Notes, Holiness and the Refuge

As Counsels from My Heart is one of my favorite books ever, I have read it’s part titled “Notes” that comes in the later part of the book, however opening this wonderful book by chance on the opening page of the “Notes” and rereading this 1st note I thought I should post it here and maybe this note from esteemed Padmakara Translation Group be of benefit to whoever encounters it, It can be taken as thought provoking or too technical, but my hope is that it be taken as helpful.

Kyabje (skyabs rje), which means “lord of refuge,” is traditional title given to lamas of great wisdom and attainment. Curiously enough, in situations where it is traditionally used, there has been a tendency in western Europe and America to substitute the papal title of “His Holiness.” Although there is perhaps some justification for this when referring to the Dalai Lama (temporal and spiritual leadership and by now a precedent of almost a hundred years), its generalized employment, along with that of other titles taken from Catholic hierarchy, seems for a number of reasons out of place and undesirable. It should be remembered that “His Holiness” and “His Eminence” are essentially indications of ecclesiastic rank, bestowed by authority and not by popular acclaim. Moreover, they are not automatically regarded as expressions of devotion, nor are they necessary attestations of spiritual attainment or personal sanctity, as should be clear from even a cursory knowledge of Catholic history. It seems better, therefore, to retain the Tibetan title, which, when used of a lama like Dudjom Rinpoche, is highly meaningful and indeed an exact description.”

[“Counsels from My Heart” by Dudjom Rinpoche, page 107-108.]

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