Emotionality versus bodhicitta
In the last post, I touched on the emotionality traditionally connected and encouraged with regards to the teacher, or the “guru” as it’s known in this tradition. There are stories about master teachers, recent ones, not in the distant past, breaking into tears at the thought of their teachers. Trungpa Rinpoche famously wept bitterly when he heard that Suzuki Roshi had died. The story is that he cried so much that he actually bled, he cried blood. I remember one of my teachers in Shambhala training would get teary when she taught. Obviously, the idea is not to encourage people to get weepy at the drop of a hat. It’s a lot more intelligent than that (not complex exactly but intelligent).
Sometimes here in these parts, people get creeped out by the idea of a teacher. Even the word “guru” brings connotations of foreignness, exotic ritual, even abuse, cults. At the same time, the logic seems pretty clear, as to why you might want to connect with the teachings in such a way (and the teacher is seen as a very direct connection to the teachings, more than a lot of other routes). That being said, some Tibetan Buddhists don’t ever find a guru, and many other sorts of Buddhists get lots of benefit from the teachings without even considering that sort of commitment. If my chauvinism is showing a little here, please forgive me. (Then again, I’m mostly talking to myself, so I don’t really need to say that.)
Being emotional has some possibilities, I think that’s the main point. Trungpa Rinpoche talks about this in the Sadhana of Mahamudra sourcebook (and today, incidentally, is a new moon day, a day to practice said sadhana).
There’s a part where he talks about this practice combining intelligence and emotionality. He compares this, I think, to the combination of space and energy, Kagyu and Nyingma, that this practice embodies. For Shambhala people, you can’t help but think of masculine and feminine as well.
Something I’ve been working on consistently for the last couple of years is bodhicitta. One way is at the beginning of practice. For a while, I associated bodhicitta with a feeling of brokenheartedness. If you read “Sacred Path of the Warrior,” the comparison is there. I think it’s important to say, though, that bodhicitta is not about getting sloppy and weepy. As I see it now, it’s about a feeling of love, more than just a feeling of being upset or hurt. Clearly, being upset has various places or functions, but just trying to feel brokenhearted is not quite the same as bodhicitta. Actually, I was going into a mode of losing it, being sad for no reason, for years, when I tried to generate bodhicitta, when it’s more about feeling love (and then working to apply this in real life).