In the NKT Pure View can feel mandatory but it is actually a personal choice

Geshe Kelsang has given many teachings on Pure View. We do not remember him ever saying publicly you HAVE to see your current resident teacher or any teacher for that matter as a Buddha. He has stated again and again that pure-view is a personal practice. This means it is up to you who you have chosen to view as a Buddha. You do not HAVE to see anyone as a Buddha unless you feel comfortable with that idea. We feel this is a correct teaching. This is at least what he has said publicly; we know of times when he has privately advised people differently from this.

Really this opens up a debate about what is a Buddha and what would a Buddha’s actions be. But for the purposes of living and surviving in a Dharma centre, we have found you need to keep hold of at least some conventional reality.

In the world of managers, teachers, peers and so forth outside of a Dharma centre, you are never expected to give up your life savings as a loan without having them paid back – this is breaking the law and it would be possible to take someone who did that to court. If you are expected to have sex with your boss and you feel pressured in any way, you are fully entitled to take your boss to court. If you are being actively bullied in your work place and no one in management helps you or protects you, then you can take your work to court and get some compensation.

This is in ‘Samsaric environments’ (to coin a dharma centre misunderstanding of samsara). If ‘ordinary’ people see the need to protect and help victims of abuse and ‘they’ are ‘ordinary samsaric beings’ you have to wonder why people within the NKT, who view themselves as ‘more enlightened’ than ‘ordinary beings’, do not think the law of the land applies to them.

Who you choose to see as a Buddha is a personal choice. Only you know your own mind and the ‘level’ at which you are at. If you meet someone who claims to know your mind better than you then you have every right to question that person. We feel it is a much more healthy and beneficial approach to work in conjunction with this person rather than hand over your mind to them and accept everything they say about you on face value. As soon as you say ‘this person is a Buddha. I must do everything they say’, you are leaving yourself open to abuse. Especially if you haven’t fully explored your own mental image and understanding of what a Buddha is or are leaving it all wide open under the ‘we can never understand what a Buddha is’ school of thought.

We do however feel there is benefit in seeing people as Buddhas. We are not in anyway trying to undermine this Dharma teaching. We see how it opens up a whole new way of learning and experiencing the world, it is a teaching worth investigating in our opinion. We also feel that any Enlightened being worth their salt will not mind you checking out what they advise. After all, it was the Buddha who said:

“Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

These are questions we have found useful when navigating the confusing ocean of Pure View.

What is a Buddha’s job in relation to me?

What would a Buddha do for me?

How would a Buddha help me?

If Buddhas can see into the very core of my being and they can see my deluded mind clearly, how can I question them?

We here do not claim to have the ‘real’ answers to these questions but we would like to share the conclusions we drew when thinking about them.

We feel that it is almost impossible to know for sure what a Buddha would do in any given situation. The only thing you can be sure of is that whatever they do, it will be an action that takes you closer to Enlightenment. Getting closer to Enlightenment can mean anything but often it means challenging your delusions. Delusions are many and they can range from out and out anger to a lack of self worth. If your main delusion is insecurity the Buddhas could bring into your life a teaching that helps you to gain a sense of non-deluded pride and confidence in yourself. These teachings may include learning to ask questions and stand up for yourself. If you are following a rule of not asking questions it could be that you are reducing the effectiveness of Buddha’s teaching for you.

We do not feel that Buddhas will always emanate nice and peaceful experiences. This would not be beneficial for us and would lead us to become unable to endure and help people who are really suffering. Bodhisattvas are the beings that would do anything to help us (get enlightened) and these beings would be able to patiently endure the most deluded being on earth so that they could help them become awakened. If your practice is numbing your mind and making you less able to deal with people, then we feel you might need to check where your practice is actually taking you.

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