Practicing the dharma as Non Tibetans

I was requested to talk about how difficult it is for us non-Tibetans, specifically Austrians or German speaking individuals, to connect with the dharma properly and all our problems with religion in general so I want to share my general observation, having been brought up here, myself. I would like to say a very few words about that and then make some short general remarks as I am still not well.

After having generated a mind of awakening to guide all beings to enlightenment, let’s now face the request.

Not being a historian and having to rely on my upbringing, nevertheless, religion and state were one in Austria until the starting of WWI. Austria abruptly was catapulted into a new era, rather late compared to rest Europe, with the attempted murder of the heir to the throne, archduke Franz Ferdinand. From monarchy into 2 consecutive world wars, the country fell apart in its most basic values and moral beliefs, basically overnight. After WWII, life was completely different. People’s daily lives were deeply religious with many rituals, a strict religious calendar to follow as had always been, inspite a different life style. With new generations brought up by these „in-between-period“ parents and grandparents, people like me were introduced to religion as something that was far away from our living reality, a seemingly strict succession of rules and regulations to many, all administered by a priest who basically did everything whilst we faithful could not do anything by ourselves, all rituals, just everything, depended on the mediator between us and God, and God was unreachable, hence it was hopeless.

Generally, we all naturally seek refuge into something more potent than our own experience. We then often take refuge into just anything, fame, wealth, money and distraction and fun as a kind a substitute religion.

I am aware that many identify religion with a building or institution as much as religion itself with a bunch of rules and regulations imposed on them, struggling with „religion“ itself, due to its long history of non-religious activities and we love-hate it, it is in our DNA. As I have said may times before, whilst I recognize those fears, I do not fully identify with them personally as I rely on the linguistic meaning of the word itself, being Latin, meaning to reconnect with oneself. And that is exactly what the exalted dharma is all about.

Now, with that kind of upbringing, when we encounter the dharma, we do it with all our historical, socio-cultural hang-ups and often struggle. People like me who always had a keen longing, a sense of unknown depth within, did not want to depend on anyone to „get the job done for me“, wanted to rather set out on a journey myself and grow, guided along and checking.

In reality, the holy dharma is beyond all paradigms, it is the means and ways to master our own mind, fully ripen it, perfect it and completely awake from the  jungle of our disturbing emotions, unchangingly!

We all seek freedom but at the same time expect the lama to do the job for us out of cultural habituation. We are drawn to the lama but only to become his personal coffee and cake friend. But our Guru is solely there to give us all the means to free ourselves and to show us the path to set out ourselves, not to hang out with us.

So often I heard people seeking our Supreme Guru but not wanting to have anything to do with Palpung as if it were two things.

For me, Palpung is the holy mind, the enlightened heart of our Supreme Guru. I love Palpung as much as I love my Guru, from the marrow of my bones over the moon and back with every atom of my being as for me they are inseparable, the enlightened activities of our Guru Vajradhara, his lineage and not a mere house! In one of my official papers our Sublime Guru says I represent him and Palpung. Think of it and with all due respect, I dare not think that way of my Guru: but how could I merely represent a human being and his house? That would not make any sense at all! It cannot be anything but his successive activities to benefit us defiled beings! Then, how can someone as ordinary as me represent my holy Guru? Through his lineage, and nothing else.

We do not need to turn into Tibetans and don’t even have to learn Tibetan in order to practice the dharma and to understand the Guru as what he really is. In fact I personally think it might become yet another hinderance to get to the depth of what the holy dharma is all about. If we instead are able to comprehend our Guru as the living embodiment of his lineage, not just a person and his activities, and his mind not simply a building but the vastness of his enlightened mind, his lamas and centers not just places of enjoyment and recreation, and then apply the sacred methods he most lovingly puts into our seeking hands, we surely will develop on the path set out by him and become like him: free of all cultural and other imprints, but intrinsically inseparable. Freed from inside out.

I now request you to dedicate the merit of all this towards the supreme enlightenment of all sentient beings.

Chöje Lama Palmo