By H.E. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Transplanting anything from a foreign culture is a difficult process which may corrupt what is being imported. Buddhism is certainly no exception; in fact, among imported foreign goods, Dharma is perhaps the most prone to corruption.

Initially, to understand Dharma even on an intellectual level is not at all simple. Then once we have some understanding, to put Dharma into practice is even more subtle, because it requires that we go beyond our habitual patterns. Intellectually, we may recognize how our narrow - minded habits have brought about our own cycle of suffering, but at the same time we may also be afraid to engage wholeheartedly in the process of liberating these habits of ours.

This is cherishing of ego. For even if we think we want to practice the Buddhist path, to give up our ego-clinging is not easy, and we could well end up with our own ego's version of Dharma-a pseudo-dharma which will only bring more suffering instead of liberation.

For this reason, most Oriental teachers are very skeptical about exporting Dharma to the Western world, feeling that Westerners lack the refinement and courage to understand and practice properly the Buddha Dharma. On the other hand, there are some who try their best to work on the transmission of the Dharma to the West.

It is important to remember that a thorough transplantation of Dharma cannot be accomplished within a single generation. It is not an easy process, and as when Buddhism was brought from India to Tibet, it will undoubtedly take time. There are enormous differences between the attitudes of various cultures and different interpretations of similar phenomena. It is easy to forget that such supposedly universal notions as "ego", "freedom", "equality", "power" and the implications of "gender" and "secrecy" are all constructions that are culture-specific and differ radically when seen through different perspectives. The innuendoes surrounding a certain issue in one culture might not even occur to those of another culture, where the practice in question is taken for granted.

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 -- CONTINUE --

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