Heart at Work

I recently edited some of these chapters (8/08). The work is a look back at the lifestyle and spiritual philosophy of The Farm, a hippy community that settled in Tennessee in 1971 under the leadership of Stephen Gaskin. I hitchiked south from NYC at 18 and was associated with the group from 1974-81. In 1988 I moved back into the area and soon took refuge with the Nyingma lineage of Vajrayana Buddhism. Most of this was written to help clarify the differences between what was being taught on the Farm and more traditional Buddhist communities. More sections may be added over time.


From the original preface (1993);

Before Padmasambhava went to Tibet at the invitation of King Trisong Deutsen in the eighth century, an Indian Buddhist scholar named Khenpo Shantarakshita, also at the King’s request, had preceded him. Shantarakshita was part of a philosophical tradition in India that made a practice of reasoned investigation into the ideas and doctrines of many different schools and systems, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist. Beyond simply championing those considered to be the superior views, this exercise was part of an effort designed to develop one’s analytical capacity in the interests of penetrating the innate misconceptions about self and world that serve as the categorical bases for everyday perceptions and the perpetuation of samsaric bondage.

Six centuries later, the Tibetans had further developed and systematized this tradition when Tsong-Ka-pa, the founder of the Gelugpa lineage, wrote -

“You should forsake partisanship and hatred for the systems of your own and others’ teachers and analyze which of them provide good or bad explanations. Then, you should adopt only that which shows the means of attaining the two aims of trainees (high status within cyclic existence and the definite goodness of liberation and omniscience) and provides correct proofs. The scriptures of the two systems are what are to be analyzed to find which does or does not bear the truth; thus, it would not be suitable to cite them as a proof (of their own truth). Only reasoning distinguishes what is or is not true.”

Padmasambhava offers the following comment -

If any teaching you study, reflect upon, or expound becomes an effective remedy against your disturbing emotions as well as an aid for allowing the pure Dharma to take birth in your being, then that is called a Mahayana teaching and is unmistaken.”

Each person should feel
that they would try to do it
if they were the only one
who still remembered,
and they’d try to remind the rest.
That’s how it has to come
from each one of us.

- Stephen