Daring Steps
Toward Fearlessness

The Three Vehicles of Buddhism
Ringu Tulku
(Snow Lion)
Tulku's concern here is the three main schools of Buddhism: Theravidina (of Sri Lanka), Mahayana (of China, Korea, Japan, and Viet-Nam), and Vahayana (of Tibet and Mongolia). In Daring Steps Towards Fearlessness, he devotes thirty-five pages to the first, more than sixty to the second, and an equal amount to the last.

Of these, the first may be more interesting, because Tulku is more discursive, at times even merry.

He reminds us that we don't have a need to be enlightened, because we are --- all of us --- already there, we just don't know it yet. The reasons we can't see the Buddha within:

  1. It's too near;
  2. It's too simple;
  3. It's too good;
  4. It's too vast.

Tulku offers a good, simple meditative technique, called shiné which he says can lead "to bliss, clarity, and nonconception." And yet he warns us, "I feel that one should not talk too much about these experiences, as it might arouse expectations that would kill the meditation."

In the section on Vajrayanam there is an interesting Socratic dialogue between Tulku and one of his devotees:

    Student: When I just watch my thoughts without following them, is that meditation as it is meant here?

    RTR: What I was trying to say is that you do not watch your thoughts. You just are, and let your thoughts come and go. Can you understand that?

    Student: It is very difficult.

    RTR: No, it is not difficult at all. The difficulty lies in saying, "It is very difficult." Once that thought is there, then it is difficult., Meditation means just being, and this does not involve any strain. Thinking, "This is very difficult," constitutes one of the main impediments.

    Student: I sometimes wonder whether I am doing it right or wrong.

    RTR: Yes, but there is no need for that. The moment we wonder whether we are doing it right or wrong, we are distracted. In the context of Mahamudra practice we do not ask ourselves whether it is good or bad meditation. We do not evaluate it; we just are, we are not even meditating in a way...

    It should not be too difficult to simply be, to simply not be, to not do anything, to just have a vacation and rest. That is what this meditation is all about.

This is a fine book for those who are interested in the diverse schools of Buddhism, but, better, you have here the words of one who might be the classic Eastern trickster, filled with the paradox that represents one of the world's most vital religions. For those who think that the key to being the perfect Buddhist is but giving, he has this story:

    Once there was a man trying to be a bodhisattva who promised to give everything he had to anyone who asked for something. Being very rich, he started a kind of public campaign and made his promise known far and wide. Many people came and asked him for money, food, seeds, and all kinds of things. He gladly fulfilled their wishes and made everyone happy, and his fame increased.

    Then, one day, a rather nasty Brahamin came along and asked, "It is true that you will give whatever you have?" The rich benefactor said, "Oh, yes, totally! I am a bodhisattva!"

    "In that case, give me your right hand." the Brahmin requested. Without any hesitation, the bodhisattva took out his sword, cut off his right hand, and offered it to him. Of course, now the bodhisattva had to use his left hand. In Eastern countries, this is considered as being outrageous. So the Brahamin rejected it, saying, "What! I cannot receive something from your left hand. You are disrespectful!" This was too much for the bodhisattva, and he totally renounced his ideal.

--- Deb Das
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