“Until you perfect the power of inner realization’s noble qualities, it is inappropriate to tell whomever you meet the stories of your spiritual experiences. Keep your mouth shut.” Dudjom Rinpoche
The question any participant on the path faces is whether or not to explain, tell, or provide information about experiences on the path. Each individual’s experience is their own and the Ngondro / Vajrayana path is the “secret” mantrayana and as a result needs to remain hidden, private, sacred.
For years I struggled with this concept. As a teacher of History and Philosophy, it runs counter to accepted notions of teaching information to hide historical facts from students. Hidden knowledge is often abused to keep those in power powerful. Thus opening discussions of the past and exposing the destructive and unifying qualities of power in Historical context is not just important, it is vital for human societies. Does a religious/spiritual system meet those same expectations?
When describing personal experience and knowledge, no longer are we basing our descriptions on vetted historical or cultural information. Once one crosses the line between research-based information and personal experience, the information is blurred and the factual nature of the comments are untestable. In effect, as truthful or accurate as I might be, we are talking about my impressions, ideas, and concepts in a way that no one can verify.
So, where is the line that Dudjom Rinpoche talked about? What can I not share and still be someone who can comment on my experience in a way that might (might) offer some insight to a reader?
First and foremost, I am not an expert in this knowledge and as such cannot communicate information about practice as “the” practice. While I have training, my training does not align with historical training of lamas for centuries. As flawed as that system might or might not be, I cannot hold claim to knowledge that I can then communicate to folks about the practice, Buddhism, or whatever.
What I can do is explain experience in a way that offers some insight into how someone struggles through and finds direction in a practice. Much like I can talk about and coach basketball or teach photography or history or how to read a document, I can offer insights into experience that can be guides. Ultimately, those guides are as useful as someone perceives them to be. Acknowledging that I am not expert, savant or realized being is the first step in making sure that folks who read my thoughts are not deluded into thinking I have stumbled on a path.
The reality is that I am writing down these thoughts for me, more than anything else. Whether they are read for not is not a part of my experience. These words really are just a place for me to work through my ideas and concepts. As simple as that. (YEs, we could deconstruct the previous statements….please do, if you like)