Great wise man in Graz

Sylvia Wetzel

The Dalai Lama is coming to Graz, and many will come. A great wise man, a sage will talk about great topics, and teach great practices. Kalachakra, the wheel of time, refers to world peace - all of us cherish that. What Kalachakra has to do with world peace - in theory, in general, and in principle - the 'most popular man in the world' surely will find great and wise words for. I want to have a look here at two aspects: the metaphor of battle and fighting, and the complexity of teachings. Kalachakra is about peace, and uses the metaphor of war. Its teachings symbolically describe the final battle of the good against the bad, and it's an answer to the invasions of Muslim fighters in the 11th c. c.e. Today we still 'fight' for peace. We may conclude sharply and with good conscience that among Buddhists this isn't a battle against enemies outside, but against the interior enemies, greed, hate, and delusion. Of course this inner battle isn't fought out of hatred, resistance, uncertainty, or even from searching for, or addiction to fame and honor. On the contrary, we fight from motives most pure against ignorance at all levels. But it's a battle nonetheless. And battle, from what angle you may watch it, still is the favorite metaphor of the patriarchal world view.
One fights for something, and somebody is victorious. At least that's the way it used to be. Many Buddhist teachers still talk, and repeat talking, on how to fight delusions and laziness, old patterns, and lack of concentration. Only seldom one has deleted these words from his vocabulary, or is questioning them principally.

Are women, and are they willing, to fight side by side with the good men angainst evil inside and outside, and plunge head-on into the battle against ignorance with meditation techniques more and more complicated? Completely relaxed of course, and knowing about their voidness, considering that the complete Kalchakra Mandala contains a couple of dozen deities who should all be visualized... Do we want tat? Is that useful? Do we need the battles, and that complex enlightenment technology? I'd want to put forth here a most simple metaphor of nourishing: 'Feeding the demons', as a contrast. The American meditation teacher Tsultrim Allione has inspired me to that
practice. It's a simplified form of the Tibetan practice of 'cutting off'
(choed), taught by the famous Tibetan woman teacher Machig Loebdron in the 11th c. c. e. Instead of plunging heroically into the fight against delusion, we may talk with our interior demons. We may remember some small incident of the past days, when we were angry, sad, jealous, grim, tired, uncertain, upset, or anxious. Where is the pain located? How does it feel? What does the demon of anxiousness, anger, jealousy look like? Now we ask the demon lovingly: "What do you need? What do you want?" We also may transform ourselves into the demon for a moment, to feel the neediness directly. Then we ask the demon again and listen carefully to what it might want. We imagine we' have got plenty of it. We give the demon all of the attention, nutrition, love and care, tenderness and understanding, it needs. It receives what it longs for hungrily and with all senses. We feed it, without holding back, until it is completely content and happy. Then we have a look if its form has changed, and its expression. In the end we contemplate voidness, i.e. we realize there aren't any demons, or delusions, that neither we ourselves nor others, no path and no end of the path exist by themselves. All is arising from causes and conditions, it changes and dissolves whenever they change. We may experiment with both metaphors - battle and feeding - in meditation, and in everyday life, and find out what helps us to let go of problems, and
develop abilities. We can practice with techniques complicated and simple, and look which one has what effects.

When the great wise man, the sage comes to Graz and talks about 'the wheel of time', he will talk little about Kalachakra, and much about his 'religion of friendliness': "When I announce that I will teach Kalachakra, then many people will come. And to those I then can teach the principles of the Buddha, friendliness, compassion, and the ethics of responsibility."

Published in German in Ursache & Wirkung, Austria, in Summer 2002.
Translated from the German by Wolfgan I. Waas.