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Buddhadharma : Summer 2011
buddhadharma| 45 |winter 2005 Weber has an important point to make, I do not think we have to subscribe to his rather extreme view. Nor do I think a “nec- essary evil” explanation is accurate either. Where Buddhist institutions serve the individual path of the practitioner, they have a positive role to play. Remember that the transmission lineage is dependent for its validity on its connection to the primordial lineage and its effectiveness in opening a gate to the unborn. Similarly, the legitimacy of the institutional lineage depends on its fidelity to the transmission and primordial lineages. At its best, the organizational lineage provides a protective container for the transmission lineages and the primordial lineage. It establishes a container within which the authentic, living lineages of practice and realization can flourish. It encourages people’s meditation practice, affirms the unique revelations that arise in practice, and encourages the flowering of the individual creativity of its practitioners. Of course, in Buddhism, as in the other world religions, one sometimes finds that institutions get between the practitioner and the experience of the awakened state. In that case, an in- stitution or organizational lineage is no longer performing its intended function. It has succumbed to institutional habits and has overlaid the unbounded nature of the primordial lineage with bureaucracy and hierarchy. It has, at that point, lost the mandate of the primordial lineage and lost its own authenticity and validity. Those who function as institutional lineage holders are in a delicate position. They must be beyond territoriality and have as their only motivation the dissemination of the dharma. Their priority must be the integrity and effectiveness of the journey of each member of the organization they oversee. This is a tall order for anyone at the head of an organization, and there have been many cases in the history of Buddhism where practitioners in this role saw the lay of the land and simply walked away from the job. And there have been cases of others who simply functioned as C.E.O.’s of their organization, losing touch with the genuine primordial and transmission lineages. When the primordial lineage, beyond all partiality, is not held, then one’s attempt to hold the transmission or institution- al lineages ultimately will be flawed. When a person holds the primordial lineage, on the other hand, then he or she can be a genuine holder of the transmission lineage, and if need be, of the institutional lineage. However, holding the primordial lineage almost requires that one constantly scrutinize and, where neces- sary, critique the ambitions, agendas, and activities of Buddhist institutions and organizations. In this respect, Trungpa Rinpoche once remarked, “Throughout the lineage of the practicing tradi- tion, everyone in the lineage has been extremely sarcastic and critical of the current scenes taking place around them. They were extremely critical in the name of the dharma.” Historically speaking, this kind of vigilance has most often emerged from the authentic devotion, practice, and realization of serious meditators. Such critiques are the spontaneous out- flow, the natural flowering, of a life lived in the primordial nature. Historically, it has often been from such institutionally peripheral sources that the truly fresh and vigorous creativity of Buddhism has continued to unfold in the world. hIRoshIsuGImoto/CouRtesyofsonnAbendGAlleRy