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Lions Roar : November 2017
not instill fear or anxiety. They bring about a flowering of compassion and wisdom in the student. In other words, the results of genuine “crazy wisdom” are always positive and visible. When a teacher uses an extreme approach that is rooted in compassion, the result is spiritual growth, not trauma. Trauma is a sure sign that the “crazy wisdom” behavior was missing the wis- dom to see what would truly benefit the student, the compassion that puts the student’s interest first, or both. It is also worth noting that these extreme teaching styles we see in Vajra- yana history took place in the context of a very mature spiritual bond between teacher and student. They were not all that common. Marpa didn’t make all of his students build stone towers. In fact, he treated his other students very differently from how he treated Milarepa. But he saw Milarepa’s potential and the approach that would benefit him most. The rest is history. Milarepa became enlightened and one of Tibet’s greatest adepts. Not only are these extreme teaching methods used only with very mature students and in the context of a relation- ship of stable trust and devotion, they are also a last resort. There are said to be four kinds of enlightened activity: peaceful, magnetizing, enriching, and wrathful. Wrathful activity is only used for those who are not receptive to more subtle approaches. So again, this style is not a norm, but something that is only employed in certain circumstances. Thus we must distinguish teachers who are eccentric or provocative—but ultimately compassionate and skillful— from those who are actually harming students and causing trauma. These are two very different things, and it is impor- tant that we do not lump them together. There are plenty of teachers who push and provoke students to help them learn about their minds, but that is not abuse. Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse are not teaching tools. Vajrayana in the Modern World Now that the world is so interconnected, ethics are more important than ever. In a sense, we Buddhist practitioners are all representing the Buddha’s teachings to the world. Anyone can learn about this teacher or that sangha with a few mouse clicks and a quick Google search. This is a good thing, because it makes the entire tradition more transparent. Ethical behavior—and ethical viola- tions—are more visible than they were in previous times. It should go without saying that when schools, businesses, and other public institutions are expected to adhere to a code of conduct and the laws of the land, then spiritual orga- nizations should be role models of ethical behavior. And teachers even more so. Throughout history, one of the most important roles of Buddhist teachers and the Buddhist sangha was exactly this. They modeled ethi- cal behavior to the communities that they served. Vajrayana Buddhism is thought of as a precious treasure by Tibetans. It is our spiritual heritage and our gift to the world. Now that the teach- ings and practices of this tradition are spreading across the globe, it is important that we understand the tradition and how to work with its powerful teachings. As I’ve said, the core of the Vajrayana tradition is that we strive to embody pure perception. We view our thoughts and emotions—even the difficult ones—as manifestations of timeless awareness. We see every person as a buddha, and we treat them as such. We view the world that we live in as a pure realm, enlightened just as it is. This tradition of treating everything and everyone as though we are meeting the Buddha face-to-face is our main practice in the Vajrayana. It is the life blood of our tradition and the very highest ethical standard we could aspire to. In this day and age, with confusion and conflict all around us, the world needs this more than ever. ♦ Treat Everyone as Buddha continued from page 39 Retreats in Santa Fe, New Mexico SEE ENTIRE CALENDAR, TEACHINGS, AND MORE AT WWW.UPAYA.ORG SANTA FE, NM 505-986-8518 ext. 112 REGISTRAR@UPAYA.ORG november 10 - 12, 2017 Awakening to Real Love S on Salzberg, R oan Halifax 9 CEUs for Counselors, Therapists, Social Workers january 7 - 28, 2018 Winter Practice Period: Sandokai - Looking at the World from the Relative and Absolute Perspective Winter Practice Period is led by Sensei Irène Kaigetsu Bakker and Sensei S P eaded by Sensei J yrnes and Sensei Genzan Quennell. Zazenkai Weekend january 12 - 14 Bodhidharma Weekend january 19 - 21 Senseis Kaigetsu Bakker, S alma, J yrnes, and Genzan Quennell lead : Sesshin: Sandokai january 23 - 28 february 2 - 4, 2018 The Way of Haiku Shiki and Modern Japanese Haiku Writers R oan Halifax, Sensei Kaz T Natalie Goldberg, Clark Strand LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2017 80