The Shamarpa, Shamar Rinpoche (the Red Hat Lama), seen by his followers as the embodiment of the Buddha Amitabha ( a bodhisattva named Dharmakara translating as the Buddha of infinite Light) who passed on the 11 June leaves us. Behind are the teachings of a modern living Buddha.
Wish him well in the immediate task of seeking the next incarnation.
This very recent and very frank and direct recording posted earlier this year provides a fascinating interaction between a lama educated in the tradition of Tibetan buddhism who is a modern Buddha and the presentation style of high quality modern journalism in the form of Barnet and Freeman on Cutting Edge Consciousness.
To start with the Shamarpa explains the tradition preventing a monk or nun from representing themselves publicly as a spiritual teacher. He describes the traps and pitfalls that exist for spiritual teachers and how easily this position can be misused.
Some way into the recording there is a frank discussion about the traditional vows taken by Buddhist monks and nuns and why they are taken. The conversation leads on to the profundities around meditation, reincarnation, karma and enlightenment.
After the Shamarpa leaves there is further deep debate between the two journalists of the implications resulting from the interview.
This valuable teaching is well worth listening to carefully over and over again.
I will always remember going to an evening with Seamus Heaney in Glasgow 12 years ago. His spirit filled the hall floating on the poetry he recited. Not always easy poetry but based on experience and validated by struggle. The importance of tradition and having come from somewhere distinct, in his case Northern Ireland, was evident, but tempered by an enormous depth of humanity and understanding. A Nobel Prize and his numerous academic distinctions did not change him.