To listen to the full audio interview with Rick Blue, conducted by two of his students Eric Smith and Michelle Rivet, please > click here! (MP3 file)
Rick Blue is a Senior Teacher at the Mahasukha Center. His interest in Buddhism began when he edited a documentary for Martin Scorcese entitled "In Search of Kundun" . His work on this project led him to a Buddhism class taught by Brian Smith, who would later become an ordained monk by the name of Venerable Sumati Marut. After this introduction to Buddhism, Rick became a student of Lama Marut's, and he completed the 18 ACI-LA courses, and then took his Maroke. He has since taken advanced teaching from Venerable Marut, and has also taken teachings from Geshe Michael Roach, Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen, as well as attending various teachings given by his Holiness the Dalai Lama.
As a student of Lama Rick's, we wanted to interview him to discover what motivated him to practice Buddhism in a Western society. In this interview we talked about topics ranging from the popularity of Buddhism in America to practicing Buddhism while working in Hollywood.
Regarding the former topic about why Buddhism is becoming more popular in the West, our discussion led us to his upbringing in the 1960s/1970s when people were questioning the dominant culture. He believes at that time the "modern religion" became science, as people were becoming more attracted to logic and asking questions. Buddhism, therefore, became more popular as it asks you "to develop your analytical thinking, to use logic, and not just blindly accept something because its been told to you... but to test it, and to try to apply it, and to meditate on it, and to try to come to an understanding of how the world is working."
In studying Buddhism we are asked to not just take things on blind faith, but to test them out in our own lives and try to understand the deeper nature of reality. This helps us have a more unshakable faith in the teachings. As Lama Rick explains, "I think to have that type of tradition start to unfold here was very attractive to people who necessarily didn't want to just be told, "Do it because someone said so", "Because if you don't you're going to hell"... And something that said kind of like you are the creator of your own hell! (laughs)"
Buddhism gives us the gift of taking responsibility for creating our world through an understanding of karma and emptiness. We can examine how we are perceiving our world and try to realize how that view is coming 'from us' and not 'at us'. As Lama Rick says, "I think that for me this philosophy doesn't posit that "things happen just because...", "it's just random", or "its just someone who is pulling all of the strings." There's this middle road where you have to examine those things, and not just take them on face. I think (Buddhism) teaches you to be a good logician."