Why Dharma Fails Part 1

- through Francois Leclercq

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Image reproduced with the kind permission of the author

Imagine, if you will, a visit to the doctor. A disease, an indefinable pain causing worry and anxiety. You expect tests, exams, “case history”. But instead, the doctor proclaims, “OK, we give all our patients that drug for a week, then this one for a month. Oh, and then this one for three more months. And then call me for a renewal. If you are a dedicated, compliant, and confident person, you might even accept it. But perhaps one can wonder about the absolutely generic character of this exchange. No diagnosis, no distinction between the type(s) of disease you may have, your age, your history, your current or past medical condition, and so on. OK, that would be absurd. And the results would be, at least 90% of the time, quite questionable. Now that's right, everyone can benefit from vitamin C (almost everyone). There are basic requirements such as fresh air, sunshine, exercise, friends, etc. We need a generic roof over our heads and generic clothes on our backs. But the more advanced our requirements, the more expertise we need. This means that more specialization we have to have – individualization. I admit to having prejudices, having practiced as a holistic doctor and homeopath for more than 40 years. This form of advanced medicine is the epitome of personalized assessment and treatment. We have at least 500 different remedies for a headache. Even if the disease has the same name (arthritis, asthma, depression, anxiety, gastritis, etc.), there are dozens of options. Indeed, the more one wishes or can go in depth, the more the determination becomes granular.

Certainly, medically, you can get a CT scan, biochemical tests, physical exams and a senior and experienced doctor. Nutritionally, a full DNA analysis of his intrinsic biochemical needs, a detox panel, and microbiome testing give us a definitive set of data to start prescribing nutritional supplements and dietary changes. But for the “soft science” of psychology, things get complicated. Although there are no end of investigations, types of tests, listening ears and psychotherapy systems to go along with them, there seems to be more neuroses, borderline states and pure and simple sociopathy than ever before in history. But at least there is some kind of framework – in fact over 500 of them. Not a unified theory of mind, but in the right hands (as hard as finding a good dentist), people can be helped. Here, let's skip past the tangled web of self-help, self-proclaimed gurus, and everything else that pours onto the internet in an endless stream, like a bad LSD trip.

In the complexity called Buddhism, we have layers and levels, an enigma shrouded in mystery. This is where the well documented concepts of exoteric, mesoteric and esoteric come in. There are superficial or generic practices that everyone can and should do to embark on the Buddhist path (or any other spiritual path). Proficiency in basic seated practice, mantras, visualization, the whole wonderful menagerie of ideas and understandings about karma, the nature of self, mind, life. This is just your basic learning curve, like diving into any new language, any science, any art. What could go wrong? That's fine, until at some point we had to go further. So it's still not necessarily wrong, but it's no longer fair.

But maybe no one tells us. We received the deep empowerment of secret divinity, the transmission that comes directly from the highest realms, from the Spirit of Wisdom itself (which also happened on Zoom). The purity and beauty of this brilliant spiritual path shines through. And that's a problem. We can bask in this glow and not realize that it is not yet within us. What we need now, after months, years or decades of trying, is a proper diagnosis. Generic stuff won't do. And what test, what survey, what evaluation will tell us exactly what is needed now, and tomorrow, and next week? Of course, if we've been in the game long enough, we can self-diagnose, self-evaluate. But as the saying goes, “the doctor who takes care of himself has a fool for a patient”.

A stumbling block, by definition, is one over which we stumble. We just can't see it. Otherwise it is not the real stumbling block! We can see another 50 prominent rocks and tree stumps, but we usually won't see that thin razor wire. Thus is born the strange human situation of another who sees us better than ourselves. And this is how the profession of coaching, consulting and revealing conversations is also born. Yet if we are smart enough, introspective enough, and lucky enough to get the message, the real message in terms of what is needed, then what? Do we know the treatment? It's just as (if not more) difficult to determine. The problem may be something we have never encountered before and know nothing about. And so, potentially, is the solution. It would seem that the only real solution is the same one that has been applied since the beginning of this extraordinary evolution that is human transformation: an accurate spiritual diagnosis and an appropriate spiritual treatment. And now, the real sticking point: how and when will this specific advice come, and from whom?

Now we can imagine ourselves outside this doctor's office, this generic doctor with the generic pills for an imaginary generic patient who is the same as all the other patients. Then we enter the open sesame door of the spiritual specialist, the esoteric master. He or she can tell you exactly where the blockages are in your energy body, and quickly. What channel, what organ, what flow system. They can know which of the five elements is involved and what kind of distortion is there: too much, too little, out of place, toxic, tangled, stagnant, absent. And it's pretty clear what emotion, what misconceptions, what trauma might be involved; its texture and tone, perhaps its sounds and its semantics. The narratives, the identities that surround these blocks are also evident, an information-energy grid of mathematical precision. It seems that this particular diverted flow stops spiritual progress, blocks the entry of higher energies, causes disturbed emotions, physical illnesses, prevents opening to luminous stillness. Or create illusions and fixations that conflict with relative reality. There may be resistance, there may be alien energies, demonic inputs, past lives. Hell, it's an endless string of potential misfires and wrenches in the works.

The prospects for treatment and cure also seem limitless. It could be super simple; a posture, a sound, or even a slight shift in understanding, maybe a color, a few degrees of change in direction, a vacation. It is wide open, unplanned and limited only by the sensitivity and knowledge of the master spirit guide. In the Buddhist realm, much of the work has to be done by the "patient", by I. But with a very important nudge in the right direction, momentum, new insights into where we are on our own map or in the wider territory. Or they may need to make a larger incision or extract an abscess from the core. Just like going to the acupuncturist, chiropractor or surgeon, afterwards you will be on your own again, and you will have to follow the wise and inner guidance and work in the realm of body and mind. So where are these psycho-spiritual laser carriers of Vajrayana Buddhism?

Let's go back to why the Dharma fails. My own experience over four decades tells me that such a level of sensitivity and " ngon shay” or psychic knowledge is rare. It takes a certain kind of inner mastery and skill. But it also requires a context in which that is exactly what a lama, ngakpa, ngakma, a spiritual guide, does. Right now, and as far as I can remember, this is not normal and it has not been routine or an expected part of the process. Whether it's more advanced disciples (ie knowing the basics) or even at a fundamental level, it has to be specific, personal, individualized. Should everyone do the same foreplay, and the same mantras and deities? If yes, for how long? At best, same-same is just the testing ground. It's just a matter of digging to see if there's the heart or the guts to carry on when the going gets tough. We are all so unique. The more we advance, the more the solutions must be adapted to this uniqueness. If you find someone who has the skills and intelligence to hone in and tell you what's what, what's needed, then hold on, hold on. And if they understand that it's their job, what they've chosen to do, to help this very unique person in front of them, double hold. In the vast world of Dharma, it is as rare as the daytime stars.

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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