Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexually as

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:44 am

“The Sakyong has something for you…”
by President Richard Reoch
October 31, 2009 – 10:00 am

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Emily Sell, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s editor, recalls how the composition of the Treatise on Society and Organization occurred:

“I was just settling into an airplane ride when someone sat down in the seat beside me. It was Rinpoche. He had moved from first class to coach in order to dictate a letter to the President. I believe it may have been inspired by a conversation with Dapon Dennis Southward the night before. The next day, more dictation, read-alouds, and editing took place all over New York City, including in the tearoom of the Carlyle Hotel, with a number of different people. That evening Richard Reoch heard it for the first time.”


“The Sakyong has something for you,” Emily told me. We were in New York in the midst of his Turning the Mind into an Ally book tour. It was March 2003.

We were ushered into the rooms where the Sakyong was staying and I sat on the floor at his feet. After a short silence, he nodded to Emily and she began reading the Treatise on Society and Organization, which he had dictated to her the night before.

The treatise takes the form of a communication from the Sakyong to the President, offering a vision of how Shambhala society will take shape and giving his heart advice for achieving that. Although it was originally addressed to me, it is clearly meant as a vision and advice for all of us, since one of its central themes is that we are all responsible for the manifestation of Shambhala society.

The Sakyong first asked that the key elements of the treatise be read aloud to centre directors throughout the mandala, rather in the manner of giving them the traditional oral transmission that opens the path to study and practice of a text. This was done through a series of meetings and conference calls. It was then made available to centre directors and others in a pre-publication format. I am delighted that Shambhala Media is now formally publishing it online at the time of the Fourth Shambhala Congress which has as its theme “Exploring Community”.

Compassion is the golden thread that binds the tapestry of the treatise together. “As members of Shambhala society,” the Sakyong writes, “it is our constant responsibility to be generating compassion on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Compassion is our life blood.”

This the ground of the Sakyong’s vision. The Shambhala society he depicts is not another version of Utopia. Quite the opposite.

“To my mind,” he writes, “ in this society, imperfection is the fuel that allows us to generate genuine compassion…It is not a matter of who is right and wrong, or did what and when. Our responsibility is always to reflect back to see if the ember of bodhichitta is still burning in our hearts, for this is the flame that we proudly and gladly pass on to fellow sentient beings.”


The emphasis of the treatise is on Shambhala society, rather than the organizational infrastructure that delivers programming and services. He acknowledges the importance of caring for the organization, but the goal is to welcome newcomers into Shambhala society. “They will be welcomed into a community – rather than an organization,” he writes, “in which their own transformation and personal participation is a key element and building block for the entire endeavour.”

Many of the threads that run through the treatise reflect the earthy wisdom that has emerged at the previous Shambhala Congresses and that have led to the strong emphasis on community as the theme of this year’s Congress. Indeed, most of the major international working groups that have been established and form much of the fabric of the govering Sakyong’s Council arose from aspirations expressed at the Congresses. Their work is entirely in line with the Sakyong’s vision set out in the Treatise.

“There are many issues that we need to face from a societal point of view,” he writes. “These are human realities, and although we may wish that the organization could solve them, the solutions are rooted in the interaction between members of the society. Death, sickness, trauma and other critical junctures in people’s lives are events than can be supported and nurtured through advice and care by a society that is sensitive to its own members…Individuals need to know that in terms of whatever may be occurring in their lie, there are others who care and aspects of the society that will help them traverse their particular dilemma.”


Personally, I turn to the Treatise again and again for guidance. I carry it with me on my travels throughout the mandala. One of my deepest aspirations is that I could serve, in some way, to bring its wisdom more fully into being. I am thankful to Emily for editing the original and making it possible to have it online in this format. Making these heart instructions so much more accessible will enable all of us to refresh and deepen our everyday practice and understanding of the meaning of Shambhala.

Richard Reoch
President of Shambhala
October 2009

“This innate enlightened society and natural wish to communicate is demonstrated when we kiss.”

-- The Treatise on Enlightened Society, by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:48 am

Jump the Gun
by Dan Peterson, Kadöm Desung Care and Conduct Officer
March 21, 2015 – 12:58 am

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I turned on the AM radio while driving and was hooked. There was a shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School and five students were dead. The school was on lock-down and First Responders were on the scene, as well as local media.

Law enforcement officers went from classroom to classroom, securing portions of the large sprawling campus. Intermittently classes were released to run about a quarter mile across open fields, across a rural road to a small church, where parents were waiting to meet their children.

I have a friend who is a special education administrator at the Marysville School District. She contacted a few of us who have backgrounds in special education, developmental disabilities, and mental health to be at the High School to provide support on the first day it reopened after the shooting.

My wife asked what I would be doing by going in on the first day. I was very grateful to recall a Desung Training I desung1attended with Dapon H Simon La Haye. He said to drop all your tricks, all the expertise. It just gets in the way. To be truthful I couldn’t think of any tricks to bring to this tragedy – just a broken heart and a willingness to be present.

Marysville is about an hour’s drive north of Seattle. When the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. it was raining and dark. Sometimes I wake from a quilted cocoon, and crawl into the morning cocoon of coffee, newspaper, and National Public Radio news. But this morning there was nothing familiar to crawl into.

In the early grey dawn I could see that Marysville homes and businesses were decked out with hand-made signs, some with flowers, ribbons or balloons attached. “We Love You, Marysville-Pilchuck”, “The Alumni Association Supports Our Students,” “Marysville Loves Our Students.” A quarter mile chain link fence bordering one side of the high school campus was completely covered by ribbons, flowers and signs. I later learned that community members and families who didn’t know what they could offer spent the weekend decorating the fence.

I parked and walked towards the main office to sign in. Busses were pulling up and letting out students. Each person arriving was greeted by more students waiting to give hugs, shake hands, and sometimes share tears. I had to pull myself together after witnessing this communal display of love and kindness before entering the school. I busied myself with signing in, getting a name tag, and greeting friends who were arriving to volunteer.

In Desung Training it is said that we are never off duty. Instead of writing about a school shooting, this account could just as well be about the fearless warrior opening the back door of the car and cleaning the papers and miscellany that accumulates there over time. Or about getting up at night to feed the baby, or kissing one’s partner before going to work.

During the shooting, which occurred in the school cafeteria, a first year teacher saw the gun, and saw the students being shot. She saw the young student with the gun raise the weapon and put it to his head. She ran towards him and yelled “No! Stop!”

I was assigned to sit in on several classes. Without a plan it was easy to make friends. I sat with a fellow and we colored in a thank you poster to send to Arlington High School. They had sent 1200 hand-written notes from each student to the students at Marysville-Pilchuck. Later I accompanied two students who had a job going from classroom to classroom to collect recycling. The school campus has a number of buildings with classrooms that let out into the outdoors rather than into interior hallways. As we walked from class to class I looked out at the fields surrounding the school. It was drizzling, and low mists came down to the damp ground. I was glad for the company of the two students, and I think they were happy to have me there as well. There was a palpable fear in that space between the buildings.

desung pinIn the last class the teacher read a story about a high school girl who lost her mother to cancer. The teacher wanted to use that as a springboard to discuss the school shooting. It was very difficult for several students. One student, who might be on the autism spectrum, raised his hand. He said “My friend is having a problem talking about this so I want to explain something. It is called ‘train of thought’. You started reading about death, and she thought about her friends who died in the cafeteria, and now she is crying. So one thought reminds her of something else, and that is called ‘train of thought’.”

Another student talked about being bullied, and how he has a dream that he can run faster than the wind to a hill in the distance where he has a hiding spot. Fantasies of being a wind runner, a martial arts expert, or packing a gun naturally come to mind when day-dreaming about life-threatening situation. David Whitehorn says that as Desung, which means ‘bliss protector’, we don’t really protect bliss. Bliss doesn’t need protection. What we protect is the capacity to experience basic goodness, protecting avenues so that we can remain open to each other. Our reactive fantasies shield us from a reality that might be just too vivid, however it helps to see them for what they are. Several students had a very difficult time discussing death, and I took them from class and walked with them down to the counseling center set up for students who needed a safe place to be.

The teacher then started a frank discussion about the incident. He said that when the lock-down was ordered, he discovered that he could not lock the classroom doors. He set up a curtain in the back of the room and had the students stay behind the curtain, while he stood by the door to hold it shut. The lock-down lasted four and a half hours, because the school had not updated the map of the campus to give to first responders, and several major changes had occurred on campus to accommodate growth in the last couple of years. Because of how long they were held in class a screen was set up in a corner of the classroom and a waste can with a plastic bag was set behind the screen to serve as a toilet. The shooting happened just before lunch, so the teacher opened up all the classroom treats to share as they waited.

As the discussion opened up the class became animated when they talked about seeing themselves on the news later that evening. They were filmed from a helicopter running from the school to the church. For the first time that day I heard some laughter as they teased the teacher, saying that they could recognize him running because of his bald head.

Our practices, teachings and teachers all work to soften and dissolve the barriers that separate us from others, from our world. I have condensed something Dapon M Dennis Southward said years ago at a Desung Training in Boston. It is something of a Desung slogan for me.

The war is over.
We are surrounded by the phenomenal world.
Our job is to surrender,
And to make offerings.


The next opportunity to learn more about the Desung view will occur April 10 – 12 in Tucson, Arizona. Desung Arm Commander Jan Jercinovic, Rupon and Dapon M Dennis Southward will be offering ‘Entering the Desung Path’. For more information go to: http://tucson.shambhala.org/program_det ... 45&cid=257

Dan Peterson has been a Dorje Kasung since 1980, and currently serves as a Desung Care and Conduct Officer. He lives in Ballard Heights in Seattle and works as a Mental Health Resource Manager for the State of Washington.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:52 am

Today’s Command
by Kusung Dapon Noel McLellan
July 23, 2010 – 1:51 pm

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Kusung Dapon Noel McLellan writes about What’s What and Who’s Who in the Dorje Kasung. Unless labeled, all photos courtesy of Christoph Schoenherr.

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How Dare You
Be a tiger.
Lick the Wilkinson sword.
Join together with thunderbolt.
I am so proud to be one of the Kasung.

–Makkyi Rabjam Dorje Dradul of Mukpo


This poem by Chogyam Trungpa (here referred to as the Makkyi Rabjam Dorje Dradul) expresses the audacious and romantic energy of the Dorje Kasung tradition. Founded by Trungpa Rinpoche in conjunction with the 1974 visit of His Holiness Karmapa XVI, the Dorje Kasung continues today as the military pillar of the Shambhala mandala.

As a practice, Kasungship is a deep means of engagement with the path of warriorship, the bodhisattva vow, and the vajrayana lineage. The very embodiment of crazy wisdom, the Kasung utilize the forms of western military as a discipline of meditation-in-action and a way to embody compassion and to transmit the joyful, sharp edge of nowness. As an organization, the Dorje Kasung serves as protector of the teachers, the teachings, and the community. Much has been taught about the view of Kasungship and why it exists. For an introduction, go to http://www.shambhala.org/kasung.php. For this article however, I would like to describe the Kasung mandala as it exists today and some aspects of our activities.

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Kasung Dapon McLellan and Debbie Coats Rupon at the royal wedding. Photo courtesy of Marguerite Drescher.

Chain of Command

Central to the military model is the principle of chain of command. Chain of command simplifies communication and facilitates effective action. In a functional chain of command, each soldier knows whom she reports to, and discursive confusion is minimized. In the Dorje Kasung, the pinnacle of the chain of command is the Sakyong, who is the first kasung, and whose military title is Makkyi Rabjam, “Supreme Commander.” The Makkyi Rabjam receives the first ka, the command of the Rigdens.
Lady Diana Mukpo is also a paragon of the Dorje Kasung, and has been instrumental in providing guidance and overseeing many kasung gatherings and trainings. Her military title is Tönsung Wangmo, “Lady Protector of Benefit.”

Chain of command utilizes a system of ranks and posts. A kasung who holds “rank” is an officer, which signifies a level of experience, ability to carry responsibility, and embodiment of kasung dharma. The four primary ranks are dapon, which is somewhat equivalent to acharya, then rupon, kado, and khenchen. Posts, such as Regimental Commander and rusung, are specific roles carried out by individuals for a specific duration of time.

The Council of the Makkyi Rabjam

After the Makkyi Rabjam, the next kasung in the chain of command is the Makpön, who is the Commander of the Dorje Kasung, and chair of its highest command group, the Council of the Makkyi Rabjam. The current holder of this title is Jesse Grimes, who also represents the Dorje Kasung on the Kalapa Council. Makpon Grimes was appointed to this role in 2004.

The Council of the Makkyi Rabjam is also made up of the Kasung Acharya Mitchell Levy, Kusung Dapon Noel McLellan, Dapon E Don Winchell, Bonnie Hankin Rupon, and Debbie Coats Rupon.

The Dorje Kasung is made up of three Arms of service – Gesar, Kusung and Desung.

