‘What do we really want?’

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

Less than a minute

‘Unfortunately, there’s a whole cultural phenomenon now, which is going very fast, in which there’s a glamour about the Buddhist and the West and Western Buddhism and a Hollywood fascination with His Holiness [the Dalai Lama]. And it’s very easy to get very, very superficial and many superficial things. So, we just have to keep to our standards, and we can continue to work, where we are doing fine. That’s another expression of the same concern about doing a tv documentary: ‘What do we really want?’ Because this is it, this is the subtle thing. It is not so easy to express the core of what we’re trying to do in the sea of noise that exists in the West.’

Francisco Varela (1946-2001) said this, in the second part of a trilogy on the Dalai Lama’s interactions with Western scientists.

Now that the glamour starts wearing off because of the abusive and enabling conduct of Tibetan Buddhist Lamas, the harsh new light reveals the superficiality that has become the norm among numerous Western devotees and apostates alike.

It’s important to heed Varela’s warning, to avoid repeating their mistake. So, let’s keep to our own standards while doing the work of soberly assessing Tibetan Buddhists’ real legacy. The question remains: ‘What do we really want?’

Originally posted as a Tweet on December 19, 2021.

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.