‘A Brief Fantasy History of a Himalayan’ (1980)

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

9 minutes

In 2014, Shambhala published a decades-old manuscript written by Thinley Norbu († 2011). Norbu, whose eldest son is the author and filmmaker  Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, began writing A Brief Fantasy History of a Himalayan in 1980. He added a few inserts in the 1990s, after which he left the text unfinished.

Trigger warning: the following text is marred by thinly disguised misogyny.

Norbu begins his discussion of the emancipation of women by introducing the American notion of ‘freedom’ as he understands it:

“America is often called the Land of Opportunity because the American Constitution grants so much freedom to its citizens. Even though in some ways this freedom is valuable, sometimes it becomes excessive and causes tremendous problems and chaos.

For example, the freedom to bear arms in America gives anyone the right to buy weapons in order to shoot Americans. Many gangsters come to the Land of Opportunity since they can buy guns freely and commit crimes freely. Many terrorists come to the Land of Opportunity since they can buy guns freely to create terror.

So,everyone can shoot everyone else, which is no different from a small-scale war. America is considered to be a civilized country, but its Constitution protects people’s right to keep guns. Americans have an extra unusual reputation in the world for continuous killing, from the killing of animals during hunting season, to murder within families, to racist phenomena, from individual killing to public genocide. This makes other countries think America is an uncivilized, savage country.

A few years ago, when a hunter killed a woman who had stepped out of her door into her own yard, the judge and jury found the hunter innocent because the woman was not wearing red to warn the hunter not to shoot her in her own yard. It is unbelievable, but it looks as if in the Land of Opportunity, according to the American Constitution, a homeowner cannot step from her own door into her own yard during the hunting season without risking her life. The criminal becomes innocent and the innocent become criminal.

In some communist countries, they used to prohibit the sale of guns, so at least there was less robbery and murder. In America, the right to bear arms and the freedom to buy guns actually backfire, like a man getting his mustache burned when he blows out the candles on his birthday cake.

The police cannot even protect the public, so the public’s right to have guns causes continuous criminal activity. Through the idea of freedom, Americans can invite anti-American enemy terrorists to their own country and train them how to shoot back at their own heads. Through idiotic political leaders, the government can support its enemies, and through greedy company leaders, it can make many weapons to sell to its own enemies. In general, according to a worldly manner, one good human quality in the history of ancient countries is loyalty. But Americans, from individuals up to the government, have betrayal habit from lack of discipline and excessive freedom. They are not ashamed to betray anyone if it benefits them because of their habit of expedience. Even though America is a large country with material wealth, because Americans do not have the qualities of nobility and dignity, America becomes like a business station. Because of this, other countries’ reaction is to treat America cheaply even when America supports them. I am saying this with good intention, worrying for Americans. Government officials are ready to leak secrets to the media to betray their own government for their own purposes, and the media are ready to publicize their own government’s faults to the nation and to the world, to make others excited so they will listen to them, in order to make a reputation and money for themselves. The media sometimes call this public service, but they are rarely thinking of how to benefit, visualizing themselves as television actors and actresses as they report the news.

Even though the media have the potential to benefit, those working in the media often create issues, interference, and disturbance between the government and people, and between family and friends, for the benefit of their jobs and for profit. For example, there is often talk about gun control in the media, but so much violence is shown on television that children are influenced to become violent later and buy guns. Even though parentshave good intentions to educate their children with all the best positive phenomena, their children are still influenced by the negative phenomena on television.

There are so many important international issues that should be broadcast in the news to educate young people in order to make better communication in the world, but instead, the media are always reporting about murder and rape. Because other countries have certain traditions of their own, it is difficult to be compatible with America’s lack of versatility and spoiled, commanding ego, which comes from their own country’s habit of freedom. If, instead, the media brought knowledge of many different cultures to America, teaching people to communicate with others, they would develop America’s culture in an appropriate way and make Americans less parochial, more versatile, and harmonious in the world. Then Americans would not only think of the American view, imposing it on other nations, and internationally there would not be the frequent problems that there are now.

In this Land of Opportunity, there is somuch freedom that citizens can even burn their own nation’s flag that symbolizes their nation’s dignity and unity. If these flag-burners don’t want to respect their nation’s honor and want excessive freedom, they should go to live with beasts, where there are no flags.

The misinterpretation of individual freedom and independence is a big problem in America. Americans are often proud of their freedom from surrender and dependency, thinking they are better than any other civilized country. Because, from childhood, Americans are not strictly disciplined o1 taught respect by their parents and teachers, their adult behavior is often chaotic, disrespectful, and harmful. For example, when they travel to other countries, rather than adapting to and obeying the laws there, they use only their own ego’s lawless laws. Some years ago, an American boy was caned in Singapore as a punishment for making graffiti there. One small country beat one biggest country’s boy because of that boy’s misunderstanding and abuse of freedom. The only way he could be released from Singapore was through surrendering to the punishment.

Even though Japan bombed China and America equally during the war, later Japan apologized to China but refused to apologize to America since Japan thought of America as a newborn baby who doesn’t need an apology.”

Having introduced his ideas about American ‘freedom,’ Thinley Norbu continues with a discussion of the Western feminist movement and women’s rights as he understands them:

“In the West, women have wanted more and more freedom and so have engaged in the feminist movement, saying that men and women should be equal. Of course, in order to better their country and help other beings without seeding hatred between men and women, it is right for women to have equal education, equal pay, and equaljob opportunities, including being equally able to run for president. According to the Mahayana system, all sentient beings have the same Buddha nature, so since women and men are the same human beings, why can’t women have the same opportunities as men to use all of their mind’s qualities freely?