The Gesar Arm

The largest Arm is the Gesar, which works with container principle and security. Event guards for dharma teachings, including special operations like the Karmapa’s visit, fire safety, Centre guards, drivers, and personal guards for members of the Mukpo family, kasung who oversee the land center communities, and staffing all major programs, assemblies, and abhishekas are among the duties of the Gesar Arm. Bonnie Hankin Rupon is the Gesar Arm Commander and chair of the Gesar Operations Council, which consists of Robert Taylor Rupon, Bill Lynch Rupon, Ian McLaughlin Rupon, Jan Frans Sturmm Rupon, Jane Stevens, and Alexandra Milsom.

The Kusung Arm

The Kusung Arm works with service to the Mukpo family and the Kalapa Court. Kusung are the personal attendants of the Sakyong. “One gesture” is a basic principle of the Kusung, which means that at any time the Sakyong should be able to summon a kusung with one gesture – a word, a glance, or by touching his call button. Continuity Kusung travel with the Sakyong to maintain current service protocols and knowledge. The kusung work closely with the shabchi, who are the Sakyong Wangmo’s attendants, the shabdo who uphold the households, the machen, who are the cooks, and with the Gesar, who also serve at Court. The Kusung are commanded by Kusung Dapon Noel McLellan and the Kusung Command Council, which consists of Dapon White Mark Thorpe, Michael Fraund Rupon, Greg Wolk Kado, Dylan Smith Kado, Jim Torbert Kado, and Khenchen Nick Trautz.

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The Desung Arm

The Desung Arm works with community wellbeing. Desung activity ranges from providing band-aids to assisting the Care and Conduct Committee with difficult issues. Needless to say, responsibility for health and wellbeing is shared by many groups in the mandala, and one might say, by every sangha member. The Desung aspire to assist, connect, encourage, or provoke any of these as needed, so that genuine care takes place. The Desung are commanded by Debbie Coats Rupon and the Desung Command Council, which includes Dapon H Simon LaHaye, Dapon M Dennis Southward, Irene Vliegenthart Rupon, David Whitehorn Rupon, Shari Vogler Rupon, and Kasung Laura Puts.

Regional Command

In all places where Shambhala is established, the Dorje Kasung are active. From the Council of the Makkyi Rabjam and the Command Councils of the three Arms, the chain of command continues at a regional level. Each of the eight regions around the globe has a Regional Commander for each of the three Arms, overseeing operations over a broad geographic area. Under them, other posts command smaller groups of kasung.

Enrichment

The Kasung possess a rich heritage of teachings from both Makkyi Rabjams and other officers, as well as formal meditation and meditation-in-action practices. These are presented through the formal kasung curriculum, through on the spot training, and at our land-based training intensives, Magyal Pomra Encampment, and for 10-16 year olds, Shambhala Sun Camp. These areas of enrichment are overseen by the Kasung Acharya Mitchell Levy and the Education and Training Corps, which includes Aaron Snyder Rupön, Renee Cowan Kadö, and Khenchen Andrew Sacamano.

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Kasung at the 2008 Magyal Pomra Encampment

In the last decade or so, the increasing numbers of programs, the overall expansion of sangha activity around the globe, and the growth of the Mukpo family have exponentially increased the activity level of each of the Arms, and thus their need for leadership, training, and education. The mandala’s need for the Kasung has greatly intensified. Furthermore, the prevalence of war, natural disasters, and depression in the world beckon us to expand the unique vision and powerful methods of this tradition onto the world stage. In order to galvanize the energy of the leadership, assess the terrain, and ready ourselves to activate the command of the Makkyi Rabjam, we are planning a Dorje Kasung Command Conference for all leaders in the Dorje Kasung, to be held October 9-11 in Halifax.

How One Becomes a Kasung

The kasung path begins when one steps forward to serve, practice, or play, puts on the uniform, and gives it a try. There are many ways in, and no pre-requisites. One formally becomes a kasung by taking the one-year preliminary oath. After that, if there’s a connection, one may take the lifetime oath. Like the bodhisattva vow, the lifetime kasung oath deepens an aspiration – in this case the aspiration to safeguard the precious Three Jewels and the Kingdom of Shambhala. Over time, through a combination of lonesome duties, shared laughter, camaraderie, sweat, and practice, one begins to feel woven together with the dralas, with kasung mind, and with the Mukpo Clan.

Noel McLellan is a second generation Shambhala practitioner. He grew up in Boulder, CO where he attended Vidya Elementary School, and later Colorado University. In 1999 he served an 18 month tour of duty as continuity kusung to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. In the Dorje Kasung he has also served as Sergeant, Rusung, and Chief of Staff in the Kusung. In 2004 he was appointed to the Council of the Makkyi Rabjam as Commander of the Kusung Arm, and in 2008 promoted to the rank of Kusung Dapon, senior officer of the Kalapa Court. He now lives in Halifax, NS with his wife Marguerite, 3 year old son Gabriel, and 4 month old daughter Esme. He teaches at the Shambhala School.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:12 am

Treatise on Society and Organization
A communication from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to Richard Reoch, President of Shambhala,
17 March 2003
©2003 Mipham J. Mukpo. All rights reserved. Online publication by Shambhala Media for the Fourth Shambhala Congress, 2009.

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It is common these days to refer to Shambhala as an organization, yet we also talk about Shambhala society or enlightened society. The interplay between Shambhala as an organization and as a society is an interesting one, a key issue for us at this time. Organization, or society? This question may sound like a riddle, but it is actually a process of better understanding how to bring benefit at the most practical and sublime levels.

The basis of Shambhala society is exemplified by the word sangha, or gendun, “those who follow virtue.” The magical element that binds the words “society” and “enlightenment” into “enlightened society” is the wholehearted motivation by individuals to engage personally in a social transformation that will lead to the betterment of the society. Thus we are keen on the meaning that is hidden within the word “enlightenment”: to cleanse and purify, to generate and increase. Generating enlightened society begins with the willingness of individuals to look at their own habitual tendencies and take responsibility—first for purifying and cleansing their own outlook and action, and then for generating views and activities that are courageous and liberating. In other words, we must work to overcome our own self-absorption and our habitual reliance on anger, jealousy, and so forth to resolve our issues. Doing this will help us activate the compassion and wisdom necessary to lead a truly joyous and meaningful life.

Compassion and Virtue

As members of Shambhala society, it is our constant responsibility to be generating compassion on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Compassion is our life blood. It binds us. It is our Tao, our Way. Our thoughts, words, and actions all exude at the base a mind that is genuinely, truly revelling in compassion. In this way, our every action generates compassionate warmth. We are not idly waiting around for others to make mistakes—or for that matter, fearful of our own mistakes. We are willing to delve into our basic goodness, our compassion, and practice it in its many imperfect and infantile manifestations. As a budding society, we will no doubt be clumsy at how we tackle the practice of compassion and how we manifest it. But in my mind, in this society, imperfection is the fuel that allows us to generate genuine compassion.

It is not a matter of who is right or wrong, or who did what, and when. Our responsibility is always to reflect back to see if the ember of bodhichitta is still burning in our heart, for this is the flame that we proudly and gladly pass on to fellow sentient beings. This is how we practice the Shambhala teaching on the sixteen edicts of what creates Shambhala society, the final one being, “Expand your mind in the vision of the mahayana.”

What is paramount for mahayanists, and thus Shambhalians, is understanding the ebb and flow of virtue. Virtue is a stream that runs through our life, a river that is never blocked, but is always meandering. As practitioners, we can choose to drink from it at any time. What does it mean to be virtuous? It means that we understand karma. Essentially a society is the constant interplay of innumerable actions among its own members. Those actions produce constant reflections and results. Because this enlightened society is always striving to understand virtue, it does not ignore karma. Because we understand karma, we realize that we must conduct our own lives according to the principles of virtue. What does this entail? It means having wisdom, having knowledge, having prajna, having the perspective and hindsight to realize that we must abandon aggression. It means striving together to build a peaceful, harmonious society on the understanding that ill intent and animosity, whether toward fellow community members or the world at large, will only create further pain for ourselves and others. We cannot be cavalier in dealing with karma. Simply, within our own Shambhala community, we must now realize that the ongoing low level of aggression—in the form of jealousy, fixation, pride, and so forth—is the element that gnaws away and fundamentally weakens the foundation of society. The antidote is patience—patience with ourselves and patience with others. This understanding of community can fuel the mantra for our societal contemplation: How can we be nonaggressive, yet strong?

We need to self-reflect daily in order to see how we can purify attachment and fixation and cultivate generosity. This is the root of our activity as a community. We have many ways to help others: practicing health care; engaging in social action, business, or education; teaching and practicing meditation. If we as individuals begin to realize that this is our unified approach, the society that we’re referring to as “enlightened society” will have tremendous potency and synergy that will be available to all of us, as well as to the general community.

The Society and the Organization

It would be wonderful if we could refer to ourselves as “Shambhala society,” rather than as the “Shambhala organization.” There are many issues that we need to face from a societal point of view. These are human realities, and although we may wish that the organization could solve them, the solutions are rooted in the interaction between members of society. Death, sickness, trauma, and other critical junctures in people’s lives are events that can be supported and nurtured through advice and care by a society that is sensitive to its own members. Needless to say, our organization can provide specific practices or places to gather, but many personal or social dilemmas are inner struggles that need a social response, not out of duty, but because addressing issues, helping people, or even solving problems reflects the most natural response. We need to move in a direction where members feel supported. Individuals need to know that in terms of whatever may be occurring in their life, there are others who care and aspects of the society that will help them traverse their particular dilemma.

Right now, in order for individuals to feel part of our community, there is a feeling that one must be in the organization. Some people feel left out, because they don’t have an active role in the organization. We need to understand that working for the organization is not the only way to be an active part of the community. As opposed to being the defining principle in terms of how people regard themselves and their relationship with the community, the role of the organization should be to run the practicalities of the community. Simultaneously, we need to develop the organization to function as a support for a community that is building a society. Everybody in the community has an active role in developing Shambhala society.

So at this point we need to do two things: 1) move toward creating a community where everybody has a place based upon their own wishes, and 2) move toward creating an organization that is efficient and engaged. It should be simple, functional, and small, if need be. It should be grounded in the basic inspiration of organizing, supporting, and expanding a community in which people can dedicate themselves to building Shambhala society. Developing our view of what Shambhala society is and could be will no doubt involve an ongoing search and experimentation, rooted in these questions: Can the organization be a stem, and the society the flower? Can the organization be the bones, and the society the flesh and the heart?

To some degree we have expanded the organization simply to accommodate people’s wish to participate. Now that we are trying to realign the organization, the rub seems to be utilizing many people for few positions. The challenge is to simplify our organization. We need to shift our view, or more rightly, mature our view, so that we regard the organization as the support system for ourselves as a society in which we all have roles. When people retire from the organization or are released from their positions because of finances or other restrictions, we may feel that the organization is shrinking, and thus that the community is shrinking. So we need to develop a culture where there is no discrepancy between officially being on staff in the organization and being a member of the community participating in the myriad endeavours that it offers to contribute to Shambhala society.

Sometimes we feel that it is the organization’s responsibility to come up with a solution to a social problem. Obviously leaders within the organization can provide guidance, but in many respects the leadership is simply a conduit for communication. Ultimately it is the basic nature and intention of the community to help itself. In putting together programs, presenting practices, and providing places to meet, the organization and its leaders can help communicate social issues and concerns, but addressing them at the roots will take interaction between community members who have a deep desire to do so. They themselves will need to be willing to participate in a social transformation, not simply to require others to change their habits.

Occasionally, people feel that they have to leave our community in order to get help or even to find work, that somehow they can be better nourished outside the community than within it. Obviously purely by our numbers and our distribution around the globe, each little centre cannot provide everything for everyone. However, given our strength and our incredible diversity, we can try to encourage a feeling that within our community, much support is available. This requires encouraging a simple change of approach and attitude from our members, as opposed to having to reorganize in order to help people.

So as the president, your role is not just to coordinate the “organization,” but to look at the entire endeavour as a societal one. As a leader, you are not simply initiating change within a small group of people who are administrators; rather, you are responsible for the overall health of the community. This in the short term will be challenging simply in terms of view and understanding, because we need to be clear about it. Simply rearranging members of the organization will not result in any solution of the social issues.

The organization can deal with managing our practice centres, developing and administering curriculum, running the Dorje Kasung, and maintaining the Kalapa Court. We need individuals to commit themselves to work diligently, full- or part-time, for a certain number of years in these fields, so that they may in turn benefit the greater community. Thus many members of our community will be participating in the organization for periods of their lives, in a formal and practical role. Once they have fulfilled their particular duties, they continue their contribution by engaging in activities that inspire them within our community. They are no less connected or dedicated than before; they are simply shifting their focus. This is a crucial point, since individuals tend to think that once they’ve retired, they are no longer part of the organization, and therefore, they are no longer active within the community. The present reality is that thanks to some of the organizers, the community is, in fact, expanding. Those who have been responsible in part for that growth should feel enthusiasm and pride, even though they may not currently be part of the organization.

