To the Shambhala Buddhist followers

Why I am writing this?

There is no end to reports and first hand accounts. It is so massive these days that anyone on the path (as a student or as a teacher) should outright hide, let alone display something even remotely resembling anything that can be called crazy wisdom. But what do I know, honestly if one is to hope for the pure view, it will not really come without challenges, for most of us, it seems.trungpa

What I am meaning to really say:

The whole world awaits you all. And it is impossible to go there if you do not take care of yourselves. So, please take care and do not wail in grief over the death of an idea. For as physicists say amount of matter and energy in this universe does not change. So, all these ideas never came or ever went. In conventional speech: Dream of Enlightened Society will reincarnate!

I have communicated with many of you online and in the past in person as well. You are regular human beings. If any of you even if it is after the years of service to your community have to leave it, this is totally normal dynamic. And happens to many.

In fact it happens in many situations, organizations, communities all the time. People leave, people arrive. What is more important is to remember that life is short. And within that short life one can not conceive of benefiting others if one is completely overcome by any one or combination of negativities. Thus it is important to be able to benefit oneself, while it is not too late and we must remember that in fact we are told over and over that this present moment is all we have. So, it is never too late. As in do it now.

For many it should be of greatest importance to utilize the idea of “The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side” because of the serious problem with the vision, many do not see grass / other side. Do not let your imagination fail you! This is our normal ego driven wish to better our situation, to study, to receive teachings, to contemplate on these, to actualize them in one’s sphere of being. In regards to the general knowledge of many people that I have observed, mostly online, there is a chance to benefit from study of any of the famous Tibetan Buddhist Traditions. There is a lot of books, sadhana texts, monasteries, masters in several countries. If there is something that you wanted to do, explore, find out about, this could be the perfect moment for that.

I understand that many, especially older generation want to talk about ideas of support and social justice. And while it maybe something that at the current time in this country will be effective. On the individual level it will never make us better followers of Lord Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava or any lineage masters of Kagyu, or Surmang at all.

Study, contemplation, meditation in order to really absorb the teachings, to become the teachings, to embody these, should never leave anyone’s sight.

These should always somewhat co-inside with the most fundamental idea of renunciation. A lot of societal values should be abandoned in favor of retreat from such. And it is never the same as throwing about phrases of “basic goodness” or “enlightened society” and then in a slightest moment of confusion becoming angry and red in the face, bar-fight ready to happen type of thing.

With folded hands, with a wish for complete perfect awakening for all of us in this, however dysfunctional it may seem family, sooner, or later, or always.

Signed:

Some one of utter un-importance, writing things down because it is possible to.

Named by parents: Alex, Named by a Nyingmapa master: Sherab Gyatso

Your friend, -is how I feel.

Sometime during this holy 1st month of the lunar calendar, may auspiciousness prevail, for all.

Thoughts on Buddhism on amazon

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On auspicious 25th day of the 12th month of the lunar earth dog year What’s What has gone into 2nd edition, under new title “Thoughts on Buddhism” and it is bigger by about 50 pages as well.

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/172391083X

e-book: https://www.amazon.com/Thoughts-Buddhism-Stories-ebook/dp/B07N8SZV3H

Preface to the second edition

This volume was not planned but came together from various writing here and there, on the blogs and on social media. Then, when I saw that material accumulating is starting to look more and more as if there is enough for a book, the book came about. Initially as What’s What, 1st edition through Createspace Publishing in June of 2016.

thoughts_on_buddhism_on_amazonAs of autumn of 2018 Createspace is merging into Kindle Direct Publishing and it looks appropriate to update What’s What with a few pages in addition for the new, 2nd edition.

So, meanwhile, whole two years came and went, while life presented a very rare opportunity of almost retreat like, very restful time and it does not feel like 2016 was long ago and similarly not really yesterday, not anymore.

