Culture, dharma and salt

Too much salt (from Guru, Deity, Protector: GDP02) 00:01:36.09 - 00:06:48.05)

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Ken: What I want to try to do is, on the one hand, you might say, demythologize Vajrayana, because there's a great deal of myth about it. And on the other hand, try to convey the power and sense of the practice or these practices, or this approach to practice, in a way that you can relate to without going through what are sometimes quite considerable cultural distortions. Do you know of which I speak?

Student: Some, yeah.

Ken: The last few years, one of the central questions I've pondered is: In the post-modern society in which we all live, what is the appropriate form of the guru-student relationship? And to answer this question or to explore it I think we need to take a look at both the cultural form of the guru-student relationship in India and Tibet, and also its soteriological function, that is to say its spiritual function.

In 1989, when Kalu Rinpoche died, I was in a retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh. I'd been asked to come to the retreat. My expenses had been paid. When I got there, I said to an organizer who had invited me, "I know that there's a string attached, I just don't know what it is." "Oh," she said. "You're giving the presentation on Wednesday night." This is Monday. I said, "Oh. And what do you want me to do?" "Upset the apple cart," she said. "Oh."

Rinpoche died Wednesday morning. Interesting coincidence. So I gave a talk, and the next morning, Thich Nhat Hanh, who was not present at it, swept the whole thing under the rug. It was kind of interesting to experience.

And then he was asked by someone in the audience, "What's the relationship between culture and dharma?" He said, "Well, culture is like the salt--it gives flavor to the vegetables."

And of course, the question that immediately popped into my mind was, "What if there's too much salt?"

There is the possibility of there being too much salt. I think there has been in the past. And that's just natural. It just has to go that way. So, you don't have to add quite as much salt anymore. And that's what I mean about demythologizing.