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Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Dear Ajahn
Enclosed are the survey forms for a survey of the Forest Tradition that I was under taking when we last met.
The return of these documents marks the ending of my involvement in Theravada Buddhism. I knew upon my return home in July that I had had my last visit to Bodhinyana.
There are many reasons for my leaving Theravada. I feel that I have gone about as far as I can go in my practice using Theravadin methods. Unless you can point me towards a technique of practising Metta that is more suited to my personality than the ones I have already found in Theravada, the only way for me to deepen the practice is to leave Theravada.
There is also the simple and undeniable facts that I am a loud, emotional and sexual personality. The idea that I might have at some point actually ordained in the Forest Tradition now seems laughable. Only my ex-wife and my intense weariness and unhappiness with and within that marriage made that idea seem remotely reasonable.My new path is more suited to my personality. I can now be loudly joyous and sexual.
I am of the opinion that the vast majority of Theravada monastics in the West have ordained for entirely the wrong reasons. Most of them are to do with a clear failure to have successful sexual relationships. Not being able to succeed, there is a petulant rejection and denunciation of what they have failed at. This denial is demonstrated in the very low retention rate. Having ordained because of failure, there is nothing deep enough to sever the tie to Lay life. They fail in their attempt at escape and thus end up having to return to the very thing they tried so desperately to escape.
I also find the outright rejection of Lay life and a practice based on raising a family by those who have never tried it more than merely irritating. How can you people know? You’ve never tried it. You’ve never had the joy of seeing your child grow. Never had to practice the equanimity of being a parent. Never practised the Compassion of when your child is in pain from teething. Yet so many of you are expert enough apparently in this life to dismiss it as being unequal to the celibate. I personally think that collectively you guys just need to get laid and stop being so fucking precious.
Witnessing just how wrapped up Ajahn Brahm is with the collective arse kissing was just saddening. He loves the attention. He has to be right on all things. He wants and needs the adoring eyes and adulation. Unless you are willing to accept the Ajahn Brahm way...there isn’t any room you. This is a personality cult.
Theravada is a complete vacuum when it comes to new ideas. The absolute absence of original thinking is a genuine cause for concern. How can you people be so content with this? Theravada is also anything but tolerant. Oh, the noises are there, but the practice isn’t. After I had the audacity to end a marriage that was so unhappy I had attempted suicide over, and found happiness with someone else, I was effectively ostracised from Theravada here. The blatant hypocrisy still takes my breath away.
I could write a lot more, but I won’t. I just want to close this chapter of this lifetime and to pursue the new
path I have already embarked on. And yes, I’ve become a Tantrika
Regarding our friendship with a gentleness, I wish you every success in your practice.
I try to reply to comments and can't.
I am in complete agreement about the Brahmavamso Bhikkhu sideshow and the serious need for an outbreak of humility.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A Conversation with James

I am in the process of letting people know that I have left Theravada. It's the Aspergers expressing itself and it is compelling me to be very thorough in my decision.
 No more chance of bumping into me & mine at Vesak.
If you are remotely interested in the gory details, then the blogs below will sate that interest.
I liked you as a person and always thought that you treated me with a kindness that very few at the BSV ever did.
Live well James.

Hi Russell,
                Trust you and all your loved ones are well and happy. Didn’t know you had Aspergers not that it changes anything. Have made a start reading your blogs. I agree that Theravadin Buddhists a uber conservative and judgemental and not very compassionate. I have read an interesting book on Tantric practices “The Jewel in the Lotus” by Sunyata Sarawati and Bodhi Avinasha. They describe celibate monastics as dried up husks devoid of life which seems to be fairly accurate to me. I am interested to know if you have joined a Tantric Group or are pursuing your practice on your own. I haven’t had the opportunity to read all of your blog as yet but what I have read is most compelling and dare I say very well written.
Wish you all the best

"If you are fully in control, then you aren't going fast enough"

