s not an advanced Mahamudra text, but snarky comments without even reading it?

    • Must we suffer in silence?

      Another bloody book.

      Does the world need another Buddhist author?

      Enough already.

      Karmapa Chenno!

      • I can’t believe you’re talking this way about the Gyalwang Karmapa!

      • Chauncey

        It is a basic tome; what’s worse, it fails to address the path of liberation. We are not children anymore. If people wish to infantilize us with vegetarianism, environmentalism and identity politics and pass that off as the vajrayana approach to Mahamudra I say ‘thanks. but no thanks’. That stuff sells amongst college students, but it doesn’t go very far for those of us who have been around the block. We are not idiots here.

        I agree, the last thing we need is another feel-good, warm and fuzzy buddhist book to try and distract us from real practice.

    • phil

      Monkey men all
      In business suit
      Teachers and critics
      All dance the poot

      Are we not men?
      We are Devo
      Are we not men?
      D E V O

  7. Jeffery

    Nothing is sacred, and similarly nothing is profane. We are talking about the path of liberation, not some easy best seller that will likely be promoted by the likes of Oprah or Dr. Phil.

    These kinds of books are more likely the product of Kaliyuga than any response you may object to here!

    • Someone has figured our how to monetize the Karmapa.

      Are we supposed to like this?

      Get used to it.

      He is being groomed to follow in the Dalai Lama’s footsteps after all.

      Karmapa Chenno!

  8. Weren’t we bemoaning the lack of younger Dharma practitioners in the West? You guys are way jaded.
    Didn’t you once try to shame me for making remarks not respectful enough of Shamarpa?

  9. phil

    fiddling while Rome burns

  10. Respect for the sacred . . . One of the problems seems to be the idea that you can put a guy in a position and insist that he is entitled to unquestioning devotion by virtue of occupying the position, without a real demonstration to the prospective devotees that this specific guy, here and now, is so far above everyone else as to justify that kind of treatment. Essentially, the guy functions as a symbol of the sacred, since one doesn’t really know much very useful about the guy himself. This can work very well if one’s practice involves a relationship with symbolic sacredness. All the best to the folks doing that kind of practice! Hope it gets you where you would like to go.

    The “problem” with the books isn’t a problem with the books. It’s the fact that just what’s between the covers of the books, not knowing anything about who wrote them, doesn’t really scream out that the guy who wrote this stuff is so far above everyone else that we should be venerating him. The guy makes the books special, not the other way around, so for the books to be special, one has to begin from the assumption that the guy is special. A lot of very nice people assure us that he is very special indeed. All the best to the folks whose practice is doing and believing what a lot of very nice people tell them to!

    According to Mahamudra and Dzogchen, the ultimate nature of things is indescribable, and “sacred” is just one more empty conceptual category. The two accumulations and purifying obstacles is how one can get into the practice of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, so trashing the guy and is books is probably not such a good idea, although pointing out that the books, so far, aren’t Mahamudra or Dzogchen probably is. But look, the guy’s primary job, vastly more important than anything else he could be doing, is establishing the awareness of Mahamudra as widely as possible. That activity, and where it leads one, is worthy of absolute devotion. All the best to the folks whose practice is the awareness of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, and let’s hope that the guy in Gyuto is really one of them/us.

    • phil

      nice work if you can get it. And you can get it — if you try.

    • David

      There is no reason to believe that His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa is not one of ‘those guys’. With teachers like Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, Situ Rinpoche, Gyaltsab Rinpoche and other very special masters His Holiness has been receiving the best training in the world. I have heard personally directly from the lips of two of the masters above that His Holiness’s realization and practice is astonishing.

      Karmapa has led by example. He fled Tibet for the Dharma (to be with his teachers). He risked his life in doing so. It is ironic that we are so reluctant to fly from the comfy United States in nice airplanes to go meet our teachers. We seem to be happy judging them based upon whatever book is attributed to them and not taking the time to meet them, recieve instruction from them, practice, and then decide what’s what.

      The last time His Holiness was at KTD he was scheduled to offer a highest yoga Tantra empowerment- at the last minute he declined and said that they weren’t ready yet, that the connection wasn’t there. I have frequently wondered why this may be the case…

      Maybe the thick fog of spiritual materialism has puffed up our egos to such an extent that we feel that we can decide that a book written based upon a series of meetings with American college students isn’t a text on Mahamudra means that His Holiness is a failure. If it does, I want off this merry-go-round. Our sense of entitlement is so innate sometimes that it can be very off-putting to those who have risked their lives for the precious dharma. Please, before you read on, do not misunderstand this to mean that our personal sufferings do not mean anything in relationship to the sacrifices made by Karmapa. We all suffer, such is samsara, most of us who have come to the dharma have done so because of our suffering; this is admirable. Karmapa doesn’t have to remain in India. He doesn’t have to live with the challenges that he faces. And yet he does. While he holds that very uncomfortable position- he still takes time to teach, to give empowerments, to revise the Kamstang monastic curriculum, to be a beacon of hope for both suffering stateless Tibetans as well as weary western spiritual seekers. This might not seem to be important, and if you do not find it important, perhaps you should put away the Mahamudra and dzogchen and come back tho this very real tangible moment know as the present to witness all of the terrible suffering that abounds. Then decide for yourself if Karmapa is doing enough.

