Karma Kagyu 101: Blessed be the disciple who suffers their guru

Dear readers,

What makes my practice vajrayana?

Long answer:

I take the goal as my path, and the path as my goal.

This is a little something I took away from Kalu Rinpoche’s Kalachakra empowerment at Columbia University in New York back when dinosaurs roamed the earth in 1982, thanks to a poster for the event someone had printed up to commemorate the event that put the thought at the time.

The poster has long since turned to dust but its tag line “The goal is the path, the path is the goal” is still with me.

What does it mean?

That weekend with Kalu Rinpoche remains one of the highlights of my life to this day.

During the ceremony when Rinpoche handed me the conch shell to blow and I managed to make a sound I got a smile out of him.

In grade school I never quite mastered the recorder in music class, so it startled me that I was able to get a sound out of a sea shell of all things.

Being able to do so is a thing, apparently.

I was later told that it indicated that I would someday teach the dharma.

I hate teaching.

I taught a semester of “The Marxist Perspective of Criminology” in graduate school and hated it so much that at the end of the semester I decided to take a leave of absence.

Teaching isn’t my thing, no small part in how I ended up with Kalu Rinpoche that afternoon.

But I digress.

My bad.

It’s Saturday morning here in Chicago.

I’ve been up since six this morning drilling down into my reading of Vajrasattva, Wangchuk Dorje’s second of four extraordinary foundations for the practice of Mahamudra, doing a word by word translation of the sadhana.

I like to periodically, using Chandra Das, do a word by word translation of the text to deepen my relationship with the practice.

What makes my practice vajrayana?

The short answer:


A reader asked me to share something other than what I have been so focused on here as a blogger, my holding the Karma Kagyu to account for collaborating with China’s genocidal occupation of Tibet, my thing, that which I want so much to share with you here given how my issue with my guru’s role in what happened, my personal struggle with what he did, has so driven my practice of ngondro since I became his disciple thirty five years ago.

There I go again.

My bad.

I apologize for being such a bore of recent here, even more so than usual.

I’m still recovering from my most recent visit to my charnel ground, my defibrillator “Sparky” trying to kill me last month.

My sole comfort is that the device is no more, I had it removed, and it is now medical waste and will be incinerated, a thought which helps me deal with what it put me through.

I’m not a happy camper.

I have a new defibrillator now.

I told my electocardiologist that if this defibrillator shocks me and I’m not having a heart attack I know where to find him.

When I asked him why my previous defibrillator tried to kill me all he could say was that in 2010 the presumption was that I would be dead in five years, my heart was so damaged in 2009 that it would be impossible for me to ever get my heart rate above 133 beats per minute which I did moving furniture last month.

My bad.

I blame my doing 10 million mani recitations while visualizing Amitabha above the crown of my head in preparation for my entering the bardo of death while I was bedridden and thought I would be dead by 2014, my prognosis at the time, for my being alive today.

It’s all Karma Chakme’s fault.

It was doing his ngondro that gave me a new lease on life.

Now I’m boring myself.

This isn’t something I otherwise feel comfortable sharing with people.

I can write about it here.

It isn’t something that people who care about me like to think about though.

Anyway, thus my preference for focusing on my relationship with Khenpo Karthar and his Karma Kagyu sect’s role in China’s genocidal occupation of Tibet.

Blessed be the disciple who suffers their guru.

Karmapa Chenno!




Filed under Buddhism

3 responses to “Karma Kagyu 101: Blessed be the disciple who suffers their guru

  1. Benny

    You are so special.

    What an amazing dharma teacher!!!


  2. Jack

    I’m not sure if I consider you a teacher, Bill, but I do think that you perspective is a useful one.

    I recently learned that 10 acres was finally purchased to build a stupa and retreat center in Wadsworth Illinois. Here is the web link: http://karmapacenter16.org/news/

    I think it’s great that near to where the 16th Karmapa died western folks, ordinary ones like you and I can train to be lamas. That’s a game changer as far as I am concerned.

    That our lineage has access to wealth means that our activities can affect a greater number of people.

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