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Buddhadharma : Winter 2018
56 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY LAMA ROD OWENS: The conversation we’re unwilling to have on a national level is that some of the teachers we love and admire and follow aren’t actually ready to be teachers yet; there’s a level of emotional immaturity that puts many people at risk. I want there to be more accountability within sanghas, but I also want us, as teach- ers, as advanced practitioners, to hold each other more accountable. And I want sanghas themselves to have more accountability structures, so we’re helping sangha members support each other. If their relationship to the primary teacher is something that they’re unsure about, there should be an open, honest dialogue about what’s happen- ing. This kind of supported and transparent sangha culture is the antithesis of how certain sanghas and teachers main- tain power and hierarchy. BUDDHADHARMA: In his book Turning Confusion into Clarity, Mingyur Rinpoche says, “The guru is both the most important and the most misunderstood aspect of Vajrayana.” What are some of the common misconceptions about the role of the guru? LAMA RIGZIN DROLMA: The guru–student relationship is meant to be about opening up to the possibility of awak- ening; I think that’s not always understood. It’s also com- plicated because, in order to ripen, we do need different aspects of relationship. For example, many of us need our teacher to function in a way that our parents didn’t, to see us in ways that our own parents didn’t see us. That can be an important part of growth. The principle of seeing your teacher as the Buddha is critical, but it also comes with the problem of idealization. This is where a lot of people get stuck. People get very excited. I have done this too, and there is a joy and inspira- tion in it, but it also very easily hardens into a view that