A feudalistic Vajrayana system has no place in modern society
by Christian Thomas Kohl, The Buddhist Channel, August 29, 2017
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is seen defending Sogyal Rinpoche's destruction of RIGPA in an open letter (Guru and Student in the Vajrayana) and at the same time he writes an article about "The Clarity Aspect" (June 17, 2017 "Lion's Roar").
The letter gives an impression that Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is an authority on Vajrayana Buddhism. The crux of the matter is, does Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche have any basis for being such an authority? What are the foundational assumptions of his commentaries?
Can his authority be measured in equal terms, on par - say - with other Tibetan masters of Vajrayana Buddhism?
If he is not an authority in Vajrayana Buddhism, why didn't he introduce his commentaries as, "The following views are my personal opinion..."?
How long did Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche take to prepare his letter and his article? One day? Two days perhaps?
There are hundreds of Vajrayana Masters in Tibet and India. I am sure many are reflecting on the Sogyal Rinpoche's issue.
It has to be noted that HH The Dalai Lama published a short commentary on Sogal Rinpoche where he actually said the opposite of what Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche commented on. Did HH The Dalai Lama defend Sogyal Rinpoche? Not at all, even though they are reported to be close friends.
So it seems clear that Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is not speaking in sync with HH The Dalai Lama, a foremost Vajrayana Master. Did he ask the opinion of other Tibetan Vajrayana masters before publishing his commentary? Or does he have a hidden motive to smear Tibetan Buddhism or RIGPA?
His letter and his article dealing with the 'clarity aspect' are reactionary commentaries, describing 19th century feudalism which existed in Tibet and in many countries of that ttime. Why do I say that his commentaries are reactionary?
Simply put, feudalism for the ordinary man or woman means to "Shut up and obey, if not you will be punished!“.
In his letter, we see that Dzongsar Khyentse Ripoche openly defends this feudal system, which he has skillfully masked its socio-political structure to that of a guru-student relation paradigm that is so prevalent in Vajrayana Buddhism.
In the history of Buddhism since Buddha Sakyamuni's time, history has shown that The Enlightened One treated his students and Dharma learners as a father would to his children, and not at all like landlord to his servants.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's transgression here is that he has inferred the existence of a Dharma based system where political orders were carried out within a militaristic structure of a feudal society. And he is telling us to accept this because this is what Vajrayana Buddhism is about.
And this bears question to the following: Does a father gives military orders to his children? Did Buddha Sakyamuni give military orders to his followers?
No, this is completely unknown in the history of Buddhism.
Buddha Sakyamuni's dharma is an invitation to openness, to investigation, to questioning. In Buddhism we lead prayers with the meaning, "Oh Lord Buddha, please open our hearts". Likewise, Milarepa, Nagarjuna and all the past great Dharma teachers from India and Tibet, they essentially teaches this "opening of the heart".
Dharma teachings are "advice" to oneself, for one to see and to practice if found useful. Nobody takes command over another. The Enlightened Buddha was not a commander.
But if Dzongzar Khyentse Rinpoche words are anything to go by, he tells us Western Buddhist students that "...this is Vajrayana Buddhism of Tibet - deal with it!". My word ... this is Vajrayana Buddhism? Can he really be serious?
And so when a girl in India or Myanmar or even in the USA gets raped by a Guru or Rinpoche, can this be justified because it is an inherent structure of Vajrayana Buddhism? A Vajrayana master who uses the system to his advantage by mind stalking and brainwashing his victims to believe that this is part of their spiritual training?
Do not forget, that when we fall on our knees in prostration we do not do it in obeisance to a human being. We do not get down on our knees in obeisance to a Vajrayana master. We prostrate as a symbolic gesture in reverence to Lord Buddha's spirit of Enlightenment, His liberation from this world and the acknowledgement that potentially, we too can be Buddha.
Lest we forget, a Dharma Master needs students for his teachings to be relevant. Even Sakyamuni Buddha needed students and learners so that the Dharma could bloom. And what are these students required for? So that each and everyone could taste the possibility of their own enlightenment, just as Buddha experienced Himself.
If a socially militaristic, feudalistic system such as that espoused by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has to be accepted because it is Vajrayana Buddhism, then I wonder how many students would be willing to be its serfs? And can he blame the followers if Buddhism dies because such a system is no longer acceptable in today's society?
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, I implore you, please come back to the pure roots of Buddhism. There can be no masters if there are no students.
And finally a reflection of teachings from the 21st century:
"NEVER PUSH LOYAL EMPLOYEES TO THE POINT THEY DO NO LONGER CARE" - Steve Jobs