pemachophel wrote:So now my questions are:
1. Has the teaching methodology we have evolved in the West where foreign-born Rinpoches spend a weekend in a particular city only once per year (or less) and the "rank and file" hardly ever get to spend personal f2f time with their Teachers taken a wrong turn? IOW, is it really working for the majority of students?
This is an important question. I had regular face to face contact with my guru for 20+ years. He spent 40+ years in retreat over his 70 year long life and really just came out to give us teachings and then returned to retreat. I believe regular face-to-face contact is essential to developing one's character. I for one find my capacity for self-deception and hubris to be boundless. When Rinpoche was alive, he could cut through that with a single look or joke. While there is no doubt that mixing one's mind in guru yoga is very effective in developing wisdom, one can also go wildly off in the wrong direction without someone to correct you. I have met a number of students recently that have never had face to face relationships with a teacher. There is no question that they are very sincere and devoted to the path. Unfortunately, I think the results are somewhat mixed as they have had to make due with little supervision and put together their working assumptions piecemeal. There is definitely a tendency to self-satisfaction on the one hand, or almost debilitating lack of confidence on the other. While I have also encountered both of those in a close sangha with lots of access to the teacher, it was much less pronounced.
I think the current lama tours are better than nothing but hardly optimal. So much of the transmission occurs informally! My belief is that we need to have local mahasiddhas that are intimately involved with our culture and lives. Without that, I don't think Dharma will ever really take root here. Satsang is indispensible.
pemachophel wrote:2. If your answer is yes, we have, willy nilly, evolved a inapt teaching methodology, what, if anything, can be done about it?
It's hard to say how this can be remedied outside of having a couple generations of Western mahasiddhas pass on their realization to students who then also teach. I think that ChNNR's approach of focusing on what teachings can be integrated with the current Western lifestyle is an important step in the right direction, but I am not certain that large institutions are necessarily the best way forward. I can't help but think that many Tibetan lamas don't see much of a future in the West for the pure Dharma teachings outside of a very small number of diligent practitioners. I think that those of us that have benefitted from a close relationship with gurus have to reach the goal and then similarly take responsibility for a sangha of our own. Short of that, we must simply work with the current situation as honestly as possible.