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The Teacher-Student Relationship in Vajrayana Buddhism
By Rig’dzin Dorje
A lively, sharp and engaging argument for the prominence of the vajra master (Tantric Lama) as the most important feature of Vajrayana. Ngala Rig’dzin Dorje sets out to counter the ‘Conference Buddhism’ movement which he exposes as attempting to replace the Lama with ‘the collective wisdom of the Sangha’. By both exposing the current impetus within Western Buddhism and explicating the true rôle of the Lama, Dangerous Friend guides the reader from the questionable statements concerning Vajrayana Buddhism in the West to the rich history of the Lama-disciple relationship.
Since the dawn of Buddhism devotion has been the key to success in practice. This is especially true in Vajrayana, where the teacher is the practice. The book clearly explains the importance of understanding and living the rôle of student, which is ‘being empty’ in relation to the form of the teacher. The explanation is supported by quotes ranging from the beginning of Tantra in Tibet to the present—from Padmasambhava in the Eighth Century to the author’s own contemporary teachers, Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen. His references to these teachers vividly demonstrate his own devotion.
Ngala Rig’dzin Dorje continually returns to the impossibility of solving the puzzle of samsara on one’s own. One needs guidance out of the self-created maze of dualism from someone who has themselves realised that the maze is empty. To Westerners it is often difficult to accept that one has to abdicate one’s subjective rationale to reach realisation, but the need for this is clearly and persistently shown in Dangerous Friend.
The book ends with an extensive ‘Questions & Answers’ chapter which clarifies many issues commonly raised at Aro courses and events. Here the subject of devotion and personal responsibility with respect to taking ordination and vajra commitment is thoroughly discussed.
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