News

Drubthab Kuntu Teachings

Published on 04 June 2022

By now, many of you have heard through the grapevine that I will be giving the Drubthab Kuntu cycle of teachings and initiations. These are tantric teachings. They are not a general introduction to the Buddhadharma, or even purely Shravakayana or Mahayana teachings.

I have one indisputable reason and one disputable reason to confer these transmissions. The indisputable reason that gives me the guts to offer this abhisheka is that I received it from my guru, who I believe is more than all the Buddhas. (In this day and age when so many give initiations without even a lineage, that is already a big claim.)

The disputable reason is that, after all those years of being embraced by my compassionate guru, I am still an aspiring Vajrayana practitioner. I therefore declare here and now that I am by no means a qualified tantric master who can give this cycle of teachings. So, for your sake and mine, do not come or read any further.

But if you still insist on receiving these teachings, then, as someone who worries about the decline of the Buddhadharma in general and especially the Vajrayana, I will try my best to have the participants in my heart. That’s because a tantric master must look at each student as their only child, which doesn’t mean I will know your first name or keep in regular touch with you.

For those in limbo, wondering whether or not they should do this, I suggest following the tantric prescription to do a thorough background check on me. There are plenty of websites you can consult, and you might particularly want to read posts by Tahlia Newland, Matthew Remski, Joanne Clark and others.

In any case, please remember that from a worldly point of view, I’m no asset for you, and more likely a burden – a bit like excess baggage. And of course, the same is true in reverse – so are you to me.

Some of you may be in limbo for another reason – wanting to receive these initiations but already with too many commitments and worried about taking on more. To those people, I say I don’t care if you chant a single word of mantra so long as you don’t abandon Buddha, dharma and sangha and so long as you don’t hold the view that some things may have no cause and condition.

On the contrary, I want you to think of the glory of the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha. I want you to be attracted to sunyata and dependent arising. I want you to help preserve the dharma and to make it grow and flourish. That is your commitment.

For those of you who still decide to receive these initiations from me after reading this far, I need to tell you that our relationship will change completely. There will be no negotiation, no second-guessing, no give and take, and no sitting on the fence. In this case, the customer is not always right and doesn’t get to call the shots.

If you want to play football, you may get scratches and bruises. If you want to play the game with a helmet and padding, then it’s no longer soccer.

There is another issue we should clarify: I may have many different ways of thinking than you, be it on religious, social, political, or other matters. For instance, I am not a die-hard devotee of so-called western liberal values.

That doesn’t mean I hate the west. I do not. And in my efforts to propagate the Buddhadharma, anyone can tell you I care for westerners as much as I can possibly manage to care for Bhutanese, Tibetans or Sikkimese. But I am allowed to have different opinions than others, just as ninety percent of people are allowed to think Kim Jong-un is a bad guy without much reason except that the materials they themselves have printed told them so.

That’s what I think and I have the freedom to express it. But I am saying all this here, because if you really have a deep problem with that, which could affect the way you think about me, and if this genuinely bothers you from your head and heart to the limits of your being, disqualifying me as your vajra master, then you had better not come to these transmissions. 

Of course, we can have real differences of opinion and argue about all of it. You have all the right to your own view and I will totally understand if it’s completely different from mine. Even if you are the epitome of the liberals I criticize, I will still, as a tantrika, try to hold you dearly and care for your tantric practice needs.

So our difference of opinion won’t hinder our Vajrayana samaya at all. It’s as simple as my liking coffee and disliking durian, and you liking durian and disliking coffee. That won’t make any difference in our relationship on a spiritual level.

— Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse