Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Why Gurus Can Occlude What They Teach

File under: Real True Gurus

Things are already crackling at the new Guruphiliac discussion board at Yahoo! Groups. Longtime discussion denizen Onniko offers up the wisdom of Khyentse Norbu, an acclaimed film director and a Tibetan Buddhist lama who quite refreshingly doesn't take himself too seriously (we've highlighted the relevant bit in bold):
Khyentse Norbu's provocative take on Himalayan Buddhist convention is also evident in the way he interacts with his cast and crew. On set, he's the least formal of lamas, sipping water out of a Sesame Street cup and expertly indulging his typically Bhutanese penchant for obscenely dirty jokes. "Most so-called rinpoches like myself are too perfect," he says, sitting outside the bamboo shack that has served as his home for the final month of shooting. "And when you have someone who's perfect up there, when you're looking at a so-called perfect being, it doesn't make you happy yourself. You think, 'Oh, I'm imperfect. He's perfect. I can never be like him.' And that's totally and absolutely nothing to do with Buddhism. It's completely a cultural habit. And this is something we have to break."
This rinpoche is right on his mark. Gurus of all stripes would do their devotees a world of good to pay close attention to what Norbu is saying here. Unfortunately for the devotees, it's the pedestalization of a guru that brings in the money and fills the seats at the satsang, so as much as we'd like to see a depedestalization happen, we know we'll just have to keep pounding away with this blog.


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