I once had a strange dream. Claudine was some sort of holy being, and I had a very high state of relationship with her. At some point, I committed some sort of negative karma towards her, and then I was thrown back down many levels. I then had to work my way back up to get where I was. I did the first couple of relatively easy levels, and then I reached a point where I had to repeatedly do some seemingly innane thing. About half-way through doing that, I grew frustrated at having to do so, and stopped doing it well. I remained in the same room (level), but I moved back again and the task grew harder. There was no way around it, I had to do it if I was to advance.
At some point later in the dream, I was somewhere else in some sort of Dharma setting. It was at some point in the distant future. I had some vague memory of having been close to the Dharma before, but it was in the distant past. I then saw one of my former teachers, and she too had been around a long time and she was back just like me. What I understood to be VGL or the Buddhas was there. My former teacher looked old and ugly, with disheveled hair and a distorted face. But she had made it back. She then lead everyone in a prostration towards the Spiritual Guide. As she prostrated, she said “I prostrate to the dictator.” She was trying to make a joke about how in worldly society we in effect prostrate to dictators, but the people who were following her in the prostration misunderstood that she was saying that the spiritual guide was a dictator and they giggled like she was giving voice to their views. It came out wrong and made things worse.
When I woke up, what I understood from the dream was as follows: it doesn’t take much to create some real serious negative karma towards holy beings, and other beings in general. This then creates karmic distance between ourselves and the beings. If we want to repair our relationship with the being, then we will need to do the work of working through that negative karma. This is not a punishment, it is just karmically how things work. If we don’t do the work, we will never find our way back. It may take a long time, but we have no choice but to work through it. When we grow frustrated by the fact that we have to do this, we fall back further and the task grows harder. So we need to accept that this is what we need to do and just diligently get on with it. We can view our relationships with each and every being in this way. We have committed countless negative actions towards each being and this has thrown us down in our relationship with that being. Each being is (from one perspective) like a holy being and we need to do the work to diligently repair our relationship with each being. Sometimes we make mistakes and fall back down, but we then need to start over. My former teacher had turned ugly due to having generated anger. A long time had passed and through persistent hard work she had dug herself back out. She was still ordained and had done what it took. She tried to tell a joke, but was misunderstood and wound up creating negative karma. When you are that close to that which is perfectly pure, it doestn’t take much to make a mistake. Even the slightest mistake has disproportionate consequences. It is like a marble trying to be centered on a very large and relatively flat surface. Even a slight movement of the surface and the marble will be displaced by great distances. I then thought of poor Gen-la Samden. He had gotten so so close, but then committed some hugely negative actions not only towards the spiritual guide but towards all of his students in the NKT. This has no doubt thrown him back tremendously. It will take him a tremendously long time to work his way back. It will take aeons. VGL said in his letter to him ‘I have no connection with you’, seemingly implying that he had destoyed all of his karma towards VGL. ex-Gen-la had said in his letter that he had done nothing wrong and he remained committed to VGL. But then VGL put squarely on the table in a very public way all that he had done wrong and said that no connection remained. I believe this was done to help the former Samden can overcome his pride and attachment to reputation and then develop deep regret for what he had done so he could begin the long process of purification.
One way of looking at all of the senior teachers being cleared out of the NKT is they had grown very close to the spiritual guide, but each in their own way committed small (sometimes large) errors, which as the example of the marble shows, can have huge displacement consequences. Their motivation to practice and their commitment to the Kadampa path remains in place, but they now need to do the work of getting back. I am no different. Not only do we have to do this with the spritual guide, but also with all other beings. No point wishing it was otherwise, rather we should accept this fact and get on with what needs to be done.