Debating with Kandarohi
Years back, I gave a teaching to a few Kecharians and friends. In the audience was a man I nick-named Kandarohi who had a few questions that I feel many people may also have… so I decided to put up a video of Kandarohi and myself debating. It was fun…It is through friendly and kind debate that we get answers to our questions sometimes, have more questions, get the answers to more questions – and come to well-thought about conclusions. Sometimes it leads to deeper rememberance of a subject also.
In this video, I was debating with Kandarohi briefly about habituation, responsibility and imprints. Kandarohi is a very intelligent man and picks up really quickly. I enjoyed talking with him while he was in Malaysia. He has since moved to USA to be with his partner and we are rarely in touch. I hope Kandarohi does get in touch in the future with Kechara and get into much more wonderful dharma work because he does love dharma and it’s logic.
Do read the transcript and listen to the debate, it has helped Kandarohi to understand the essence of these three important factors, I’m sure you will learn through his debate too. Let me know what you have learned from this debate. Enjoy and learn.
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Transcript for Debating with Tsem Tulku Rinpoche
Rinpoche: Not taking responsibility: is that inherently negative or not? It’s a trick question so be careful. He’s a PhD holder so let’s see how smart he is. See, he’s thinking. He loves trick questions, it challenges his mind.
Rinpoche: Surprising, deep voice! Okay, why?
Kandarohi: Well, when we do, when we do an action, either, I mean, we create the results of it whether we own it or we don’t own it.
Kandarohi: But if we’re confirmed, I mean, we must own our action, so, if we’re confronted or anything, “Oh no but I didn’t…”, and then, you know, other things result, you –
Rinpoche: Is, is habitual, is there a difference between habitual irresponsibility and irresponsibility?
Kandarohi: No because it goes in a cycle and then it comes back and reinforces, it becomes habituation.
Rinpoche: So if you don’t know something and you’re irresponsible, it’s the same as you know it and it’s habitual, correct?
Rinpoche: Incorrect. So if you’ve been transported to somewhere in Africa, and you’ve been living in a hut, and you’re supposed to get the water from the river 50 kilometers away, you didn’t do that, you didn’t know you had to do that, because you’re looking for the faucet, and then they say you’re irresponsible, are you? Do you collect the karma of being irresponsible?
Kandarohi: No, you have to –
Rinpoche: Do you collect the karma of being irresponsible, means pushing your way on someone else and letting other people do something for you that you’re supposed to do and you don’t care about the pain it creates them, maybe double the work or double the time. So, unknowing irresponsibility and habitual irresponsibility, is there a difference?
Kandarohi: Well, if you break a law, you suffer the consequences whether you know or you didn’t know. You still have to –
Rinpoche: No. Unknowing irresponsibility and knowing, habitual irresponsibility, is there a difference?
(Off-camera, Kandarohi nods)
Rinpoche: Yes, what is the difference?
Kandarohi: Because you were never, you were never taught what is right or wrong.
Rinpoche: Very good. And the other one is? Habitual irresponsibility?
Kandarohi: You know, you do it again.
Rinpoche: Correct. And habitual irresponsibility and unknowing irresponsibility is both harmful to the receiver. It is both harmful. Which one would be more severe?
Kandarohi: The knowing, not the other one.
Rinpoche: And why is habitual irresponsibility and unknowing irresponsible negative? Why does it incur negative result? Why?
Kandarohi: Because it still causes harm.
Rinpoche: Correct. Harm on what basis?
Kandarohi: On the basis of a person you harm.
Rinpoche: On the basis of a person who can feel harm.
Rinpoche: Correct. So, therefore, there’s a difference between habitual irresponsibility and unknowing irresponsibility, correct? And it has negative karmic repercussions, correct? It has negative repercussions on what basis?
Kandarohi: And the basis the other person is able to be harmed.
Rinpoche: Correct, another being is able to be harmed. If there is not another being that can be harmed, and it’s habitual or unknowing irresponsibility, is there still negative karma?
Rinpoche: Everybody agree? Who agrees, raise your hand. Who doesn’t agree, raise your hand. Some of you don’t have hands. Okay. Because both, everybody’s like (looking around, blinking). My conclusion is some of you don’t have hands. What was the question? I forgot. What was the question? I forgot. You forgot too!
Kandarohi: I mean, if there is no object to be harmed…
Rinpoche: There is no receiver of the object of our irresponsibility, is there still negative karma accrued from being irresponsible? Either intentional or unintentional? Knowing or unknowing, sorry. Is there still negative karma that arises from that?