We need to loosen our minds around the edges so that we can adapt to the constant change to which we are all subjected. This moves us in the direction of self-confidence. Most of us base our connection to society on what our position is. Certain individuals may not feel like they have a position, because they perceive the situation to be one of “inner” and “outer.” Feeling dislocated from our seat within the society leads to fermentation of insecurity, doubt, resentment, and other disabling emotions. We must realize that we are looking at this from our own point of view. If we correlate organization and society too closely, then it will always feel like we are trying to stuff many things into a bag that is too small. There will also be a feeling that something is left out. The items in the bag will feel squeezed. They will feel the acuteness of being in or out of the bag.

One of the instrumental elements in your role as president will be to determine what it takes, in fact, to run and coordinate the workings of all the centres. What do the organization, the leadership, and the members of the community need to do in order to care for and nurture their respective centres—the physical spaces as well as the membership and its activities? Unless you put significant emphasis on answering this question, people will be looking to you as a leader to solve various issues, administrative as well as ideological. If you are able to determine what we need, which I am confident that you can, then that intention and spirit will be disseminated among the leaders of the community.

Then we can welcome newcomers to Shambhala society with the proper approach, understanding, and attitude. They will be welcomed into a community—rather than an organization—in which their own transformation and personal participation is a key element and building block for the entire endeavour. The organization is here to offer practices, programs, and teachers who can nurture the individual’s progress on the path, not to offer membership in an administrative mammoth where the goal is to be pigeonholed into a particular job or responsibility. Working in the organization proper is not the only game in town. This doesn’t mean that we become disperse, rather, that if we have healthy involvement, there will be an infusion of energy that will be felt by all.

Natural Hierarchy

By the same token, I have always encouraged both older and newer students to take initiative where they see fit, to jump in if it is truly beneficial, not to wait for the perfect conditions to come about, or for me to formally direct them or invite them to participate. It is not necessary for everyone to have specific instruction from me personally. When it rains, you don’t ask the clouds how to grow vegetables. You take the water and you grow vegetables. This is the notion of society. The role of the Sakyong is to provide space, to protect the space, so that the flowers can blossom. The sun does not pull the flowers up to the sky; the flowers grow, reaching toward heaven. If heaven is too close, the flowers will not exert themselves. Therefore the organization is necessary as the extension of the Sakyong’s ability to provide and protect the space.

The Sakyong is the centre of the Shambhala mandala. The centre of the mandala manifests as the Kalapa Court, the seat of the Sakyong and the heart of his government. The energy generated within the Court radiates outwards through the teachings, culture, and structure of the mandala. The energy that is generated toward the Kalapa Court is harnessed by the organization. It is not the role of the organization to dampen or suffocate. If it becomes too thick, its members tend to become complacent and irritated. When it can extend the energy of the Court as the basis of inspiration, the members of the community look in and around themselves for solutions, realizing their responsibility to motivate themselves and to communicate with others. This process is not simply one of administration, but also of education, since the curriculum must also reflect an understanding of the individual.

This is the primary teaching within the literature on natural hierarchy. Specifically, it means that yourself, as well as the rest of the leadership of the mandala, need to facilitate this dissemination of energy from the Kalapa Court. You must organize the mandala and extend communication in the most effective way. All the members of our community have strong virtues and diverse qualities. They need not base their situation upon whether they are participating as a member of these administrative groups. Those who are members should be functional, practical, and energetic individuals who have chosen to fully participate in and organize our community. But we need to wean ourselves away from thinking that if we are not in one of these groups, we have no real function in our organization. The more clearly we understand this, the more smooth the transition will be for the individuals leaving or entering administrative roles. Thus the society becomes healthy.

The nature of phenomena is change and fluctuation. When a rider has truly taken his seat, from a distance he seems steadfast in the saddle. However, to maintain this equilibrium, both horse and rider are balanced in a state of constant fluctuation. The relationship between the administration, the organization, and the society will likewise fluctuate.

Rather than specifying how we initiate these societal endeavours and inspirations, I leave it to you to disseminate this understanding and view, letting others know the importance and uniqueness of what we are doing—building a society. It is important that we all recognize that being involved at this point and engaging in socially enriching activities is part of the process. Rather than being handed the entire basket and its contents, we are learning how to pick fruits and vegetables and place them in our container of social initiative.

Shambhala in the World at Large

Needless to say we all live in a greater society, whether it is dominated by the local culture of North America, South America, or Europe. We may feel torn between two different cultures, that of Shambhala and that of the world in general. We must realize that because culture and society are created by conscious mind, they too are always subject to change and fluctuation. Even the general society is made up of many cultures, which are always changing. We ourselves are very much part of that general society—in a most important way. Because we see that all beings have basic goodness, we regard all beings to be part of Shambhala society. Those of us who are inspired by that approach gather together and try to extend the common bond we feel about conducting our lives based on goodness and virtue.

When our work takes us into dealings with practitioners from different traditions or people who are not on a meditative path, we must begin to dissolve the sense of being “in” or “out.” The essential difference between being “outside” and “inside” very much comes down to our deep understanding of mind and heart. It is not the water that tastes better in Shambhala, it is our mind that tastes better. That mind needs to be cultivated and shared. That is how we should extend ourselves in the greater world.

The point of relating to the greater world is to see the need for enlightened society. We experience the suffering of others, the struggle everyone goes through, and that inspires us to delve into the Shambhala Buddhist teachings, squeeze out their essence, and apply it to our lives. Then we can regard what we are doing as a personal contribution to the betterment of the world at large. The changes and contributions we make to society must be grounded in the perpetuation of bodhichitta. Within that context, from day to day, month to month, and year to year, we should review our actual activities toward creating enlightened society.

At times, we may seek from the greater world something we feel that we are missing from our community. This is a tricky proposition, because we can spend our energy chasing our tail, imagining some reward, when in reality we’re just being fooled by samsara, the setting sun. It may seem to be coated by wisdom, so we lick it, but again and again we are stung by the thorny underbrush. We must not underestimate the power of samsara, for samsara lures us into thinking that it holds something. We must recognize samsara and not be disheartened by it, but realize that as extremely special beings with a gift of wisdom and compassion, we need to offer our gift to others in whatever we do, in each moment of every day.

Basic Goodness and Bodhichitta

For us, every day is a process of honing and strengthening our understanding of goodness. We must constantly be vigilant in this. It is not sufficient just to mouth the word “goodness”; we must pound this word, extract the meaning, and eliminate all confusion and doubt from our understanding. This very act increases our joy in propagating the vision of Shambhala and weakens the force of the setting sun. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that hearing the words once or twice, or contemplating them here and there, is sufficient. In that case surely the current of samsara will carry us away, and we will find ourselves old and scared.

Being engaged in the view of basic goodness and bodhichitta, we have much to offer. If we engage in the world without this intention, we are simply developing our fixation and attachment, and therefore only postponing our enlightenment. However, if we engage in the world with the view of basic goodness and bodhichitta, that approach will affect everything we do. Individuals will enter our programs knowing that they are being trained to uncover their tremendous gift as warrior-bodhisattvas inspired to dedicate their life, whatever they may engage in, to the betterment of society.

We therefore need to engender a genuine understanding that all individuals have a place in Shambhala society. There should not be a sense of outer and inner, but rather a sense of being included in the compassionate embrace of heaven and earth. With the inspiration and empowerment of heaven, we can take our seat in the society. When each of us develops this level of confidence and understanding, the society gains tremendous vitality and social transformation becomes possible. Thus there is a healthy relationship between the earthy virtues of both the organization and the society and the visionary principle of heaven. I believe that we are capable of producing such a situation, for it comes down to releasing and inspiring basic goodness wherever it may lie. When this happens, the natural interplay between society and organization creates the perfect dance, to the delight and benefit of all.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:35 am

Interview with Debbie Coats, Desung Arm Commander
by Dan Peterson
May 28, 2009 – 9:21 pm

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Being a desung often means choosing to step in to situations that are uncomfortable or perhaps frightening. In our community desung are kasung who focus on issues of health and well-being or conflicts. So if people are in distressing circumstances or conflicts are occurring, for example between members in a Shambhala group, the desung role is to notice what is happening and make sure that the situation is addressed and related to in the most appropriate way.

Image
Desung Arm Commander Debbie Coats

Interview by Dan Peterson

Q. I want to start by thanking you for your time in doing this interview for the Shambhala Times. It is a real privilege to discuss the desung path.

A. You are very welcome. It is a real pleasure, and I feel honored to be invited.

Q. Could you tell us about how you came to be a practitioner and especially how you found your way to Shambhala Buddhism?

A. I first heard about the Dharmadhatu center in London, as it was called then, from a friend in 1986. He gave me “Buddha in the Palm of Your Hand.” So my first contact actually was through the Vajra Regent. I read the book, but I didn’t go to the Dharmadhatu until late in 1987 because I was visiting America to work at a boys summer camp in North Carolina. The friend who gave me the book suggested that we go to the East Coast early for the cremation of a Tibetan guru in Vermont. At the time my reaction was along the lines of “Why would I want to do that?” And of course ever since I’ve really kicked myself for missing the chance of being at the Vidhyadhara’s cremation. Anyway that is what happened.

So later in 1987 when I got back from America I went to the Dharmadhatu in London, and I was greeted by a kasung. But I was too speedy at that time to notice the uniform. I found the Dharmadhatu really spacious. and I felt completely at home. It felt as though for the first time I had found people who thought along the same lines as I did. I felt free to be myself and could be who I really wanted to be when I was there.

I went to dathun at Karme Choling in 1988 and then to seminary at RMDC in 1990. It was there that I joined the Dorje Kasung. Although I value all the Shambhala and Buddhist practices and really appreciate how much they have enriched my life, my strongest connection has been to the kasung. I feel that it has pushed me into situations that made me open up and experience the world in a more expansive way. It helped me to develop confidence, often by pushing me beyond my comfort zone.

Q. What was your first experience with desung practice?

A. I attended a desung program in Paris in 2001, led by Dapon H, Simon La Haye. I missed the last day of the program because Irene Vliegenthart became ill and I stayed to look after her. But it was like desung practice because I had the chance to talk to Irene; we could just talk or sit quietly together and that felt really nice. Usually we are both very busy. Then I was asked to be the desung for the Warrior Assembly at Dechen Choling in 2003. I found it very touching. Each day after lunch I would be in the infirmary and people would come in to talk about physical or emotional issues they had. They were so trusting and shared issues very openly because of being in a practice program. It was really wonderful.

Q. I imagine you are sometimes put on the spot to describe what a desung is, what a desung does. How do you respond when such questions come up?

A. My first thought is that being a desung often means choosing to step in to situations that are uncomfortable or perhaps frightening. In our community desung are kasung who focus on issues of health and well-being or conflicts. So if people are in distressing circumstances or conflicts are occurring, for example between members in a Shambhala group, the desung role is to notice what is happening and make sure that the situation is addressed and related to in the most appropriate way. We especially get called into situations where people are experiencing very heightened psychological reactions, for example having an episode of mental illness, or when situations become very solidified and stuck and it seems as though there is no solution. Sometimes we help in the situations ourselves and sometimes we just bring them to the notice of people who are in the best position to deal with them and support those people if necessary.

Q. Sometimes desung is defined as bliss protector, and sometimes as harmony protector, and both have somewhat different meanings. Do you distinguish between these two definitions or have a preference between the two?

A. Well, I find that a very interesting question. I think protecting bliss seems to be more about working with our own potential as human beings to live a rich life and to connect with our own wisdom and basic goodness. We can experience joy or bliss through practice, and our ego-centered way of relating to the world begins to drop away a little bit. Then we can just relax with things as they are. When that happens we feel we’ve actually got energy to give to the world. And protecting harmony seems to relate more to working with the community and being willing to pay attention to what is going on and step in and act if necessary. But I feel that the two are completely entwined. When we have the experience of joy or bliss and contentment with our life through practice, that makes us want to open up and offer our help in situations, rather than just focusing on building up our own world, or becoming exhausted by the challenges we might face in daily life.

Q. The desung arm has developed rapidly in the last several years – perhaps because it is meeting a genuine need in the Shambhala community. What factors have contributed to this growth and have influenced the form that desung practice is taking?

A. I think Dennis Southward, Dapon M, started a really good model in Boulder, showing how desung can function in the community and actually care for people. And then Simon La Haye, the desung general, took over from him in 1995 and started to create a mandala-wide organizational structure for the desung. When I became the desung arm commander in 2005, I was amazed at how much interest there was in desungship in the community; it seemed that everyone I spoke to felt that it was a really important component and needed to be developed and strengthened. That felt like quite a responsibility, and it was an encouragement as well to go forward. The issues that people talked about most often were how to help and support people with mental illness or addiction, or who have chronic illness or are dying. The desung training programs have focused on those and other issues.

