The secrecy in Vajrayana and other issues - interview with Lama Ivo

This is a short interview Lama Ivo gave in the end of April 2013. Please note that some familiarity with Tibetan Buddhism may be required in order to understand what is being discussed.  

Interviewer: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I would like to talk about various things, about some important aspects of the dissemination of the new teachings, if possible, like the secrecy, the methods of transmission and so on. We can even touch the subject of the Danang transmission, if you would allow.

Ivo: Yes, we can talk about some of that. These are important issues, but it would help if you define the questions precisely, as these topics are quite extensive and we may tend to go in many different directions.

Interviewer: I will try.

Ivo: OK, let’s try.

Interviewer: OK. As we know the tantric teachings of Vajrayana have historically been transmitted in secrecy. The teachers of India and Tibet felt that this secrecy was needed and in fact vital to the preservation of the power in the transmissions. You no doubt know this better than most people. Why did you decide to break this secrecy, or did you?

Ivo: I have not decided to do such a thing, and I can’t. The Vajrayana teachings are not secret because such and such a teacher felt that way. They are secret because they have been given on Earth that way – the need for secrecy is very well explained in the root tantras themselves. The power of the Vajrayana depends on this and this has some very valid reasons behind it. But these things also depend on the Guru and on the times. The old transmissions should be maintained in the manner they have been given, but the new transmissions are different in so many ways.

Interviewer: So you mean that the old tantric secrets have to be maintained?

Ivo: Of course, but even that is difficult to do, isn’t it? [laughs] You know… what has the power of secrecy will remain secret. What has lost the power of secrecy can not be kept secret any more, even if we try. We see before our eyes a dying tradition. It is not a bad thing at all, it is natural. It opens the way for something very new and fresh. Everyone who has real confidence in the timeless essence of the Dharma should be rejoicing. The Tibetan Dharma tradition should not be dying like a feeble old and frightened man who is clinging to life until his last breath, and yet this is exactly what is going on. It is sad to observe, and at the same time it is a clear indication that the life force is gone and it is time to move on.

Interviewer: Why is it happening this way?

Ivo: Because of people’s torpidity. It is human nature to cling to things. And because of this there are only a few Tibetan masters with genuine attainment left. Because it is absolutely ridiculous to keep transmitting teachings which are 2000+ years old and to expect them to work still. Yes, the Vajrayana is timeless, but in essence, not in methods. Methods are for people, and the human energy changes all the time. The Nyingma terma tradition has kept things going more than in the other schools, but still Tibet was a closed and very torpid society for centuries. The outside world kept changing while they kept staying the same. And all of a sudden they found themselves in a world they can not connect to, and the agony started. And it is very interesting to compare the older and newer Tibetan termas in contrast to the newest Western termas. It tells a lot about what is going on.

Interviewer: What do you mean?

Ivo: Well, the terma tradition in Tibet kept going, but if you actually look at the newer Tibetan and older Tibetan termas, there is very little difference in methods. If you compare the teachings revealed in the early 20 century to those revealed in the 15 century, they are basically the same, because the society, everything stayed the same. They even judge whether the newer termas are authentic by comparing them to the old ones, how absurd is that! In contrast to that the really new termas which started to appear outside Tibet are so different that many Tibetan teachers totally freaked out. It started probably with Trungpa Rinpoche, he has termas the Tibetans are actually trying to hide, his own son is trying to suppress them. And it is not just him, it starts to happen all over because new teachings do appear. Now Norbu Rinpoche does it globally and the Tibetans find him so hard to swallow…, it is so painful  [laughs]. And I find it fascinating to observe.

But we got carried away. You asked about the secrecy.

Interviewer: Yes. If we talk only about the new treasures, is there any secrecy in them?

Ivo: If there is, I should say “no”, since I should not reveal it. If there is none, I should say “no” still. So the answer is “No” [laughs hard].