Mario Andretti
Thank-you for your interesting and compassionate response. We are at the moment practising/studying Tantra by ourselves. We've bought a very good introduction "The Everything Tantric Sex Book". Basically I am still practising Metta and Theravada just is too shallow in its teachings. The moment you want to "tweak" things you are shown the door. I want to explore Metta and physical fitness, Metta and a sexual relationship etc., Also I am simply a loud person. I struggled with the repression and denial in Theravada. The Vipassana movement of boring drones watching every thought and emotion...and never rejoicing in any of them simply isn't me. Also the hypocrisy and politics of Theravada just kills any interest or acceptance that those who profess it have any idea of what they preach. The way that Selina and I were treated was bordering on the appalling. My decision to end a failing/failed marriage was treated almost as a crime by people who had no stake, emotional or otherwise in that marriage. I waited for the outbreak of Mudita towards me finally being happy....I'm still waiting. Our Engagement notice in the BSV newsletter quite literally didn't result in one person congratulating us. We were at the BSV for Vesak this year...and the hostility was almost palpable. They didn't want us there.

The Tantric teaching that we are all manifestations of the Divine and should be treated as such is very much in tune with Metta. And there isn't a mentally healthy person alive who will not welcome being treated with gentleness and a reverence for the inherent good in them. The great sex is simply one aspect of the Path...mind you neither Selina or I are complaining about the results of what we are learning. Being reduced to a whimpering, panting, mindless blob of pure pleasure is not something we will find fault in, nor the deep sense of fulfilment and the glow that doesn't seem to fade. Equally important is the dressing well...thank God for the Op Shops of Chapel Street....grooming, and making your physical environment beautiful...Nasturtiums, God bless them, flower year round. The house and the meditation area in particular is now a place of light and happiness. There is also a deep reverence for nourishing all aspects of ourselves as people. So you will find that I have lost 10 kg since July, that Khalil Gibran and Rumi are being read. There is a wholistic approach to Tantra that I like. If I can use bliss resulting from union to power my Metta then I will. In the mean time there is the cultivation of gentleness and beauty. We found that book on Amazon and it looks very interesting.

The celibate monastics that I know and have known, I think are "dried up husks" and a good many of them are equipped with bad attitudes. Gratitude is a vanishingly rare species in that crowd. There is a demand that they are supported...and that man in Kallista (see above photo)  has the worst of attitudes. He bitches and moans about having to do the bare minimum and expects Lay people who he talks about with open contempt to support him. When you express an interest in ordaining, these people drop their guards and I heard a lot of stuff that didn't edify me at all. Mind you, Ajahn Brahm has fallen in love with the arse polishing that comes with what I consider to be a growing personality cult. Mention parenthood as a valid expression of the Path to that one and you can expect to have your opinions dismissed out of hand. Unless you prostrate yourself and praise the Great Guru Ajahn Brahm, then there isn't a lot of interest in you. And if Jeffrey Tan doesn't die from the amount of arse kissing that happens at Bodhivana every time there is an event, then he most likely will die from a gross enlargement of the ego. Lets hope that boy doesn't go out in the rain much....the weight of all those tickets he's placed on himself getting wet would be dangerous.

The Aspergers was diagnosed in March...a week or two after I began Uni. We had our suspicions and I met someone in the Mature Age and Part Time Students Lounge who used to be a Psychiatrist and worked with Aspergers. Little things like having trouble with reading clocks with hands, the bluntness that I was apparently notorious for, the love of routine and the memory are all Aspergers. When we researched Aspergers basically all the dots connected. I had my answers. I came across a quote by an Aspie (as we are called) "If you concentrate on fixing your weaknesses you will only become less disabled. If you strengthen where you are already strong, you will become remarkable." I consider Aspergers a that I know why I'm different. No need to be cured.

We leave for Singapore on Saturday for 10 weeks in S.E Asia. Monash Uni expects you to visit the country of the language you are studying and for me that is Indonesia. You can imagine my irritation when having told someone at Bodhivana that I was studying Indonesian at Monash Uni, that they immediately discounted it as me doing a language's a Bachelor of Arts that I'm studying with 2 majors...Indonesian and Asian Studies....bit of a difference

This has turned into quite the magnum opus. Selina and Ariel are well. Ariel is a very loud, healthy, happy little boy. Selina is hopefully studying for a Masters in Education next year.

With Metta:

Monday, 28 November 2011

Leaving Theravada

No photo for this post.

This is simply me putting down the reasons why after almost 24 years I've finally called it a day on self identifying as a Theravadin Buddhist.

I helped a lot at the Buddhist Society of Victoria in the almost 20 years I attended that temple. Never made it onto the Committee despite my helping in some very crucial ways. My contacts within the Theravadin Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sangha are still being used by the BSV. But help I did.