We are also starting to look at how to help people who have experienced abuse of any kind. We now have desung in every region of the mandala, but I want to have desung in every center who work with the civilian aspects of the community as members of local care groups or councils, so there can be a team of people working together on these issues. For the past few years there has been a lot of focus on developing community care, and the desung is one aspect of that. I am very glad that the Shambhala Community Care Council was recently formed under the chairpersonship of Mary Whetsell. That council can bring together all the different aspects of the mandala to focus on community issues.

I feel that the role of the desung is becoming clearer in some ways, but there is still a lot to do to develop that further. In 2006, during a meeting, the Sakyong said that the civilian aspects of the mandala have the main responsibility for health and well-being, and the desung should be called in when the situation escalates or there is a crisis. He called this the “code red” situation and said we have to figure out what constitutes a “code red.” So I think we are beginning to work this out and to function in that way. In a recent interview in the Dot, the Sakyong mentioned the importance of delegs in building community, and I hope that desung can play a part in supporting them. The Community Care Council is starting to look into that.

“Enriching our thoughts and actions with love and compassion releases tremendous positive energy, as if our windhorse has been liberated. Like churning milk into butter, there is alchemy involved. When we churn “What about me?” into “What about you?” we are consciously changing our molecular structure by engaging the big-mind chromosome. The result is ziji — radiant, inner confidence. As we turn our energy outward, we are present for the world in the wholehearted manner of a child offering a gift. There are no politics involved, no scheming, no manipulation. Our compassion beams outward in delight at the happiness of others.”

-– Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche


Q. In the last year or so there has been a discussion about the three pillars of Shambhala – the church, the state and the military. Clearly the desung arm is part of the military, but it has a lot of interactions with the state, particularly as described in the care and conduct policy. Could you say something about how that policy informs the relationship between the military and the state?

A. The care and conduct policy is Shambhala’s version of a complaint policy, and it aims to protect members of Shambhala by making sure that if some members of the community or of the leadership are behaving in a way that harms or could cause harm to others, that can be addressed effectively and in an enlightened way. The policy can be invoked by any member of Shambhala or by anyone attending a Shambhala Center who sees behavior that concerns them. When a complaint is made and can’t be easily resolved, a panel is usually be formed to explore what happened and make recommendations about how to deal with the situation in the best way. The panel would usually include a senior teacher, a kasung and a member of the administrative area of Shambhala, thus involving the three pillars.

My experience has been that having these three perspectives is really helpful in exploring situations fully and in an open, nonjudgmental way. All meetings are confidential so that the people involved can talk freely. It is very important for the three pillars to work together in all structures of the mandala, and another example of this is the Kalapa Council.

To go back to the care and conduct policy, it is important that people know about it, and a copy should be posted in every Shambhala Center, with names of people to contact if there are concerns. I would encourage people to ask the director of their center to put a copy of the policy in a public place if it is not posted already. It is also available online here.

Q. Could you describe what your responsibilities are as the desung arm commander – the committees you attend, the situations that fall into your lap, the tasks you are apt to encounter when you read your e-mail?

A. I am responsible for appointing desung and making sure that they have appropriate training and support. I also am responsible for making sure that the desung know whom to contact when conflicts or problems with health and well-being occur. It is my aim that effective communication occurs between the desung and all the other aspects of the community. Every year we have a conference attended by all the desung in leadership positions to talk about developments in the community and situations that have been dealt with and what we can learn from those. We are currently preparing for this year’s conference, which will be held in Halifax in May.

You also asked about the committees that I attend. I am a member of the Council of the Makkyi Rabjam, which is the Dorje Kasung command group, and the newly formed Community Care Council. Also on that council is Irene Vliegenthart – the desung care and conduct officer. I am also a member of the Shambhala Europe Council, the European Dorje Kasung command group and the Dorje Kasung Uniform Committee. That last one is very interesting. I kind of insisted that I be on that committee, as I thought that there should be a European woman. So even though I am not Italian or French and I don’t have their sense of style, I am on that one.

My role at times involves a lot of travel to meetings or to teach kasung programs, and that is the best part of the job in a way, meeting people in all the different situations in the mandala. The meetings feel like gatherings of like-minded friends, and it always feels very productive. Recently within the Dorje Kasung we’ve been looking at realigning the command structure in line with changes in the mandala, and that has been very interesting.

Mainly when I get e-mails or phone calls they are from regional desung officers or other people in leadership positions contacting me to tell me what they have been doing to address issues in their area or maybe to ask for advice or support. So that is a really important part of the job, to have contact with people in different situations and know what is actually going on.

Q. It sounds like a lot!

A. I know. [Laughter] It doesn’t leave much time for TV, except “Doctor Who,” which I highly recommend.

Q. Are there any particular goals or objectives you are working on that you would like to share regarding the direction forward for the desung arm?

A. My main aim at the moment is to raise awareness of the role of the desung throughout the Shambhala community. I hope this interview will play a part in doing that. And as I mentioned before, I hope to have desung in every Shambhala Center and have them be part of local community care groups so that people work with issues as a group. Each person can then bring in his or her own perspective. I also want to do whatever I can as part of the Council of the Makkyi Rabjam to help implement the Sakyong’s vision of creating an enlightened society. That feels really important in this dark time in the world.

Q. Is there anything else of special interest to you as the desung arm commander that you want to share with us?

A. I just would like to say that because I did not meet the Vidyadhara in person, I always appreciate hearing or reading stories about him and having teachings from the people who were around him. It is such a gift when people share those experiences. I also feel honored and privileged to have met Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and to be a part of this community. I see people who have grown up in Shambhala and are so open and confident due to their practice and the way they have been brought up. They can offer the world so much, and that feels really good and quite heartbreaking. Particularly in London things can feel pretty grim and aggressive sometimes because people are under so much pressure. Shambhala can do a lot to enrich the world, and I am grateful to be able to be part of that.

Q. Thank you very much for generously sharing your time and for providing such a clear vision of desungship.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:56 am

Mandatory Reporting of Abuse: Is Clergy Included in Denver?
by Terry O'Malley
O'Malley and Sawyer, LLC: Sex Crimes Defense Attorney in Denver, Colorado
Posted on August 15, 2014

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The law regarding mandatory reporting of abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse is confusing to many in Denver, Arapahoe, and Jefferson County. The law, “Persons required to report child abuse or neglect” – C.R.S. 19-3-304, outlines people who are required by law to report incidents or confessions of sexual abuse or neglect towards children to law enforcement. But, does this law apply to priests, pastors, rabbi, or other clergy members? In Colorado, clergy members are not required to report confessions of abuse. And, this is a good thing. How can people dealing with sin hope to overcome their struggle if they cannot get help from their pastor’s counseling or priest’s guidance? Let’s look at this law to better understand.

Mandatory Reporting Law in Colorado

The law states that a person (specified as doctors, nurses, dentists, police officers, teachers, coaches, therapists, counselors, etc.) “who has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or who has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect shall immediately upon receiving such information report or cause a report to be made of such fact to the county department, the local law enforcement agency, or through the child abuse reporting hotline system.”

The Law Regarding Clergy and Mandatory Reporters

While “clergy member” is listed in the people who are required to report abuse in Adams, Larimer, and Douglas County, immediately below their listing is the following:

“The provisions of this paragraph (aa) shall not apply to a person who acquires reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect during a communication about which the person may not be examined as a witness pursuant to section C.R.S. 19-3-304 (1) (c), C.R.S., unless the person also acquires such reasonable cause from a source other than such a communication.”


In other words, when a confession is made to a clergy member during counseling, or told to a pastor when asking for spiritual advice, this confidential confession is protected by law. And, why should it not be? Pastors are to provide advice and counsel to members of their congregation. If a member is struggling with a sexual sin, he or she should be free to discuss their struggle with their spiritual guide without fear of being arrested. In this way, true rehabilitation can be facilitated. Unfortunately, governmental websites and other sources of information often ignore this law regarding confidentiality.

When a confession is made to a clergy member during counseling, this confidential confession is protected by law.


When Do Pastors and Clergy Have to Report Abuse?

People often struggle with the specifics of the law and when they are required to report. Let’s look at the law once again to be more specific. A clergy member is required to report if they acquire “reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or who has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect.” Put simply, a clergy member is required to report child abuse or neglect if they:

• Observe the act of child abuse
• Hear from a child about an act of abuse (to themselves or another child)
• See a child who obviously is the victim of abuse (unexplained bruises)
• Hear from someone (in a way other than during a confidential communication) about an act of child abuse

How Does the Mandatory Reporting Law Affect You?

People tend to agree to laws that “protect children” without thinking about the personal impact on their own lives. For example, now that you know about this law, will you take your child to the doctor if they have bruises from playing outside? Would you and your spouse go in for marriage counseling (which would greatly benefit your marriage and family life), if you were concerned your husband was going to be arrested and charged with a serious crime? You probably answered “no” to these questions. People can’t get the help they need when mandatory reporting laws are overly broad. A person struggling with a sexual sin can’t get the help they need, and children are taken away from their families unnecessarily. You might think this law is reasonable, but as an experienced criminal defense attorney, I can attest to its overuse. I recently worked on a case where a young girl made up a story and ultimately, caused the entire family to be split. Her siblings are in foster care. Why is this family now destroyed? Because the Department of Human Services (Social Services) always believe children, no matter if the evidence doesn’t support their stories. Human Services would rather be “safe than sorry” (i.e. protect their own careers, rather than protect families). In the process, they destroy families and take children away from their parents.

Why You Need a Lawyer for Sex Crime Cases

If you have been contacted by the police after making a confession to a clergy member or counselor, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. You need an advocate to fight on your behalf. You need someone who has compassion and will stand by your side to fight the allegations against you. Don’t stand alone in the courtroom – work with a criminal lawyer who knows exactly what is needed to fight. Here at the O’Malley Law Office, we fight to win.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:58 am

Entering the Desung Path with Dennis Southward and Jan Jercinovic
by Karme Choling, Shambhala Meditation Center
October 30 - November 1, 2015

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"Desung" means bliss or harmony protector. Desung practice is a profound path arising out of the Kasung tradition. It consists of protecting access to innate wisdom by embodying generosity, gentleness and fearlessness in our daily lives. This state of "being" is made possible by increasing trust and confidence in our basic goodness and that of the society in which we live. All situations are viewed as workable, and distress is recognized as a powerful opportunity to open to our basic goodness.

This program is open to Shambhala council members, Guides, Meditation instructors and people in the community who are interested in learning to work with difficult situations. Members of the Dorje Kasung are especially encouraged to attend. This weekend program is a prerequisite for Dorje Kasung who wish to apply to be members of the Desung Arm. The training also provides further depth to the profound path of the Dorje Kasung.

The Friday night presentation is an essential part of the program so please plan to arrive no later than dinner time (6:30 pm). The program will conclude in the late afternoon on Sunday Nov 1. Please plan to attend the entire program. All students are encouraged to read “Put Your Meditation into Action,” by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

To apply, please download, complete, and send the completed application to Sara Demetry at sarademetry@gmail.com.To download a Application for Entering the Desung Path, please click here.

Prerequisites:

Shambhala council member, Guides, Meditation instructor or people in the community who are interested in learning to work with difficult situations. Members of the Dorje Kasung are especially encouraged to attend.

Pricing

Program Fee: $160

Payment Policies:

Karmê Chöling has updated its payment policies. The new policies apply to all programs that start after January 1, 2019. Please read the payment policies before proceeding with registration.

Financial Aid:

Karmê Chöling offers full-time student discounts, scholarships and other financial aid.

Program Credit:

If using existing program credit to pay for a program, you must pre-register for this program at least two weeks prior to the program start date by calling the front desk (802-633-2384 x-101 or x-103). Program credit may not be used to pay for housing or practice materials and may not be used on or after arrival day.

Please Note:

Price includes meals but not accommodations.

Online registration is not currently open.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:18 am

The survivor who broke the Shambhala sexual assault story
by Stephanie Russell-Kraft
Columbia Journalism Review
May 7, 2019

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LAST SUMMER, the Shambhala Buddhist community was stunned to learn that its leader, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, had sexually assaulted numerous female students. The story was not broken by any of the several Buddhist news outlets, but instead by Andrea Winn, a former Shambhala member and survivor of sexual abuse who conducted her own investigation.

Winn, the creator of Buddhist Project Sunshine, does not consider herself a journalist. But she was able to get many other survivors to tell their stories, ultimately shining light on decades of abuse by faith leaders throughout the community. When reporters descended upon the story—requesting additional proof, corroboration, and on-the-record interviews—everything changed. Many survivors were wary, exhausted by their trauma and unwilling to put their names out for public scrutiny. The ensuing struggle between the goals of journalism and the needs of survivors underscores both the benefits and limitations of reporting on sexual abuse. Journalists often say they do not decide the consequences of the news they report. Perhaps Buddhist Project Sunshine points to another way.

A BRANCH OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM, Shambhala is a community founded by Chögyam Trungpa and now led by his son, Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo, also known as Mipham J. Mukpo or Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Shambhala International, the community’s governing organization, is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and runs about 200 meditation centers around the world.

