Predictions are great fun because no one can say for sure that you’re wrong. Not yet. With that freedom, I would rather err on the side of raging optimism. Buddhists know that, in whatever direction the mind is pointed, sooner or later it will go there. With that thought, I behold the future glory of Vajrayana in America.Vajrayana Buddhism, as it has come to us from Himalayan countries, will never be isolated from its foundation and context of basic Buddhist values. The idea of being separate or superior to other forms of Buddhism will be dashed by the realization that Vajrayana is those other forms. Thus, for instance, the transmutation of neurosis into wisdom that characterizes Vajrayana practices could not possibly work without the deep internal transformations brought on by the realization of selflessness and compassion that are considered the domain of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.
Our pluralistic education and exposure to global variety will help us truly appreciate the insistent Buddhist injunction to respect all spiritual approaches. We could really believe that there are 84,000 different teachings precisely suited for that many different temperaments. This is a great advantage that we in the West have. With an informed worldview, we will not only respect other paths, we will leave the intersectarian quibbling and power politics of Tibetan Buddhism far behind. Appreciation of the living lineages will grow in direct proportion to the shedding of sectarian prejudice.
The merit-based donation system of the Buddhist countries will manifest here as genuine concern that everyone have equal access to the teachings. At the same time, the logistics of Tibetan dharma centers, teachers’ tours, lectures, Buddhist conferences, and so on, wih be managed in a practical way that fits into economic realities of this culture. The excuse that Westerners only value what they pay (a lot) for will be replaced by simple arithmetic coupled with generous concern for everyone.
The glaring whiteness of the convert Buddhist groups in America will prompt us to join the search for all the causes and conditions of exclusivity (see above, for one), and we will take a proactive stance to redress it.
Our local religion of consumerism and the outstanding marketing potential of Vajrayana imagery and paraphernalia will lend itself to sacred outlook rather than jaded secularization. It will be almost impossible not to keep the Vajrayana commitment to see pute Buddha realms and Buddhas everywhere: in car commercials, on power bars, and on T-shirts tightly enwrapping the surgically correct starlets on MTV. Thus will we transmute such neurosis into wisdom!
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