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The notion of sexual equality is quite new in the West, and because of this there is a certain rigid and fanatic adherence to the specific way it should be practiced. In vajrayana Buddhism, on the other hand, there is a tremendous appreciation of the female, as well as a strong emphasis on the equality of all beings. This might not, however, be apparent to someone who cannot see beyond a contemporary Western framework. As a result, when Western women have sexual relationships with Tibetan lamas, some might be frustrated when their culturally conditioned expectations are not met.

If anyone thinks they could have a pleasing and equal lover in a Rinpoche, they couldn't be more incorrect. Certain Rinpoches, those known as great teachers, would by definition be the ultimate bad partner, from ego's point of view. If one approaches such great masters with the intention of being gratified and wishing for a relationship of sharing, mutual enjoyment etc., then not only from ego's point of view, but even from a mundane point of view, such people would be a bad choice. They probably will not bring you flowers or invite you out for candlelit dinners.

Anyway, if someone goes to study under a master with the intention to achieve enlightenment, one must presume that such a student is ready to give up his or her ego. You don't go to India and study with a venerable Tibetan master expecting him to behave according to your own standards. It is unfair to ask someone to free you from delusion, and then criticize him or her for going against your ego. I am not writing this out of fear that if one doesn't defend Tibetan lamas or Buddhist teachers, they will lose popularity. Despite a lot of effort to convince the world about the pitfalls of the dharma and the defects of the teachers, there will still be a lot of masochists who have the misfortune to appreciate the dharma and a crazy abusing teacher who will make sure to mistreat every inch of ego. These poor souls will eventually end up bereft of both ego and confusion.

I know there are plenty of people who will disagree with much of what I have said. For as much as I am set on my interpretations, so are others set on theirs. I have met great teachers whom I admire enormously and although I may be a doomed sycophant, I pray I will continue to enjoy the company of these teachers. On the other hand, people may have other ideas and be happy with them. My practice is devotion to the Buddhist path; others may chose doubting the Buddhist path. But as Dharmakirti said, ultimately we must abandon the path. So I hope in the end we will meet where we have nothing to fight over.

Mind's ultimate nature, emptiness endowed with vividness,
I was told is the real Buddha.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with thoughts of hierarchy.

Mind's ultimate nature, its emptiness aspect,
I was told is the real Dharma.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with thoughts of political correctness.

Mind's ultimate nature, its vivid aspect,
I was told is the real Sangha.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with thoughts of equal rights.

One cannot disassociate emptiness from vividness.
This inseparability I was told is the Guru.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with depending on chauvinist lamas.

This nature of mind has never been stained by duality,
This stainlessness I was told is the deity.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with the categories of "gender" or "culture."

This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

—Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche


Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche is a student of Khenpo Appey Rinpoche and is responsible for the education of approximately 1,600 monks distributed between six monasteries and institutes in Asia. He is the founder of several dharma centers in the west and three nonprofit organizations: Siddhartha's Intent, Khyentse Foundation and Lotus Outreach. He is the director of the films The Cup and Travellers & Magicians.



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