My son Sam was seven years old when he watched the movie Kundun. It was a film that followed the life of the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. It may not have done well in the theatres but it had a profound affect on my son. The word Kundun itself translates from Tibetan as presence and it is how the Dalai Lama is addressed. Since that time, Sam’s interest in Buddhism has grown and although we are Christian we accepted his move away from our beliefs and encouraged his pursuit of knowledge. He doesn’t consider himself a Buddhist but his education in other religions and philosophy do influence him in many ways.
As is the way with all religions, Buddhism in general and Tibetan Buddhism in particular have evolved and changed and split into various different types and styles throughout the centuries. Buddhism can be traced back to the first Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama who lived some 2500 years ago. It is believed he was born in what is now known as Nepal. He spent his life spreading his message and his followers grew in numbers and eventually they too went out to educate others throughout India. In time as the schools of Buddhism grew and changed the message also spread throughout Asia and the far east. It took over two thousand years to reach us here in North America. There are those who do not consider it a religion but believe it be a way of living your life.
During the late 1800’s there was a movement which began in Tibet in response to the growing division between the various sects or schools of Buddhist teachings. In complete opposition to one of the main tenets of Buddhism, people were often forbidden to learn from any teachings outside of their own lineage. Just like childhood arguments, each school of thought believed they were above the others. This new movement was named Rime’ which comes from two Tibetan words. Ris, meaning side or bias and Med, which means lack or no. Rime’ is literally no bias. No picking sides. It is referred to as an eclectic movement after the Eclectics of Ancient Greek philosophy. They tended to chose what they believed from some Philosophical movements and disregard others thereby never really affiliating with any other group. There are those who believe this term doesn’t properly describe the Rime’ movement as the intent there was to high-lite and accept difference rather than embrace similarities. It was that drifting towards the similarities that caused the problems in the first place. Today the Rime’ movement is all about learning from other Buddhist ways in order that the differences are embraced so that all teachings survive not just those that are held in common. It is truly an enlightened approach.
Today we can learn much from this concept. In our polarized world we only read what supports our pre-existing ideas. We watch news programs that identify with our biases. We associate with people who are like us. It is comfortable. These are our peeps. To go against the crowd could cause anxiety for some as they are afraid of the backlash. I am an urban dwelling socially leaning individual. I was raised mainly rural and I golf with two groups of ladies from a small town I lived in for most of my teen years. I found it amusing but not surprising when one gal mentioned I was probably the only person she knew who voted for the federal liberal party. I am not of course as other people may not share their views in that atmosphere for fear of the confrontation that always follows these types of revelations. To adopt the very idea that is promoted by the Rime’ movement we can in time come to understand what makes us different. We already are aware of the similarities. Those are the people we surround ourselves with. But what happens when someone embraces an idea that is in opposition to our own belief systems. Especially controversial things such as religion and politics. Or the abortion debate. These can cause very emotionally charged discussions. Or often arguments. Can we in time try to understand the views of another without trying to change their minds? Not only accept differing viewpoints but working hard to educate ourselves in the differences. I often said my husband wanted to read more of the right leaning newspapers as he felt we could learn from them. We already embraced what the liberal or left leaning papers told us. In the end I pay for a lot of online subscriptions because my husband believed in not only being informed but he embraced the idea of being educated.
My own family is very dissimilar to me and my thoughts. I am speaking of the original line up. My siblings. I am accepted and loved but perhaps not embraced. Being the youngest of many and over a decade in years younger than all but one, I studied them from afar. They however did not reciprocate. I was their little sister. Who I was and who I have become is a total mystery. One brother apologized to me for not getting to know me when I was younger. He says my blog has been his insight as to who I am. I spent a weekend visiting with another brother who is almost fifteen years older than myself. I was struck with not just our differences in world views but in how little he knew about me and my life. Not in a bad way but it is there. Most of my nieces and nephews are closer to my age than my siblings so I am grateful for that. They are the ones I am friends with but also share some views. Our tribe accepts us based on our similarities. They will however question when our ideas go too far the other way. Families are broken apart because of differences. The basics behind the Rime’ movement, when applied to our own individual lives can start a movement in the world. One not just of acceptance of others who are different. We need to fully immerse ourselves in learning about those differences. Only then can we truly accept others. And in our journey towards an education of acceptance I believe we will learn more about ourselves in the long run. I learned a long time ago that I am an ever changing and evolving individual. Ultimately I believe this will one day help me to find peace in myself and perhaps create a little peace in the world around me. Because the ultimate gift I can give myself is to always learn.