Jesus Lama

Posted by on Nov 25, 2010 in Otherhood | No Comments

…the encounter between Catholicism and Buddhism cannot take place at the level of the Magisterium, it can only take place at the level of two contemplatives talking together in private.

—Harold Talbott, paraphrasing Dom Aelred Graham, in “Thomas Merton in the Himalayas, An Interview with Harold Talbott” from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Summer, 1992.

If the typos and the fuchsia are off-putting in the link above, I recommend reading the article in full at Tricycle (you’ll need a paid membership; pick up a copy of Rebel Buddha while you’re at it.), here.

More highlights:

He went out to take photographs and met Sonam Kazi. I knew this from his eyes before he told me. And that was the birth of the blues, the beginning of the Dzogchen teachings for Thomas Merton. Sonam Kazi was the official interpreter assigned to the Dalai Lama by the government of India, the interpreter, for example, in the talks between Nehru, Chou En Lai, and the Dalai Lama. Sonam ran into Merton on the road, invited him to a teahouse and zapped him.

…Merton was a ripened and ready object of a visit from Sonam Kazi and he got it. He said to me occasionally after that “I came to Asia to study Zen in Japan and now I have changed my itinerary and I’m going to study Dzogchen in India with the Tibetans.”

[T]he Dalai Lama looked at Merton and said, “What do you want?” And Merton said, “I want to study Dzogchen.”

Tricycle: What did the Dalai Lama ask Merton about Christianity?

Talbott: If I’m not mistaken, it was about how you live the contemplative life in the West and what you do to make it possible in this modern world to live the life of a monk in the West. How do you stave off spiritual annihilation?

The fact is that he told the Dalai Lama that wanted to study Dzogchen so the Dalai Lama spent hours preparing him to find a Dzogchen guru. And he found him in the Chatral Rinpoche. He went down to Sri Lanka where he convinced himself that he had the experience of dhamakaya (emptiness), seeing the status of the Shakyamuni statues and Ananda. Then he was electrocuted and died and we are left to sit here and talk about how Dzogchen was the final bestowal on Merton by a divinely compassionate savior.

Then he went and addressed the heads of contemplative communities in Bangkok. The conclusions he reached were conclusions that the late Trungpa Rinpoche had drawn too: in Merton’s words “It’s every monk for himself now.” Structures can no longer be relied on to provide protection to foster the spiritual life. Everyone – ordained or not- for himself, through his practice of her practice. And one of the most congenial means for going on your own is Dzogchen.

…the encounter between Catholicism and Buddhism cannot take place at the level of the Magisterium, it can only take place at the level of two contemplatives talking together in private.

—Harold Talbott, paraphrasing Dom Aelred Graham, in “Thomas Merton in the Himalayas, An Interview with Harold Talbott” from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Summer, 1992.

If the typos and the fuchsia are off-putting in the link above, I recommend reading the article in full at Tricycle (you’ll need a paid membership; pick up a copy of Rebel Buddha while you’re at it.), here.

More highlights:

He went out to take photographs and met Sonam Kazi. I knew this from his eyes before he told me. And that was the birth of the blues, the beginning of the Dzogchen teachings for Thomas Merton. Sonam Kazi was the official interpreter assigned to the Dalai Lama by the government of India, the interpreter, for example, in the talks between Nehru, Chou En Lai, and the Dalai Lama. Sonam ran into Merton on the road, invited him to a teahouse and zapped him.

…Merton was a ripened and ready object of a visit from Sonam Kazi and he got it. He said to me occasionally after that “I came to Asia to study Zen in Japan and now I have changed my itinerary and I’m going to study Dzogchen in India with the Tibetans.”

[T]he Dalai Lama looked at Merton and said, “What do you want?” And Merton said, “I want to study Dzogchen.”

Tricycle: What did the Dalai Lama ask Merton about Christianity?

Talbott: If I’m not mistaken, it was about how you live the contemplative life in the West and what you do to make it possible in this modern world to live the life of a monk in the West. How do you stave off spiritual annihilation?

The fact is that he told the Dalai Lama that wanted to study Dzogchen so the Dalai Lama spent hours preparing him to find a Dzogchen guru. And he found him in the Chatral Rinpoche. He went down to Sri Lanka where he convinced himself that he had the experience of dhamakaya (emptiness), seeing the status of the Shakyamuni statues and Ananda. Then he was electrocuted and died and we are left to sit here and talk about how Dzogchen was the final bestowal on Merton by a divinely compassionate savior.

Then he went and addressed the heads of contemplative communities in Bangkok. The conclusions he reached were conclusions that the late Trungpa Rinpoche had drawn too: in Merton’s words “It’s every monk for himself now.” Structures can no longer be relied on to provide protection to foster the spiritual life. Everyone – ordained or not- for himself, through his practice of her practice. And one of the most congenial means for going on your own is Dzogchen.

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