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-by Ernie Diaz
Many reports coming over the firewall about self-immolations in Tibet, a land at the tipping point. China Expat neither confirms nor denies, for the simple reason that we like this site un-blocked. Oh, also for the reason that we steadfastly refuse to contribute to political debate, a Grand Canyon brimful with hot air and echoes.
So we broach the topic of Tibetan Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire in protest from our usual cultural angle. And from that angle we hereby decry such actions. We’ll leave off comparisons with the Vietnamese monks’ immolations in the late 60s, and what that led to. Our opprobrium springs from the fact that Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire is deeply hypocritical, an affront to the entire religious tradition.
A wise man never resents with passion the abuse of the foolish.
~Boddhisatva Tachuang Yan Kinglun
Exiled Dalai Lama, refugee Tibetans in India or no, a monk’s business is neither patriotism nor politicking of any kind. It is realization of his Buddha nature. But us no buts! The frequent rationale for the immolations, offered again and again by westerners supporting Tibet’s cause, is that these are acts of despair.
A monk, despair?
The wise do not grieve, knowing the terms of the world.
A monk, driven to last resort?
He who is endowed with forbearance is called the real follower of the Buddha. He is said to revere the Buddha with the highest kind of worship.
Not a chance we’re going to tread the well-worn path of dissecting the history of Tibet and China’s relationship, to verify autonomy. Alright, we’ll admit that it is rather disingenuous to claim China’s historical sovereignty, when those periods were under Mongol and Manchu dominion. A little advertised aspect of that relationship, however, is that what dominion Tibet exercised over China came not through worldly influence, but the moral authority of Lama Buddhism.
Therein lies Tibet’s greatest weapon, let’s say tool, for forging a new paradigm with China. Surely those with the courage to swallow kerosene and suffer a self-inflicted, drawn-out final agony have the courage to live by Gandhi’s principle of Satyagraha, which falls right in line with the fundamental laws of compassion and adherence to truth that make Buddhism the Way.
Conquer the angry man by love.
Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.
Conquer the miser with generosity.
Conquer the liar with truth.
No coincidence, the compatibility of Gandhi’s light and Buddhism’s. Both have Vedic Hinduism as their source. Both lights are cast by a fiery center, a tradition of stoking the metaphysical yet very real fires beyond duality. Ancient Hindu fire rituals ramified into Buddhist Tantric rituals, the sexual rituals only one form. With these rituals, today’s Tibetan monks could light fires to burn all the rotten wood of ancient enmity and state rivalry.
The aspirant who seeks salvation shall perform the nonviolent sacrifice.
One shall meditate on the fire stationed in the heart and perform the sacrifice Dhyhnayajiia (meditation).
After realizing bodhisatva stationed in the body of all living beings, the lord of universe, he shall devoutly perform the sacrifice by Prinhyhma perpetually.
He who performs the external Homa becomes a frog in the rock.
- Liriga Purdna
All of these ritual processes are considered offerings, sacrifices, all in the name of Lord Buddha, as preached through the Vajrayana tradition. Vajrayana is the high road to self-realization, not a short-cut but a spiritual gauntlet that hurries the devotee along to the ego-less place where he can commence to redeeming the world.
The first fire offering is simply cultivation of one’s inner heat, hot enough to burn delusion, fanning the flames with the winds of karma. Fuel is poured onto the fire by using the ladle of one’s sex organ, the skull its vessel. Sorry, no physical instructions for raw initiates. Suffice it to say that semen must be sublimated until the belly’s heat melts skull-centered spiritual potential into a white drop, the bodhicitta. The white drop meets the molten red drop, East and West, male and female energies are united; the bliss of non-dual wisdom the reward.
And that wasn’t even the sex ritual! The second fire offering brings the bliss of true union. For the less accomplished, this ritual must be performed with a living consort. We’ll leave the positions alone for another post; this one seeks to recommend spiritual monk fires over physical ones. The aforementioned red and white drops are the female and male elements that, in this realm of duality, result in new life.
When mingled correctly, the red drop, distilled from material affliction and the passion for enlightenment, envelops the white seed of liberation. Freedom from despair, want, any of the woes we suffer by dreaming we are alone and separate, this freedom comes of the second ritual. For accomplished masters, who have spirit-sex with a visualized goddess rather than a live being, it brings freedom from rebirth.
Food is at the center of the third fire ritual. After all, the digestive fires roar long after the sexual ones have died down to dull embers. In this ritual the hands are the ladles, the mouth ones repository for the sacrifice. Or more correctly, the mouth is the hearth, in which food is melted into an ocean of nectar that nourishes and awakens the thirty-two divinities sleeping in every heart. Unfortunately, the ritual involves a sight more than chewing each mouthful thirty two times. No doubt it takes much more willpower to turn Tibetan barley mash into an ocean of nectar than, say, veal scallopini.
The fourth ritual, for lack of words ethereal enough, are mental offerings. Having performed the previous three, external rituals, one meditates on their true symbolic import, the mechanical aspects left behind. All one’s wishes are granted, but of course the one who performs this ritual correctly only wishes for the salvation of others from material attachment.
Thus the final ritual leaves nothing but one’s religious wisdom, fire transmogrified into eternal light, a light which casts no shadows. The doors of perception are cleansed, and everything appears as it truly is, infinite – no acid required. Likewise not required, indeed impossible, are any manifestations of violence or division, least of all protest by immolation. The monk has become bodhisatva, an unblinking example by which the world is enlightened.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.