Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Party Line

In every spiritual practitioner's life, there should be people who totally dis them. Without these people, there is no hope of honesty. It is so painfully easy to fool oneself into believing that one has the right idea, that if people do not come along who whack us upside the head and completely refuse to buy into the party line, we can't help but go hopelessly off track.

I am blessed with many such people. There's a monk at Diamond Mountain, Lobsang Nyima, who sees me for the callow fool I am and never hesitates to throw down the gauntlet. Don't get the wrong idea. He's not some nice old fellow, genial but stern, steeped in books and learning, gently turning me back onto the path when I stray from the party line.

On the contrary, he's a former punk rocker from New York who loves motorcycles, thinks Anna Paquin is the most perfect being who could ever exist, isn't afraid to go out and dig ditches to pay the bills, and seems like a complete fish out of water in his new home, Bowie, Arizona. But he's not. There's a reason he's at DM (at least from my side!). I was debating something with Nyima a month or so ago, and he said something to me that really bugged me at the time, but later made me think: "geez, Ted, I can always count on you for the party line!"

The problem with any spiritual practice is that it's based on a teaching, and the teaching isn't what's meant to be learned. So you can learn the teaching perfectly, and never understand it at all. The only way to understand it is to put your fragile understanding under the hammer of adversity - to debate it with people who say completely unreasonable things that don't sound anything like what was meant, and with people who say completely reasonable things that don't sound anything like what was meant, and try to bash the ideas around until some deeper understanding arises. When that deeper understanding arises, then you have to bash the living crap out of it, because it's closer, maybe, but it's still wrong.

Lobsang Nyima does this quite nicely for me. So does my father. Tonight I got my mental butt kicked by a very kind teacher from DM who comes to Tucson every Wednesday to teach here. I'm actually writing this as a mental note to myself, because I haven't quite figured out how she kicked my butt, but kick it she did, and it seems important. We should all be blessed with such teachers.


Blogger Robert Lindsay said...

Nice blog, I just drifted over here. It's better than most for sure.......

Thursday, May 26, 2005 2:35:00 PM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...


Thursday, May 26, 2005 5:34:00 PM  

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