January 13, 2014

Past Life

A Tibetan Buddhist monk reflects on his rock 'n' roll roots

This short documentary tells the story of Kelsang Pawo (formerly Jeff Mince), a drummer-turned-monk who performed with punk rocker Nina Hagen during the mid-90s Los Angeles rock scene. 

Produced by Elizabeth Jenkins

Featuring Kelsang Pawo, Resident Teacher at Serlingpa Kadampa Meditation Center

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Clare Morin's picture

I found this video to be wonderfully inspiring, thank you for posting it. A good reminder for our times, when materialism is strong and there is a lot of focus on outward success and celebrity culture. I recently watched a documentary about Tibet; there was a scholar in the programme who came out with this amazing line. I wish I could remember his name, but he talked about how in Tibet in ancient times, there was this incredible culture -- where all the most gifted creative individuals in society, the scientists, the intellectuals, the pure creative forces, went into the monestaries. That's where all the focus was - those were the places people went to. And they spent their energies harnessing their minds: to deconstructing samsara and benefitting others. And this led to incredible peace in society.

Tenpel's picture

Great video, indeed. Very honest and very convincing.

Nevertheless, I feel very ambivalent watching it because I and others have been harmed by the group, New Kadampa Tradition, and Kelsang Pawo’s teacher, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Former members of this group have formed a self-help forum called "New Kadampa Survivors". When I checked one year ago they had more than 1,000 subscribers. I wrote down briefly my story within that group many years ago and when I see the background of the video: only books and devotional articles by Kelsang Gyatso / NKT it reminds me strongly on my past: http://www.newkadampatruths.org/?page_id=83

We were almost able to win Nina Hagen for a NKT fundraising event at Schloss Sommerswalde near Berlin/Germany. At the end she got aware of the controversial background of the group and withdrew her offer …

mrmauve's picture

Shame you have to put such a negative spin on a positive story. Countless people benefit from the NKT worldwide, and i wouldnt want to discourage that. Of course there are people in the NKT who mess up, give bad advice, but these are degenerate times. The teachings themselves are pure, just as Trijang Rinpoche, and Phabonka Rinpoche taught before. There is no tradition on earth where everyone has a positive experience,
My experience of the NKT over more that 20 years has brought a richness and meaning to my life that i will be eternally gratefull for, and Im sorry your experience wasnt so positive.

Tenpel's picture

Shame on me, indeed. I felt uncomfortable to make my comment.

Nevertheless, I saw a need for it.

I understand that for NKT it is just heaven to see this video on Tricycle – this story is just too nice – but it is not the same for those who have been harmed. As I said, my feelings are ambivalent watching it.

For people who appreciate freedom of speech and use their common sense, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem with my comment.

Previouslydenyi's picture

Yeah who cares about those deluded people who had the bad karma not to fit in to and see the NKT's glory. Lets wash over their ruined lives. Lets forget about the people who were too samsaric to be helped. They can be left homeless and sangha-less and lost in a world that doesn't understand them.... stupid samsaric deluded fools that couldn't stay in the NKT. If only they had had better karma and more merit! Then they wouldn't have needed to be abandoned by their guru! Plonkers!

mrmauve's picture

I didnt fit in, and was as samsaric as you can be, previously a monk, but I dont share your views in any way.

Previouslydenyi's picture

I am glad you did not have that experience. It is good to hear about someone who was supported and loved through their disrobing.

Previouslydenyi's picture

I am glad you did not have that experience. It is good to hear about someone who was supported and loved through their disrobing.

sileclaire's picture

Thank you for cutting through to the heart of the matter: were people hurt and who is willing to truly take responsibility for this? Nothing else is useful or of interest until this is addressed.

Previouslydenyi's picture

"The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members."

The samsaric members and even the devoted who become 'difficult' are just cast a side. I know of a Canadian girl who was a nun couldn't stay in the NKT was left with Post traumatic stress disorder couldn't work and was homeless. Great man this Geshe Kelsang! I love the way he disregards people who he deems problematic.

Dolgyal's picture

Pure? Oh, really. Lets talk about shame and purity.
In the 1930's, the evangelist Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo had a patron-priest relationship with Liu Wenhui 刘文辉, an opium dealing Chinese warlord who brutally invaded Kham killing untold Tibetan Buddhists. Pabongka supported the secular ambitions of the warlord in exchange for support for the establishment of the supremacy of the Gelug in Kham. He preached many times for Liu Wenhui and his supporters and some of these sermons and letters are preserved in writing.
In his 2011 book ‘Tibet: A History’, Sam van Schaik writes: “in his sermons to the warlord– also to the warlord’s wife, who had been particularly impressed by the charismatic monk– the sectarian Pabongka explained the supremacy of the Gelug philosophical approach and the shortcomings of the other schools.” Furthermore, Van Schaik's analysis reveals that Pabongka tried to lure Liu Wenhui, an extremely wealthy major drug dealer, into promoting Gelug sect hegemony. Pabongka writes to Liu Wenhui: 
“there are many in Tibet who are deeply attached to false schools…In your territory, if you were to establish anew the essence of Buddha’s teaching, the teachings of Tsongkhapa, then your good luck would be such that hundreds of millions of gods like Brahma and Indra could not compete with it”

mrmauve's picture

wow, there are some angry people out there

Previouslydenyi's picture

I am not angry. Just very clear and very passionate.

chenma's picture

Great video!