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The Nyönpa, or "mad ones"

KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest?Europe Veteran
edited February 2 in General Banter

I came across mention of these today and thought I would share, it may raise a giggle and be educational. They are apparently a number of Tibetan yogi's who are renowned for their unusual style of teaching. To pick one out of the bunch, here is what Wikipedia says about Drukpa Kunley, a 15th Century mystic...

Drukpa Kunley (1455–1529), also known as Kunga Legpai Zangpo, Drukpa Kunleg, and Kunga Legpa, the Madman of the Dragon Lineage, was a monk (Mahamudra) in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, as well as a famous poet, and is often counted among the Nyönpa ("mad ones"). After undergoing training in Ralung Monastery under siddha Pema Lingpa, he introduced Buddhism to Bhutan and established the monastery of Chimi Lhakhang there in 1499.

Drukpa Kunley was born into the branch of the noble Gya clan of Ralung Monastery in the Tsang region of western Tibet, which was descended from Lhabum, the second eldest brother of Tsangpa Gyare. His father was Rinchen Zangpo. He was nephew to the 2nd Gyalwang Drukpa and father of Ngawang Tenzin and Zhingkyong Drukdra.

He was known for his crazy methods of enlightening other beings, mostly women, which earned him the title "The Saint of 5,000 Women". Among other things, women would seek his blessing in the form of sex. His intention was to show that it is possible to be enlightened, impart enlightenment, and still lead a very healthy sex life. He demonstrated that celibacy was not necessary for being enlightened. In addition, he wanted to expand the range of means by which enlightenment could be imparted, while adding new evolutionary prospects to the overarching tradition. He is credited with introducing the practice of phallus paintings in Bhutan and placing statues of them on rooftops to drive away evil spirits. Because of this power to awaken unenlightened beings, Kunley's penis is referred to as the "Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom" and he himself is known as the "fertility saint". For this reason women from all around the world visited his monastery to seek his blessing.

Visitors to Drukpa Kunley's monastery in Bhutan are welcome to enjoy a short trek up a hill. The monastery is very modest, only one smallish building, but it contains a wood-and-ivory lingam through which one can obtain blessings from the monk in residence.

Besides Drukpa, Wikipedia lists a few others, I give links for your delectation:

Thang Tong Gyalpo
Tsangnyön Heruka

There is apparently also a link to "crazy wisdom", Trungpa and even Padmasambhava, who was a renowned trickster.

lobsterAnanda_Cheesecake

Comments

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Thank goodness celibacy isn't a prerequisite to enlightenment! :love: :blush:

    I do think it's possible a high level of connection with another person can contribute to enlightenment, including sex. But I don't think you get that from walking into someone's room and rubbing the magic lamp. I think it takes a mutual development of a relationship in a spiritual way for anything like that to happen.

    Ananda_Cheesecake
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited February 2

    Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan by Padmasambhava, in the 8th Century, and by monks fleeing repression during the reign of a couple of early kings who restored the pre-Buddhism religion and banned Buddhism.

    Rinchen Zangpo couldn't have been Drukpa Kunley's father, because he died in 1055.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rinchen_Zangpo

    I seriously doubt very many women sought the lama out for sex. Tibetan (and Bhutanese, and Ladakhi) society is, and always has been, extremely modest; some say Victorian at least, if not downright Puritanical, regarding sex. Women wear dress that covers them from the neck to below the ankles, covering the entire arm. Ladakhi women (also Drukpa Kagyu territory) are embarrassed by the tantric iconography in the temples, and cover the statuary up with scarves in the crucial places. They warn their daughters and other women to stay away from the lamas/monks, politely characterized as "not nice".

    A former consort to a monastery in Bhutan stated in an interview about 10 years ago or so, that the monks had, for hundreds of years, convinced the populace that it was an honor to have one of their girls chosen to be what they termed a "Buddha mother" or "goddess" in the monastery. The parents weren't told that the 12-year-old and 14-year-old girls' duty was to serve as temple whore in tantric rituals, both as a monk's personal consort, and in group sex rituals, in initiatory rites for several monks.

