Re: Ole Nydahl and Diamond Way Buddhism
Date: April 20, 2015 01:10PM
> If the Dharma requires us to check out our
> teachers before we take them seriously who can we
> blame if we don't check them out and they are not
Corboy, above is the post I was responding to, but failed to quote.
I disagree that one has to get involved in the sangha extensively (retreats, workshops, and other events for which one must pay) in order to check out the teacher. One can go to the weekly Sunday teachings at the local Dharma center, which are free. One can observe the teacher and the students' behavior over a few weeks. One can note whether the Dharma literature available is all by one author, and reading other authors is discouraged, or whether a variety of sources are represented in the books available. One can observe the general vibe of the group, and group dynamics.
And one can also do online research on the teacher and the sect the teacher represents. One can ask other Dharma friends, if one has any, about the teacher and sect.
However, I do think that the Dalai Lama's recommendation to check out the teacher thoroughly before surrendering one's trust to him/her, while necessary, is a bit of a cop-out. There needs to be accountability in the system somewhere, and there is none. Some retreat centers and sanghas now have the teachers sign a contract requiring ethical behavior, and in retreat, students also have to sign contracts. Strict guidelines are posted. But that's a small percentage of sanghas. I wish it were a growing movement, but I haven't heard that it is.
Also, the Dalai Lama comes from a very different culture. He says he denounced his own teacher, the corrupt Reting regent, when the DL was in his teens in Tibet. He says we should go public when there are egregious abuses. But the DL and other Tibetans didn't need to worry about libel laws.
Also, it's easy for Tibetans in Tibet or India to go to the local Teahouse and pick up all the local gossip about this or that yogi or monk. A board member of an Australian sangha whose teacher had several affairs with students, throwing the sangha into crisis, went to Dharamsala to find out what the opinions were there of their teacher, and was shocked to find out that he was not well-respected at all. People said he didn't really know the scriptures, and wasn't at all qualified to teach. So he had presented himself to the Australian community falsely. Of course, it didn't occur to anyone when he first arrived that such a step would be necessary, and how many people have the wherewithall to go to Dharamsala? Also, the community (in Canberra) put up a website about their experience, denouncing the teacher. But they received a message from someone in the same sect, threatening a lawsuit. (Even though the teacher had confessed and apologized, more or less, and higher-ups in that sect had gotten involved.) So they took down the website eventually.
So in view of all this, it's difficult to thoroughly check out the teacher, though not impossible in some instances, thanks to this site, and a few blogs around the internet discussing issues in Buddhism.
Also, it's pretty easy to notice flirtatiousness on the part of some teachers, or a tendency towards manipulation or emotional/verbal abuse, or teachings that seem suspicious or not in keeping with one's understanding of Buddhism. The teacher at one sangha in the US required everyone to disrobe and go nude for the whole weekend retreat. Everyone went along with it, because they'd been taught that Buddhism was about "doing what you were told", without question. Surrendering to the teacher's authority, and believing he has everyone's best interests at heart. NO, NO, NO! If a teacher says they're a representative of the Buddha and the "Holy Dharma", and therefore should be revered, trusted, and treated with utmost devotion, RUN! If the teacher justifies his mental abuse of sangha members by saying this is part of the process of "destroying the ego", find another group. Rudeness, belittling, verbal abuse and other psychological tactics of domination are not "teachings". This is not Dharma.