Secrecy Is Credulity’s Catalyst

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

Less than a minute

Once I viewed some upper caste Tibetan Lamas as exiled monarchs and consummate players performing the ceremonial staging that goes with their traditional investiture, most of the putative ‘contradictions’ and ‘paradoxes’ in their conduct—on stage and off—vanished into thin air.

We might be enraged when a ceremonial king turns out to be abusive, hypocritical, arrogant, authoritarian, or manipulative, but we’re not surprised. We understand that performing the character of a saint well in a play doesn’t mean that the actor must be a saint him- or herself.

Also, we know that public scrutiny and direct access make it harder and harder these days to deliver credible performances. Most royal families are painfully aware that too much direct access and in-depth private exposure take away from their public performance. Secrecy is credulity’s catalyst.

The core business of elite Lamas is discoursing with their worshippers. But talking persuasively about, for instance, compassion in public requires another skill set than to always act compassionately in private. It’s like comparing sportscasters and athletes—very few excel at both.

Originally posted as a series of Tweets on October 22, 2022 (with slight edits).

About the author

Rob Hogendoorn

Investigative reporter and academic researcher Rob Hogendoorn (b. 1964) began researching the reception of Buddhism in Western society and culture in the early 1990s. His modus operandi remained the same ever since: independent, inquisitive and provocative.