Paul Volker.
Paul Volker.

Lama Drama

If Thinley Norbu Rinpoche has the severe philosophical and practical problems with Western Buddhist teachers, groups, and students that he claims to have, then it should be plain and clear that factual examples need to be given support to these very serious criticisms. If this chafing indeed exists as he says, then it needs to be openly aired, not further irritated by keeping it under cover (this is mainly the job of the journalist, not the interviewee). I would hope the spirit of open and honest inquiry is present whether you are interviewing a Tulku or a first-year student or a person hostile to the dharma. I find it difficult to believe that the interviewer didn’t ask the obvious “Who?”

Is Rinpoche commenting on Ole Nydal or Lama Surya Das or Stephen Batchelor? Friends of the Western Buddhist Order or the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Buddhism or the New Kadampa Movement?

Is he talking about the students of my refuge lama, Tharchin Rinpoche, who has hosted Thinley Norbu Rinpoche at Pema Osel Ling in Santa Cruz?

His broad brush statements implying that all or most Westerners are “nihilists,” that they have no valid concept or practice of surrender, and that their expressions of compassion are condescending, are neither instructive nor enlightening.

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