A Tibetan Way Toward Inter-Religious Understanding

Interesting -- I look forward to listening to this. Alejandro is an old friend from years ago. Here, he discusses how the Tibetan practice of chod -- a shamanic/tantric/dzogchen practice of working with fear and horror, making one's body into an offering, etc -- can contribute to a model for (or approach to) inter-religious understanding.

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Comment by andrew on April 16, 2014 at 8:32am

That's not such a bad way to view each other within a spiritual context max: as pilgrims/fellow travellers,etc. Anyway, this is always fun and i got to lower the bar on this site by talking about god!

Ferrer is fast becoming my favourite integral writer! Much more in line with how i view things and i like that he keeps the door cautiously open when it comes to god and angels. 

Anyway, concurrent with non-theistic Buddhism today is a global out of control amoral non theism . God doesn't exist so i can do what ever the fuck i please. We see this in Hollywood, global finance, politics, environment. Oops, it's not really non-theism, most of this behaviour is directly related to the worship of the global god KaSh. No escaping metaphysics after all.

Comment by andrew on April 15, 2014 at 10:14am

It's probably not the best move to assume that Buddhism has not been corrupted by the left hand path protocols and is free from error. To assume that what Buddha experienced and believed about god was handed down in pure untouched clarity is woefully naive, imo. I believe if he were here today he would council people to be hopefully agnostic on the issue of god. In other words, don't quarrel over God; we don't have the faculties to understand god, concentrate on the right hand path of love and compassion; a place that is eternal and always available to any heart that seeks it.

Comment by Balder on April 15, 2014 at 8:58am

A number of years ago, I put together a proposal for a book to be called "The Kingdom of Clear Light."  The basic idea was a Dzogchen "inflection" of Christian teachings.

Comment by andrew on April 15, 2014 at 12:00am

I liked this, too. For me though, the most profound thing he mentioned was the importance of the heart in relation to the cosmos ( god for me).  Hmm , enlightened beings:) Wonder who they could be?

Comment by Balder on April 14, 2014 at 1:27pm

From a response I wrote to someone on the FB site (who saw the video, thought the content was a little light as well, but was interested in knowing more about the chod practice):  There are actually a good number of practices in this tradition -- or this set of related traditions -- for cutting through egoic attachment, as well as for working with the issues of death and fear.  One practice is likely familiar:  Tonglen, which is the practice of breathing in the suffering of others (sometimes as a thick, acrid smoke), and breathing out healing and blessing.  But there are many others, as well: some ngondro practices, which invite you to confront death, develop generosity and compassion, etc; Rushen, which is a method of acting out suffering, cutting through convention, etc; and many others.  I think Alejandro is focusing on chod here because it is an especially powerful and affective/effective (feeling-laden/efficient) practice.  But, as I said, his talk left me a little wanting, since he didn't really clearly relate this practice to the topic of this talk. 

From an inter-religious perspective -- namely, a Christian-Buddhist one -- I find the chod and tonglen practices together touch on vital themes in the central image of Christianity, the crucifiction.  Chod, the practice of wilfully giving up one's body for the sake of others, and then turning it into "food" for all sentient beings, echoes (in my mind) the crucifiction and the practice of communion, but enacted on an individual basis (by each practitioner, rather than by the central saving figure).  And Tonglen similarly echoes the interior aspect of the kenotic agape of Jesus' final act: willingly taking on others' suffering and bestowing healing and well-being on others. 

Years ago, I tried developing a Christian sort of tantric practice, and I used these two practices -- in modified form, inviting individual identification with and enactment of the crucifiction event -- as central exercises. 

In my opinion, one possible way to approach inter-religious understanding among traditions would be to explore the homeomorphic equivalencies among them, such as we find among these practices and central Christian themes.  I think we can find generative echoes and resonances between chod and other traditional practices as well - and then explore how insights or techniques from one or the other might find a home in our own path.  Alejandro is focusing on the effects of such practices on practitioners -- in doing them, we (can) become less selfish, less identified with the boundaries of body, ego, or tradition -- and I think there is definitely value in that.  But I think we can look in these other directions as well, to find ways to promote understanding across traditions.

Comment by Balder on April 13, 2014 at 9:08am

Hmm. I enjoyed hearing about his practice and study of chod -- I did some Bonpo chod practice with him in Virginia in the '90s -- but I didn't find a lot here about the main topic, or what I thought the topic would be: chod as a basis or vehicle for inter-religious understanding...other than as a general practice for cutting egoic attachment (if you practice it), which could inform how you also relate to sectarian attachments, etc; or the example in Dzogchen of holding several forms or lineages of a teaching at once. I'll have to go back to see if I missed something.

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