Interviewer: This is not helping very much with the interview :)

Ivo: But I am at least truthful :). The new transmissions are for wide dissemination. The “classic” rules of secrecy do not apply. We are trying to reach a global audience… or better put, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who are actually transmitting these teachings are making a global transmission. There is still a method of transmission, there are still very special ways of transferring the teachings from master to disciple, the Dzogchen principle of direct introduction still applies, there are many meditation practices with restrictions and special conditions the recipients should meet. It is all there, and at the same time it is very wide open. It is a limitless transmission reaching limited individuals. It has many levels.

Interviewer: How do you feel being part of such a thing?

Ivo: Me personally? I feel loaded with a burden I never thought I could carry. I have gone from denial to resistance to frustration and now I start to see glimpses of some very special freedom and blessings. But the fact that I am receiving teachings does not mean that I feel ready for that. I don’t, I am still adjusting to this thing. My companions are suffering because of my own torpidity.

Interviewer: Why does all this come to you?

Ivo: I have no idea. But if I am honest, when I look around, I do not see people who can do that. So I might just as well try. I have nothing to lose at this point, I don’t care about reputation, I have never cared about many of the things people hold valuable, so I have nothing to lose. I might be the guinea pig, why not. If a single person gets benefit, this will be good enough.

Interviewer: When did those transmissions start happening for you?

Ivo: Oh, that was many years ago, during my first intensive retreats. There were glimpses. But I didn’t recognise it for years, and when I finally started to recognize it, I stopped doing retreats [laughs]. I am actually afraid of doing retreats now and have not done any for quite some time. When I start to do a retreat too many things start to happen. But of course it all found other ways to get me. You can not escape, it is like a virus. When very powerful beings want to communicate, they usually win. But I am still trying to resist, and I play with the situation in my own way.

Interviewer: How does a Danang transmission happen? What goes on?

Ivo: This is absolutely impossible for me to explain. Sorry, it really is.

Interviewer: Is it terma? What is the actual difference?

Ivo: Yes and no. If we define ‘terma’ as something old which is revealed again, most of the time it is not this. Most of the time the transmissions are of completely new methods, methods which are actually “custom made” for this time and beings. However some parts of the treasure cycles do have things in them which are ‘old’, if we subscribe to the dubious notion of linear time. But then some of these ‘old’ things are not from Earth at all, so it is quite complicated.

Interviewer: How do you tell the difference?

Ivo: You mean how do I tell it? I can tell the difference very easily, I can see what is going on. And when I am not sure I can just ask.

Interviewer: So, there is two way communication during these transmissions, it is not like channeling?

Ivo: This is nothing like channeling at all, it has absolutely nothing to do with that.

Interviewer: OK. You have agreed for certain practices to be uploaded to the website. Don’t they require any special transmission, like a reading transmission at least?

Ivo: No, these things have been blessed for free dissemination. Seeing them on the website is the transmission. Nothing else is needed. Most of the other teachings from the practice cycles have much more involved methods of transmission, but these special things do not. This doesn’t make them less powerful at all, they are just different.

Interviewer: Do you expect to get a lot of criticism for what you are doing?

Ivo: Well… to be honest I do not expect criticism from the senior Tibetan teachers, at least not from those who know what is actually happening, and the others don’t matter anyway. But from Western Buddhists… there could be a very violent reaction [laughs]. There are people on the Internet who specialize in “explaining” Dzogchen and in defending the precious, timeless and perfect Tibetan tradition and their own hard earned ‘scholarly’ status. They are the ones who may want blood :).   But to each his own. I don’t care at all.

Interviewer: So you are ready to fight? :)

Ivo: Of course not! I am not in the fighting business. I am not trying to defend anything, I am not promoting a product. I am just making things available and all beings with the proper karmic connections will know immediately what to do.

Interviewer: Do you expect a lot of new students?

Ivo: I already have more students than I can comfortably handle. But I do know there are quite a number of beings who have a connection to these new cycles of teachings. Whether they will find their way to them or not I do not know yet. But I will do what I can to help anyone who does.

Interviewer: Well, thank you. We covered a lot of topics in brief in the most unsystematic manner, and we had agreed that this interview would be very short. So maybe we should stop for now.

Ivo: Yes. There is always opportunity to talk again

Interviewer: Thank you.

Ivo: Thank you.