B. Alan Wallace trained for ten years in Buddhist monasteries in India and Switzerland. He has taught Buddhist theory and practice in Europe and America since 1976 and served as interpreter for numerous Tibetan teachers, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Author of the forthcoming Buddhism with an Attitude (Snow Lion Publications), Wallace has contributed to more than thirty books on Tibetan Buddhism, medicine, language, and culture. He presenty teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. This interview, conducted by Brian Hodel, is an expanded version of an interview that first appeared in Snow Lion, the newsletter of Snow Lion Publications.

An excerpt of his new book appear here.


Have Tibetan teachers of Buddhism had to make changes to accommodate a growing community of Western students?

In Asia—India, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan, for example—since the late 1960s or early ’70s, lamas have given public teachings that have been primarily directed to the Tibetan community, but Westerners have always been welcome to attend. Unless the teachings were of a very high level of, let’s say, tantric teachings. Even then, if Westerners qualified, had the appropriate initiations, or were encouraged to attend by their own lamas, then they were welcome to attend those as well. There are a number of Tibetan monasteries in the south of India where training is quite open to Westerners.

And in the West?

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