      If you want to access the value of Karmapa, there is no better way of doing so than comfortably flying to go see him. If you are upset that he hasn’t come to see you first, or disappointed that you must get off your butt to engage in such a journey, I ask you to consider the sacrifices that others gave made in the name of furthering their dharma practice.

      If the essence of Mahamudra/Dzogchen is as understood by all who post here as is frequently described here, then there is no need to discuss Karmapa at all, why don’t you start teaching others. Start your own encampment- plant the banner of dharma. If, you are less certain, and feel you need a Mahamudra teacher, there is no one more qualified that the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.

      Karmapa Chenno!

      • Each Karmapa is put on his throne as a small child by someone.

        At some point a Karmapa must free himself of these people and become a Karmapa in his own right.

        The people that put the 16th Karmapa on his throne murdered a child in the process.

        The people that put the 17th Karmapa on his throne did it by hook and crook.

        The 16th Karmapa went on to be a great Karmapa.

        I wish the same for the 17th Karmapa.

        The fact of the matter is that not all 17 Karmapas were great.

        What makes a Karmapa great?

        Their activity.

        Their realization is obviously a given for us here.

        At 28 His Holiness is not yet free of those that put him on his throne.

        At present those that put him on his throne are grooming him to succeed the Dalai Lama as the next apologist for a government in exile which has been out of power for over fifty years.

        This would be a historic coup for those that put the 17th Karmapa on his throne.

        If this happens though we can forget about His Holiness ever being free of these people.

        If this happens we can forget about the 17th Karmapa being a man worthy of his obvious realization, a great Karmapa.

        Karmapa Chenno!

      • I expect you’re right, and HHGK XVII’s operating from a very high level of realization. It’s also fairly clear that he expects people here to grasp that out of mindless devotion to a frankly abusive and exploitive authority structure, rather than through any kind of process that respects our intelligence. During the Bardor Tulku thing, the folks over there, presumably including HHGK, showed far more concern for whether Tenzin Chonyi and his family felt that their noble heritage was being sufficiently respected than they did for the samaya of dozens of people here, some of who had been practicing as devout Karma Kagyu for 30 years or more. Realization is as realization does.

        There is no shortage of folks who like to tell us here that we’re not ready for things like a path of liberation, and should spend the rest of our lives reading Pema Choedron books and doing tonglen. That usually turns out to be self-serving, because most of the time, those people are connected to some hierarchy that is very good at teaching tonglen and distributing Pema Choedron books, but feels threatened if too many people become interested in a path of liberation. Fortunately, there are also teachers here who teach things like Mahamudra and Dzogchen very effectively, so the blanket statement that westerners who aren’t monastics are not ready for things like that is demonstrably horseshit. What people should be doing is learning and practicing with various techniques, and finding out for themselves what seems to be effective and what doesn’t. That, actually, is more or less what the Buddha taught, and it’s also what a lot of very good teachers who seem to have a lot of realization have taught here. For folks for whom that seems too strenuous, there’s always plugging into a hierarchy; but trying to convince people who are capable of a lot better than that that blindly following orders is the best they can hope for starts to sound a little like the overseer on a slave plantation.

        Getting “off the merry-go-round” is in fact the whole point, although what that really means is a lot more subtle than it sounds. Still, that’s what separates Buddhism from most every other spiritual tradition–the understanding that phenomena are intrinsically empty. Not having your or Japhy’s connection with doing that specifically in association with HHGK, I think that our devotion, loyalty and support is best placed with those teachers who care enough about us to give us effective means of doing that. As for the whole monastic structure, it seems to work very well for a few people, and I’m very happy for them (you?), but the evidence seems pretty solid by now that it isn’t viable or sustainable as a path for most westerners. Insisting on that as the sole means of connecting with HHGK is marginalizing HHGK here. If that’s what he wants, he’s welcome to it.

        • okiebuddhist

          I suspect he wishes his monastics to receive an education and to move into careers. Engineers, for example. I’ve heard him speak of these ideas briefly. On the other hand, Thrangu Rinpoche describes the monk/nun lifestyle as the best path to liberation. So, I cannot say what the 17th Karmapa wishes.