Even so, in some ways women and men do not have the same opportunities because from the beginning their energies are different from each other as a result of their previous karma. For example, according to outer phenomena, in the worldly system men are usually physically stronger, so they can do certain kinds of heavy work more easily than women. Yet accordingto inner phenomena in the inner tantric system, women have more magic mind power with sensitivity than men, so they are closer to the source of phenomena.

If women could be wise and plan to ultimately benefit all beings, they would also naturally liberate themselves, like Sublime Tara, But sometimes, just like men, women try to excessively increase their temporary ordinary power and make many banal issues into big issues, making vinegar energy without thinking how to increase their positive honey energy and pure wisdom power. Women lose their attractive feminine aspect and become weird, even walking like marching Nazi soldiers, scaring all men. As a result, both men and women may use each other only temporarily for pleasure since they have no interest in the continuous power of spiritual energy’s extraordinary love. So, love between men and women may turn into a power struggle.

In this life, because of karmic result, some beings took a female body. If they don’t like their body, they can pray that in their next life they will be reborn with a man’s body rather than doing bodybuilding exercises in order to create and exhibit a powerful male body with veins and bulging muscles. Many of these bodybuilder women start to organize palm-rubbing phenomena with each other, or buy lifeless dildos, the color of uncooked chicken. Instead of this, if they can create a graceful, beautiful, refined female body, they will be able to be naturally alluring to men, which will give them natural power instead of equality.

Many American gentlemen are afraid of these powerful bodybuilding ladies, so they run away to other men to dig shit, just as many years ago people came from everywhere to the Land of Opportunity to dig gold, thinking this is their unassailable right.

Just because men and women are born with different bodies doesn’t mean that one is superior or inferior to the other. They are just different, so instead of trying to compare or compete with each other physically, pushing to be equal or better, which often creates negative energy, women should learn to cooperate with men in order to create balance and harmony and positive energy within family and country. Evenif women want to have physical equality with men, how could female athletes compete with male athletes instead of with each other? How could one strong heavyweight female boxer fight with someone like Mike Tyson for the championship?

Because of this equality idea, the American government has considered the right of women to engage in military combat. But this is a wrong right rather than a right right. It is unnecessary for women to risk their lives in a war in combat that relies on physical strength, which is different between men and women, when there are so many other opportunities for them to serve their country and benefit others graciously instead of aggressively. They can raise and educate children, and they can have many different kinds of meaningful professions, including political positions.

In feminism, the best role models women can have are Tara and Yeshe Tsogyal. But if they cannot be like them, they should try to belike Mother Teresa. And if they cannot be like her, they should at least try to be like Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir, who were dignified political leaders who wisely protected their own countries and wisely communicated with other countries rather than quarreling about petty issues.

Sometimes feminist ideas cause hatred and anger toward men. For example, the news reported that many women congratulateda lady who killed a rapist. But these are reverse congratulations since they are influencing and encouraging other innocent women to commit murder and be criminals, making them lawless, which decreases the natural honor of women.

It is strange that Americans are so concerned about human rights in other countries, while in their own country they become lawless and uncivilized because of their excessive freedom, which often creates human wrongs instead of human rights. Through their anger, women feel they have the freedom to do anything. Because of the influence of women’s rights, one lady cut off her husband’s penis, just like cutting a sausage for dinner. Then she threw it into a field. It is ridiculous that even though policemen often cannot find criminals, they easily found the missing piece of his penis to bring back to the husband. It is wonderful that because of America’s advanced medical technology, the penis was put back on the man. But I am worried that it is not working normally with a woman and that it might be dismantled again.

Some women are so angry at men that they don’t want to depend on men for anything. If they decide to have children, they are proud that they don’t need men and can just go to a sperm bank. But this sperm is from men and not from donkeys, so they still depend on men. Also, even if these women hate men, sometimes the sperm bank babies they have are boys who will become men.

Some American psychologists say that women hate men because they had bad fathers. Then, even though men are not like their fathers, they still hate them. Many psychologists have unwise and incorrect explanations about our behavior that only cause more hatred between human beings, which can seed problems for a whole country. But, of course, there are also good psychologists who benefit others. Many of them have nervous breakdowns and afterward treat patients who have nervous breakdowns.

Although men and women may think they will be free and have some power if they separate from each other, they usually suffer from loneliness as a result of their power struggles. Ordinary power must have an object in order to exist, so ordinary people lose their sense of power when they are alone. Rather than remain alone, they again seek out the comforting company of a new object. Of course, if they become good practitioners, they can learn to create real, unlosable spiritual power, and though they appear to be outwardly alone, inwardly they can be comforted by the companionship of their wisdom deity’s appearance. Still, | am grateful that through this increased freedom idea, many women are more open to vast Dharma than before. But sometimes I am frightened by some terrifyingly arrogant and shallow women, and then I am reminded of the general Hinayana theory that to be born a woman is a lower birth. In any case, since I try to have faith in the inner Vajrayana view, which admires women asthe support for increasing wisdom energy, I like to respect women and pray always, until I reach the state of Vajradhara, that I will be a wisdom hero who always has wisdom heroines with complementary energy as companions to attain desireless wisdom bliss.”

About the author

Rob Hogendoorn

Investigative reporter and academic researcher Rob Hogendoorn (b. 1964) began researching the reception of Buddhism in Western society and culture in the early 1990s. His modus operandi remained the same ever since: independent, inquisitive and provocative.