The roots of Winn’s project date back to her childhood in the Shambhala community, when, on several occasions, she was sexually abused by other members and one Shambhala leader. Winn didn’t speak about that abuse for years, but she saw it happening to other women, and knew the problem was widespread. When she raised concerns around 2000, she says, she was forced out of the community. (Winn still practices Shambhala on her own.)

In 2016, Winn suddenly felt like she had broken a Buddhist vow by “giving up” on the community. “From the beginning, I was trying to be a good Buddhist,” Winn says. “I constantly tried to come from a place of peace.” In February 2017, she began organizing a year-long initiative, which she called Buddhist Project Sunshine, to help Shambhala heal from years of sexual violence. She hoped to gather female Shambhala leaders together for collective discussions. When that didn’t pan out, she thought she might collect anonymous statements from survivors and submit them for publication at the Shambhala Times, an online community magazine. But no one came forward. With her self-imposed project deadline approaching, Winn began writing a report about her efforts, even though she felt they had failed.

Image
Andrea Winn, founder of Buddhist Project Sunshine. Photo courtesy of the subject.

Mid-January 2018, as the #MeToo movement gathered steam, something changed. “All of a sudden, people just started to come out of the woodwork, wanting to write anonymous impact statements,” she says. Winn scrambled to include some of the statements in her report, which she published on her personal website on February 15, 2018. The report included statements from five anonymous survivors, detailing sexual abuse by teachers in the community and Shambhala’s lack of institutional response.

The report made a big splash, particularly in Shambhala groups on Facebook. Winn received a flurry of messages and emails from critics as well as survivors, some of whom had new stories to tell.

Winn also heard from Carol Merchasin, a retired employment law partner at the law firm Morgan Lewis. Merchasin, who had experience investigating workplaces, hoped to lend credibility to Winn’s project. “I said, ‘You need to have more detail if you really want to have people believe you,’” Merchasin tells CJR. She joined Buddhist Project Sunshine as a volunteer, producing two investigative write-ups for the project’s “Phase 2” and “Phase 3” reports, published in June and August of last year, respectively.

Before they published the Phase 2 report, Winn and several other Buddhist Project Sunshine volunteers watched the movie Spotlight, which tells the story of Boston Globe reporters uncovering decades of sexual abuse and cover-up in the Catholic church. “It was kind of like, we were the ones doing this,” Winn says.

Unlike the journalists in Spotlight, however, Winn insisted that survivor statements remain anonymized in the reports. “It was not about addressing specific situations,” she explains. “It was not about getting justice about specific situations. It was about raising awareness.”

BUDDHIST PROJECT SUNSHINE’S FINDINGS began to attract attention from journalists after the first report. But it was the second report, which implicated Shambhala’s leader, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, that brought a flood of coverage by mainstream outlets including The Canadian Press and The New York Times.

Throughout the process, Winn acted as a gatekeeper, protective of the survivors who had shared their stories for her reports. She says she felt betrayed by some journalists who she believed didn’t put survivors’ needs first in their reporting.

Jerry West, a producer at CBC Radio, declined to run a story about the Phase 2 report without an interview from one of the survivors. Winn says she wasn’t able to provide him with such an interview. “He didn’t get the fact that these women had been sexually abused and spiritually abused by their guru, and had been shunned from the community,” Winn says. “His expectations were outlandish.”

West says he had already interviewed Andrea for a story about the Phase 1 report, and he needed new sources willing to go on the record to move the story along after Phase 2. “I can’t just read a report into the record,” he says. “We need a live person to talk.” West says he still wants to run another story about the sexual abuse in Shambhala, but hasn’t yet found another source willing to go on the air.

Wendy Joan Biddlecombe Agsar, a reporter at the Buddhist magazine Tricycle, asked Winn if she might speak to a specific survivor mentioned in the Phase 2 report. Winn asked the survivor if she felt comfortable speaking to a reporter, but the woman, referred to as “Ann,” said she wasn’t up to it before the Phase 2 report came out. Agsar ultimately published her story on the report with a note that Ann “declined to speak with Tricycle about her accusations.”

“It simply isn’t ethical for me as a journalist to not attempt to reach out to anonymous accusers in a story about widespread abuse…and to omit the fact that I attempted to reach out,” Agsar tells CJR. “I’m reporting a story, not just relaying the information that Winn wants me to tell our readers.”

Winn, who was outraged by that sentence, has a different take on journalists showing all of their work in finished stories. “The last thing [the survivors] needed was Tricycle saying that Ann declined to make a statement,” she says. “When I hear that on the news, I think, Well, what do they have to hide?”

We’re reporters, we have to corroborate things, we have to keep a level of independence. But it’s not a process that’s designed around helping people heal
.

FOR MANY SURVIVORS, the recent deluge of sexual abuse journalism has brought welcome and overdue recognition of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse. But the relentless press coverage has also created a new kind of trauma. Headline after headline has thrust alleged abusers into the spotlight, all the while commodifying the pain of survivors. Journalists covering sexual abuse are encouraged to use extra care and follow certain best practices, but there are still limits to how journalistic institutions, which are themselves centers of power, can confront the full scope of sexual abuse and its effects.

While the Phase 2 and Phase 3 reports were being published, Buddhist Project Sunshine also established a support network for survivors and other members of the community to process the news. “It was always supposed to be about more than just exposing abuse,” volunteer Katie Hayman, a trained spiritual care practitioner who helped to lead moderated discussions among community members on Slack, says. Before new reports were published, moderators received extra preparation and training to help the community receive the news. They considered questions such as, “How do you respond to the aftershock and care for the people who are reading that news and are going to be devastated?”

Hayman believes Buddhist Project Sunshine’s survivor-centered approach enabled many women to come forward. “It was a different way of doing things that didn’t just take their stories and forget about them,” she says. “You would give your story and they would continue to care.”

“I honest-to-God wish we had something like this in our community,” Hayman, a practicing Roman Catholic, adds. “Because I saw the way that people were heard if just given the space.”

JOSH EATON, an investigative journalist at ThinkProgress, was one of the first reporters to write about the allegations raised in the first Buddhist Project Sunshine report. “I really feel like Josh Eaton getting involved made all the difference,” Alex Rodriguez, a former Shambhala member and a volunteer with BPS who coordinated press relations, says. “But Josh Eaton got involved because Andrea took the first step.”

Eaton, who also has a masters in divinity from Harvard with a focus on Buddhist Studies, treated the stories with care, according to Rodriguez. Nevertheless, Eaton says his goals were always journalistic. “We’re reporters, we have to corroborate things, we have to keep a level of independence,” he says. “But it’s not a process that’s designed around helping people heal.”

Winn says she would have welcomed the work of a journalist earlier on in the process, someone to bring all of the wrongdoing to light in the first place. “I took a lot of responsibility in this,” she says. “It would have been really nice for me to have somebody else taking the lead, like to have a true partner or someone to be the knight in shining armor for me, or for us.”

But it’s unclear whether the story would have been the same. The fact that a survivor from the Shambhala community led the original investigation made all the difference, according to Rodriguez.

“[Winn] never pretended to be providing objective information. She came into this from a place of believing that by speaking her truth she could contribute to community healing,” Rodriguez says. “Had a journalist been catalyzing it, I don’t think you would have gotten the same impact.”

Stephanie Russell-Kraft is a Brooklyn-based freelance reporter covering the intersections of religion, culture, law, and gender. She has written for The New Republic, The Atlantic, Religion & Politics, and Religion Dispatches, and is a regular contributing reporter for Bloomberg Law. Follow her on Twitter: @srussellkraft.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:28 am

Buddhist Project Sunshine: A Pale Illumination Indeed
by Charles Carreon
March 29, 2019

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The Columbia Journalism Review just came out with an article about Andrea Winn, who published the Buddhist Project Sunshine reports. The thesis of the article is that sometimes journalism isn't actually up to the task of getting cult members to speak out about abuse. It takes someone like Andrea, who is willing to keep the names of all the victims completely confidential, to get them to speak out anonymously.

Winn, the creator of Buddhist Project Sunshine, does not consider herself a journalist. But she was able to get many other survivors to tell their stories, ultimately shining light on decades of abuse by faith leaders throughout the community. When reporters descended upon the story—requesting additional proof, corroboration, and on-the-record interviews—everything changed. Many survivors were wary, exhausted by their trauma and unwilling to put their names out for public scrutiny

-- CJR


Actually, we might consider the other possibility -- completely not touched upon by the CJR -- that Andrea Winn collected a whole lot of stories from victims at the bulletin board she operated, filtered them through her own biased system, and released a sanitized production that could not be used as a basis for further journalistic work. Another fact left undiscussed is that, after pulling tens of thousands of dollars in Go Fund Me money into her bank account, and promising to use it to move BPS to another level, she simply took the money and split.

We might also ask ourselves what kind of behavior Andrea Winn modeled for the benefit of victims.

The roots of Winn’s project date back to her childhood in the Shambhala community, when, on several occasions, she was sexually abused by other members and one Shambhala leader.

-- CJR


What she modeled was SILENCE ABOUT HER OWN ABUSE. Read the entire BPS, and you will not find a single hint about who abused her, where it happened, the nature of the abuse, or how much pain it caused her? Instead, what do we get? The entire BPS is loaded with gushy nonsense about Andrea's "fierce dedication" to Shambhala, the "dakini wisdom" of the women in the group, and the importance of "holding space" when suffering abuse -- which amounts to swallowing after being given an unpleasant mouthful.

The attitude that Winn models in the BPS reports is "healing the community." It is hard to understand how she comes to this position, given that she claims to have been run out of Shambhala for insisting on talking about her abuse. Hasn't she seen enough of this "community"?

Fortunately, a lawyer came along to give voice to the women who actually had suffered:

Winn also heard from Carol Merchasin, a retired employment law partner at the law firm Morgan Lewis. Merchasin, who had experience investigating workplaces, hoped to lend credibility to Winn’s project. “I said, ‘You need to have more detail if you really want to have people believe you,’” Merchasin tells CJR. She joined Buddhist Project Sunshine as a volunteer, producing two investigative write-ups for the project’s “Phase 2” and “Phase 3” reports, published in June and August of last year, respectively.


In all candor, it is only the Phase 2 and Phase 3 reports that contain convincing material. BPS Phase 1 models Shambhala good-citizenship, holding out an absurd hope that Shambhala has crushed under the weight of total disinterest. Her "Values" are yoked to the very system that has dealt her and her sisters so much abuse:

• We are fiercely loyal to the vision of the Shambhala Teachings.
• We look to the Great Eastern Sun to lead us
• We work to create safety and stability in our own minds and in community through practicing Shamatha daily
• We fearlessly and compassionately acknowledge the impact of violation
• We work with our own projections and act powerfully from the wisdom of our deep self-knowing: In moments of rage, we take a sacred pause to have mercy for our self and unpack what has happened before acting.

Winn's Goals are not to benefit individuals or bring any wrongdoers to justice, but rather, to burnish the institution that has wronged her and other victims.

• Create a wise and empowered Shambhala right-relations activist group
• Create the space to have emotionally safe and clear dialogs about abuse that has been suffered in our community
• Collect impact stories from people who have experienced abuse and from leaders who have witnessed abusive situations in the Shambhala community
• Create a promotion campaign to launch in 2018 so that Shambhala citizens across the globe are able to hear the truth of what has happened to women, children and other vulnerable people, and participate in creating healthy relational changes in the community

Some people have posted about how things actually turned out while working with Andrea Winn on the bulletin board where people came to tell their stories. Apparently there was a "back room" where the women who posted were analyzed, and their stories were deemed worthy or unworthy of being told. In any event, all of the stories disappeared when Andrea Winn took the board down. This was a great way to get women to come out, tell their stories, and then see them all go down the memory hole. The journalists who came to her, trying to get some people to interview went away empty handed.

Throughout the process, Winn acted as a gatekeeper, protective of the survivors who had shared their stories for her reports. She says she felt betrayed by some journalists who she believed didn’t put survivors’ needs first in their reporting. Jerry West, a producer at CBC Radio, declined to run a story about the Phase 2 report without an interview from one of the survivors. Winn says she wasn’t able to provide him with such an interview. “He didn’t get the fact that these women had been sexually abused and spiritually abused by their guru, and had been shunned from the community,” Winn says. “His expectations were outlandish.”

West says he had already interviewed Andrea for a story about the Phase 1 report, and he needed new sources willing to go on the record to move the story along after Phase 2. “I can’t just read a report into the record,” he says. “We need a live person to talk.” West says he still wants to run another story about the sexual abuse in Shambhala, but hasn’t yet found another source willing to go on the air.

Wendy Joan Biddlecombe Agsar, a reporter at the Buddhist magazine Tricycle, asked Winn if she might speak to a specific survivor mentioned in the Phase 2 report. Winn asked the survivor if she felt comfortable speaking to a reporter, but the woman, referred to as “Ann,” said she wasn’t up to it before the Phase 2 report came out. Agsar ultimately published her story on the report with a note that Ann “declined to speak with Tricycle about her accusations.”

