Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Jamgon Kongtrul, whom i quote so often, was a 19th-Century Tibetan monk who was a central figure in the Rime (ree-may) movement, the ecumenical movement in Tibetan Buddhism that came just in time for the Tibetan diaspora. If I believed in providence, which I don't (I think), I'd think he came so that when the Chinese drove the Tibetans out into the world, they would bring a unified and harmonious spiritual tradition with them, rather than a lot of petty wrangling and sectarian rancor.

His accomplishments as a meditator, a scholar, and a monastic administrator are extraordinary -- as Dudjom Rinpoche put it, when you look at his achievements in any one of those areas, you would think he had devoted his whole life to just that one. He studied and practiced in all four of the major Tibetan lineages, rescued one lineage that was in danger of extinction (the Shangpa, to which I have personal reasons for being especially grateful), wrote ninety books, and renovated or expanded monasteries all over Tibet.

And yet he retains a sort of cowboy earthiness and wit, as in his lines about a gopher in a hole, below. I don't think any other Dharma explicator so often makes me laugh aloud.

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