November 17, 2010

Rebel Buddha—Teacher as CEO

During the month of November, the Tricycle Book Club is discussing Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche's Rebel Buddha! Look for daily excerpts from the book on the Tricycle Blog to inspire the conversation, which is happening here.

From Rebel Buddha:

"The spiritual friend is a person with whom you can have a relationship as a friend rather than as an authority figure, boss, or CEO of your organization. You can discuss your practice and share your experiences on the path with your friend, and he or she can give you practical advice, guidance, and support for your journey. We need to understand this, because frankly we're missing this element today in many of our Tibetan Buddhist organizations. Especially in the West, we need to go back to the original root meaning of "spiritual friend" and bring about that quality.

If we look at the development of many of our Buddhist organizations in the West, we can see that they're structured and function much like corporations. In some sense, this model offers many advantages in terms of efficiency, and it's even necessary in terms of relating to legal and financial regulations. The days of mom-and-pop Buddhism are mostly behind us. In many cases, this means that the head, or president, of the organization will be the teacher. In earlier times, the main teacher would be the abbott of the monastery, a parallel situation. So in addition to spiritual instruction, there is business to be taken care of, projects to be managed, conferences to convene, directors to be appointed, and volunteers to be managed. It's fertile ground for the practice of mindfulness and compassion, to be sure, but this approach also has pitfalls that we need to avoid.

Is your teach now your boss, who sets deadlines for turning out reports and budgets, or is your teacher now an employee of the organization, who must generate revenue through programs, embark on goodwill tours, and answer to the board of directors? If we regard our spiritual friend as some kind of chief executive officer, then all we need to do is make sure he or she is doing that job. Otherwise, if the organization is losing money or market share, or we're not getting enlightened, then we can fire him or her, like booting a CEO out of an underperforming company. In this scenario, the pedestal has become an executive chair, and all conversations become status reports or negotiations. Where is the quality of friendship in all this?"

Have something to say? Visit the Tricycle Community Book Club to discuss Rebel Buddha!

and Shambhala Publications have joined together to offer Ponlop Rinpoche’s new book, Rebel Buddha, to all Tricycle Community members during the month of November at a 20% discount with free shipping, plus free e-book for instant download.

Here’s how:

  • Join the Tricycle Community at any member level. If you are already a Tricycle Community Member, you are pre-qualified for this special offer.
  • Purchase Rebel Buddha online via the Tricycle site, and receive a 20% discount plus free shipping.
  • Download your free e-book and start reading immediately.

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Click here to take advantage of this special offer.

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