This group is one of acceptance. ALL are welcome. It is our belief that truth is universal.
Our goal is an exploration for truth and wisdom in various human traditions, from religion, to science, and even to pop culture (sometimes it even "pops" up there).
Our primary guide will be the "Dharma" which can be defined many ways, but which is easiest to think about in terms of the teachings of enlightened beings, specifically The Buddha in our case.
Our goal is not exploration for its own sake. Our intention is to deeply examine and make a habit of a worldview which brings about happiness in ourselves, and in those around us.
As the Middle Way Centers grow and blossom in the world, Our Spiritual Director, Lama Marut has worked with the various centers he advises to suggest this beautiful statement of what a Middle Way Center should strive to be, and how it should attempt to serve.
MISSION STATEMENT FOR THE MIDDLE WAY CENTERS
The purpose of a spiritual life is not to become better than others, but better for others.
The Middle Way Centers are here to promote that vision.
As a species we are very blessed that there are many wonderful spiritual teachers in this world. Many people are sharing authentic knowledge handed down across time to fortunate beings like ourselves. In the midst of all of this our group does not claim that there is only one way to happiness. There are many routes up the mountain.
However, if you are going to make a mountain trek, it might be advisable to access trusted and well tested advice on how to get there. That's what a true "Lineage" represents. A "Line" of teachings learned and passed on as purely as possible. Below is a further enunciation of the some of the teachers we are blessed to be learning from, in many ways.
Lama Sumati Marut
Sumati Marut (a.k.a. Brian K. Smith) is a world renowned spiritual teacher. The son and grandson of Baptist ministers, a motorcycle enthusiast, a former surfer, a Ph.D. of Comparative Religions and a fully ordained Buddhist monk. lamamarut.org
His unique background and easy, down-to-earth style has attracted thousands of followers around the world of all ages and walks of life who gather to hear his call for a revolution of true and lasting happiness. He uses Western cultural signposts, pop references, and humor to help remove cross-cultural hurdles. A perfect combination of warmth and wit, Lama Marut makes even the most esoteric brain-busters of Eastern philosophy work as practical tools for immediate transformation. Lama Marut pulls no punches in his hardcore presentation of timeless spiritual truths and their profound relevance to our modern Western world. Ruthlessly compassionate, he insists that the goals of the spiritual life are totally realizable – here and now.
Lama Marut has been teaching religion for 25 years. As a Sanskrit scholar and Professor of Comparative Religions, he taught at Columbia University and the University of California, Riverside, where he is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies. For the past decade, he has been as a popular teacher of Buddhist and yoga philosophy, spirituality, and meditation.
Lama Marut serves as a founding Board member and Staff Teacher of the Yoga Studies Institute (www.yogastudiesinstitute.org), a non-profit educational institute that grounds students in the classical tradition of yoga. He is also the founder and Spiritual Director of the Asian Classics Institute of Los Angeles (www.aci-la.org), ACI-Cape Ann (www.aci-capeann.org) and ACI-Reno (www.aci-reno.org). The three centers are charitable, non-profit 501(c)3 organizations dedicated to providing the authentic teachings of Mahayana Buddhism for serious study and personal practice. They serve their local communities and thousands of people worldwide via webcast by offering a full schedule of formal study courses, guided meditation, yoga classes, special workshops and community events.
Lama Marut’s audio and video podcasts are downloaded 25,000 times each month, and his monthly newsletters and daily inspirational Twitters reach thousands more students across the world. Along with countless academic articles and encyclopedia entries, he has published three academic books –Classifying the Universe: The Ancient Indian varna System and the Origins of Caste (published by Oxford University Press), Reflections on Resemblance, Ritual, and Religion (published by Oxford University Press), and The Laws of Manu(translated with Wendy Doniger and published by Penguin Books). He is currently at work on Inciting Happiness: Radical Contentment and Revolutionary Spirituality in a Post-Consumerist Age – the first book in which he distills his decades of study, practice and personal insight into a useful, straightforward, comprehensive guide for how to live the truly good life.
Cindy has been studying Buddhism and meditation for nearly 15 years, taking teachings from masters from many different traditions..
She has completed an intensive course of study with the Asian Classics Institute, graduating from 18 foundational and 18 advanced courses of Buddhism and rigorous training in the classics texts of yoga philosophy.
Since 2008 Cindy has been teaching with Lama Sumati Marut at regular international retreats on Buddhism, yoga philosophy, meditation and esoteric wisdom.
Having also trained in yoga asana, dance and martial arts, Cindy enjoys taking visceral and experiential approaches to the teachings – inspired by stories and poetry of saints and siddhas, and the integrated and energetic aspects of yoga.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diploma in Electronic Design and Interactive Media, which she has taught at university film and media programs in Australia. She has also worked as a director’s assistant, documentary and video clip editor at Exit Films, Melbourne.
