Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Of Temples

Everybody is always telling me how difficult it is to build a Tibetan Buddhist temple in America. Do you think it is easier to build one in Tibet? Proportionately speaking, it seems to me that it is much more difficult to build in Tibet where there is less population, far less wealth, less sophisticated logistics infrastructure, and so forth. Indeed, after 45 years dealing with Buddhism in America, I have come to the unhappy conclusion that the only reason we do not have more temples is because American Buddhists are fundamentally tight-fisted and lazy. The prevalent attitude seems to be, "go find a Taiwanese millionaire and let them pay for the American temple." I am ashamed to think about such things, and I am ashamed to say such things, but true is true. The representative of a Tibetan Buddhist group came to me in California and asked for help in building a temple. I told her I would donate all of my earthly possessions and wealth, with the sole exception of the clothes on my back, if all the members of her group would do the same. Unfortunately, there were no takers. This does not make any sense at all. Should we wait on Taiwanese millionaires, or should we handle these issues right here and now? Take a close look at the Tibetan temple in the photograph above. Pay particular attention to the image of Buddha at the left. Notice the terrain, and then tell me if this was easier than plunking down a million U.S. dollars.

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