Celebrity Gurus ~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Some disciples treat their gurus like movie stars. They go around wearing necklaces with the guru’s photo, or they hang the guru’s picture on their wall. Some kind of fall in love with the guru, but it’s more like an infatuation, the way others fall for their therapists. It becomes very personal and can easily be mishandled.

Many Tibetan lamas — also Thai, Burmese, all kinds of Buddhist teachers — allow a kind of merchandising of their image. It’s very confusing. The extent of promotion often correlates with their level of insecurity. They have a feeling of having to sell themselves. At public events in Taiwan some Mahayana monks emerge from a lotus onstage, and thousands of fans have this kind of ecstatic experience.

It’s as if these spiritual characters are worried they will lose their relevance. Like, “If you don’t do this, someone else will take over” — as if the Dharma is a brand like Apple that needs to keep up with the market, otherwise Samsung will take over.

Printing business cards, bags, announcement banners, fliers, buttons with the lama’s face, billboards proclaiming the greatness of the teacher … aren’t there other ways to reach sentient beings who need the Buddhadharma?

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

from the book The Guru Drinks Bourbon?

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