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#3341 - Tuesday, November 4, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights -     

Jeff's blog is featured.  

Jeff is a top 1000+ Amazon reviewer with a Vine designation which means that they like his reviews so much that sends him books to review, at no charge.  

Featured are three different categories from Jeff's blog: a movie review, his art, and a reflection.    


Here's how Jeff describes himself and his blog:

Photo: Jeff  

"In search of a new path, a 40-something with no previous art training heads to Kathmandu to study thangka at a Tibetan art school. Along the way he meets people, reads books, listens to music, meditates, and writes about it here. What a life."    


Movie review: Words of My Perfect Teacher (2003)

Portrait of an ordinary guru

[To read this review with links intact and YouTube video embedded, visit]

This is a film about a Buddhist guru and his western followers, a Canadian engineer, an English
fortune teller, and an American filmmaker (the same who made this movie). What you'll find at the
end of nearly two hours with this group is that the guru is the most normal person among them.

This is especially remarkable for a man who in his native Bhutan is revered as a god and who, if he
let it go to his head, could lord it over his western students, who being in need of someone to
tell them how to manage their lives have already given over to him much of their own intellectual
and emotional independence.

The guru, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (aka Khyentse Norbu), is in Europe and North America one of
the most well-known teachers of Vajrayana Buddhism, the form of the faith practiced in the
Himalayan countries of Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and north India. He is believed to be the
reincarnation of a famous teacher and comes from a family with a long line of famous teachers. It
is not his pedigree, though, that has earned him notoriety, but his films. He began his movie
career working as an assistant on Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha (1993), before going on to
make The Cup (2000), and Travelers and Magicians (2003).

Khyentse Norbu finds himself, though, somewhat reluctantly stuck with the job of guru. “I hate my
profession,” he laments. “So much hypocrisy, pretense, so much cultural hang ups. I wish I'm just
an ordinary person.” So, ordinary is how he acts, to the great consternation of his students. He
cooks his own meals, he drinks, he goes to football games, he shows up late, or not at all. As the
Canadian computer engineer remarks, “If he's enlightened, why doesn't he act like an enlightened

View the trailer:

Shot in the early years of the new millennia, filmmaker Lesley Ann Patten introduces us to Khyentse
Norbu while in residence in London, following him to the World Cup in Germany, the United States
immediately following the attacks on the New York Twin Towers, and finally to Bhutan where we see
the guru in his greatest splendor, attended by throngs of devoted worshipers. Along the way, Patten
makes a detour to Los Angles to explore the guru phenomenon with two unlikely subjects, Gesar
Mukpo, a recognized reincarnation and the son of one of the first Tibetan gurus to teach in the
west, and action-movie star Steven Segal, also a recognized reincarnation (of more dubious
distinction). Mukpo would rather play basketball than guru and gives Patten a quick course in
recognizing bogus claims to enlightenment. A good teacher, he says, invites challenges to his
authority; it shows the student is growing. Segal notes that the thousands that have challenged him
did so only because of their vapidity. (The subject of finding authentic teachers and the dangers
of the guru-student relationship come up later in the DVD bonus material, a 30 minute interview
with Khyentse Norbu.)

The film concludes with the guru going into a three month meditation retreat and the students
returning to their homes in Europe and North America. Director Patten got enough material to
complete her film, a remarkably fresh portrait of a modern Buddhist teacher, and everyone seemed to
have enjoyed their time in Bhutan. None of the students, though, declare their independence or seem
to have come away wiser or more capable of managing their lives.

Read the review with links intact and YouTube video embedded:

Saturday, October 25, 2008 Week 5:  

Settling into a groove My first few weeks in Kathmandu I moved around quite a lot and was involved
in a number of activities outside school. This past week I began at last to settle into a routine,
drawing at school in the mornings, painting in the afternoons either at school or in my room.
Evenings I spent reading, or listening to lectures (I'm continuing a series from Bhikkhu Bodhi on
the Majjhima Nikaya, as well as starting Matthieu Ricard's Happiness).  

That means there is not a lot to write about. Which is fine, really. I think most of you coming
here do so for the pictures more so than the words. So here are a couple, my latest completed
painting and one I will begin working on this weekend, both examples of the auspicious symbols.  


Sunday, November 2, 2008  

Preserving the Truth  

Attentive readers will recall that I am presently working my through the Majjhima Nikaya Yesterday I came across a discourse that
seems like it might have been written only recently and that resonates quite clearly in a world
surfeit with ideologues and demagogues.  

In the sutta, a wise young man of 16 asks of the Buddha, “How does one preserve truth?”  

The Buddha replies:  

If a person has faith, Bharadvaja, he preserves the truth when he says: 'My faith is thus'; but he
does not yet come to the definite conclusion: 'Only this is true, anything else is wrong.”  

If a person receives an oral tradition, he preserves the truth when he says: 'My oral tradition is
thus'; but he does not yet come to the definite conclusion: 'Only this is true, anything else is

If a person reaches a conclusion based on reasoned cogitation, he preserves the truth when he says:
'My reasoned cogitation of a view is thus'; but he does not yet come to the definite conclusion:
'Only this is true, anything else is wrong.”  

If a person gains a reflective acceptance of a view, he preserves the truth when he says: 'My
reflective acceptance of a view is thus'; but he does not yet come to the definite conclusion:
'Only this is true, anything else is wrong.”  

In this way, Bharadvaja, there is preservation of the truth; in this way he preserves truth; in
this way we describe the preservation of truth. But as yet there is no discovery of truth.  

Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 95, Canki Sutta  

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