Special mention for Orgyen Cho Dzong Sangha of upstate New York, where for first time I was able to join in with Kyabje Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche, family and disciples at the end of summer of 2016. Especially fortunate is that Rinpoche’s son Namgyal Dawa Rinpoche saw it fit to offer a comment on this piece of writing and now I can include it as a review for 1st edition on the back cover.  It is a type of review that I personally like and it goes much a like what my friend Migmar Tsering said to me after reading a copy I gave him during Summer Retreat at Palyul Retreat center: “It is as if you a       re talking to me”. So, in some way, this is it, mission accomplished! -Simple, personal voice, without any status or authority but with a wish of positivity to increase, for everyone. Then, in a glory of miraculous displays Kyabje Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche displayed passing from this life on April 15th of 2018 and I have written a short obituary that offered me a chance to contemplate on situations like this, how do we feel when our Lama passes away? This short piece of writing is added to this current edition, may it all be virtuous and may our confidence be renewed if it wavers, unfailingly so!

-NY State September 2018

Picture is by Hyunju Lee at Jackson Heights NY,

while attending teachings of Palyul Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche

New in this edition:

Preface to 2nd Edition

Passage of Time

On Seeming separation from the Master

Short Glossary

Unexpected Result

By now I should have expected something like that. But every time something of s sort happens there is a slight feeling of surprise. As i wrote in more then one article here already, my father in-law without much interest or expectation has discovered to his surprise what i told him now and then, for years. I still view myself as somewhat of an artist and there was a time when I exhibited, sold and even answered questions, all in regards to my artwork.

Much has changed since then. America is where I am now and I read, write and speak in English with some degree of proficiency. Computers came and took over, pay ohones all but disappeared, together with music and book stores. Cell phones now are viewed as ultimate gateway to happiness (just think of azure coast line screen saver that one can get with a purchase of a $1,000 device that can do invariable more and more of the things that never needed to be ever done). All this is here not just for me but for many.

And so my father in law asked me on several occasions to paint his portrait, -that sounded really good to me. I have not painted for 18 years at that point but never thought that I have laid down the brushes, it’s just that I was not in the right place to do so. And so, I bought a few canvases, a pallet knife and investigated into new paint producers to add to the selection of now antique tubes of paint (all purchased in Pearl Paint in NYC – art materials point of pilgrimage that only exists in the realm of memory of so many).

My 1st attempt at the painting did not result in anything that I felt I could finish, although the composition came together neatly and character of the old man somewhat reflected in the moment. Still I was playing with the ideas, colors, brush-strokes too much after all these years and I had to abandon the canvas. Quickly painting just a prominent portrait with noting much in the picture in a way of distraction.

However when the old man came over he said that he is intending to take the half finished, half erased, half not meant to be canvas home and i can come and work on it there, finishing it as i please. I was amused, telling myself: “Guess what I will have to do something to finish this one as well, to some degree, he wants two portraits now”

And here we have it, yet another canvas lives to be signed as a finished work.

An actual signed return

IMG_20180528_181150I hope so, there were always plans to paint things, but when you pay astronomical rent, run a restaurant or have to merchandise 2,000 Lbs of cheese, all invariably 6, not five days a week, all these painting plans have no chance to take hold, none at all. Finally father in law after looking at many of my older canvases had a eureka moment: “you are classically trained artist”. I was like: “you can say that, in some past life, – I had not painted for about 18 years”. He could not resist and asked for a portrait. So, here it came to pass, I am painting again, not as “seriously” but obviously just as seriously.

Baby elephant mind

IMG_20180613_134219Title: Baby Elephant Mind. Media: oil on canvas. Size: 40 by 30 inch. #elephant #elephants #elephant_painting #painting_of_nature #sherabpainting

This is some of the best of everything. Legendary NYC art supply dealer of 20 years ago David Davis stretchers, -mine have Mercer Street address, it is from the time when they had a store in the basement of “Guggenheim Soho”, then canvas from fabric wholesaler (that does not exist for many a year) on Lower Broadway, and a finished painting that was started 18 years ago, all feels very, very special.

Man-Cave

I love, love idea of this term “man-cave”. If you twist it around enough and away from popular American culture, you arrive at most surprising things, as in somewhere there is “Vajrayogini Cave”, or a cave in which Milarepa meditated, or whole Maratica Cave where Guru Rinpoche the Padmasambhava meditated on Amitayus, demonstrating accomplishment of that practice. IMG_20180611_142805

Alas “man-cave” is usually in the basement of the house where one lives. ut ability to bring an occupation of life-long interest into that with healthy degree of solitude, that is just breathtaking.

