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Kula or how did I learn to stop worrying and joined the effort to liberate Samsara

by Lama Fede

Deep in enemy territory, one minor error can mean the end of your adventure. And the enemy is hunting you. 100% of the time. While you sleep, while you eat. Would you rather be working alone, or with a group of skilled operators? How many lone revolutionaries do you know that were successful and lone wolves?

Zero. There are 0 successful lone wolf revolutionaries.

Change is a Team Sports, a Rollerdrome of Death. This is how a Vajrayana Buddhist feels like. We often joke with Lama Sherab that to strive for Shambhala is like living in the show The Americans, but with a twist: you are part of the people hunting you.

If you are a Vajrayana practitioner, you have a commitment to end Samsara. But you yourself are part of Samsara, right? It’s like the end of Rogue One; if we succeed, we won’t be around anymore.

If you’re not really that committed, Vajrayana is not for you. Which is alright, you know. That’s why there’s regular Mahayana and Nikaya Buddhism. They’re both impressive systems. They both produce Buddhas.

If you want to improve yourself, gain more power, have a more comfortable life, etc., you can practice any kind of self-improvement program. This is what in Buddhism is called “The Eight Worldly Dharmas”. But any Buddhism, from the individualistic Nikaya to the collectivist Vajrayana, will be counterproductive.

How did the first tantrics work? In secret. Just like now, being a tantrika was a dangerous prospect. So they created small clans operating in secret. They called those kulas.

Each kula practiced with a guru the liberating yogas of tantra. They were free to practice from the sexual yogas to consume forbidden meals because they had total commitment to each other. Like the eight great Vidhyadharas, which worked together to bring forth the Kagye sadhanas, each kula changed the world of indotibetan Buddhism by working together.

The benefits of working within a kula are many, for tantric practitioners:

  • You gain a family which you trust more than your everyday family, since everybody knows where the bodies are.

  • Every day becomes a group challenge to overthrow Samsara.

  • You don’t need to be alone with an obstacle; the skills and perspectives of your vajra brothers and sisters can help you transform every problem into an empowerment opportunity.

Put like that, I’m sure that it sounds great, right?

The only hitch is that word, commitment.

Let’s get back to the spy cell analogy. Do every spy in a cell has the same relationship with all the rest of the spies? No, probably not. Some will be lovers. Others, friends. Colleagues. Some people you loathe, but need to work all the same with.

With a kula, it is the same.

Will you get along with everyone there? I wish it may be so, but probably you will love some of them. You will be indifferent to the majority. And you will dislike a couple.

You still need to be there for all of them.

You have a commitment to all of them. Just like you wouldn’t conspire against a fellow member of a cell, because if they get captured they can spill the beans on all of you. You might dislike them, but if the police pick them up, you will risk your life to free them.

Now, this level of commitment is unnecessary at the beginning of the journey. But at the level of Anuttaratantra Yoga it will be. Anuttara/Maha yogas are when you play for keeps, all the time.

So, this is the question you need to answer: Are you ready to take it to that level?

There’s no problem answering no. But once you’re in, you’re in.

Welcome to the Shambhala Special Circumstances Corps. Now, let’s go into Samsara and blow it all up!

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