I taught myself how to read Tibetan so I am just as guilty as anyone of my generational cohorts when it comes to our sad preoccupation with the purely cultural elements of the Vajrayana Tibetans have encouraged us to take up over the past decades.
Here at Chicago KTC we did so for purely local reasons.
We felt the need to differentiate ourselves from the local Dharmadhatu by being more Tibetan at a time when Trungpa was going in another direction.
For me personally I learned Tibetan because I wanted to translate for myself the Tibetan pujas that became a thing for us at the time.
I’m a critical thinker.
I just had to drill down into the pujas I was reciting when we gathered.
It was also cool.
I liked getting granular with the text.
But we went in this direction as a sangha because it was the total opposite direction than Trungpa’s which was really what we were about at the time.
We wanted to be different from them.
Dharmadhatu was preppy.
We were the hippies by comparison.
These were things that mattered to us in our twenties.
And of course it goes without saying that we thought we were on the right side of history.
We believed that over the course of time we would all be lamas of a flourishing sangha here in Chicago and that nobody would even remember what Dharmadhatu is, which is in fact how our little competition played out.
I did became the lama Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche saw in me when I took refuge with him as did three other people I came up with here at Chicago KTC.
The notable difference being they paid for the privilege.
None of us but me lives in Chicago anymore.
To their credit though none became teachers of Buddhism, the worst of outcomes for a lama.
One is still at Karme Ling with Rinpoche.
He became a monk.
One is in hiding.
The other is apostate.
He hates Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, and so on.
I’m flourishing here.
And there is no KTC in Chicago anymore either.
It’s true that in 2017 nobody remembers Chicago Dharmadhatu.
And those hideous polyester three piece suits Trungpa made the men wear.
And those stupid lapel pins by which they distinguished what level of enlightenment they had attained.
Or whatever that was about.
At this point they were making it all up as they went along it seems.
On the other hand we can’t say that our going Tibetan as we did, each went in own way, benefited anyone but Tibetans.
OTD in 2017!owns a piece of real estate in Cicero, Illinois.
He can add this to his billion dollar net worth.
You can’t get to Chicago KTC from Chicago without risking your life but none of this is about us.
More to the point I submit for your consideration that we were both wrong about the future of Vajradhara in Chicago.
We faired no better than Chicago Dharmadhatu in this regard.
We both made the same mistake.
We both relied on Tibetans.
Thus Vajradhara is no longer in the house.
Long after we had received that which we needed from Tibetans to become Karma Kagyu in our own right we balked at doing so, each for our own personal reasons.
When a teenage OTD made it known that he wanted a building a building and none of us really question the wisdom of doing so.
That being said in retrospect it didn’t have to be this way.
All that really matters is that it did happen.
And that if we are so inclined we are today in a position to strip it down to the studs, to the Vajrayana, what we began with as Buddhists, lose the Tibetans, lose their Chinese Buddhist Mahayana spiritual materialism, and get back to Vajradhara, the primordial disruption which animates us all as true Karma Kagyu as such at least here in the West, why we became Karma Kagyu in the first place.