Rinpoche: But you said no.
Kandarohi: I’ve changed my mind, upon reflection.
Rinpoche: Upon reflection. Do you change your hairstyle upon reflection every year?
Rinpoche: Some things you don’t reflect, okay. We like your hair. Om Vajrasattva Hum. Tell me the difference: how is it when there is no recipient of harm but there’s irresponsibility, there is still negative karma that’s accrued? How?
Kandarohi: Because you created the action, then you have to suffer the results.
Rinpoche: But there’s no one to receive that action, so how do you have to suffer? So if I slap you or if I slap the curtain, the karma is the same?
Kandarohi: But you’re, but your….
Rinpoche: My motivation is to hurt a curtain?
Kandarohi: No, you reinforce the imprint in your mind.
Rinpoche: What’s the imprint in my mind, to hurt curtains?
Kandarohi: To let your anger out.
Rinpoche: Okay. So if I slap a curtain –
Kandarohi: As…and if there’s an environmental, if a person’s standing there, you might just, it might arise again.
Rinpoche: Excellent. Now therefore, whether there’s an obvious, living, conscious, recipient – I’m not talking about a plant – a conscious recipient that can feel pain, and you are irresponsible to them, either it’s intentional or not, there’s still karma, correct? (Kandarohi nods) But if there’s not a living recipient and you’re still irresponsible, you’re still irresponsible, you still collect negative karma, correct? Why? Because who are you harming now?
Rinpoche: That’s right. How do you harm yourself when there’s no outer recipient of your irresponsibility? How do you harm yourself?
Kandarohi: Because you reinforce in your mind.
Rinpoche: What are you reinforcing?
Kandarohi: The imprint.
Rinpoche: Okay. So, if you reinforce the imprints in your mind, why is that negative? Why is that harmful?
Kandarohi: Because if the right environmental cause comes along, you’ll react in that way…
Rinpoche: Where there… that’s right. So therefore, if we’re irresponsible, whether it is knowing or unknowing, there is still karmic repercussions. Which one will be heavier?
Rinpoche: Why is knowing heavier?
Kandarohi: Because of your intention.
Rinpoche: What are the two factors that arise from that? You’ve mentioned it already. It’s negative because A and B. Only 2 factors.
Kandarohi: Your motivation?
Rinpoche: No. The person that is receiving the harm and your reinforcement that when you’re reinforced, you’ll harm more in the future. You understand? So therefore, knowing, intentional irresponsibility is harmful. Unknowing, unintentional irresponsibility is always harmful. Why? Because unknowing will lead to knowing, if it is not stopped. So a person who is irresponsible and creates harm, setbacks, not following deadlines, not falling in with other people and it’s harming them – when it harms them, when it harms them, and it’s intentional, that creates negative karma, correct? So therefore if a person views an irresponsible person in a negative way, is that subjective or objective?
Rinpoche: Why is that subjective? The person’s irresponsible.
Kandarohi: But you don’t know, I mean, you haven’t look deeper, you don’t know…
Rinpoche: Okay, we hang around with that person, go out with them for a year…
Kandarohi: Isn’t that…you’re imputing again?
Rinpoche: Yes. At my level, I have only evidence to impute on, but from the side of…for the sake of argument, from the person’s side that’s irresponsible, do they not create a greater karma because they allow other people to increase their imputation? So even if they do nothing and they just sit there and look pretty, do they not harm people around them? So therefore, a person who has vows to be responsible, and they’re not responsible and they break their vows just by not doing anything is very harmful. It’s the biggest harm. Why? They allow other people to increase their imputations and they’re holding their negative views and they don’t let them practice. That’s why people who break their vows, they’re expelled from the monastery. Do you understand?
Rinpoche: That’s how we learn in the monasteries. We interact and we talk. We examine. We don’t just sit and lecture. We actually challenge and think. Sometimes we will take this side, sometimes we will take this side, sometimes we take this side; it’s called debate. We have to challenge. Why? When you challenge and you debate it out just like Kandarohi and I just did, when you have come to a clear understanding, then from that is born faith. From faith comes practice and transformation. Practice is application of what you have learnt, comes transformation. And the transformation will be firm and strong and irrevocable, cannot go backwards, when it’s based on sound observation and knowledge. That’s exactly how we do it in the monasteries. Much more complicated of course, and very fast. Very, very fast that you have to go back and forth, back and forth.
Transcribed by Joey Wong
Proofread by Elena Khong
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