Comments on “Three percent of the Dharma”


Thanks David, I just finished

csheemea's picture

Thanks David, I just finished reading your work. It took me two months -- given all the supplemental stuff you were linking in -- but was worth for it, definitely. With your help I discovered the Dandy Warhols -- 'till now I've superficially dismissed them as the lite guyz, after seeing DiG!


I will have to write some more

Gosh, that is dedication!  Thank you.

DiG! was a remarkable documentary...  After seeing it, I got a couple of Brian Jonestown Massacre records and tried to like them, but couldn't quite get what they were doing.  The Dandys, on the other hand, are easy to like, superficially; they were mostly recycling Exile on Main Street-era Stones.  They refuse to take themselves seriously; most of the songs are jokes, so it would be easy to dismiss them.  But they sneak some philosophy in there; and, well, if you are going to recycle something, you can't do better than Exile on Main Street, and they do a grand job of it.

I was on retreat for the winter and not writing.  But I hope that, since you have caught up, I will be producing more material soon.  The eternalism and nihilism book is coming along nicely, as is the Tantric Buddhist vampire romance.  The collection of absurd Buddhist songs is back-burnered for now, unfortunately; two major projects at once is already a lot.  I hope something will be visible in April.



more writing

Kate Gowen's picture

Here's another enthusiastic vote for more writing from David. You would not believe what has had to suffice to fill the void while you were out of range. You will let us know about how to find the Eternalism/Nihilism and other books, when they're ready-- yes?


Eating an entire epistemologist

Hi, Kate,

Yes, certainly, I will do my best to publicize my new projects here (and elsewhere).  Actually I plan to have each of the sites show a list of recent pages from all the other sites.  I hope that people interested in "Buddhism for Vampires" will go on to be interested in the nihilism and eternalism book, for example.  Actually, that is a main reason for writing it (besides that it is fun).  I originally characterized "Buddhism for Vampires" as a "gimmick", to trick people into reading boring philosophical tracts.  That's mostly a joke, but in fact my hope is that some readers who enjoy reading a Tantric Buddhist vampire romance will want to understand more about its philosophical subtext.

One of its chapters is titled "Eating an entire epistemologist", which might give you some sense of the flavor.  So to speak.


exelent website

ricardo brito's picture

this was the most clarifying website i've read about vajrayana. it was very usefull to clarify some points on vajrayana. i've spent a night without sleep because it's so adicting :) It looks like all criticism has stoped, at least i couldn't find any recent topics on this. I always like to see what "haters" have to say :) I'm already used to the Karmapa issue :) I'm a shangpa kagyu student, now studying within the nyingma pegyal lingpa terma, mostly because of it's short "red tape" and i also like Chod. A year and a half ago i started receiving the Aro free meditation course on my email, i started practicing but my laziness won me. I've returned now, i hope i can go back to it. it's very difficult to overcome my laziness, especially because we almost do no have any relation with our teachers other than those talks with hundreds of students. we can really say that for the most part of us, dharma students, we don't have enough support from our teachers (not saying it's their fault), the relation between students and teachers is lost, at leat in the majority of cases. i think westerners need guidance, a lot of it, at least i need and expect a teacher to tell me what practice should i do and how many times, etc..., i don't want him just to answer my questions, i also need him/her to push me. and at least i need a guide, i need to know what to practice now, what will i practice some time from now, like in regular school, that kind of planning. and i see that in Aro, the return of the relation between lamas and students. i'm very happy for that. as for me, i'm so tired from samsara, and i feel the need for dharma support to evolve, i think i'm in a critical point, i need to take the next step but it looks like i'm blocked :) Well, congratulations for the wonderfull website, maybe we can meet some day. Best wishes.

Sarva Mangalam


ricardo brito's picture

If possible could you comment on Aro oppinion about eating/using animal products Vs vegeterianism? I'm aware that in vajrayana meat is used within rituals, and most lamas et meat. I don't know if aro has any official posture related to this. Thank's.

Sarva Mangalam

Vegetarianism in Aro

Hi, Ricardo,

Sure . . . The short answer is that Aro apprentices are required to eat a tiny amount of meat (about half a teaspoon) at tsok. Otherwise, Aro has no position on vegetarianism, for or against.

There is an interesting explanation for why eating a little meat is important. It's not just a tradition; it's a practice with a specific, important function. A complete answer could go on forever; but here is a start.

One of the key principles of Inner Tantra is to break down the dualistic opposition of purity and impurity. In India, meat was considered impure and contaminating. In ganapuja (tsok), participants practiced regarding all phenomena as sacred. As part of that, they did all the things that their society considered impure, including eating meat.