As a digital artist Cindy produced video installations and short films for dance performances in Europe, designed motion graphics for VJing at festivals such as Glastonbury (UK), Glu-Glu (Budapest), and ArtLab music festival (St Petersberg). Being invited to be an artist in residence at LA’s 18th Street Arts Center in 2006 led Cindy to meet Lama Marut with whom she has been collaborating ever since through the development of podcasts, websites, video broadcasts and more for the Asian Classics Institute.
Learn more about Cindy Lee and her teachings from her excellent site Siddha-Songs.com
Geshe Michael Roach:
The first westerner to be awarded the high degree of "Geshe", representing 20 years or more of rigorous study, examination, and debate in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. An honored Princeton graduate, a Presidential scholar medal winner, and a tireless philanthropist.
Through several organizations Geshe Michael is responsible for a real flowering of truly authentic western Buddhism. And he's not done yet. Learn more about him and some of the amazing projects he is working on at one of the several sites dedicated to his work, such as: TheKnowledgeBase.com
Geshe Michael was one of Lama Marut's teachers.
Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Lobsang Tharchin: 1921-2004
Born in Lhasa, Rinpoche was awarded the highest degree of Hlarampa Geshe (Doctor of Theology) with honors, and until his passing on Je Tsongkapa Day, Dec. 7, 2004, was one of the last living Hlarampa Geshes educated in Tibet. He proved to be the best debater of his graduation year in all of Tibet, making him the "First among the First."
In 1959 Rinpoche escaped from Tibet into India along with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and was eventually asked by His Holiness to come to the west where he founded or directed several Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and organizations. A kind and generous teacher, who was also one of Lama Marut's lineage teachers.
Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche: 1901-1981
One of two tutors to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Just look at that wonderful smile.
Pabongka Rinpoche, Dechen Nyngpo: 1878-1941
A powerful and accessible teacher. One who knew the material intimately, but even more precious, was able to share it in a relaxed colloquial style. When Pabongka taught it was always to a packed house of laypeople and monks. So engaging was he that the nearby monasteries would be nearly empty during his teachings, much to the chagrin of the abbots.
1st Panchen Lama Lama, Lobsang Chukyi Gyeltsen:
Kedrup Je: 1385-1438
One of two High students of Je Tsongkapa
Gyaltsab Je: 1364-1432
The second of two High students of Je Tsongkapa
Je Tsongkapa, Lobsang Drakpa: 1357-1419
Founder of the "Gelugpa" lineage. A truly remarkable being, even in the company assembled here. Geshe Michael says Je Tsongkapa was at once the Plato and Shakespeare of Tibet. Responsible for thousands of pages of deeply beautiful philosophy, and also the synthesis of them into some of the most elegant and deceivingly brief explanations, such as the matchless poem on the path to enlightenment titled "Source of All My Good".
Dromtun Je: 1005-1054
Lord Atisha, Dipamkara, Jowo Je: 982-1054
Responsible for bringing a pure Buddhism to Tibet at great personal difficulty and at the request of the king at the time who believed strongly in the Dharma and wanted to bring happiness to his people. It is said that a vision from his divine guide advised Atisha that he could best serve the Dharma by teaching it in Tibet, even though it would shorten his life.
Master Serlingpa: ca. 1000
Master Shantideva: ca. 750
One of the world's great scholars. Stories of this saint are hilarious and profound. Called "Eats and Sleeps" by his fellow monks due to his seemingly lazy habits, until challenged one day to teach. At which time he began to recite his precious "Bodhisattva's Way of Life" teaching. They fell silent then. Truly a great scholar and teacher.
Chandrakirti: ca. 650
Arya Asanga: ca. 500
Arya Nagarjuna: ca. 200
Considered by many to be the "Second Buddha", and in fact supposedly foretold by Buddha as the one who would elaborate on the teachings on what we call "emptiness". A shining diamond of a teacher with a startlingly sharp mind.
Maitreya, Loving One, Jampa: ca. 500 bc
We are in the realm of divine beings now. Maitreya taught through others.
Manjushri, Gentle Voice, Jampel Yang: ca. 500 bc
Lord Buddha: ca. 500 bc
"The Awakened One" who through his great wisdom and compassion found the path out of suffering for all sentient beings. The story tells how Prince Siddhartha became aware of the sufferings of the world despite his life of constant leisure and pleasure. How he pursued rigorous studies with high teachers and great spiritual austerities to the point of nearly starving himself to death, until a simple act of kindness reminded him that the path lies in a "Middle Way" between two extremes. With this understanding and a profound galactic determination, Prince Siddartha sat down at the foot of the Bodhi tree, swearing not to move until he had either died or become enlightened. He faced the great illusions of the world and peeled them all away to become finally and completely AWAKE.
And then thankfully, he spent the rest of his earthly existence teaching what he had discovered. The lineage depicted here represents an unbroken stream of teachings passed down as directly as possible from this great divine being, to us.