Somewhere along the lines of the effort to make more room, while still in NYC I lost my easel. But then again, my best paintings were somehow painted on the floor.

 

Do not forget to throw some money away

We love, treasure our efforts and results of our labors. With complete appreciation of all that, here in is a chance to throw away some of these perfect results.

It can be same as throwing paper printed with green images into a fire, up into the sky to have the wind pick it up and carry away, scattered. Or a wave of water carry it off into wast expanse of an ocean. And in same time not the same. As our mind dictates our personal phenomena and so we can regret the money to be wasted or view it all as offering mandala transforming into pure vision of spiritual practice.

What donations are used is much like that, light, fire, smoke offerings. Blessings going up in smoke, to be carried off by the wind and swept away by the rain.

IMG_20180531_141742There is persistent purpose and beauty to it all. So, if you are unable for one reason or the other leave your work, sit down on a bench to bask in the sunlight, might as well sponsor any of these activities that without doubt always  have focused and sustained the elusive, indescribable positivity in this world.

2018 Summer retreat will present me with opportunities to engage in some of the study, contemplation, prayer and meditation, praising and offering and dedicating, all in a well known location. Palyul Retreat Center, upstate NY, for a month starting around July 10 and winding down around August 10. My attendance is in no way contingent on donations received. But all donations received will be offered to the various activities during the retreat.

gofundme link for this year: https://www.gofundme.com/summer2018retreat

-With dedication of all past, current and future merit of all beings towards clarity and wisdom inseparable within all of us.

IMG_20180531_141656

Paintings of sounds

I really miss Pearl Paint art supply store. Throughout 1990ties shopping there for oil paints, brushes and sometimes print paper as well as anything else from woodcutting chisles to gold leaf. That was really the store that had all sorts of art materials all at good prices, I will never forget that they had sale on some Old Holland oils 3 for $10, more then once. I still have some.IMG_20180529_124520

Here is one of my personal favorites. This was painted as a result of a purchase of a perfect stiff bristle brush (I usually use soft sable), I was so inspired to work with it that I finished this “Flying sax player” working through the night some time in winter of 1993. Missing Pearl Paint a lot, best location, best prices and best selection of art materials that I ever saw. #sherabpainting #paintings_of_sounds #nyc_paintings #jazz #music

Painting the in-laws

Mother-in-law Kimchi, it is a somewhat known brand of the world famous Korean pickle. I hold unimportant distinction of situating it in a supermarket chain by recommending it once to the purchasing department and somehow the owner, a beautiful glamorous woman came over and said “thanks”. What can I say? -Only in New York City. (My reaction was, well my wife is Korean and this store did not carry any Kimchi at all, you know, life-or-death situation for some people). There is subtle irony to the whole thing of mother in law anything, it is that impossible to reach high standard that comes with a bit of imposition. But guess what, sometimes you just get a jar of already made pickle.

IMG_20180528_181150So, the in-laws come and look at my youth exploits covering the walls, at some point i was very well internationally received painter. And father in law goes: “How long will it take for you to paint a portrait, for me?” To that I am like: “ok, this is deep waters (thinking to myself, as I did not paint in 20 years) to him I am like: “you should not worry, I can work from a photograph, the bigger decision is to pain or not to period”.

And so I open my old paint tubes that I would not be able to afford now and contemplate with deep, deep excitement in front of a canvas. Amazingly 20 year old oil paints by best makers like “Old Holland” do not get old, they just don’t.