“It simply isn’t ethical for me as a journalist to not attempt to reach out to anonymous accusers in a story about widespread abuse…and to omit the fact that I attempted to reach out,” Agsar tells CJR. “I’m reporting a story, not just relaying the information that Winn wants me to tell our readers.”

Winn, who was outraged by that sentence, has a different take on journalists showing all of their work in finished stories. “The last thing [the survivors] needed was Tricycle saying that Ann declined to make a statement,” she says. “When I hear that on the news, I think, Well, what do they have to hide?”

-- CJR


The net effect of the BPS reports has been to provide zero evidence for law enforcement or victims who might wish to pursue civil claims against their abusers. The Sakyong has gotten enough of a whiff of danger that he is out of the jurisdiction, probably for a very long while. After all, police don't generally investigate absent suspects, especially when the victims won't talk. The Kalapa Kingdom received the BPS disclosures with aplomb. The Sakyong's concessions that he might have upset someone once, here or there, while going about his sacred duties, were exactly the type of tepid denials that Andrea Winn's platitudes prepared the Shambhalian masses to accept.

Before new reports were published, moderators received extra preparation and training to help the community receive the news. They considered questions such as, “How do you respond to the aftershock and care for the people who are reading that news and are going to be devastated?”

-- CJR


By modeling loyalty to the organization that set her up to be abused as a child, by modeling silence about her own abuse, by keeping all reports anonymous and arguing that none of the victims could bear the light of public disclosure, Andrea Winn effectively contained explosive revelations in a bland, sanctimonious container.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:13 am

Reason and Experience in Buddhist Epistemology
by Christian Coseru
A Companion to Buddhist philosophy, First Edition. Edited by Steven M. Emmanuel.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Introductory Remarks

As a specific domain of inquiry, "Buddhist epistemology" (sometimes designated in the specialist literature by the Sanskrit neologism pramavda, or the "theory of reliable sources of knowledge") stands primarily for the dialogical-disputational context in which Buddhists advance their empirical claims to knowledge and articulate the principles of reason on the basis of which such claims may be defended. The main questions that we shall pursue here concern the tension between the notion that knowledge is ultimately a matter of direct experience ­ which the Buddhist considers as more normative than other, more indirect, modes of knowing ­ and the largely discursive and argumentative ways in which such experiential claims are advanced.

The Sanskrit philosophical idiom, in which Buddhist epistemology finds its first and perhaps most elaborate expression, contains one distinctive term, anubhava, for the concept of "experience" and several terms that closely approximate the concept of "reason." For instance, tarka captures the notion of speculative or logical inquiry; nyya stands for the notion of rule or method for investigating objects by reliable means; yukti for the notion of ground, proof, or motive, or for something that is right, fit, or appropriate; and hetu for the notion of means by which what was hitherto unproved is now proven. From this cursory terminological survey one may hastily conclude that, whereas the epistemic notion of experience is universal, reason and the corresponding notion of rationality (with their roots in the Latin ratio, which conveys the sense of "reckoning" or "giving an account of judgment," as one might do in court) as a distinctive epistemic faculty or process is not. Of course, this observation assumes a Western frame of reference for examining the relation between reason and experience. An alternative project would be to explore the relation between experience and whatever it is that Buddhists mean when they examine, reflect upon, or seek to prove a given thesis without any reference to Western concepts and ways of thinking. Given that this second project is well nigh impossible if carried out in a language such as English, whose philosophical vocabulary has been shaped by a longstanding tradition of Western thought, we face a dilemma: can Buddhist philosophy be written in English without losing the explanatory force of its original concepts and categories?

Perhaps setting the problem in terms that are alien to the ways in which the Buddhists have pursued their epistemological reflections showcases a limitation that the tradition in fact does not possess. Since analyses of experience, argumentation, and debate are ubiquitous features of Buddhist thought ­ barring all caveats about translatability ­ it should be possible to offer an account of the role that reason and experience play in Buddhist epistemology that is neither inauthentic nor mere reportage. It may also be the case that this distinction between reason and experience is too sharply drawn, and that there are ways of conceiving of what it is like to perceive and reflect that regard them as complementary rather than opposite practices. Indeed, the recent recognition that the exercise of reason varies both over history and across cultures (see Weinberg et al. 2001; Machery et al. 2004; Huebner et al. 2010) should suffice to call into question any attempt to see both practical and theoretical reason as removed from the embodied patterns of conduct that characterize our specific ways of being in the world. As will be argued at length in this chapter, epistemological inquiries in India, particularly with regard to examining the sources of reliable cognition, have never displayed the sort of non-naturalism distinctive to the Cartesian and Kantian traditions in Western philosophy and their characteristically abstract epistemic notions of experience and rationality. Thus, with the return to naturalism in epistemology, hence to understanding cognition in embodied and causal terms, we may now be in a better position to appreciate the contributions of Buddhist philosophers to epistemology.

This chapter explores how the relation between direct experience and discursive modes of knowing is articulated in Indian Buddhism. The first account of this relation, as is well known, originates with Siddhrtha Gautama's experience of enlightenment. This experience becomes at once the source of the Buddhist metaphysical picture of reality and the culmination of all aspiration for genuine knowledge (the kind that guarantees the successful accomplishment of such practical ends as freedom from suf- fering). Key to this metaphysical picture is the causal principle of dependent arising and a thoroughly psychological account of persons, which takes experience and rational deliberation to be but two of the many contributing factors that shape human identity and agency. Indeed, at the foundation of this Buddhist inquiry into the sources of knowledge is the notion that awakened knowledge has existential consequences, and can effect the removal not only of such afflictive tendencies as ignorance and deception but also of the reifying tendencies inherent in common-sense beliefs. It is not surprising, therefore, that epistemological inquiry is central to Buddhist philosophy, and that understanding the nature of knowledge, its sources, and its conditions of possibility are constitutive of its main thrust.

We will start with a brief overview of canonical and Abhidharma perspectives on the scope of epistemological reflection, then evaluate the well-known Madhyamaka skepticism about the possibility of conceptually articulating our specific modes of being in the world, and conclude with an examination of Dignga and Dharmakirti's accounts of the relation between observation and inferential reasoning. Lastly, given the modern audience for this essay (and, indeed, for this volume), adopting a constructive, rather than merely critical and exegetical approach seems not only appropriate but also timely. If our efforts to reclaim the legacy of non-Western Traditions of philosophical inquiry are to have more than a historical or broadly exegetical value (and thus appeal to those outside Buddhist scholarly circles) we must necessarily consider whether Buddhist epistemology can provide a basis for analytic and constructive engagements of the sort typically found in contemporary philosophical debates.

Doubting, Knowing, and Seeing

In one of his best-known discourses, the Buddha endorses doubt as a legitimate epistemic attitude, telling his disciples that it is fitting to doubt and be perplexed. Enjoining his followers not to accept oral and scriptural tradition, but to rely on personal experience and discernment, the Buddha appears to challenge even such widely accepted modes of inquiry as logical and inferential reasoning: "Do not go by . . . logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by consideration of reasons, by the reflective acceptance of a view" (Klma Sutta). Rather, the Buddha urges, one is to discriminate between wholesome and unwholesome states of mind and use that discrimination as a guide to undertaking only those particular tasks, and following only those specific practices, that are conducive to welfare and happiness. It is nonetheless obvious that, despite such apparent disclaimers of reason, an endorsement of the notion that liberating insight demands careful empirical scrutiny can be clearly gleaned from the canonical literature. Furthermore, the knowledge one gains from such scrutiny must be ascertained on the basis of its effectiveness in removing both afflictive and cognitive obscurations, as well as in overcoming the kind of hindrances typically associated with conditioned phenomena. This emphasis on direct experience as a preferred mode of knowing is one of the reasons why some authors have interpreted the quest for truth in early Buddhism as akin to Western forms of empiricism, even though the Buddhist operates with a wider notion of "experience" than empiricist accounts of knowledge (as derived solely from sense experience) would allow. Thus, contrary to what might seem from afar like a Buddhist endorsement of misology, canonical sources make quite clear that several distinct factors play a crucial role in the acquisition of knowledge. These are variously identified with the testimony of sense experience, introspective or intuitive experience, inferences drawn from these two types of experience, and some form of coherentism, which demands that truth claims remain consistent across the entire corpus of doctrine. Thus, to the extent that Buddhists employ reason, they do so primarily in order further to advance the empirical investigation of phenomena. It is principally for this reason that early Buddhism presents us with a causal account of cognition and takes theories of causation to play a central role in any theory of knowledge. As K. N. Jayatilleke, one of the first proponents of a Buddhist sort of empiricism, notes, "inductive inferences in Buddhism are based on a theory of causation. These inferences are made on the data of perception . . . What is considered to constitute knowledge are direct inferences made on the basis of such perceptions" (Jayatilleke 1963, 457).

But there are matters that are simply not amenable to rational inquiry (and justification), and cannot be offered the sort of categorical answer one would expect of more straightforward issues such as the difference between true and false belief or between wholesome and unwholesome mental and affective states. Perhaps the best-known examples of such matters are the so-called unexplained or undetermined (anyakta) questions: whether the self and the world are eternal or not, whether they are finite or infinite, whether the soul and the body are identical or different, and whether one who has thus gone or come (a tathgata: one who has realized that the real nature of things is just "thus," free from any conceptual imputations) continues, does not continue, both continues and does not continue, or neither continues nor does not continue to exist after death. Modern scholars have proposed different interpretations of the Buddha's apparent non-committal on these crucial metaphysical and epistemological questions. Some claim a philosophical basis for the Buddha's silence, asserting either that he wished to leave the matter open for further inquiry and debate or that he did have answers but refused to reveal them as a deterrent to those seeking to make progress along the path. The canonical literature makes amply obvious that those who are able to follow in the Buddha's footsteps will likewise come to realize that all views are merely conventions established upon common practice, and, as a result, will forgo all philosophical disputation: the adept "agrees with no-one, disputes with no-one, and makes use of philosophical terms without erring" (Dghanakha Sutta).

We can easily recognize in one of these questions the well-known mind-­body problem. Are we to conclude that the Buddha does not consider this to be a real problem, deserving of a careful and measured answer? Or, is it rather the case that our conceptual resources are simply inadequate and cannot provide an answer to these questions in unambiguous and uncontroversial terms? If the knowledge project in Buddhism is about overcoming adherence to mistaken views, then it may well be the case that these questions are simply verbally and conceptually ill-formed, typical examples of pointless speculation (cf. Collins 1982, 132). Phenomena, including the five aggregates that are constitutive of human existence and/or experience (form, feeling, apperception, dispositions, and consciousness), come together as a product of multiple causes and conditions and cease with the removal of these causal and conditioning factors. None of these elements and factors in the web of interdependent arising, however, has causal priority. Any attempt to understand them in terms of permanence or complete dissolution disregards the fundamental causal principle of dependent arising, and therefore is not worthy of serious consideration.

Abhidharma traditions ­ essentially comprising a large body of literature concerned with examining the received teachings that emerged roughly three centuries after the death of the Buddha ­ do concede that there are specific principles of reason for why causal chains display patterns of regularity. But even here the assumption is that the descriptive framework of analysis is intended to serve not as a complete metaphysical picture of reality, but as a primer for identifying those elements (thoughts, desires, habitual tendencies) that are unwholesome, with the ultimate aim of overcoming them. The goal is thus pragmatic rather than speculative: unwholesome thoughts and desires must be properly identified and eradicated if liberation from suffering is to be achieved. Attempts to identify specific principles of reason, and indeed to employ them for the purpose of achieving greater clarity about controversial issues, become formalized in such representative works as the Points of Controversy (Kathvatthu), where we come across issues of doctrinal conflict that warrant serious critical discussion and debate. Whether works such as the Points of Controversy anticipate something like a logical system of deductive principles and propositional laws, as early interpreters have claimed (Aung and Rhys Davids 1915; Schayer 2001 [1933]; Bochenski 1961; and Matilal 1998), is less significant for our purpose here than their pragmatic valuation of rational modes of inquiry.

It is true that, in terms of both structure and strategy, these methods aim to codify specific rules of debate, by means of which controversial issues can be addressed and arguments (adduced by both parties) properly weighed and considered. Typically, the debate revolves around such issues as whether all knowledge is analytic, whether one can know the minds of others, whether sensations follow one another continuously, and whether continuity of awareness is genuinely achieved only in meditative equipoise. These debates, which involve a back-and-forth exchange concerning statements of the sort "Is a b? ("Is knowledge analytic?"), most certainly appeal to principles that are discerningly like forms of material implication, contraposition, and some version of reductio ad absurdum. We may thus recognize these philosophically non-eristic dialogues as "reasoned examinations" (yukti) of controversial points.