The crunch came, I guess, when I ended my marriage to my first wife. I was growing frustrated at not being allowed onto the Committee...people I had never seen before were being selected .I now realise that the Committee like almost everything else at that dysfunctional temple is a clique. Members are never  elected to that committee, they are selected according to the politics of the time. The BSV is almost mind numbingly conservative and unless you very much fit the mold of never taking a risk and never actually displaying a personality...let alone a troubled, unhappy one like I had, then you are never chosen by the unelected elite at that temple who are Sinhalese and in my experience don't actually practice Dhamma. For them, the BSV is a way of gaining social points and status.

In mid 2008 I show up at the BSV after a 6 month absence holding hands with Selina. You can imagine the reaction to the news that I had ended my marriage of 20 years to Seesee and my new love interest was a woman of 19. Snide remarks were made...."Is this your daughter?"

We were simply never accepted. An Engagement notice in the newsletter was met with silence...not one person came and congratulated us. News that Selina was pregnant was also met with silence.

By this time...a year after I had introduced Selina to the BSV, I was getting very tired of the behaviour. I was sent an e-mail by one person stating categorically that I would end up regretting leaving  marriage to Seesee and that I would be hurt by Selina sooner rather than later. It also contained the observation that Selina was simply an indication that I was in the midst of a midlife crisis and I should be grateful I was too poor to buy a Ferrari.

We left the BSV at the end of June 09. Selina miscarried on August 1. No words of condolences from the BSV...despite my trying to maintain friendships with people on the Committee.

We stayed away from all Theravadin temples for the next year. Ariel was born on May 17 2010. He had been conceived at the end of August. We went to Kathina at Bodhivana Monastery outside Warburton. Politely ignored is perhaps the best way to describe things.

During this time the conflict between Ajahn Brahm and the Wat Pa Pong Sangha breaks lose over Ajahn Brahm ordaining Bhikkhuni. I engage in the debate and then lose interest.

I continued with my Metta practice. One of the nicer aspects of Aspergers is the need for routine.
Nothing was happening in my practice. Pleasant but static. Vesak at the BSV is attended. No out pourings of friendship. It is however made obvious that the good people at the BSV are still trying desperately to fit me into the pigeon hole they had assigned me. This is despite the clear changes in me as a person and my new roles as both a father and a university student. We offer dana to Ajahn Achalo during his visit to the BSV in June. Mixed experience. No great connection. He is however appallingly rude to me and treats me like I'm mentally challenged. Apparently  someone having Aspergers means that you can talk to them like they have an IQ in the mid 80's.

I went to Ajahn Brahms monastery in June - July of this year for 2 weeks. Meditated a lot, had some insights, some pleasant meditations, but nothing magical. Completely unimpressed with the monks in Bodhinyana. Came home and decided to lose weight. I've lost 10 kg in 6 months. Metta is still not going anywhere.

Feeling progressively disconnected from Theravada.

The moment of truth came when Selina and I decided to explore Tantra. We read a little and to be completely honest some Tantric intimacy did happen. My meditation and indeed myself the next morning are different. I read more and learn that Tantric principles are very much what I am interested in. I can see where a stalled Metta practice can benefit from Tantra. With no reasons to continue trying to revive a stalled Metta practice using Theravadin methods, I embrace Tantra.

Tantra to me is completely natural. It is logical. It occupies an ethical position that I can understand. It allows you to be loudly joyous. It also encourages you to take great care with your environment both inner and outer. As part of Tantra I am encouraged to take great care with my body and to treat it as sacred. I am encouraged to pursue the gentle in this life. As a male I am encouraged to cultivate the feminine in me. I am also encouraged to worship the people around me and to see the inherent goodness in them.

I can fill my life with the beautiful. I can become beautiful. So now my meditation room has been remodelled and is now a place of colour and light and music. Yes Tantra will be practised there. Tantra will be practised by me in all places. Tantric sex is simply a part of the practice. It occupies the same place as flowers and incense on the altar. Now through massage and touch and yes, sex, I can become deeply connected with people and the universe we inhabit.

Tantra is the logical extension and goal of Metta. To love all beings, to have no sense of separation, to embrace the joyous.

