Kim's Leave of Absence
Dear Open Heart Sangha and Friends,
I have been working nonstop since I started teaching in late 2008 and have never taken a proper leave. To refresh and reinvigorate my inspiration to teach the dharma, I am taking leave of my work, starting right away. I have not set a time limit for my retreat. I will not be available through email, Facebook or telephone.
I thank all those who are supporting me financially during this time. Your support enables me to continue my work and to take this break. Please support, if you can.
In My Absence
During my retreat Lama Karl Eikrem will take care of all of my teaching responsibilities, at both live and online events. All teachings will continue as scheduled and no events are cancelled due to my retreat. Lama Karl will teach the scheduled retreats, give guidances and empowerments. You can adress your questions to Lama Karl, firstname.lastname@example.org
Because no one has yet been trained well enough in bhumi analysis, no one will give bhumi verifications during this time, except Lama Karl for the 1st bhumi.
I send this to all members of our community, so I would like to take the opportunity and say something that is directly related to everyone's practice and the community itself.
Join Live Retreats. Members of our sangha need to start joining our live retreats more often. That means you. Only about half of our sangha joins retreats on annual basis and because of this our organisation struggles financially. The present situation is not sustainable. In other words, if more people don't show up or if retreat prices are not significantly raised, there will be less opportunities for group practice. The opportunity is there now, so use it.
Requirement For Sangha Members. Our online sangha at Facebook has been open for anyone who has learned Open Heart Yoga. However, I have seen that practitioners who do not join live teachings, do not understand the practice, nor the meaning of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha correctly. This can have detrimental consequences. Internet just doesn't achieve what live interaction does. For this reason, as long as one remains a sangha member, one is required to join at least one 4- or 7-day retreat every year. If this requirement is not met, it is assumed that one is no longer a member of the sangha. Exceptions will be made for good reasons. There will also be new requirements for learning Open Heart Yoga and joining the online community.
Likely Leaving Buddhism. Open Heart is an independent school of buddhist dharma where many things are the same as with established traditions, but at the same time some things are also very different. Myself not having recognition in any established tradition has turned out to be an obstacle much greater than I ever could have expected. The reason why my lack of recognition is a major problem is because consequentially our mission remains plateaud with no equal opportunity to grow.
Over the years I have asked help with this problem from many teachers to little avail. In March of 2019, we sent Formal Requests of Investigation to dozen high lamas of Tibetan Buddhism, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, both Karmapas and several heads of lineages. Before sending the letters I decided that reaching out to religious leaders would be my last attempt to do something about this. None of our letters were answered.
Over the last few years we have seen how badly mainstream buddhists talk about Open Heart and that it actually has a harmful effect on what our work seeks to accomplish. Knowing that our teachings are based on the mahayana buddhist view, I feel contradicted about this but it seems at the moment that to neutralize at least some of the criticism towards us, it would be helpful to drop the label of buddhism and simply establish Open Heart as a school of tantric yoga and atiyoga. On a personal level, I don't give a damn about rumours but they are injurious to Open Heart and those karmically connected with our lineage and teachings.
Historically, during the so called Mahasiddha Era in India, before tantric teachings were taken to Tibet, people were not as identified with religious labels such as buddhism and hinduism, as they are now. Today, tantric buddhism or vajrayana is almost entirely Tibetan with a very strong Tibetan cultural identity through art, language and expression. We have seen that Tibetan buddhists are self-sufficient and self-concerned but also strict about their territory.
Even if buddhanature and tantra belongs to no one and that what I teach is not a violation to any living Tibetan lama, since I never was a student of any of them, it is clear that outsiders like us, are not only unwelcome but are also maligned. In this situation, only a letter of approval from a high Tibetan lama would help but as they are unconcerned, we are forced to find another solution. I hope that I can solve this problem during my retreat.
During the past 11 years, Open Heart has gone through few major shifts. We started with hindu gurus and Sundara Kriya Yoga as our main practice. Then, about 5 years ago we switched to buddhist tantra based on the mahayana buddhist view, first with Lady Machig Labdron and then with Guru Rinpoche as the main guru. Dzogchen-teachings came naturally in late 2016 when the first batch of Open Heart-practitioners opened their mahasiddha bhumis. It has been a great journey of getting to the core of it and developing a way of training that is suitable to laypeople of our time. In this aspect, Open Heart has been a massive success but it looks like some radical changes are again needed.
I wanted to discuss this to give heads up to you so that you are prepared if I return from my retreat with such news.
Finally, please, develop faith in the dharma, your own enlightened mind. May all beings have the fortune to meet and be liberated through the teachings of reality. May all who are ready, meet gurus who lead them out of the ocean of confusion. May all beings be free.
Practice well and see you later,