    After a couple of pregnancies, the girls would be "retired", at the ripe old age of 16 or 17. At that point, being that virginity was (and still is in the villages) required for marriage, these human discards had no hope of marriage or living a conventional life. They could only work as servants, or as prostitutes. Some of the Bhutanese monasteries, to their credit (being quite wealthy), provided a sort of Social Security program for their ex-consorts, paying for them to receive an education in India. The woman interviewed, who was a "Buddha mother" in the 1960's, said that upon receiving an education, she realized how anachronistic and abusive the practice was, and successfully petitioned the King to have it outlawed. However, she told the interviewer that it still continues in secret.

    In Tibet, many monastic traditions held that having sex with a "khandroma", a type of goddess-spirit, could bring instant Enlightenment. Young women were at risk of being suddenly pounced upon by a monk, and raped in public. This was not considered a crime. My Tibetan Buddhism professor, who brought a group of monks to the US and set up a monastery for them, had to grab and restrain one of the monks he was showing around the university, when the monk suddenly ran after a student, shouting excitedly that she was a khandroma, and he had to "have" her that very moment, on the lawn. After that incident, the professor delivered a lecture to all the monks about laws and customs in the West, and potential jail time.

    I would take any claims the Tibetan hagiographies make with a few boulder-sized grains of salt.

    lobsterkarastiKerome
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Thanks for that, @Dakini it seems that even monks from more primitive countries can be in need of general education.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I've been thinking some more about @Dakini's story about the temple girls, and it makes me quite angry. It is an abuse of young women in the name of tantric practice... the whole idea behind those tantric practices is to recover the diamond of samadhi that has fallen into the mud of sexual desire. It should be undertaken with pure motives, and abusing young girls as temple whores seems very far from right.

    Disappointing that people who spend so much time on clarity of thought can't free themselves from superstition, or treat sex with more respect.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Yes, it is disappointing. At the same time if you spend your whole life in one culture, largely sheltered from any of the rest of the world (which many monastics still are even today) how do you know or ever learn any different? To us it seems common sense to treat all people with respect. But if everything you've ever learned and seen and experienced doesn't teach that, how do you learn it?

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I would think it would make sense from first principles... by accepting the opinions of people around you on a subject like "these people are inferior" you are letting yourself be led into dangerous grounds. But maybe I'm expecting too much.

    But you can learn it from books, for example Baruch Spinoza wrote about equality extensively in his Ethics in the 1660's, and he was quite famous as a philosopher.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited February 3

    But is it just a matter of opinion when it is literally throughout the entire fabric of your society and culture? To form an opinion you have to be exposed to alternative viewpoints. That is how we learn to develop opinions. That's why when you see what little kids vote for in mock school elections, they are such valid ways to predict real elections-because they simply parrot what they hear because they have not been taught otherwise and not been exposed to other views at such an early age. It was why small towns always have narrowminded viewpoints. Experience and education offers different viewpoints. But only if you are not consumed by a culture that maintains only one viewpoint. They don't even know anything else exists because they have always been told that what they are taught is right. Why would they question it without a basis to do so?

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Well, let me see... I have a deep respect for animals, and I've never been exposed to a culture that involves them very much - city boy, technical education, office jobs. About the closest I've been to them have been nature documentaries, and a few pets, and not even very many of them.

    I'd think that respect for living creatures, and that includes humans, is one of the things that should come naturally as a child. You can only get talked out of it, I suspect.