          As far as Bardor Tulku is concerned (and I hate bringing up the past), the entire Karma Kagyu American could benefit by placing him on the teaching circuit again.

          I am reminded of territorial Buddhism. Let’s divide the kingdom. Situ’s students learn on the West coast. Ponlop gets Washington. Ringu Tulku gets some areas of New York and…of all places…Oklahoma! Woot! These territories should work together instead of apart.

          The Karma Kagyu will flourish if we stop worrying if Bardor Tulku is 2/3 Barom Kagyu and 1/3 Karma Kagyu.

          May the Schwartz be with you, including the Schwartz who wrote about mandala offerings on the KTD blog:

          • Mandala’s next month. This month’s still Vajrasattva. A lot of things could be said about the monk/nun lifestyle, but the operative one here is that lots of other people end up supporting them. Take a poll of the working Buddhists you know, and see how many would like to kick in a quarter of their disposable income to support someone who will get teachings and practices that they never will, and will then expect to be able to tell them what to do. It will be time to let the Bardor Tulku problem fade into the past when the lessons have been learned, and the conditions that caused it addressed.

            • David

              I can’t imagine Bill will ever let the Bardor Tulku story go- that was his finest moment. It’s been all down hill from then!


              • And your substantive take on it is . . . ?

              • I took two years off from blogging after the Bardor Tulku story.

                Let it go.

                I did.

                Karmapa Chenno!

                • David

                  Blah de blah. Bill, this shit is always about you. You don’t write a blog, you pedal an over-sized ego, complete with pedantic posts. Do me a favor and try some other topic- you have become excruciatingly boring!

                  • I’m open to suggestions.

                    Perhaps if you could share a link to your blog.

                    I’d love to see what your readers find interesting.


                    You don’t write a blog yourself.

                    How convenient for you.

                    Karmapa Chenno!

                    • How does “ad hominem” translate into Tibetan, and is it as despised in the shedras as it is in serious philosophical discussion in the West?

                    • KTD is all in on personally attacking me.

                      They have no shortage of people willing to take their marching orders from Woodstock.

                      This comes not from any Khenpo but instead from people we have all here sat beside at the feet of Rinpoches over the years.

                      I have their email addresses from their comments here.

                      These people know better than to post what they do here, but they do it all the same.

                      They believe, somehow, this kind of behavior is what Khenpo Karthar wants.

                      Obviously they know not the man but only who he is, which is what others have told them, that Rinpoche is KTD and that anyone that speaks ill of KTD must therefore be silenced.

                      Fortunately that isn’t how the Internet works.

                      It is true, I do write about my myself.

                      It is true that I never have much to really say.

                      I think about the Karmapa and share those thoughts here.

                      I never tire of thinking of His Holiness.

                      If not for the fact that KTD has targeted me as they have this blog never would have gone viral over the past three months.

                      It is all on them.

                      Given the situation at KTD, nobody seems to be in charge at present, its friends and supporters are making it up as they go along.

                      If Bardor Tulku was still at KTD he would be shutting them down himself.

                      He would instruct them to just ignore me and my blog, and being the man he is people would follow his advise.

                      I was averaging less than 5,000 views a month prior to KTD stumbled blindly onto the social web and made this blog a must read for so many Karma Kagyu online.

                      That KTD has doubled down on their personal attacks defies all

                      I don’t know what ad hominom translates into as Tibetan.

                      I do know that I can always tell when I’ve struck a nerve at KTD by the number of personal attacks against me I have to delete here.

                      And for that, as a blogger, I am forever in KTD’s debt.

                      Karmapa Chenno!

      • phil

        Many people face huge physical challenges to sit
        much less comfortably fly across oceans to respect
        sacrifice.The cost of such a comfortable excursion
        is beyond the financial abilities of many as well

  11. phil

    A wild dog with honey rubbed on its nose
    Madly devours whatever it sees;
    Give the Lama’s secret to a worldly fool
    And his mind and the lineage burn out.
    For a responsive man with knowledge of unborn reality
    A mere glimpse of the Lama’s vision of pure light-form,
    Destroys mental fiction like an elephant berserk
    Rampaging through hostile ranks with a sword lashed to its trunk.

    ~ Intro. to Keith Dowman’s “Life of Luipa” in Buddhist Masters of Enchantment

  12. Juvenile?

    I will let you play today, Japhy.

    I made my point.

  13. phil

    It’s hilarious that someone utterly unlearned as I
    lectures Buddhists

  14. Lynn

    Dzigar Kongrtul charges $500 per month. Heard it while on retreat with his half brother.

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