We were asked today if we wanted to continue to have “samaya” a sacred unbreakable bond commitment to the spiritual guru, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, head of a large Tibetan Buddhist Community, Shambhala. He was accused of harming some of his Buddhist students and has apologized, and we are all trying to forge a way forward. It’s a large global meditation community with many excellent teachings that is now in danger of crumbling after the #metoo movement.
Here is my reply:
I was at the Sakyong’s first Seminary and asked him after that, if I could study with other teachers too, so my “samaya” (sacred bond) is with him and others. In essence, it’s to our ultimate state of mind and our inner guru and not anything that is in the relative world.
However, as far as the relative guru, I don’t think that we can ask this one-sided question. I think what Garchen Rinpoche said “samaya is love” is really the essential definition of that commitment and it’s not just one-sided from student to teacher.
I think David B. knows me really well I’ve been lobbying for about 10 years that it’s a mutual relationship based on us knowing each other and the guru has got to be committed to us too, that means caring for us knowing us personally and being there at least for significant practice questions and when we are passing away. Pardon my incessant redundancy but we should be there for the students of Trungpa too and not leave them all for dead as “non-loyalists.”
I know that KTG will only grant interviews to students that have significant practice questions or are dealing with death, and I feel that the teacher has got to be able to engender real care for us, as well as expecting us to care for him.
“To rule is to serve” as the Taoist quote goes.
I had requested two interviews over a 20 year process and both were rejected and others have been removed from the court curtly, so the question really is is he willing to have genuine love, samaya, relationship with us?
If he wants to really take us on and care and make sure that we don’t have any significant practice or personal obstacles that would prevent us from making progress, and offer these excellent teachings and methods, then I think that question- can be asked.
Does he really, sincerely want to have samaya with any of us?
Samaya is a mentorship with teacher and disciple being committed to each other, it’s not slave and owner, command and control, financial exploitation and servitude. If we really can see this, this community can heal. (And I believe we can, but you have to let us all back in, the people you estranged and hurt by loyalty prerequisites. I fear this “in or out” question will serve only to further divide us.)
The sacred bond is like spiritual family, and we continue to try to bring out the best in each other and be supportive and if we fall, we hold each other, to stay strong and to make progress. Do I love him and feel grateful for all the gifts that I experienced from him in this community? Absolutely and I do not want to break that. Do I want to heal continue, absolutely, but we cannot mandate “loyalty and control” like that. We have to have a gentle, Dharmic approach that accommodates *diversity of people* that are devoted to his dad or other teachers, and people who are devoted to no one, and finally, people that just want to practice. All should be included in an ever expanding vision of enlightened society and the GES.
If he can come to a point where he’s willing to be brave enough to engender mutual personal and loving relationship with the students and be committed to us, then we can answer that question. We can’t “dharmasplain” this away by saying his position is of some secular “universal monarch” and that he’s too busy or powerful, and our commitment is to some amorphous space. Never seeing a teacher that asked me for my life and devotion feels similar to paying monthly health insurance and never seeing the doctor, but rather being instructed to “faith heal.”
I for one have in my heart never left for one red second. Every gesture of “misconduct” can be forgiven but we have to really see what happened here first, his family seems to still be blaming students so, we haven’t yet gotten to “Step 1” as far as healing. When that really happens we can ask these questions and move forward.
So much love and heartbreak and yes, samaya as love, to the essence and this community, still intact, it cannot be broken.