if anything, vajrayana is about personal responsibility.
So is life.
what makes this difficult for western converts is that we give all of our responsibility away.
I don't agree with this sentiment at all.
we project all sorts of qualities and expectations from our own side that are completely unrelated to the lama's qualities and capabilities.
This is a two way street -- there is a cultural lack of comprehension on both sides.
we have some unnatural notion that the spiritual work is done from the side of the lama and not our own side.
No one I know has this idea.
...we come away from teachings high on some sort of contact lama buzz and reach for that again and again.
When there is such dependencies, it is not as if westerners are not being encouraged to become empowerment junkies.
if we thought about it rationally we'd know this is madness, but there is so much psychological need. it's really hard to look beneath that veneer to even begin to examine the lama in a traditional way, and having built up all of this psychological projection around the lama, it's really difficult, even painful, to address a problem and walk away. given all this, i think it's even more imperative to put the burden on responsibility of examining the lama entirely on the student. why? because there's a little bit of personal introspection and self-work we need to do to get to that point.
Well, this is all great, but in Vajrayāna students are disempowered in all kinds of direct and indirect fashions which makes examining teachers for proper qualities damn near impossible. Students are put in the catch-22 of comitting to lamas they do not know or missing out entirely because they do not trust the situation. For the most part, the cultural hierarchies that Tibetan Buddhism is embedded within make it virtually impossible to for students, especially beginning students to have a clear picture of their teachers. These memes and hierarchies are also exploited by western teachers. And this is not merely a problem in Vajrayāna, this is also a problem in Zen. (In Theravada it is a little more clear since lay teachers are compartively rare and monastic precepts are highly valued.) The of course there is the taboo again criticizing any lama from whom one has received transmission no matter how egregious their behavior has been. This taboo is actually more enforced by students than lamas. So there is enormous peer pressure within dysfunctional groups to regard the pathological behavior of Dipshit Rinpoche, etc., as "awakened activity".
So frankly, while I can appreciate the caveat emptor approach, we are too quick to divorce gurus from their own personal responsibilty to their students when we insist it is all on the student.
one has to come to some sense of personal responsibility for one's health and healing and have oriented their minds somewhat towards changing one's life.
As a physician of Tibetan Medicine myself I can appreciate your sentiment, but ultimately, if I am not correctly treating the patient, that does not lie at the feet of the patient, that is my fault. So we professionals don't really get a pass the same way privileged gurus do when they do serve the best interests of their patients.