With Theravada being  simply not suited for someone such as I, the only place for me to go was out. I tried for 24 years to make Theravada work for me. It can't, I'm not the personality that is suited to Theravada. There is no anger in me towards Theravada. It was a part of this lifetime and it has ended. I'm in the midst of a major life change and no longer see thing to be angry with when things come to an end. The chapter of my life that was the marriage to Seesee Chan has come to an end. A new chapter has begun.

Welcome my friends. How may we cultivate the very best in each other?

Friday, 25 November 2011


I/ We have embraced Tantra. It's a simple announcement. I/We am/are now someone who studies Tantra. I/We have left behind Theravada.

To myself as a long term practitioner of Metta, Tantra is the logical extension of that practice.  Tantra is the logical extension of Metta because in Tantra we treat all beings as sacred and worthy of respect, kind words and actions and as manifestations of The Sacred. In rejoicing in this, I abide in a state of being that is Metta. Tantra is a vehicle and expression of deep acts of kindness.

At the present time my understanding of Tantra is that it is a worship and experience of the Divine. the Sacred in ourselves and others. Thus I worship my wife, I see and take joy in the goodness in her. I take the time to give her  gentle, tender, loving thoughts, words and deeds. I have the position of worshipping her. I take the time to bring out her best and to take joy in that. Thus I actively want, as part of my practice to fill her world with beauty and happiness. Rather than reading the latest awful thing from the newspaper, I, as part of worshipping her, read her Khalil Gibran or Rumi or Ryokan. I understand her taste in Classical music and fill the house with Albinoni's Adagio. I randomly embrace her, kiss her and tell her that she is loved.

When it comes to the sexual aspect, I take and rejoice in the time to massage her, to touch her gently, to awaken the energy in her, to bring her into a deep contact with her own body, I worship each and every part of her body and give them worship in the form of kisses, loving words and gentle touch, giving her intense pleasure along the way. This pleasure is an expression of the Divinity, The Sacred within all of us.

I give her my complete attention. My mind is firmly in the present. My wifes body is the incarnation of The Divine. Thus whilst I touch her in gentle, loving ways, I also speak in those same ways. I call her "Goddess" and tell her that I am worshipping her. I tell her that she is beautiful. This has caused an intense joy, a deep contentment, the deepest of this lifetime to arise in me.

When union happens, I call on and recognise the presence of The Goddess. Invoking The Goddess during these moments deepens the pleasure. By the time union happens we have both spent time worshipping The God and The Goddess. Our bodies are awake and sensitised to the moment. We have spent an hour or more touching and speaking in loving, gentle ways. We invoke The Goddess and The God. The result has been deep.

However there is much, much more to this than just another way to get our rocks off...even if we do want to clothe it in something resembling the sacred.

If I am the embodiment of The Sacred, a form of The God, then I have to treat this body better. To fill the body with pollutants is to offer them to The Sacred. I have to offer the best nutrition, exercise, rest and sacred spaces. This means to eat properly, to maintain a healthy weight and to exercise regularly. To cut down on the consumption of meat, alcohol and caffeine.

Understanding that those with whom we join are also manifestations of The Goddess and The everyone to understand that we are obliged to offer them beauty. Our bodies must be beautiful. A beautiful body is one that is healthy and fit. Embellishments such as tattoo's and piercings are not necessary.

Offering those we join with beauty is also to offer them beauty in the forms of our speech, touch and attitudes. If we approach them from the position of worshipping them and part of that worship is to give them pleasure, then we are already in the proper frame of mind for Tantra. Everything is Tantra and everyone is a manifestation of The Sacred, the inherently good.

With this as our approach it is easy to see where I view Tantra as an extension of my Metta practice. I have no regrets about the 23 years I spent as a Theravadin. They were valuable and useful years. I have left Theravada because the approach is too narrow and the divide between what is taught and what is practised too wide.

 If, celibacy is an option for you, then do not criticise and belittle the sexually active. If leading a celibate monastic life is your choice, then do not devalue the life of the normal person...we feed you and pay your bills.

Theravada in the Lay arena is a joy free zone. It is stiflingly conservative and utterly devoid of imagination. There is no allowance for difference. I am an Aspergers, I will never fit the template that makes a Theravadin. I am loud, happy and larger than life. I am different and now well beyond all need to apologise for that difference,

My practice is Metta, my vehicle and expression is Tantra.