lama tsewang wrote:Part of the difficulty with this thread here, for me, is that many of the people contributing here, have limited experience of the greater Buddhist world , apart from Tibetan Buddhism as practiced in the west .
The subject of this thread is Western monks and nuns. What does the greater Buddhist world have to do with it? Many of the contributors, like Indrajala and Khedrup-la have considerable experience in India and China.
Monks are supported by the populace because of the services they provide for the population. This might be rituals , profoundly informed Dharma teaching, meditation instruction , to schooling for children.
We Bhikshus are to live in dependence on the population , helping people in return for offerings.
While an implicit quid pro quo exists, this is not the ideal model. The sangha ideally begs for support from a populace that believes in the inherent benefit of supporting ascetics. While I personally share this belief, it is not widespread in this culture and even the quid pro quo here is not valued as it is not perceived to bring tangible benefit by most materialist leaning Buddhists who are not of Asian origin. Beyond that, monks are as capable of communicating profoundly delusional Dharma teaching as any one else. Ability as a teacher, understanding, accomplishment and compassion are the necessary qualities and it is not a given that a monk will have these. As has been explored on many other threads here, even a title as a lama or tulku is a guarantee that someone is a qualified master. Some very good monks may make lousy teachers. Some reprobates may make excellent teachers... one can't really assume anything.
In fact, there is lots of support for Tibetan Buddhism in this country teachers for all of these centers are being suppoprted , there is the funding. There isnt enough funding for centers here that will be able to train teachers who are local, fully , well trained western people, the funds arent being directed , to fund local things, (i believe) . , In fact , many of the centers here are branches of monasteries in Asia.
I believe strongly that for the teachings to flourish here local people have to teach and administer the Sanghas locally.
monastic centers are the best places for non monastics to do retreats or get good scholarly Dharma education , they are not merely places for a Monastic elite to live off of offerings from wealthy millionaires. Such places are the best way to make Dharma solid here . Otherwise Tibetan Buddhism will just be relying on imports from Asia with all of its attendant problems.
I am not sure there is much problem with really qualified and respected western teachers finding funding, though certainly not on the scale of the Tibetan projects in the diaspora. The problem lies more with the individual practitioners who do not have a circle of students. For that we really need to look at funding models like crowdsourcing or endowments. There is a valuable role for monks and nuns that do not teach to uphold the vows and use them as a support for their practice. It would be a shame if we just get into the same quid pro quo as there is in Asia, even if it were conceivable. We need to continue to fund really good teachers and practitioners, the other institutional aspects will follow in time.