Different societies consider different things impure. In Tibet, meat was not impure, so the form of the tsok ritual no longer functioned in the same way. That's a pity, really. It is actually useful to occasionally challenge yourself to do things you find repugnant.

Few Tibetans were vegetarians before 1959, although it was considered theoretically virtuous. In exile, some Tibetans, in India and the West, have converted to vegetarianism, out of compassion for food animals. Mostly, they continue to eat token amounts of meat at tsok. Some practice tsok with a symbolic substitute for the meat, however.

One could be vegetarian for many different reasons. Compassion for animals is surely a good one. Another motivation might be 'political correctness', the idea that 'I am completely justified because I do the right thing, and you don't'. Political correctness sometimes works like a system of religious taboos; it can have more to do with ideas of personal purity than authentic compassion. This is not compatible with Inner Tantra. So, the reason Aro celebrates tsok with actual meat is to be quite clear that no one present can believe they are morally superior.

Vegetarianism in Buddhism is connected with the First Precept (of not killing). The Aro Sutra of the Owl-Headed Dakini interprets the Five Precepts in terms of Dzogchen. The Sutra observes that it is actually impossible to entirely avoid killing, so any pretense of moral perfection based on vegetarianism is just self-righteousness. It is merely an excuse to negatively judge others. Having said that, we do our best to avoid harm and to engage in active compassion. That may or may not include vegetarianism.

Vegetarians are a minority among Aro students. At some tsoks, you might be the only one, and if you were sensitive about being the "odd man out", you might find that uncomfortable. However, the Aro Lamas have also explained forcefully that no one should feel superior because they do eat meat, and that vegetarians are thoroughly welcome in the Aro Sangha.

I hope this is helpful . . . There is a question I can't answer, which is "if you wish to minimize harm, why would you not be vegetarian?" That is left to the individual judgement of Aro students. Other questions, I probably can!


Thank you

ricardo brito's picture

Thank you David.
I'm not a vegetarian, but i aspire to be. Only because of the suffering that is imposed at farm animals. It's really horrible. we would not survive a week if we lived in those conditions. I don't like to see that kind of suffering, and i aspire to no longer contribute to that. And also because feeding all these animals costs 50% of the cerial resources, and it will be worst in the next decades. With those resources we could feed all the people that starve in so many countries in the world, and we could also stop deforestation that is destroying our native forests, and is really causing a real impact in our planet. These are the 3 main reasons why i aspire to be a vegetarian. But the habitual patterns of my mind still block me from achiving that, and also because i'm not properly a chef :)
Besides that i understand why meat is used on tsok, and i eat it. But for me it would be most chalenging to eat a grasshopper or a worm...grrr... that would be really challenging. I want to think that i wouldn't eat it because of compassion, but i'm honnest to say that it would be because of repulsion :) Anyway, when reppulsion disappeared, i would never take that life to fead myself. To me, the fact that i don't want to eat meat is not properlly because of judgement of wrigth or wrong, of course these patterns exist in my mind because society putt them there, and i'm influenced by it, but i don't use to judge people because they eat or not meat. i can explain my reasons, but i think that doesn't lead necessarelly to a judgemental mind. I understant that our minds manifest in millions of different ways, and i don't think there is a better and a worst way, they are only the gathering of certain conditions that manifest in a certain way, just that. of course by society patterns we are teached to judge. Actually, most times we form our oppinions about ourselves and others, not from who we really are, but by what we can't be, and society dosen't allow. That's why i think we live in a really identity crises, we create illusionary identities, we create identities because we don't understand ourselves~, and by creating them we separate from ourselves and others. But i think judgement is not the real cause to that. The real cause, in my oppinion, it's more the cause that leads to judgement, or not recognizing that there are millions of possibilities in the world, and all of them are important and valuable. And when we understand that, only love arises from our minds :) Sometimes i have glimpses of this kind of mind, and it's beautiful (easy to be attached), but they are very rare :) Or maybe it's nothing like i've just said.
Sory if my english is difficult to understand, i«m not expert in the language :)

Sarva Mangalam

Arthur Zajonc

Hi, Kate,

No, I didn't know about him . . . I'll read the page you linked when I get a chance. Thanks for the recommendation!

There is an extensive tradition of epistemology within Buddhism. Dignaga and Dharmakirti are the epistemologists most respected in the Tibetan tradition. Their work is interestingly similar to Ancient Greek and early modern Western epistemology. Which is to say that they are not very useful, unfortunately . . . "How do we know what we know" is the essential question of epistemology, and there seems to be no good general answer. But that doesn't mean it is not an important question; and it does not mean that there are not useful specific answers for particular domains.

URLs turn into links by magic here. Software is wonderful -- when it works! If only it worked more often . . .