Keeping Up To Standards
In the extraordinary transmission of Eastern dharma to the West, there have understandably been many bumps along the road, as well as many stumbles and falls. One of the glaring omissions, that has still not been addressed in any significant way, is a total lack of standardization. In any other field, be it legal, medical, literary, technical, business, the arts, or religious, a certain level of training and expertise is expected and required. In many case, such things are legally regulated, or self-governed by the profession or industry itself. This is why we have schools, colleges, training programs, etc., for every are of human activity, from rocket scientist to plumber, from beautician to marine biologist.
The Missing (Dharma) Link
In the area of imported Eastern teachings, and specifically Tibetan Buddhism or Vajrayana, Westerners have received such a potpourri (or sometimes hodgepodge) of teachings, trainings, empowerments, advice, books and texts, etc. that the situation is, as the Tibetans say, “tukpa” i.e. a big soup! Though in old Tibet, various kinds of strict and prescribed systems of study and certification were the rule of the day, neither the monastic system (for monks and nuns) nor the apprentice system (for yogis and ngakpas) has been able to translate itself to the Western culture.
Literally thousands of Rinpoches, lamas, monks, or ngakpas (largely male due to Eastern cultural limitations) planted the banners of their particular lineage on the fertile American and European soil, each cutting out their own territory, and usually guarding it jealously, much the same as it was in old Tibet, where sectarian rivalry could reach the level of armed combat.
While the lack of a structured training, or standardized teaching is problematic for the students to work out, a bigger problem yet is created by a lack of certification, or method of validation, whereby a student could demonstrate their duration and extent of study. And if the organization that certifies them is stringent and credible, then that student has real bonafide credentials, about which they can be proud and which they can use in their own compassionate work of guiding others.
A Diploma in Chod
My own academic background (founding the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1978), has convinced me that it helps everyone to have a credible standard, and authentic transmission and training. Thus, on the completion of the School of Tibetan Healing Cho’s six-Module program, and having completed a certain amount of field-work (Cho in the Wild!), students will receive a certificate, signed by the principals of the school, attesting to their diligence, sincerity and courage in completing the full program of studies.
This is to certify that ___________ has successfully completed a comprehensive training in the all aspects of Cho, having undergone a Six-Module course of 134 hours of theory and practice over a period of several years. He/she has completed the study and practice of MaChik Lujin, PeGyal Cho, Kusali Tsok, Khandro Kyejang, Dudjom Troma Cho, Nail of the Four Elements and other healing Cho practices, Tsokley Rinchen Trengwa and a wide range of essential meditative methods of Kama and Terma Cho, and is entitled to us the term Chodpa.
The recipient is enjoined to perform these practices for the benefit of sentient beings in all realms, and for healing of the land, of the sick, of the mind and body, So that all may be liberated in the stainless sky of YumChenmo.
Healing into the Future
From the ancient Himalayan valleys to the urban landscape of Modern techno America and Europe, Cho will not only come to flourish, but with proper care and nourishing, it will blossom it ways that was not possible in the old world. We need that healing now, more than ever, and those whose character and integrity make them true holders of this noble lineage.