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In recent years there have been numerous critiques of both the Buddhist teachings and certain Buddhist teachers. Unfortunately, these often reveal a serious degree of ignorance about the subject-matter. Many Tibetan lamas adopt the attitude that "it doesn't matter," because they genuinely don't mind such attacks. I think the perspective of many lamas is vaster than trying to keep track of the latest likes and dislikes of the fickle modern mind. Other Tibetan lamas adopt the attitude that Westerners are merely spiritual window-shopping, telling the younger lamas like myself, "See, we told you! They are not here for the dharma. For them, we are a mere curiosity." In an attempt to adopt a good motivation, I would like to propose some alternative perspectives.

Certain critiques of Buddhism actually enhance my devotion to the teachings and to my teachers, because I feel the dharma defies any such criticisms. But I also feel that some of these writings can be harmful in their effect. There may be many beings whose connection to the dharma is just about to ripen, and these writings can jeopardize their opportunity. In our life we encounter a multitude of obstacles and difficult circumstances. But the worst possible obstacle is to be prevented from engaging in an authentic path to enlightenment.

In this age, when people naively jump to conclusions based on the writings of those who try to warn about the hazards of guru-disciple relationships, such critiques may result in the tragic destruction for many people of their only chance of liberation from the ocean of suffering. In the sutras, it is stated that someone who rejoices even momentarily over something that leads to such a lost opportunity will not encounter the path of enlightenment for hundreds of lifetimes.

Generally, I think that when we want to expose a fault or present an opinion, two attributes are necessary: one should know the subject thoroughly, and one should not oneself have the faults that one is criticizing. Otherwise, one will be, as the Tibetan proverb describes, "a monkey who laughs at another monkey's tail." Let us not forget that as human beings we are victims of our own narrow-minded interpretations. We should not give so much authority to our limited points of view: our interpretations and subjective perspectives are limitless and almost always stem from our own fears, expectations and ignorance.

It would be of great amusement to many learned Tibetan scholars if they could read some of the presentations written by Westerners on such subjects as Buddhism or gurus. It is like imagining an old Tibetan lama reading Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or listening to a beautiful aria. He would most probably think the former uninteresting and that the latter sounded like a cat being skinned alive!


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