    But yes you're probably right, they are rare individuals who do not get conditioned to go along with their environment. Most people learn by copying, and they copy their parents, older brothers, teachers.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It often does come naturally but when you live in a culture that forces you out of it, then you have little control over that conditioning. You may not have lived in a place that was supportive of animals, so you kept your natural compassion. But what if you had grown up with a family that ran a slaughterhouse? Or with a whole culture of people who used and abused animals for their uses? It's unlikely (though not impossible-it does happen sometimes) you would have kept your view as your own without being influenced heavily by your family and culture. Familial and cultural conditioning is very strong. It's a rare person who stands against it for their whole life and seeks a life completely different to what they experience. That is why it is so hard to break the cycles of addiction, poverty, and child abuse.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran
    edited February 3

    Some of that, I agree with but some doesn't ring true from my own personal experiences, @karasti. For me, there are too many variables to 'agree' with the slaughterhouse example (only certain animals are considered 'good eating' and other animals are good for pets, etc.); A person's mind/personality/etc. no matter what their age, varies widely as well. So very many of us suffer child abuse in all the forms, but there's no way out very easily because of severe suppression of victims and witnesses to this very day. It's a war in plain sight, but those who try to change things for the better have an uphill battle, no matter how much it has gotten air time in the past/present.
    And same with familial/cultural conditioning. Not everyone cares, but goes along to get along. It sucks.

    If I've missed any points, I apologize. My mind wanders a bit. :3

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @silver yes, but in my experience having a farming or ranching background tends to let one a bit removed even in the case of loved pets. Both sides of my husband's family are farmers, and that's just something I've observed with them. They do keep pets, but they are farm pets. The dogs and cats largely all live outside and have free roam of the land, but they are not pets like city people keep pets and no animal is considered part of the family. The "animals die, and sometimes we eat them" is something I hear from kids even very young. Just my impression in talking to them has been that they do not grasp the concept of having a pet as part of your family, the way we treat our dog. It does not occur to them because from the time they are old enough to walk, they are participating in farm life with an understanding that the animals are not to be attached to.

    As far as child abuse, I was referring mostly to the patterns that often continue when they are adults and have their own kids. Of course it doesn't always, but if all they know is adults who can't deal with children they never have examples of how to be good parents themselves. Again, just from my experience. Having lived in a small town most of my life where I've known generations of families, the cycles of addiction, abuse and poverty mostly follow really closely through generations of the same family. Many of them excuse the abuse they were dealt as a valid part of child rearing and credit it with how "well" they turned out.

    silver
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Yes, what you say is all true, @karasti...it just goes to show just how much there is to observe and to learn and to form our own opinions about it. The story about the temple girls is a real hair-raiser, plus the university visit fiasco. All of it just blows my mind! I mean in a sense, all of this stuff that blows my mind is just more stuff we have to accept as proper Buddhists, and trying to instruct that wayward monk on campus had to be a tough assignment. Yikes.

    karasti
  • Couple of poems from Hanshan (monk, Crazy Zennith and vow breaker)

    Children, I implore you
    get out of the burning house now.
    Three carts await outside
    to save you from a homeless life.
    Relax in the village square
    before the sky, everything's empty.
    No direction is better or worse,
    East just as good as West.
    Those who know the meaning of this
    are free to go where they want.


    I deplore this vulgar place
    where demons dwell with worthies.
    They say they're the same,
    but is the Tao impartial?
    A fox might ape a lion's mien
    and claim the disguise is real,
    but once ore enters the furnace,
    we soon see if it's gold or base.


    Such an expression is rare but exists in various forms in many traditions
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazy_wisdom

    The problem is the fox aping a lion's mien. In other words, as has been expressed by others, those using conventional ignorance, lust and greed to mimic the unconventional or bond breaking awakened Bodhi.

    This is why the integration and discipline of conventional sila (good behavour) with enlightened being makes a safer teacher choice. How would the unenlightened know the difference? Are we easily drawn to frauds such as osho, the divine trump, trungpa etc? Do we ignore the crazy beggar, mad mullah or unnoticed every day adept who lives amongst us? Ay caramba! :dizzy:

    ... and now back to the crazies ...

    silverpersonkarasti
  • techietechie India Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I've been thinking some more about @Dakini's story about the temple girls, and it makes me quite angry. It is an abuse of young women in the name of tantric practice... the whole idea behind those tantric practices is to recover the diamond of samadhi that has fallen into the mud of sexual desire. It should be undertaken with pure motives, and abusing young girls as temple whores seems very far from right.

