Friday, October 2, 2009

Lama Marut teaches us that we can learn from anyone. Even Glenn Beck.

I was very happy to hear that Lama Marut chose this site as his "website of the month." I've long been a fan of his work and I am pretty sure his podcasts were my first real taste of Buddhism. He's amazing at explaining complex concepts in a very simple and often funny way. There was a good year where I listened to his Dharma Essentials courses for hours each week. He has tons of free audio teachings, ranging from karma, to the Diamond Cutter Sutra, to emptiness, to the Six Perfections, to the Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, to the Lam Rim. It's great stuff, and he makes it super accessible.

I found out about Marut's selection of this site via email from his associate Cindy, who was kind enough to point me to one of his teachings. I had been trying to remember where I'd heard him talk about how anything or anybody can be your teacher. I fumbled through the concept in explaining how you could be taught something, even by High School Musical. Cindy pointed me to this amazing audio teaching, "The Appearance of the Sacred in Another Being." Give it a listen.

Lama Marut tells us:
“The guru can appear in all kinds of forms... the guru can also appear as your boyfriend, or girlfriend, or husband, or wife, or child, or mother or father. The guru is not limited in their appearance possibilities...

...the guru can also appear as a lake view. Anything that's changing your consciousness.... is the guru at work. anything that's changing your consciousness, anything that's going oh my god maybe life isn't just ordinary, that's the job description... of a guru... 'Make them believe that it isn't just ordinary.' That there's a sacred world right in front of their eyes if they could only see it. Bring them to nirvana... the end of suffering... bring them to heaven by showing them it's been here all along. It's been here right in front of you all along....

...they're like the entry point, the mediating entry point from a profane world into a sacred world. they're like a door that brings you into a different reality. And it is up to you to invest them with that capability. If you don't invest them with that capability they have no capability ever. Zero....

...when you meet another person you have two unconfirmable possibilities.... you can imagine them as just being ordinary, or you can imagine them as being a sacred angel on your case.... put on your case, come down from HQ on your case. And you can't confirm that they're not.... you've got that choice. Which one would be more interesting? Which one would be a better way to live? Which one would allow that person to start helping you? The secret of guru yoga is that you constitute somebody as sacred, as special, as divine in your life. And then everything they say and do from then on becomes a teaching for you.... what kind of lesson was that for me?

The power isn't coming form the guru. The power is coming from you. It's just a feedback device.... you invest the power in them and it comes back to you. and the more you invest in them the more it comes back to you."
So the key for me, then, is to invest everything with the power of the sacred. What can I learn from High School Musical? What can I learn from that guy who cut me off in traffic? What can I learn from Glenn Beck? Hard to imagine, but as Lama Marut points out, your teacher doesn't always appear the way you expect them to. It's up to us to decide to invest something with the power of the sacred, and that enables us to learn from anything.

So the guy in traffic can be a lesson on compassion. Glenn Beck too, believe it or not. Whether you imagine him as a child, or a father, or a husband. (I have no idea if he was ever any of these, not even a kid.) When he's making you really angry, you can imagine what's making him suffer, what's causing him to react so fearfully, and to instigate fear in others.

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us this, in "Living Buddha Living Christ," how we can forgive even someone who makes us really, really angry:
"'You my brother or sister have wronged me in the past, I now understand that it was because you were suffering and did not see clearly. I no longer feel anger towards you.' Only when you understand what has happened can you have compassion for the other person and forgive him or her... when you are mindful you can see the many causes that led the other person to make you suffer, and when you see this, forgiveness and release arise naturally."
So learning about compassion and forgiveness can come from the most unexpected places! Really, almost anything can be a lesson in compassion; just look at today's headlines, or walk down the street and consider the lives of others, or drink a cup of coffee and imagine all of the interdependent factors that went into you getting that perfect cup. And you can have compassion for the farmers, for the truck drivers, for the baristas, for the workers in the cup factory, and for anyone else who led to you getting your drink. Compassion is everywhere, if you look for it!

Thanks so much, Lama Marut!! *

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