Tarka #006

On Tibetan Buddhism for an Awakening World


On Tibetan Buddhism for an Awakening World

The term “Tibetan Buddhism” points to a geographic location and a style of Buddhist practice that emerged from a particular region.  Yet, due to historical circumstances, today this school of Buddhist practice continues to grow and develop largely outside of Tibet.

This month’s issue of TARKA is inspired by the profound wisdom that this tradition offers the world and therefore highlights some of the unique contributions of Tibetan Buddhism, including socially engaged Buddhism and Buddhist psychology.  The opening essay by Robert A. F. Thurman, “The Importance of Preserving Tibetan Buddhism,” outlines a brief history of the tradition and renews the call to save Tibet and the wisdom tradition that is rooted there. Subsequently, in “Buddhism: A Path Towards the Future,” Isa Gucciardi discusses the future of Buddhism by critically engaging three particular aspects of how Buddhism has met western culture. This includes the Buddhist engagement with science and corporate landscapes, the effort to retain purity of Buddhist teachings, and the need to avoid the “dumbing down” of Buddhist teachings.  

In the next article, “How Buddhist Practice Grounds Social Action in a Secular World,” John Makransky looks at the connection between service to others and traditional religious practices that are used to ground the individual in a deep sense of peace and goodness.  Makransky points to the benefit of adapting Buddhist teachings and practices for secular audiences because it can offer great insight and grounding to non-Buddhists and, he suggests, this awakening and enthusiasm will also be supportive and motivating to Buddhists who may re-experience the power and beauty of their own tradition with fresh eyes.

Miles Neale also looks at the apparent dichotomy of self-nurturing practice and service to others in his article, “Self-care and Selflessness: A Contradiction?” He focuses on the concept of “spiritual bypassing” as pain-avoidance and considers the psychological dangers, for the individual and for those that they seek to serve, that may arise if the individual does not develop a more mature spiritual practice.  Neale’s next article, “What Buddhist Psychotherapy Really Is,” offers some insight into one approach towards spiritual maturity that is set in a therapeutic context. Here he also introduces key aspects that distinguish the Nalanda approach to Buddhist psychotherapy – a technique developed out of Tibetan Buddhist practice.

The next article offers practical insight for deepening practice by limiting the search for external information and, instead, turning inward.  This may seem at odds with the search for knowledge that is promoted by a journal like Tarka, yet it supports the concept of embodied philosophy.  That is, a philosophy that is grounded in the experience of practice. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s, “Turn off your Search Mode – Trust in Being,” is an edited excerpt from his oral teachings.

“Why There is No Self: A Buddhist Perspective for the West,” unpacks the doctrine of no-self (anātman) and addresses the concern that it denies the importance of the world, one’s own body and mind, relationships, and love.  The author, Jay Garfield, explains, “The concept of the self creates a distorted view of reality, with each of us as selves at the centre of their own universe, and everything else arrayed around us as our objects.” Thus, Garfield explains, the doctrine of no-self actually encourages a more benevolent and altruistic way of being.  

The final two articles explore feminine forms of the sacred in Tibetan Buddhism.  Isa Gucciardi’s second article in this issue, “The Power of the Sacred Feminine in Buddhist Philosophy,” focuses on the many forms of Tara, including vivid descriptions, suggestions for contemplative practice, and excerpts of relevant devotional verses. Lastly, we have an selection from, Lama Tsültrim Allione’s recent book Wisdom Rising: Journey into the Mandala of the Empowered Feminine, entitled, “Mandala Principle – One Ground.” In prose reminiscent of a mandala itself, this excerpt examines the apparent duality of non-duality and urges the reader/practitioner towards a realization of that “one ground” of being.  

This issue of Tarka complements our upcoming online conference on Tibetan Buddhism, “Wisdom in Exile: Tibetan Buddhism for an Awakening World.”

Some courses that complement this issue are "Tibetan Buddhism: A Path of Becoming Fully Human" with Dr. Miles Neale, "Buddhist Psychology & Comtemplative Psychotherapy" with Dr. Joe Loizzo, and "Psychoanalysis & Tibetan Buddhism: An Unfolding Partnership" with Pilar Jennings. All of these offerings can be found on the "Learn" page of our website.

~ Stephanie Corigliano, TARKA Managing Editor