    Disappointing that people who spend so much time on clarity of thought can't free themselves from superstition, or treat sex with more respect.

    What makes you think they do? They could be 'monks' because it gives them power over others, not because they really have or even seek clarity of thought. Most religious institutions are about power anyway. That is why it's good to distinguish between religion and spirituality.

    lobsterShoshin
  • Well said @techie. When we find our own integrity and spirituality, we start to find the real teaching and teachers all around ... Bravo!

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @techie said:

    @Kerome said:
    I've been thinking some more about @Dakini's story about the temple girls, and it makes me quite angry. It is an abuse of young women in the name of tantric practice... the whole idea behind those tantric practices is to recover the diamond of samadhi that has fallen into the mud of sexual desire. It should be undertaken with pure motives, and abusing young girls as temple whores seems very far from right.

    Disappointing that people who spend so much time on clarity of thought can't free themselves from superstition, or treat sex with more respect.

    What makes you think they do? They could be 'monks' because it gives them power over others, not because they really have or even seek clarity of thought. Most religious institutions are about power anyway. That is why it's good to distinguish between religion and spirituality.

    That is true, especially in the West where you have large churches maintained by the donations of the faithful, who are encouraged to be obedient to the priesthood.

    But I thought in Buddhism, with such an emphasis on for example begging for ones food, that that would not be the case, that monks and religious communities would display more honestly as being dependent on their lay followers.

    There is always the temptation for them to exert religious authority - do this-and-this or you will have a very poor rebirth - but with a path like Buddhism where so much of it is about meditative practice there is more chance of clarity.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Also, look at how many monks are basically monks because it's all they knew. In many countries it's not like all (or even most) of them were adults who chose the path. Many, many of them are very young children who can't possibly understand what it's all about anyhow. My teacher was 7 when he went to live in the monastery. In his case, he stayed close with his family and still sees them. But both he and his brother were chosen in some manner to go, and they lived most of their lives away from their family. I've never gotten an impression that in his case there was abuse, but it's possible there was and he doesn't consider it to be a problem I really don't know. But his "'decision" to be a monk was made for him, and like I mentioned before, it was almost all he ever knew. He eventually got older and made the choice to stay. But how much of that was truly a conscious choice of it being the right path for his life, and how much of it was cultural indoctrination?

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    I put all the crazy stuff some monks do down to them being human ......Humans do quite weird things at times...

    lobstersilver
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited February 5

    When I did the excellent aro meditation teaching course, the very last session involved drinking a bottle of wine before meditating. However I have my own mind, discernment and do not need or intend to drink a bottle of wine, so I have still not completed the last session. Maybe I can get a miniature bottle ... mmm ... still not my thing. Also the continual efforts to try and get me to join the aro sheet wearing fell on deaf ears. I liked the free course very much, the aro group I suspect are not worth joining ... I must be crazy ... :p
    http://aromeditation.org

    Being a wer-lobster, I am aware of crazy shells. I have a particular fondness for the insane as they tend to vote for the official monster raving loony party or similar, rather than the allegedly 'sane' who have voted and support an insane presidented t-rump stake. :p

    My teacher was also rather unconventional to the untrained/sleeping eye.

    Contrast this seductive 'teaching'
    https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/all-craziness-no-wisdom/
    You should have sex with me. You might not want to, and you might feel it’s a bad idea, but you’re wrong. It’s good for you. It may look like exploitation or manipulation or abuse, but it’s not. I can see this, but you can’t, because I’m wise and you’re not, and I’m acting from a more spiritual orientation than you are. You need to trust me on this.
    http://www.strippingthegurus.com/stgsamplechapters/trungpa.html

    With this understanding ...
    I argue that we may be getting this backward. Instead of assuming that an "enlightened being" is automatically in harmony with the Precepts, perhaps our view should be that harmony with the Precepts is the manifestation of an enlightened being.
    http://buddhism.about.com/od/findingatempleandsangha/fl/Crazy-Wisdom.htm

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