The pattern of argumentation at work in Points of Controversy, as Jonardon Ganeri has convincingly shown, is presumptive rather than demonstrative, since the burden of proof switches from one party to the next, neither of which offers any positive thesis (Ganeri 2001, 487). It is precisely this preference for argumentum ad ignorantiam (of the sort: "I am right because not proven wrong") that gains prestige with Nagarjuna's development of the radical thesis that it is not just that some controversial (or difficult) issues must be rigorously debated, but rather that reality itself in some sense is beyond the reach of conception. Nagarjuna's skepticism about the possibility of positive argumentation hinges on a crucial insight: that our ordinary ways of conceiving ­ which depend on such standard concepts and categories as origin, motion, sensation, physical objects and their properties, past, present, and future, and the idea that objects in the class of what J. L. Austin calls "medium-sized dry goods" have a self-standing nature or essence ­ are seriously flawed. That is, they are the result of a pervasive and systemic ignorance that afflicts the unenlightened human condition.

Before we turn briefly to consider Nagarjuna's challenge to rationality as a method for establishing positive views, and its implications for Buddhist epistemology, let us first consider the causal aspects of the principles of reason formulated by Abhidharma philosophers.

In the context of addressing such basic doctrinal issues as the nature and scope of Buddhist teachings, Asaga, for instance, identifies four widely shared "reasons" (yukti) for which one may proceed to inquire into the nature of things. The assumption is that such inquiries are indispensable for all who seek knowledge, however it may be defined. The issue under debate is not whether the desire to know itself needs to be called into question ­ presumably by those who might see it as an affliction, and thus doubt its inherently positive value ­ but how one who has realized that there are good and perhaps many reasons to examine things is to carry out such examinations. In the Collection on Higher Knowledge (Abhidharmasamuccaya II) (see Tatia 1976), Asaga lists four such reasons. First, there is the principle of dependence (apekyukti), which takes into account the fact that conditioned things necessarily arise in dependence upon conditions: it is a principle of reason, for instance, that sprouts depend on seeds. Second, there is the principle of causal efficacy (kryakraayukti), which accounts for the difference between things in terms of the different causal conditions for their apprehension: it is a principle of reason, thus, that, in dependence upon form, a faculty of vision, and visual awareness, one has visual rather than, say, auditory or tactile experiences (of course, the phenomenon of synesthesia, which Buddhist philosophers did not consider, poses a challenge to this principle). The requirement that any sort of instruction about what must be established as a matter of principle is not contrary to the means by which it can be established captures the sense of the third principle of reason: the realization of evidence from experience (sktkriysdhanayukti). We realize the presence of water from moisture and of fire from smoke. Lastly, there is the principle of natural reasoning, or the principle of reality (dharmatyukti), which concerns the phenomenal character of things as perceived (for instance, the wetness and fluidity of water). These four principles of reason become a near permanent fixture with later Indian Buddhist philosophers, and come close to embodying internalist and externalist accounts of rationality for the purpose of justifying certain claims to knowledge (or for appealing to causal explanation). That is, the principles of reason (yukti) capture both the notion of "her reason for doing x" and "the reason x happened" (cf. Kapstein 1988, 153).

This account of the principles of reason could be read in at least two ways: first, as a causal theory of natural fitness, which would postulate that the world is such that it is reasonable to assert that things arise due to specific causes and conditions (for instance, that sprouts come from seeds). Such a theory would share common ground with views expressed by Sanskrit grammarians such as Bharthari, who claim that the manner in which words are capable of capturing objects in the empirical domain ­ such that the thing cognized is in some sense indistinguishable from the word (or expression) by which it is thus cognized ­ reflects the latter's natural fitness (cf. Iyer 1969, 204). Second, we may understand this account in Kantian terms as describing the a priori conditions for knowledge, since it is reasonable to assume that causal laws justify claims about the order of the objective and subjective domains of experience.

What we have here are examples of natural reasoning or of reasoning from experience, rather than attempts to use deliberative modes of reasoning for the purpose of justifying a given thesis or arguing for its conditions of satisfaction. With Dignga and Dharmakirti, such uses of reason, as we shall argue below, develop in what may be best described as a system of pragmatic or context-based reasoning.

Emptiness, Rationality, and the Impossibility of Proof

The expansive taxonomies of Abhidharma traditions, and their long and detailed lists of the elements of existence and/or experience (dharmas), stand as testimony to the central role that descriptive accounts of experience play in the Buddhist epistemological project. But these descriptive accounts rely on observation, and observation leads to the old philosophical problem of the difference between "seeing" and "seeing as." Recent developments in epistemology, in particular those centered around the project of naturalism, have challenged the empiricist claim that observation is in some sense a type of "seeing" that is always dissociated from "seeing as." As Jerry Fodor, for instance, puts it, letting psychology settle what an observation is, or just letting the observations be the data, is legitimate; but "it's sheer Empiricist dogmatism to take it for granted that you can do both at once. In fact, there is no good reason to suppose that the psychological notion of perception ­ or, indeed, any psychological notion ­ will reconstruct the epistemological notion of a datum" (Fodor 1991, 200).

For the Buddhist epistemologists, however, this distinction between "seeing" and "seeing as" is instrumental in discriminating conception-free from conception-laden cognitive states, and, indeed, for claiming that only the former warrant the proper label of veridical perception. Typically, the Buddhist points to such examples as being able to attend to perceptual input while thinking of something else, as proof that there is an epistemic gap between direct observation and perceptual judgment. It is this distinction that philosophers such as Nagarjuna and Candrakirti challenge, and those such as Dignga and Dharmakirti defend as normative for any epistemological project. To say that there is a way that things are that is separate from how they show up to us, and that it is possible to have something like a pure, undiscriminating awareness of phenomena that is implicitly (thought non-discursively) cognitive, is to endorse the view that reality is in effect accessible to thought. The Buddhist epistemologists are not unaware that our cognitive capacities are constrained in some aspects. However, their emphasis is not on the internal and External Constraints imposed upon our cognitive systems, but on what can be known and by what means. For Nagarjuna, though, it is not just that some aspects of reality might escape our discerning capacities, but rather that reality itself is beyond the reach of thought. As he famously puts it in his Stanzas on the Middle Way (Mulamadhyamakakrika):

Where the reach of thought turns back, language turns back. The nature of things is, like complete cessation, without origin and without decay.

-- (MMK.18.7)


For that reason, namely that the truth is deep and difficult to understand, the Buddha's mind despaired of being able to teach it.

-- (MMK.24.12)


Though at first glance this position might be suggestive of skepticism, it has elicited a wide range of interpretations (some reiterating criticism leveled against Nagarjuna by his historical rivals, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist, and some reflecting novel and constructive engagements with his philosophy). His position has been variously described as skepticism, nihilism, irrationalism, misology, agnosticism, criticism, dialectic, mysticism, acosmism, absolutism, nominalism, relativism, Wittgenstenian linguistic analysis, philosophical therapy, anti-realism, and deconstructionism, and as articulating a version of paraconsistent logic (see Ruegg 1981; Siderits 1988; Huntington 2007; and Garfield 2008). As these widely divergent readings suggest, the exegetical question about how best to interpret Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka is yet to be settled. What is indisputable, however, is Nagarjuna's unambiguous stance vis-а-vis reliance on the common-sense conceptual schema that takes the world to be constituted of enduring, self-sustaining objects.

For the purpose of our analysis, Nagarjuna appears to raise serious concerns not only about the very notion that there is such a faculty as reason, one attributable to a stable and enduring agent, but also about what it is like to be undergoing an experience. Indeed, his dialectical stance calls into question the very notion that our modes of being in the world (and the activities we typically associate with what it is like to see, hear, or verbally comprehend) have something like an inherent existence or character or their own (a svabhva). The Madhyamaka dialectical project is thus anchored in a deconstructive analysis of key concepts such as causation, essence, and the self. But, for this deconstructive analysis to be effective, Nagarjuna needs to establish the view of universal emptiness and supply arguments in defense of such a view.

Now, Nagarjuna does discuss the four modes or sources of knowledge admitted by the Naiyyikas (perception, inference, cognition of similarity, and verbal testimony), but it seems he is reluctant to commit to the view that such modes of knowing constitute effective epistemic guides. That is, while he recognizes that, say, objects in the empirical domain are established in dependence upon perception, he is less disposed to credit perception with the capacity to disclose entities as ultimately lacking inherent existence. Perception, at best, may be able to establish that objects exist as they appear (though, given the possibility of perceptual illusion, it cannot establish that what has thus appeared has its conditions of ascertainment intrinsically). That is, perception cannot establish by itself whether its contents are veridical or not.

What, then, are some of the ways in which we may explain what our modes of knowing can, if at all, accomplish? Addressing this issue with respect to Nagarjuna's account, Jan Westerhoff identifies at least three such ways: (1) establishment by mutual coherence; (2) self-establishment; and (3) mutual establishment (Westerhoff 2009, 166). In the first instance, the testimony of experience is corroborated by other means, such as inference. I know that my perception of a blue sky is non-deceptive because I can infer its presence from the absence of clouds or the presence of the sun's warm radiance (given causal relations, or relations of entailment between clouds, sky, and sunlight). Second, it may be that perceptions are in some sense self-revealing. In perceiving I am aware not merely of the object, in this case of the blue sky, but also of my act of perceiving. This view of perception relies on the notion that there is something it is like to see that requires no further corroboration. Finally, it may be the case that perception and object perceived are mutually established: vision discloses a world of visible objects, touch a world of textures, and so on.

Most of Nagarjuna's efforts are aimed at refuting the self-establishment thesis (though he also briefly considers, and rejects, the mutual coherence thesis) and at justifying the mutual establishment thesis. For Nagarjuna's opponents, chiefly the Naiyyikas, the sources of knowledge cooperate in disclosing a world of self-standing, enduring objects, something that, of course, is antithetical to the emptiness thesis. Taking fire, and its capacity to illuminate, as a metaphor for the revealing nature of cognition, Nagarjuna advances the thesis that phenomena of this sort cannot be established either by perception or by inherence. To claim that cognitions are intrinsically self-revealing (just as fire is inherently self-illuminating) is effectively to say that every- thing knowable is established by some source of knowledge: visible objects are established as such by a faculty of vision. At least in the case of empirical awareness, to know something is to bring it forth and make it manifest to conscious awareness. But Nagarjuna is not content merely to refute the thesis that, like fire, a mode of knowing, such as perception, discloses both itself and other objects. Rather, he deploys his dialectical method to argue that, in effect, a mode of knowing discloses neither itself nor other objects (a double refutation of the opponent's thesis). It is here that Nagarjuna's conceptual schema, which places objects in mutually exclusive classes, leads to an epistemological impasse: that is, he presents us with an analysis of experience that ignores the difference between what one might deem to be case (on the basis of assumptions about the nature of experience) and what seems actually to be the case in the occurrence of a perceptual event:

A lamp cannot illuminate when it is connected with darkness since their connection does not exist. Why are the lamp and darkness not connected? Because they are opposed. Where the lamp is, darkness is not. How can the lamp remove or illuminate darkness?

-- (Auto-Commentary to Refutation of Logic (Vaidalyaprakaraa-Svavtti), 24.2­8; in Tola and Dragonetti 1995)


In postulating darkness as something that has the power to conceal, Nagarjuna in effect appears to reify a phenomenon that is established only negatively: darkness is not something that can be defined as the possessor of some (concealing) capacity in the same way that light is defined by its capacity to illuminate. The phenomenological picture at work here is somewhat inadequate, given that it contains a description of darkness that assumes its discrete existence. Thus, Nagarjuna's refutation of the capacity of light to illuminate (or, by analogy, of perception to reveal) is problematic, since light and darkness are not independent objects but phenomena within the horizon of intentional awareness. The mutual exclusion of light and darkness, however, is used here not simply to justify the impossibility of light to illuminate what was hitherto concealed; rather, the argument is intended to demonstrate that fire cannot be self- established as a source of illumination for other objects (presumably because it is itself dependent on other things, such as fuel). Such self-establishment of illumination in its dual role would require that light and object illuminated stand in a relation of causality. Though Nagarjuna does admit that darkness is merely the absence of light, he nonetheless appears to argue that absence itself has some kind of positive existence (which perforce prevents it from entering into any causal relationship with light, its opposite).

Against the self-illumination theorist, who postulates that our modes of knowing have a revealing character, the Madhyamika advances the argument that no mode of knowing has its characteristics intrinsically. Just as a knife cannot cut itself, so also any given mode of knowing cannot know itself in the process of revealing an object. Two principles seem to underlie the Madhyamika's argument: (i) the anti-reflexivity principle, which postulates that vision does not see itself; and (ii) the doctrine of emptiness, which postulates that vision lacks intrinsic existence (viz., seeing) (cf. Siderits 2003, 32). The argument goes as follows: if seeing is the intrinsic nature of vision, then vision must have seeing intrinsically. Thus, vision must see even in the absence of a visible object, because seeing would otherwise be dependent on external visible objects. But seeing (by definition) requires that there is something that is seen. Hence, in the absence of a visible object, vision itself is what vision sees. But vision cannot see itself (as per the anti-reflexivity principle). Hence, seeing is not the intrinsic nature of vision. Conclusion: it is not true that vision sees visible objects.

