A Few Things I know about Shamar Rinpoche – By LT

Rinpoche and Lawrence

Rinpoche and Lawrence

Today is the sixth day after Shamar Rinpoche passed away on 6/11/14. I have read a few eulogies and attended two sermons in remembrance of him. Unlike some of the sangha members, I didn’t get too emotional on the loss. However, there are a few things that I haven’t seen from other writings. So, I would like to write down my own.

When I decided to explore more about Buddhism many years ago, I came across “The Karmapa Paper” in a small library. Being both a history & detective novel addict, the Karmapa controversy has all the interesting elements: betrayal, greed, political conspiracy. I also know that there are two sides of the stories. There must be lairs there. I just don’t know whom. However, putting aside who is the real Karmapa, Shamar Rinpoche needed to stand up against the Dalai Lama, the Chinese government and Tai Situ Rinpoche about the recognition of Trinley Thaye Dorje as the 17th Karmapa. To withstand the storms, he was either a determined liar or a determined monk. Through the years, I have taken the latter stand. Why? You can see my reason below.

I waited a year for his visit to US. There were many devotees in the Bunea Park center. With my little doubt, I took the refuge vow from him anyway for I didn’t want to spoil the big ceremony. I confided my hesitation to CC afterwards. She was surprised and thought I always wanted it. I should have told her earlier. Her silent support was thanked silently.

In the text we recited during the ceremony, one part was about dedication to the pass masters, one by one. He asked us to take out the current Karmapa. His reason was that there was a controversy behind the identification. There was no need to introduce confusion. As a supporter of Trinley Thaye Dorje, I thought he would do the reverse. I believe he did it to protect his student’s devotion.

They said it would require master & student to check against each other. I began to track his activities on the web. I heard that there was some advanced Varjayana practice that would be considered as sexual activities. Then, I heard about a little scandal in France. One lama was put into solitude and stripped of teaching activities. Then, a while later, I saw his announcement about turning Bodhi Path centers into a Mahayana teaching without Varjayana. He mentioned about slanted Westerners’ view about sex and by being a Mahayana center, no more confusion is possible.

Later on, he stripped off the lama title from many teachers in our centers. He said it would avoid confusion with the lamas who strictly follow the precepts in the monastery. I admire his courage since people made easy conclusion from the label lama. Many famous lama out there couldn’t simply follow a lama rule at all. Without a “lama” title is a good move to clear confusion though not necessary good for publicity.

Then, he asked people not to call him “His Holiness”. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t believe a monk is a king and it still strike me uneasy when I see the “H.E.” or “H.H.” title before any monk, no matter which religion. He is the first one in public to do so.

Several years past, the sangha has been praising him but I haven’t had a chance to talk to him in person until this March. He came to the states for a book signing tour. He stopped by Pasadena and asked us to meet in one student’s house. I was the first one to arrive. They just finished the dinner. I haven’t had dinner yet. RF generously offer the dinner to me. Shamar Rinpoche asked me to come to him for my questions. I felt it would be impolite to ask questions while eating dinner. So, I stayed in the dining room and told him I would be in the living room right after the dinner. He then walked from the living room to dining room to attend my questions. I felt honour and appreciate his humbleness.

Some people are writing about miracles around him. I couldn’t tell what is miracle and what is not. (In fact, CC or CS would know there might be a miracle when I first read “The Karmapa Paper” in Mi Piace the time I first came to Bodhi Path center. But I don’t feel there is a need to put it here). So, I could only write about my concerns that is common to be seen. I don’t know about the identity of Karmapa. He changed the text to address it. I worried about the sex scandal. He changed the centers to non-cult, Mahayana centers. I felt weird about the “H.H.” title. He dropped it. I didn’t raise these concerns to the teachers and he addressed them all. I develop a trust by his judgement. From the roots he built, I feel comfortable with the Bodhi Path and would wait for his next reincarnation. I hope my last doubt about reincarnation will be eradicated then.

Om Ami Devi Hri

Pasadena Bodhi Path with RInpoche

Pasadena Bodhi Path with RInpoche

Courtesy of Lawrence’s Zone



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