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Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
8 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2 0 1 3 translators can receive systematic and comprehensive training. This training process—be it in study or practice— takes many years to complete, some- times even decades, and it can require learning a foreign, and at times, highly technical language. Third, even if someone is willing to put in the time and effort needed for such an endeavor, there is virtually no financial support available for it. I have seen a significant number of young and talented translators, scholars, and teach- ers stop their training in order to focus on making a living. The common Asian tradition of funding promising sangha members so they can eventually become teachers is far from being adopted in the West. Unlike Asian lay practitioners, it appears Westerners primarily want to use their financial resources to study and practice themselves rather than sponsor someone else who could receive a more full-fledged training and be able to ben- efit many people in return. Fourth, there is the lack of emotional support for Western teachers. Even though most Westerners say they want some Western form of Buddhism, there is a widespread (though often unspo- ken) bias in favor of Tibetan teachers over Western ones. To gain at least some recognition, Western teachers usu- ally have to work harder, deliver bet- ter teachings, and have better conduct than Tibetan teachers. The unlimited authority of Tibetan teachers is often accepted without question by West- ern students, regardless of their actual qualifications. In contrast, even Western teachers with higher qualifications than some Tibetans are not readily accepted. When it comes to Western teachers, it’s not uncommon for students to think, “I know at least as much—or more— than this person.” I urge practitioners to consider the necessity, role, and benefit of Western Buddhist professionals, and to under- stand what it takes for such people to manifest and flourish. Without them, the emergence of a self-sufficient and comprehensive three-yana Buddhist lin- eage in the West seems quite unlikely.