About Shang Rinpoche
Rinpoche’s spiritual pursuit began at a very young age and has spanned many years, in which he received lineages of all four major Vajrayana Buddhist schools—Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug—from numerous lineage holders and great yogis of our time in India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Rinpoche has acquired all the necessary empowerments, transmissions, and teachings to become a fully qualified Vajrayana master. Furthermore, Rinpoche is a recognized tulku (reincarnate lama), authenticated by eminent lineage holders and distinguished masters of our time.
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Both Eastern and Western philosophers, along with the thought that would shape their eras, have reverberated through society and provided immense inspiration. The sensitivity, sharp insight and inquiring minds of philosophers are the spark that ignites a new era, making them both social observers and the voices of a generation. However, philosophers are simply expressing their own ideas, ideas different from most. As to whether these thoughts create a storm or end up falling on deaf ears really depends on the ideologies and mental currents and tides of the century.
In the West, particularly after WWII, varying schools of thought emerged and spread throughout Europe and other western countries. These contemporary philosophers can be seen as the trailblazers of the shift in modern western thought. Many of the books of thinkers who died without recognition are now back on the bookshelves, including those by Max Weber,Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Christoph Martin Wieland. In addition, there has been much hype about the score of contemporary theories, among them post-structuralism and surrealism. It seems like as long as you have an unique view and endorse some of the views of your predecessors, you can well be a master of some sort. Most people blindly believe in labels such as ‘master’, ‘celebrity’, ‘successful individual’ or ‘one of academic standing.’ Consequently, the words and writings of those who fall under these categories become the mainstream thought of an era. How this comes to be is part of the unpredictable undercurrent hidden in every stratum of our society.
I have read extensively on both contemporary thinkers and so-called philosophers from the 19th century onwards. Among them, Freud can be seen as one of the greatest influences on successive generations of western philosophers. Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan, one of his distinguished students, was not inferior to his teacher in any respect. Lacan’s theory, to put it simply, is built on the concept of the mirror stage. He was also greatly influenced by Darwin and W.T. Preyer, who both studied their own children and later formed their theoretical frameworks. If you study Freud, you will come to understand that the Oedipus complex constitutes an important link throughout all his theories. I searched extensively through all of his writings to find out his explanation for how different complexes come into play during each stage of life, but to no avail. He even maintained that “an individual’s thought patterns, even their entire life, are spent in making sure their Oedipus complex is under control.” Later on, his student C.G. Jung parted ways with Freud precisely because of their differing views on this concept. Judging from his keen intellect, if Freud were still alive, perhaps he would have created theories to guide the human race in a more positive direction.
One can say that most Chinese scholars were broad in their thinking. In a few brief and precise words, they were able to illuminate human nature and thought. For instance, the simple yet profound concept of the Four Virtues was coined by Mencius to encapsulate human nature’s innate tendency towards goodness. This tenet would later have a deep impact on Confucian thought in both Japan and Korea. Even Xunzi’s consequentialism, which maintains that human nature is inherently evil, is still rooted in the concept of the “mind.” If an ideology is ultimately rooted in the mind, everything will naturally be insightful and crystal clear.
No one can compete with Buddha Shakyamuni, the wisest philosopher in the world. All of his thought can be found in the tripitaka. For example, he says in the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra, “When observing the mind, one comes to realize that the notion of mind derives from delusive thoughts; therefore, ultimately there is no mind. Even such contemplation, however, stems from delusive thought.” The Sutra of Unprecedented Causes and Conditions also indicates that, “Prior unwholesome thought is like clouds covering the moon; when that thought changes to a wholesome one, it is similar to ridding the darkness with a torch.” We can’t rely on a few schools of philosophy or the thought of different eras alone to truly resolve social problems and thought itself. Everything derives from the mind and all phenomena are manifested by consciousness. In other words, everything from the six realms to the six dusts (six senses), is nothing but the creation of the human mind. This also includes the relationship between parents and children, family and society, and individuals and groups. As long as you keep observing your mind, always reflect on your self-nature and practice the six paramitas and the four immeasurable minds, you can rest assured that peace and harmony will surely arrive!
From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche