Comments on “The Dark Age and Buddhism’s future”

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Appreciation and Passing Thought

T Stevenson 2023-09-16

I really appreciate this blog, because it essentially summarizes much of my spiritual outlook. I formally practice Zen, but I have a deep fondness for Vajrayana and hope to deepen my understanding and pursuit of tantra in a parallel manner as time goes on.

One thought I do have, however, is on the difference between Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism. Obviously Tibetan Buddhism is a part, a derivative, of Vajrayana, but it is not the entirety of Vajrayana and Tibet does not own Vajrayana. I think a lot of resistance to our thinking comes from a desire to maintain indigenous culture and spirituality in the Tibetan tradition - we don’t want westerners appropriating and recreating “Tibetan” Buddhism according to their personal spiritual and philosophical proclivities. But we could develop distinct Vajrayana lineages in the west, potentially branching off from Tibetan lineages but explicitly reframed as fundamentally new interpretations distinct from traditional Tibetan understanding (say, western traditions branching from each of the 4 schools, with reinterpretations of myths and animus beliefs).

I think there have been a few attempts at this approach - like Diamond Way - but they tend to be marred by cultic behavior, sectarianism, western new age BS, and the general scandals and superficialities that tend to taint deliberate western reinterpretations of spiritual traditions. It might be useful for it evolve similar to western Zen, but retaining its myth, spirituality and symbology (western Zen is often so secularized and serious it can feel alienated from its spiritual and cultural roots). I think this could have organically happened if Chogyam Trungpa hadn’t gone so far off the rails in the 60s and 70s and made the horrid mistake of transmitting his authority to Osel Tendzin.

Fundamentally new interpretations

David Chapman 2023-09-16

Hi, thanks for the comment! I find myself in strong agreement with everything you say.

Relevant, in case you haven’t seen it, is my page “Vajrayana is not Tibetan Buddhism (and vice versa).”

Thank you!

T Stevenson 2023-09-16

I hadn’t seen that article! Thank you so much!

I can tell this whole site is going to be a great resource to help me articulate to my wife and friends a great deal of my spiritual outlook. It is very difficult to put into words for your typical western atheist or agnostic who’s only familiar with Christianity - a fundamentally different way of relating to and experiencing the world, the self and one another.

Thank you for all your work and elucidation!

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