I don't know if any of the women involved in this type of activity will see this letter, but I am hoping that if they do, they will take heed and consider how dangerous a situation this could be. I would definitely recommend sticking to the parties hosted at the hotel, where there will at least be nonparticipants around.
Overland Park, Kansas
Bust a Rime
Up Chuck: In response to Allie Johnson's blatantly misinformed piece on the Rime Center (" Trouble in Shangri-La," April 22), I can barely manage to express how appalled I am that the Pitch would print something so one-sided. It was nothing if not an ignorant attempt to portray Buddhism as some frivolous Eastern cult that one man, Lama Chuck Stanford, adopted for his own benefit. Not only did it begin with a racially insensitive quip; it misquoted several Rime members in an attempt to make it seem as if Buddhism was about Mr. Stanford and Mr. Stanford alone.
Had Ms. Johnson even been paying attention (which she obviously wasn't, since she was so focused on derailing one man and missing the most obvious thing in the room -- the altar -- and inaccurately describing objects that don't even exist!), she would have understood that Buddhism is not about the "leader" of any group but about individual growth as a compassionate human being who gives back to the community. She was so confused by gift-shop trinkets that help pay the bills that she missed the fact that half of that room is an extensive and growing library, where anyone can freely check out a book on Buddhism in all its flavors, or Islam or Christianity. She neglected to mention all of the things that the center tries to do for the community as a whole, including prison-outreach programs, Tibetan refugee sponsorships and interfaith soup kitchens, and instead centered on one man and his alleged flaws.
Name Withheld Upon Request
Como te lama?: Allie Johnson's article about Lama Chuck and the Rime Center was timely and insightful.
A longtime student of Tibetan Buddhism, I was the personal attendant for Orgyen Kusum Lingpa when he first came to Kansas City. Kusum Lingpa's intention in naming Chuck a "lama" was that he be the administrative head of a local, home-based center. It was done very humorously, as way of encouraging Chuck to be a more committed practitioner. It did not imply that Chuck had any particular standing as a spiritual authority. In fact, Kusum Lingpa knew that Chuck was a beginning practitioner and personally asked me at the time to watch over and mentor him for that reason.
Kusum Lingpa had named a number of "lamas" this way -- and at one point, he even told a group, "You are all lamas." There never was a problem with anyone attempting to cash in on such a credential, which is so obviously antithetical to the spirit of Buddhism.
Your article is accurate with respect to Chuck's training as a Buddhist spiritual teacher. He has none. Over the years, we tried to get him interested in meditation, but he doesn't have the patience for it. He is simply a gifted and enthusiastic entrepreneur who wants to be a minister. He is also quite independent and not easily mentored. After a couple of difficult years trying to counsel him, I had to inform Kusum Lingpa that I couldn't do much. Kusum Lingpa is very wise and compassionate -- one of the few great traditional Tibetan Masters still teaching -- but he has come to realize he can't do much either and feels very sad about what has happened. He hasn't visited the Rime Center in three years and has since established a new center in the area.
It is unfortunate that Chuck did not take the opportunity to become a real practitioner. Although it is meritorious to sponsor visits of Buddhist teachers, it is important to realize that Buddhist teachers are deserving of respect because of the many years they have spent doing intensive meditation practice and study. If one is to be a genuine student and truly benefit others, that is the path to follow.
Kansas City Tibetan Buddhist Council
White noise: I was so happy that Allie Johnson pointed out to me that Lama Chuck Stanford is a "white guy." I can't begin to tell you how much time she is saving me in endless meditation.
Now, knowing that since I'm Caucasian, I can't achieve enlightenment means that ... wait. Doesn't that sound a bit bigoted?
Reform party: I am not a partygoer, never have been. But Andrew Miller's " Bringin' It," regarding Ken Lumpkins (April 15), let me know that if I choose to, there is a place to go and not worry about drugs, drunkenness and other forms of disrespect -- not to mention the fear of being shot.
Thanks for allowing the voice of the black partygoers and sponsors to speak up. First Fridays sounds like a really good thing for the black community. The attire ... wow, off the hook. It sounds like a winner. I don't get to read this paper often, but the cover caught my attention. I always want to know what positive things are going on in the black community. Thanks.
Kansas City, Kansas
Bar fly: In the case of Charles Ferruzza's review of the Elephant Bar Restaurant (" Jungle Fever," April 22), I have a feeling that Mr. Ferruzza would tear his own mother's cooking and kitchen deactor to shreds should he have nothing better to write about.
I invite Mr. Ferruzza to familiarize himself with the restaurant industry. Upon opening a theme restaurant (allow me to place even more emphasis on the word theme), concept and menu developers collaborate to name dishes and their accompanying products to fit the theme. This resolves the mystery behind the phrase "Wild Desserts" that seemed inexplicable before. I must continue on to say that the restaurant originated in Santa Barbara, California -- hence the "Santa Barbara Burger," something that pleased the patrons there and seems to be doing so in all parts of the country where this restaurant chain is currently booming. The food is a delightfully planned mix of Californian favorites and the innovative cooking techniques of one Chef Reinhard. He helped develop a menu that reflects his studies at the Hotel and Restaurant School in Lucerne, Switzerland, as well as his thirty-plus years' experience in Asia, Europe and Canada. To create a menu with items that can please such a wide range of taste buds is something to be admired.
It is unfortunate that you found yourself much above the Elephant Bar, not to mention the wonderful guests that we welcome into our restaurant doors ever day. I wish you luck in your search for the perfect mix of "obnoxious party place" and sophistication, sans the "chubby, balding men [and] dour spouses, tired-looking young couples and flabby foursomes." This is how you see people in that miserable little mind of yours? No wonder you are still perusing the singles scene.
Elephant Bar employee