Dalai Lama, 300 leaders to meet
Private session of top Buddhists to cap his U.S. tour
The faith faces major adjustments in North America. The heritage of authoritative, male teachers clashes with feminism and democracy, for example, and liberals are rankled that the Dalai Lama teaches against homosexual activity, in keeping with Buddhist tradition.
Years ago, the Tibetan branch was rocked by scandals involving such prominent leaders as Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, founder of Colorado's Naropa University, who was accused of having sex with women students.
In a dramatic (and still disputed) exercise of unified action, 21 Western Buddhist teachers met the Dalai Lama in India in 1993 and issued an open letter that lamented various teachers' "sexual misconduct with their students, abuse of alcohol and drugs, misappropriation of funds and misuse of power." The group urged believers to confront teachers and publicize behavior that violates Buddhist teachings.
"People have come through the scandal period," says historian Willis, and now it's time to contemplate long-term challenges that could be raised at Garrison.
She's particularly concerned about two of them, that westerners attracted by meditation both neglect the faith's devotional and ritual aspects and have little interest in joining monasteries, which have always supplied Buddhism's teachers.
Without these elements, she's concerned the faith may grow only shallow roots in the West.
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