What, then, is it like to have veridical visual experiences, and how might one meaningfully articulate their epistemic status? Neither Nagarjuna nor his followers offer us a positive answer. For these Buddhist philosophers of the Middle Way, the true nature of reality is such that it is beyond the limits of thought. But we may ask: is it also beyond the reach of experience? And, if it is, by what means may this thesis be ascertained? It is worth noting that Nagarjuna's categorical stance on the limits of knowledge is decidedly different from such paradoxical inquiry into the possibility of knowledge one comes across, for instance, in Plato's Meno (80d-e). We are dealing here not with the impossibility of inquiring into that which we do not know, but with the impossibility of reaching beyond what inquiry itself can deliver. What we have here is a rejection of the notion that (ultimate) reality can form an object of rational inquiry.

Not all followers of Nagarjuna are satisfied with his uncompromising stance about the possibility of making assertions about the ultimate nature of reality. As Bhviveka (who takes seriously the virtues of positive argumentation in discriminating between true and false beliefs) claims, there is something it is like to see the nature of reality, even though only buddhas have such abilities: "Buddhas, without seeing, see all objects of knowledge just as they are, with minds like space and with nonconceptual knowledge" (Verses on the Heart of the Middle Way (Madhyamakahdayakrik), 5.106; in Eckel 2008). The terminology used here includes terms such as loka (light) and locana (illuminating), both of which convey the sense of vision as having a revealing and disclosing capacity. For the ordinary individual, the clouds that obscure their vision exist only in their minds, since reality is as clear as the autumn sky. Even the experience of enlightenment itself is in some sense associated with a specific type of vision that is effortless in revealing the nature of reality. Such reality cannot be merely the postulate of reason. But Bhaviveka is not only willing to rehabilitate empirical awareness; he also comes to the rescue of reason (even though he admits that inferential knowledge does not possess the kind of vividness that alone qualifies direct experience as a true source of knowledge): "It is impossible to understand reality as an object of inference, but inference can rule out the opposite of the knowledge of reality" (ibid., 5.107). It is this rehabilitation of a reason that is firmly grounded in experience that informs the spartan epistemology of Dignga and Dharmakirti, who, as will be examined below, will come to recognize that epistemological disputes cannot be properly undertaken (or indeed settled) without taking into account that cognitive events are grounded in all aspects of an individual's conscious experience.

Cognitive Events, Logical Reasons, and Causal Explanation

That reason may be more readily (and effectively) deployed to exclude unwarranted beliefs, rather than to make warranted assertions, marks an important shift in attitude among Buddhists towards the role of rational inquiry. Indeed, the development of Buddhist epistemology as a distinct type of discourse is marked by the gradual acceptance of certain canons of logic and argumentation by those Buddhist philosophers who would come to regard polemical engagement with their Brahmanical opponents as vital to influencing their standing in a wider philosophical community. But there are more than simply sociological reasons at work in this novel orientation towards the scope of rational inquiry. We may see this engagement as reflecting a certain eagerness on the part of (at least) some Buddhists to guarantee that their modes of argumentation are commensurable with the widely accepted methods of reasoning formulated by the Naiyyikas. What seems to concern philosophers such as Dignga, Dharmakirti, and their successors is precisely this need to withstand the criticism that core doctrinal principles such as those of momentariness and dependent arising can neither be defended on rational grounds nor find any sort of empirical support.

Debates about the proper way to conduct epistemic inquiries, and about the kind of sources that can provide evidential ground for knowledge, form an integral part of the Indian philosophical traditions. Though there is no universal agreement on what should count as an "accredited" source of knowledge, perception is often singled out as the exception: most philosophers agree that the testimony of direct experience ought to play a central role in any theory of knowledge. For inference and verbal testimony to play the sort of epistemic role that is typically attributed to them, the content of one's mental states (or propositional attitudes) must be grounded in veridical experiences. Indeed, what use would inference have if, in trying to infer the presence of fire from an observation of smoke, one were to mistake dust (or mist) for smoke? But grounding knowledge on a foundation of empirical experience is not without its challenges: perceptual ambiguities are often experienced even under the best conditions of observation, and there is always the possibility of less than optimal perceptual functioning.

How, then, do the Buddhist epistemologists resolve the tension between experience and reasoning? In the first instance, they take perception to function not only as a psychological process, to be understood within the framework of classical Abhidharma phenomenology, but also as an epistemic modality for establishing a cognitive event as knowledge. Secondly, they do not make a radical distinction between epistemology and the psychological processes of cognition, at least not in the Western sense in which modern normative epistemology eschews naturalist explanations. This understanding of epistemology as cognitive theory is most clearly illustrated in Dignga's formulation of the method of reasoning known as the triple inferential mark (trairpya), which relies on empirical observation as the most authentic criterion for establishing the validity of inferential cognitions.

What interests us here is not Dignga's method or its Theoretical underpinnings, but the specific way in which he conceives of the relation between reason and experience. For Dignga (and all subsequent Buddhist epistemologists), cognition operates in two distinct domains: that of particulars, which are only available to empirical awareness, and that of universals, which can only form an object of inferential reasoning:

The sources of knowledge are perception and inference, because the object of cognition has only two characteristics. There is no object of cognition other than the particular characteristic and the universal characteristic, because perception has as its object the particular and inference the universal characteristic of the thing.

-- (Collection on the Sources of Knowledge (Pramasamuccaya), I. 1; in Hattori 1968)


First, unlike Nagarjuna and his Madhyamaka followers, Dignga is quite categorical in his assertion that there are reliable sources of knowledge. Furthermore, by offering a phenomenological (thus descriptive) account of cognition, Dignga makes obvious that these two sources of knowledge (roughly equivalent to experience and the exercise of reason) are distinguished not only on the basis of the sort of objects they intend but also in terms of their functional role (cf. Dreyfus 1997, 49). In other words, perception apprehends real individuals by virtue of its constitution (its cognitive architecture and organization: seeing occurs only in organisms endowed with a visual system), whereas inference can apprehend only what are essentially conceptual constructs. This co-presence of perception and object as perceived explains why only perception can enter in a direct causal-­cognitive coupling with phenomena in the empirical domain.

Thus, the Buddhist epistemologist comes to regard conception as a secondary, rather than a higher-order cognition: the chasm between the world as experienced and its conceptual apprehension can only be bridged in cognitive events that are pragmatically efficacious. What makes such pragmatic cognitive events "indubitable" is precisely their efficacy, the fact that they attain their object. If the Buddhist epistemologists come to conceive of the relation between reason and experience in context-specific terms, then their epistemology may well be described as a system of pragmatic or context- dependent reasoning. Unlike the deductive systems of semantic reasoning, which are context-free, pragmatic reasoning is generally inductive and encompasses the types of logic (non-monotonic and paraconsistent) that represent reasoning from premises that are context specific (cf. Bell 2001). On this model of pragmatic reasoning, we reason by first observing the occurrence of certain properties in an object or class of objects and the non-occurrence of those same properties when the object is absent. This model of reasoning operates by deriving hypothetical statements from past observations of the inductive domain. Take the example of empirical objects: these are understood to come into existence due to causes and conditions, and thus to be impermanent, for whatever is produced must necessarily cease. Conversely, a permanent object cannot be produced. Propositions of the type "Sound is impermanent, because it is a product," are then true so long as we do not come across an example of permanent (or indestructible) sounds. Shoryu Katsura has defined this type of logic as "hypothetical reasoning based on induction" (Katsura 2007, 76). Assuming this system of reasoning, which is based on the observation and non-observation of evidence, is open to revision so as to accommodate cases where there is a violation of the linguistic convention, we may describe it as a system of context-specific reasoning.

Such appeals to empirical observation tie logical reasoning to the ability to establish causal connections between the things we directly experience. Consequently, exploring the limits of our ability to establish various causal connections between the elements of experience has less to do with principles of logical entailment and more with psychological inquiries into the nature of our perceptual and cognitive systems.

Thus, Dharmakirti's attempt to ground reasoning on a stronger principle than mere observation and non-observation of the evidence would lead him to postulate that there must be some "natural connection" (svabhvapratibandha) between the thesis and what is to be demonstrated in order to provide a stronger basis for reasoning. This essential connection is meant to overcome the challenge posed by reliance on hypothetical reasoning. However, since Dharmakirti's ultimate criterion for truth is the causal efficacy of cognitions, this essential relation cannot be viewed as pragmatically neutral. Reasoning from the empirical data, so the argument goes, must be grounded on more than the simple observation and non-observation of occurring associations and dissociations. In Dharmakirti's technical vocabulary, the notions of identity (tdtmya) and causal generation (tadutpatti) thus come to represent two essential conditions on the basis of which we distinguish between theories of meaning and theories of reference. Whereas the truth of the former is contingent upon the semantic content of the sentence, the truth of the latter requires additional empirical knowledge of the causal relation that obtains between the designated objects (cf. Hayes 1988, 254; Arnold 2008, 421).

In order to establish the sort of evidence that can serve as a warrant for sound inference (and to rule out instances of erratic attribution of an essential connection between premises in an argument), Dharmakirti provides various examples of things that are ordinarily thought of in conjunction: the act of speaking and passion, a living body and breathing, perceptual awareness and the senses, and the stock example of fire and smoke.

But this mode of understanding pragmatic reasoning must explain what sort of properties, whether observed or unobserved, in similar or dissimilar cases, can be counted as evidence for asserting a given thesis? Furthermore, it must also explain how such properties are ascertained. In the case of the act of speaking and passion, for instance, observation of their occurring association is just a case of erratic evidence, for at most the act of speaking can serve as ground for inferring the presence of a speech organ and a capacity to communicate, not of passion. In this example, we see Dharmakirti indirectly rejecting the notion that speech requires passion ­ seen as an affliction ­ for its cause. Obviously, in delivering speeches, buddhas cannot be seen to act from passion or impulse (conditions that afflict only the unenlightened).

Given that observation of one occurring relation does not guarantee the same relation will obtain at a different place and time, how can one escape the risk that there may be unobserved instances to the contrary? For Dharmakirti, appeal to rules of reasoning that best reflect the nature of causally efficient entities (that is, to the so-called natural relation between the properties of an inference) offers the best solution to this conundrum. As he explains, one cannot infer from a cause to its effect, or from a causal totality (kraasmagr) to an effect, because there is always the chance of impending factors preventing the arising of the given effect. One can infer, however, from the effect to the cause, though only in a restricted case. Thus, "only an immediate effect enables the inference of a cause, because it is dependent on it" (Auto-Commentary to Commentary on the Sources of Knowledge (Pramavrttika-svavtti), II 12.4; In Pandeya 1989). In this effort to tie reason to causal explanation (and thus view reasons as causes of a certain type), we see the Buddhist epistemologist's concern with maximizing our predictive capacity to make sound inferences, the ultimate goal of which is achieving desired ends.

We have now come full circle in our account of how specific concerns with identifying and formulating principles of reason come to inform the Buddhist epistemological relation between reason and experience. What does it mean, then, to say that there is a natural relation between the properties of an inference, or that the truth of the major premise can be known by perception? It is to put forth a particular view of perception one that regards empirical awareness as a form of embodied action. To perceive is to understand how we cope with the environment we inhabit.

Conclusion: Knowledge as Enactive Transformation

All Indian Buddhist philosophers argue in one way or another for preserving the canonical teachings as conveying a vision of reality that requires constant actualization through a dynamic praxis of interpretation and enactment. This praxis is essentially epistemic in character, marking a gradual progression from the act of listening to, and reflecting upon, a set of statements, to actualizing their significance in an enactive manner. Such dynamic integration of disciplined observation and rational deliberation provides both a pragmatic context and the phenomenological orientation necessary in order to map out the Cognitive Domain. It is this praxis that leads a representative thinker such as Dharmakirti to claim that the Buddha, whose view he and his successors claim to propound, is a true embodiment of the sources of knowledge. Thus, far from seeing a tension between empirical scrutiny and the exercise of reason, the Buddhist epistemological enterprise positions itself not merely as a dialogical-disputational method for avoiding unwarranted beliefs, but as a practice aimed at achieving concrete, pragmatic ends. As Dharmakirti reminds his fellow Buddhists, the successful accomplishment of any human goal is wholly dependent on having correct knowledge.

Appealing to the Buddha's extraordinary cognitive abilities, therefore, is a case not of the abdication of reason in the face of authority, but of showcasing the embodied and enactive character of enlightened knowledge. Against the dialectical method of Nagarjuna, whose ultimate aim is the relinquishing of all views, the Buddhist epistemologists emphasize the critical and positive role of perspicacious reasoning. Indeed, with Dignga, Dharmakirti, and their successors, epistemology comes to be regarded as an effective discipline that brings about real results. This is a new epistemology, one that is constrained by the phenomenology of first-person experience rather than by a priori notions about the operations of reason or metaphysical assumptions about the nature of reality.

_______________

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