Grandfather is an older gentleman that has lived through 60ties and 70ties and without doubt had bell bottom suits back in the day, There is some sort of imperfect sense of glamour about him that only time was able to damage, back in the day (I saw the pictures, the whole family looked positively cutting edge). IMG_20180528_181133

Here is 1st painting I did based on imprecise recollection of how I thought he came across during his youngest son wedding. It is unfinished piece. Please do not judge. The background was not done before it was abandoned as a study of what to do, as well as face and general final touches were not laid down.  It is a small piece as can be seen from this picture. And it was a miscalculation because the goal was to produce a portrait. So, setting this attempt at style, for the memorial day visit an actual portrait had to be affected, and now I knew that I can always just paint. IMG_20180528_181150 And here are paintings to the world, ever-so-slight “make an offer that I can not refuse” as well as myself thinking that, who knows maybe the Old Holland paint tubes did not dry up and what  a joy it is to put paintings out there, one of a kind, painted with your very own being, no matter how fast or slow. If you wander about the reactions, everyone seemed to have loved it.

 

 

On passing of Kyabje Shenphen Dawa Norbu Rinpoche

With continuous waves of birth, old age, sickness and death as long as we read and write here or there it is possible to feel like a “survivor”. But that situation may presenocd1t further complications, lets try to quickly glance in direction of what may lay on the other side of the threshold.

Within the 20th and 21st centuries we had some of  most interesting Buddhist Masters of Buddhism as a whole and certainly of Tibetan Buddhism in particular. The image of the Great Stupa of Tibetan Buddhist traditions founded, built and then broken and swept into the vast ocean of all of humanity is for sure very unique period of Buddhism and Buddhism of Tibet. As a result we had some of the most celebrated masters pass away in places like France, in case of  Dudjom Rinpoche, Nepal in case of Chadrel Rinpoche and farther still, Upstate NY in case of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and Shenphen Dawa Norbu Rinpoche. As well as many others. While I can not say that I am dedicated disciple of Shenphen Dawa Norbu Rinpoche, I did endeavor to visit Rinpoche’s center in NYC and in Upstate NY as much as possible and was able to meet and observe this great master over 10 times. So, while I am not well placed to say anything, it is still an opportunity to try and publish general, meritorious talk for all to read and for myself to contemplate.

In a way of list I set out from these, following markers.

What did we come to think of the act of Historical Buddha’s passing. And how we work with it today. The 12 deeds of Buddha is the life example teaching that we can work on directly, without too much study. Emulating the glorious example in our own life.

What Chardel  Sangye Dorje Rinpoche (June 18, 1913 – December 30, 2015) left us  in the his last testament was a few short lines and one of them was: “Do not be sad“. This was a kind of Master that one would feel devotion to, without having ever met them, at least in my case. So, it is not easy not to feel sad, it is also difficult to know what some of the direct disciples felt.

Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche (1904-1987) amongst so much brilliant writing left us with volumes of books that stand apart from all others. And in the famous Prayer to Recognize my own Faults we receive very clear information on the direct focus of the spiritual practice. On the actual work of correcting things with our own view.

And to the reason for writing these few notes out. In Greenville, NY state (not far from Albany) Kyabje Shenphen Dawa Norbu (born  February 17, 1950) entered into tukdam meditation on Sunday, 15th of April at 12:02AM

-How not to be sad about that!

How to engage in the correction of the faults of the view that may feel as parting?

In the Glorious Arya Nagarjuna text Praising the Twelve Events in the Life of Lord Budda, in Dharma Samudra translation when we come to the end we read:

In order to motivate those who are complacent in dharma practice,

At the pure ground of Kushinagara

You reached the deathless vajra body.

We praise your deed of passing into parinirvana.

And just like that if we perfectly adjust the view of the Lama to be non other then Buddha himself, with direct sharpness of Lord Nagarjuna we are left with nothing to do but abandon the sadness as much as possible, however hard it maybe, all in favor of practice of view and conduct that actually emulate these great beings that come again and again to guide us on the spiritual path of arrival in certainty that Buddha is always within and never apart, thus can not really ever leave us.

Pictures are from 3rd month and 10th day in Upstate NY, August 13th, 2016. Above, Rinpoche is with his son, during Tsog offering, Tulku Namgyal Dawa Rinpoche. Below is Rinpoche’s seat during the short afternoon break.ocd2

With condolences to the Dudjom family on this momentary parting from this brilliant guide of all beings. With aspiration for Rinpoche’s quick return.