Starting Off Lightly

Thought I’d begin a real return to blogging with some interesting tidbits.

First off, did you know that k.d. lang is Buddhist? I’ve known for quite a while, but it’s only recently that I’ve seen a lot of press on the matter. As a matter of fact, Shambala Sun has a recent (03/08) interview with her:

Melvin McLeod: What type of Buddhism do you practice?

k.d.lang: About eight years ago I met a teacher here in Los Angeles from the Nyingma lineage of Tibet, Lama Chödak Gyatso Nubpa. The great teacher Chagdud Tulku asked him to come here and work on stabilizing dharma in the West. Lama Gyatso quickly became my teacher. I have been practicing and studying with him since.

She and her partner (Jamie Price) are on the board of directors of Ari Bödh, the American Foundation for Tibetan Cultural Preservation. Also amongst their small sangha’s current projects is “a children’s camp called Tools for Peace.”

(Please note – image is from her website – no infringement is intended, but it seemed highly appropriate for the entry.)

Also, I was reading in last month‘s Shambala Sun that the 17th Karmapa* has a love of comic books, especially the X-men:

In your talk earlier today, you mentioned that you used to read X-Men and other comics. Is that something you still do?

I would continue reading comic books, but not many people give them to me anymore! When I was young, all kinds of people would give me comic books, but now they don’t. As you know, they made a movie of the X-Men, and I enjoyed that very much. When I went to Universal Studios, I thought about buying some X-Men comics while I was there. But it was very crowded and I thought, “Well, maybe it wouldn’t be so appropriate for an adult to purchase such things.”

I am totally thinking about putting back a stash of comic books to send to him, when I can. ^_^

* I am not going to weigh in on this, but there is some controversy as to who the 17th Karmapa is – see this article for more. I see no reason, regardless of one’s position on this controversy, to not refer to him by his appropriate title.

And last, but not least, via Venerable Konchog of Dreaming of Danzan Ravjaa, comes a fun invitation to provide a caption to this fab image:

You know you wanna. Rev. Danny Fisher has weighed in already. ^_- Drop by and weigh in!


Random Pics from Date Night

The cat is away (well, in this case, the 3 kittens), so the mice have been at play – while the kiddos are with their grandparents this week, the other half and I have actually been getting in some grownup hang out time. Part of that was hanging at a mediocre chain bookstore after a movie. While da Man was checking out the Ubuntu, Unix and Debian books, I (of course) gravitated over to the anaemically stocked Buddhist selections. Here’s part of what I saw – hoped y’all might find these two pics amusing:

Nothing big here – just thought it was funny to be told that the sitting on the floor I was doing wasn’t necessary….

I sure hope someone out there understands why I find this one amusing – that magazine you see peeking out (the only “Buddhist brand” magazine this store carries, behind the title Nudes) is Shambhala Sun:


Lately I’ve been focused on deepening my understanding of Emptiness. It’s been slow going – this is where it is obvious to me that being able to participate in a local sangha would be good.

I started my exploration of sunyata after reading an excerpt from Bodhi magazine (Vol. 8, No. 3) in Buddhadharma‘s Spring 2007 issue. There’s an article there by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche called “Emptiness First, Then Compassion.” He writes:

When we try to practice compassion without the view of egolessness, or emptiness, we are often not really helping because we ourselves are so confused. Our own lack of clarity only produces further confusion. If we have an idea that we think will help someone, it is usually based on our own interpretation of what we think they require or want. We are not looking at their situation from their point of view. Instead of giving them what they truly need, we give what we think they need. There is a difference between the two. Furthermore, we have value judgments about how they should accept our help, and so we “help”them further by imposing conditions and guidelines.

Compassion and loving-kindness that is free from ego clinging allows us to see the suffering of others from their own perspective. We can see beyond our own ideas and beliefs. We can see what they need from their point of view, and we can apply our own wisdom at the same time. with this more open and clear view, we can see more realistically what will meet their actual needs and be truly beneficial.

I do understand what he is saying. However, for myself, I come to the idea of egoless compassion and loving-kindness through my attempts to broaden my ability to be compassionate. There was a point when I realized that to be truly compassionate and loving I needed to move beyond my own concepts and try to understand the needs and feelings of others in order to better “serve” them. (I wish I could think of a better word than “serve” – the best thing I can think of is my own crudely-realized idea of bodhicitta, though it is only in recent years that I’ve come to have a (beginner’s) understanding of this concept.)

I guess it’s a matter of perspective. For me, the idea of linearly studying one concept before another does not work as well as a more holistic approach studying many aspects of Buddhism at one time. I’m not suggesting a scattered approach leading to little understanding. It’s more about the concepts of interdependence extending into my understanding of the Dharma – no one concept being free of others.

Perhaps the Venerable Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and I have different styles of thinking. Or perhaps I am just not knowledgeable enough to have a separate perspective, and I am just deluding or confusing myself. ^_^

Links I’ve recently been looking at on the topic: