Advice for Monks and Nuns

By Lama Thubten Yeshe, By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
various locations (Archive #233)

In these talks, Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche explain the great benefits of practicing Dharma as an ordained person, the purpose of the monastic community, and much more. The necessity for the lay community to support the Sangha is also made clear, and not only monks and nuns but lay practitioners, too, will gain much by reading this booklet.

This title is out of stock but you can find links here to audiobook, ebook and print-on-demand versions.

Chapter Three: The Advantages of Monastic Life (Part II) - Lama Yeshe

It is important that we consider how to present Dharma in the West. You can’t just say, “Oh, this director invited me to come and give teachings. Okay, I’ll just go.” This has happened many times, but I’m not sure that it’s a suitable situation. Therefore, I wanted to say a little about education at Nalanda Monastery.

What is the purpose of Nalanda Monastery? It is a center for education, for Buddhist studies. Ideally, this means that eventually all the Sangha will become teachers. Come on! I want you to understand this. Now, being a teacher doesn’t mean only being an intellectual words teacher. There are many different ways in which you can teach. Generally, however, I expect everybody to be well educated. There is a great demand for teachers in our centers; we are very short of teachers. Are you aware of this or not? Everybody should know this. Then you will put more energy into trying to benefit others instead of being lazy. The world’s need for Dharma teachers is so great.

The way this should work is that centers that need teachers should send their requests to the monastery, and the abbot and gekö should decide who goes out to teach. That’s a good idea; it prevents people from doing their own individual trips. Of course, the center director can specify the qualifications or even the person required—“He or she is best for us because of the way we communicate”—something like that. For people to do their own trip is not so good. Also, this is not some kind of competition; we are just trying to be as beneficial as possible.

I feel sometimes that Western teachers are more suitable for Western beginners. They are oriented to the culture and may be more acceptable to new students: “This is just what I need; I can use this.” We should encourage Westerners to do this kind of thing. Of course, Tibetan lamas can still come to give advanced teachings, but there are limitations to this as well. Therefore, we should hurry to educate ourselves well so that we can be of maximum benefit to others.

In our Sangha community, many students are already experienced in giving lamrim courses. They have been teaching, and I’m very happy about that. They are growing. Some Sangha members have intuitively understood that they should teach; I didn’t have to push them. But others don’t understand that they should teach and they worry about it: “Lama said everybody has to teach. How could I possibly become a teacher?” Don’t worry. Whatever your ability, just do as much as you can with your life. To my way of thinking, that’s good enough. You don’t necessarily have to push yourself to accumulate intellectual knowledge. We have room for people to serve the Buddhadharma in many different ways.

In the future, if we organize the monastery situation well, benefiting others through your education will also provide your bread and butter. Do not feel that just because you cannot take care of yourself at the moment, life as a Tibetan Buddhist monk or nun means that you’ll always be in economic trouble. That kind of mind arises sometimes; it’s not so good. It’s quite right to think about the situation, but many people in the world need teachers, and if you are well educated, they will support you. If a center applies for a Sangha member to come and teach, the center should take care of that person’s airfare, food, clothing, and stipend. Sangha should have a kind of big view. If you educate yourself well and serve others, others will take care of you; it’s natural. You offer something, you are of benefit to others, others will benefit you. That’s the cyclic nature of samsara.

You people have to figure out for yourselves a constructive approach to all this. I am concerned for your welfare, but since I’m too ignorant to take care of even myself, how could I possibly know what’s best for your futures?

Of course, we can quote Shakyamuni Buddha, where in one sutra he guaranteed that even if the amount of arable land on earth had been reduced to the size of a fingernail, as long as his Sangha practiced purely, they would never go hungry. Is that true or not? Come on! It can’t be true! Well, I don’t know if Lord Buddha was correct there or not. I have some doubt as to whether those words were true or not, because in my observation, many Sangha who have been practicing and studying sincerely have encountered trouble in getting the means of living, such as food, clothing, and benefactors. Are there some who have experienced this kind of trouble? Well, in Western culture there’s no custom of benefacting monks and nuns; it’s difficult. These days, even in Tibetan culture it’s difficult. It used to be that Tibetan monks and nuns had it pretty easy like that, but not any longer.

I don’t think we should go bananas worrying over whether or not someone will take care of us. These days all my Sangha are intelligent, they know what’s going on in the world, they are educated to a certain extent…at least to primary school level! So who worries? You people are capable of taking care of yourselves. We don’t need two or three of everything, but what we do need is to take care of our bodies and not get sick. You should take care of your body. You don’t need to try to lead an ascetic life, thinking you’re a great meditator, thereby damaging your nervous system. On the one hand, you talk about your precious human rebirth, on the other, you destroy your body. That’s stupid.

I am the servant of others

Monks and nuns should be practical in taking care of themselves, socially acceptable, and work for the benefit of the majority. If the Sangha cannot work for the benefit of others, then what’s it all about? Honestly, you have to have the motivation, “I am the servant of others.” Perhaps, instead of om mani padme hum, that should be our mantra. We should repeat over and over, “I am the servant of others, I am the servant of others.” I think I’m going to make this the monks’ and nuns’ mantra, make them repeat it a million times; make them do the retreat of this mantra, “I am the servant of others.”

Sometimes monks and nuns have wrong conceptions. They consider that to be holy you have to live alone, leading an ascetic life. That’s not necessarily so; we don’t need to do that. Some people have this fantasy that by becoming a Tibetan monk or nun they have become some kind of great yogi. What makes a great yogi is dedication to others. Without dedication to others, there’s no way for you to become a great yogi or yogini. It’s impossible.

Maybe you think that serving others is impractical, that it doesn’t work. It works, it works. There is less pain in your mind. If somebody asks you for a cup of tea, for some help, instead of pain, anger, and irritation, you feel bliss. If you get angry when someone asks for your help, it shows you have no dedication.

You should be practical. Sometimes lay people criticize monks and nuns because they think they’re hopeless—they come home, eat and drink, but don’t do anything to help. They don’t even wash their own dishes; they leave them for others. They space out, say a few words about Dharma, blah, blah. Lay people don’t understand. That is Western culture. I tell you, there is a big difference between the way Westerners look at Dharma and the way Eastern people do. Your parents don’t accept what you’re doing because they think you’re hopeless, stupid, not taking care of your life. That’s what they worry about. Your parents love you. They want you to be practical, to take care of yourself. Have you heard lay people criticize the Sangha? I have. They’re right, up to a point. Don’t think that we’re always right and lay people are always wrong.

Buddhadharma is practical, organic; it is something we can put into effect, here and now. Sometimes people have the misconception, “Ah, enlightenment is my goal,” looking up into the sky with their hands folded at their hearts. “Up there is my husband, that is my Buddha, that is my Dharma, that is my Sangha. I don’t care about anything down here.” I call that fanaticism; their feet aren’t on the ground. Be practical, okay? Fanaticism is ego, so arrogant, unreasonable, intangible; such people are simply dreaming. Perhaps it’s because in Tibetan Buddhism we say, For the sake of all mother sentient beings I should quickly become Buddha, therefore I’m going to practice…some sadhana or other. Maybe this sadhana way of thinking is a Western misunderstanding. I don’t know. Perhaps Mahayana Buddhism produces spaced out sentient beings instead of constructive organic flowers…or perhaps I’m being too extreme?

We should be aware of what lay people think. But I do understand that it can sometimes be a little paralyzing for a monk or nun to live in a community where the majority are lay people. You are the only one; you feel insignificant. You try to fulfill your Sangha obligations, but you are nobody. You try to compromise with the lay community, but that doesn’t work either. I do understand. I don’t want my Sangha to be put into that kind of situation, but environmental and economic realities sometimes force you into it. With Nalanda, we finally have an opportunity to live away from such situations, so now, at least, you won’t be able to blame the conditions for your difficulties. A monastic environment is extremely important.

Sometimes I get the impression that some of my Sangha think they won’t be able to keep their vows if they get a job; that if they work, they will become disasters as monks or nuns. That is a completely wrong attitude; it shows they are suffocated by ignorance. Not only are we human beings, but Lord Buddha has also given us method and wisdom. We should somehow be able to figure out how to put work and keeping our ordination together so that we avoid that suffocating alternative. Many students have given me this impression. I don’t know if it’s a true picture or not.

Monasteries exist in the West. How do they do it? Those monks and nuns are human; they eat, they sleep, they work. That is a true picture. So why don’t we follow their example? Perhaps those Christian monks and nuns who work and still manage to keep their ordinations are more capable than we Buddhists. We should be ashamed of ourselves! Why don’t you all become Catholic monks and nuns? Then you’d have no problems. I’m joking!

Anyway, what I am saying is that I want you to use your wisdom. I cannot tell you what to do. I do trust you to use your method and wisdom to come up with some way of establishing a Western monastery where we can both take care of ourselves materially and do our duty according to the vinaya. Can you motivate yourselves to accomplish this? I want you to generate a strong motivation, otherwise, we won’t make it. There are too many obstacles, too many hurdles. I expect mistakes to be made. Even in bringing Dharma to Tibet, many bodhisattvas were killed protecting their ordination. Do you know the history of Buddhism coming to Tibet? They were actually killed because they would not break their vows.

If you compare your situation to that when Dharma came to Tibet, you will see how lucky you are. You have much better facilities and education and far easier lives than they did back then. You people are incredibly lucky. But I still want each one of you to be very strongly motivated at a personal level: “I myself (not we, but I) am responsible for bringing Dharma to the West. I’ve understood that Lord Buddha’s wisdom is so powerful, it has brought me great satisfaction, and the world needs this more than anything else.”

That doesn’t mean that you change completely overnight and tomorrow walk around like some crazy evangelist. Just be relaxed, but at the same time dedicated. Then you’ll be happy, no matter what sort of difficult situation you find yourself in—happy because you’re serving others. If you do not have dedication, every situation is painful for you because the fundamental human problem is the self-cherishing thought, not wanting to share anything with others, which is the very opposite of dedication. The dedicated attitude makes everybody brothers and sisters. Without it, others become thorns in your flesh; they hurt you, they hassle you, especially if you are living together with many other people. You feel others are a hassle, the place is so crowded, it’s like a concentration camp, Lama Yeshe is like a dictator, he comes around in the mornings, saying do this and do that…. I am sure some of you might have had thoughts like this.

If you have a dedicated attitude, even should people accuse you of something or give you a hard time, it actually helps; it truly helps you. Personally, I really believe that we humans need to go through some hardships in order to develop understanding. If you’re always going around spaced out and everything’s too easy, you’ll never learn. I learned only because Mao Tse Tung put me into such a learning situation. Otherwise, I was pretty easy-going. As long as my parents were giving me everything, my uncle was giving me everything, I never learned a thing. Later, I checked back to see if I’d learned any Dharma at that time. I hadn’t; I was just full of intellectual word games. Mao made me face real life. That time I learned a lot.

Gratitude for Sangha

That’s why I want you to be dedicated, but at the same time, happy. I don’t understand why you’re not happy. Being with each other, Sangha together, is such a warm, close feeling. I’m not a highly educated man, I’m not a highly realized person, but I feel so grateful just for the existence of other Sangha. We give each other strength. You have to understand, just by existing, you’re helping each other.

It seems that some of you don’t understand this. In other words, perhaps you don’t understand the value of Buddhadharma. Those who don’t feel that the Sangha community is so wonderful and that its members help each other don’t understand Buddhadharma; they don’t understand what is Dharma and what is not Dharma. Especially at times like this, when many monks and nuns have gathered together, you should recognize and respect them as actual Sangha. Perhaps you can’t respect each individual, “He is Sangha; she is Sangha,” and take refuge, but according to the vinaya you absolutely must respect the Sangha community as the Sangha object of refuge. When you received vinaya teachings from Tara Tulku in Bodhgaya recently, I’m sure he told you that four monks or nuns together are Sangha, didn’t he? Well, don’t just leave it at that. Inside your heart you should have the recognition “That is the Sangha.” Then you will feel respect.

I feel that you are very fortunate just to have met other people who are at least trying to live in the 36 precepts of novice ordination. It’s unbelievable. In the world today, it’s so rare. Do you think those brothers and sisters trying to keep the 36 vows are rare or not? Yes; they’re rare. And if you understand the spiritual significance of this, you’ll understand how valuable they are. I want you to understand: you are my brothers, you are my sisters, you are my husband, you are my wife, you are my dollars, you are my precious possessions, you are my everything! Everybody understands the value of those things, don’t they? Well, each one of you is more valuable than all of those, more rare and precious than a million dollars. I feel I am so rich! It’s true; I’m not joking. I really believe this. You people should feel extremely fortunate just being in this kind of situation.

Look around—where on earth can you find such a situation? These days the world is becoming incredibly impure, full of garbage thoughts, superstition, and mutual hatred, so at least you people should try to feel compassion and loving kindness for one another instead of seeing each other as heavy burdens. You are the most fortunate people in the world.

Look at your present situation. In the morning you go to puja and they serve you tea there. As soon as that’s over, your breakfast is ready. Then you go to teachings. After that, more tea is waiting. All you have to do is practice and take care of your mind; everything is there. Incredibly fortunate. Unbelievably fortunate. So, take advantage.

If you have a negative attitude toward a group of Sangha, that’s the worst bad karma you can create, I tell you. According to what I was taught, if you think, “I hate those international Sangha,” you are creating very heavy karma. From the Buddhist point of view, criticizing the Sangha is the most negative thing you can do. How do you know, among a group of Sangha, who is not a bodhisattva, who is not an arhat? I can’t tell. Complaining, “These Western Sangha, they’re no good, they’re this, they’re that…” is one of the worst things in the world you can do. You can point at individuals and say, “Lama Yeshe’s no good,” but when a group of seventy or eighty monks and nuns come together, how can you say they’re no good? That’s the heaviest karma you can create.

Honestly, I tell you, how many people in the whole world are keeping these 36 vows? How many are even trying? It is very, very rare. Normally we say that monasteries are so good. Monasteries are empty buildings. “Monasteries are good; monastery life is good.” An empty building is not a monastery. A monastery is good because a group of people is putting incredible positive energy into living in organic purity. Without people, it’s just concrete and wood. That’s not a monastery. Monasteries produce so many learned scholars, so many saints, because the people who live there help each other. Wood doesn’t produce scholars; water doesn’t produce saints.

Therefore, we’re establishing Nalanda Monastery to produce many saints and scholars. That’s why I called it Nalanda. We can be just like the ancient Indian monastery, Nalanda, which produced such great Indian pandits as Atisha, Naropa, and Shantideva. I really feel that our own monastery can produce such saints and pandits. I think so. I don’t worry that the intellectual clarity of Buddhadharma can’t reach the Western world. Westerners can comprehend anything that Tibetans can.

Monastic robes

Let me say a few words about robes. For the past few years I’ve had the experience of traveling around the world, living with my Sangha and with students in the Dharma center communities. I feel great compassion for my monks and nuns. Why? I’ll tell you the reason. My monks and nuns try to be good human beings and keep their precepts responsibly, but when they go outside the center, people spit at them: “Oh, look at that poor man, that poor woman.” I’ve seen it with my own eyes; it’s incredible. I feel so sad. There’s nothing wrong with those Sangha; the people who spit, they’re the poor ones. Why should I put my students into that kind of situation, where in their own society they are viewed as disasters rather than with respect, where people regard them as garbage. Recognizing their profound human quality, people get ordained, but when they wear their robes, they get put down. I’m not sure it’s worth it.

You see, my understanding is that the Dharma we are bringing into the Western world should be Western Dharma, Inji Dharma, not Tibetan Dharma. Historically, Dharma never went from one culture to another without changing its external form. Internally, of course, the Dharma never changes; the essence of the Buddhadharma remains pure. But you can’t make Germans or Americans eat tsampa; their stomachs aren’t made for it. They don’t need these external things. From Western society’s point of view, people wearing robes are considered bad human beings, an insult to the rest of society.

We should be practical. I am not against your wearing robes. I wear them myself. I’d be sick if I had a negative attitude to what I wear every day. Well, I’m not sick; I’m happy with my robes. But what I’m saying is that when you are in your own country, working with and relating to people in regular society, I think it’s stubborn to insist on wearing robes when people are putting you down and calling you a bad human being. Then they criticize Buddhism: “Buddhism produces bad human beings.” That’s what they’re going to say, isn’t it? They’ll say, “Buddhism creates hippies,” because they think monks and nuns are not responsible citizens, are socially unacceptable. Then Lord Buddha gets a bad reputation; do you want to give Lord Buddha a bad reputation?

We’re serious people; we’re not joking. You people are not practicing Dharma for Lama Yeshe; that’s not the case. The Dharma you are bringing to the West is much bigger than just one person. You have to understand this. Psychologically, of course, each human being likes his or her own thing. For example, I’m a Tibetan monk; I think the Tibetan way is the best in the world; I want you to become Tibetan style. Then, when you act and look Tibetan, I’m happy, because you’re supporting me. That’s the most stupid way of thinking imaginable; it has no basis in reality.

I should be happy for you to be pizza-loving Italians; I am happy; I should be happy. A pizza-eating Italian who likes Dharma, whose mind is subdued, is incredible. And it’s a true picture of Italians. Who wants artificial Italians? Anyway, they’ll never change!

When monks and nuns are in a monastery or a Dharma center, they wear their robes; fine. But when they go out, they put on exactly the same clothes that everybody else is wearing and don’t look any different from lay people. That’s dangerous; I’m not happy about this. You should somehow signify that you’re a monk or nun so that people can recognize you as such, and so that you yourself will remember. That was Lord Buddha’s intention in having the Sangha wear robes. The clothes you wear should signify that you’re ordained, distinguish you from lay people, remind you of your obligations, and allow others to recognize you as a monk or nun.

My conclusion is that you need to wear something so that both other people will recognize you as a follower of some kind of path and so that you yourself will feel different from the laity. That will make your behavior completely different. We are not free from the influence of vibrations, so you should wear something that vibrates to show that you’re a monk or nun. That will protect you from garbage thoughts.

Therefore, I am saying that it is very, very important to change your outside appearance according to your own culture. Last year I surveyed what people at various different centers thought, and most Dharma students agreed that the Sangha needed to modify the traditional robes because in the West some people were upset by them. From my side I didn’t feel the need for change; change requires thought. But the reality is that most Western Dharma students thought the Sangha should wear something different than traditional robes. So what can you say? You mean well; you want to give a good impression. But, in fact, you upset people, so what can you do? If you’ve had the experience of wearing robes in public in the West, you’ll understand this well.

Otherwise, you’ll be thinking, “What is Lama talking about? We’re happy here. We’re so beautiful wearing our robes, I want to wear these robes, I want to wear what my guru wears, I don’t want to wear something samsaric.” However, you are from an entirely different culture. When Buddhism went from India to Tibet, the monks’ robes changed completely; there’s nothing Indian left. The same thing happened when Buddhism went to China and Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Of course, there are some similarities, but basically they are different. Why are they different? You cannot say their Dharma is bad Dharma. You cannot say that Tibetan Dharma is better, that it is better to wear Tibetan robes. That would just be an ego trip. Because climates and cultures vary, people compromise and come up with something that suits their environment.

Let’s agree that we need to consider making some changes in the robes and that slowly, slowly we’ll check out how to do that. When you are here in Dharamsala, you can wear exactly the same robes as Tibetans wear; Tibetan people will be very happy. But you are not Tibetan; don’t think you are Tibetan. You’re going to spend most of your life in the West, in your own country. Therefore, think about it.

For example, the shem-thab. Thai monks don’t wear those as do we Tibetans; they don’t wear zens, either, so what’s the big deal? The most important thing is that the robes you wear should signify, or identify, you as a monk or nun. Ultimately, of course, robes don’t mean anything.

We should experiment. We should invite some lay people to give their opinions on whether the Sangha should wear this or that. It’s good for the people to judge. If the majority doesn’t like you wearing these robes, if it makes them angry, is that profitable or not? It’s not so good if the way you dress upsets them. Lay people are very important when it comes to interacting with our monks and nuns. You can’t say that monks and nuns are everything and that lay people are nothing, so therefore we’re just going to do our own trip. You’d be wrong there. We are not beyond society. We are in society; we are linked with lay people. Lay people should also accept us. They’re not stupid. They’re concerned about Buddhadharma; they want Buddhadharma so much.

There’s a Tibetan admonition, “Do not do anything to destroy the laity’s faith and devotion in the Dharma.” Monks and nuns have to be aware of that and should not create the karma of destroying lay people’s faith in the Dharma. Lord Buddha himself taught that the Sangha should be socially acceptable. Society should feel, “Monks and nuns are so good; they are our object of refuge.” We should always remember that and act accordingly.

Let’s do a few questions and answers. Sometimes I get a bit extreme and talk nonsense, which just makes you angry. Well, I don’t want to do that, so please express anything that will be of benefit to all of us.

Q. I think hair length, especially for women, may be an even more important issue than the robes.

Lama. That’s true. I think some Sangha in the West have already started keeping their hair a little longer. We should understand why they do this rather than criticize them; we have some experience. Many nuns are working in society, some as center directors, and they’ve had to grow their hair a little in order to relate better to people they encounter. I feel that’s perfectly acceptable; don’t you? Good. It is very important that we understand each other; then there won’t be problems among us. That’s the best way. We should understand what each different country considers good behavior for monks and nuns and act accordingly, in order to benefit society.

Q. Lama, I hope that you will organize a meeting with lay people to discuss the robes.

Lama. Good idea. Lay people love Dharma, therefore, they love Sangha. They want their Sangha to have the best behavior in the world. We should feel that Sangha and lay people make up one society. Within a society there can be all kinds of different groups, but we should still feel the unity of being one family.

Q. If new-style robes were adopted, would they be the same in all Western countries?

Lama. We’d have to make a decision on an international level. When people from many different countries have agreed, then we can change. You don’t need to wear Tibetan-style robes. But of course, we can do this gradually; there’s no need for any radical changes. For example, even when we’ve changed, if some people still want to wear Tibetan robes in the monastery, okay, let them. But you have to think about what changes to make.

Q. Sometimes it’s hard for a new monk to know how to behave.

Lama. Guidance has to come from the older monks, and even though we don’t have any really old Western monks, our senior ones do have much more experience than those newly ordained. Historically, older monks have always taken responsibility to see that new ones are properly nurtured to facilitate their spiritual growth. I feel I should do more, but it’s difficult for me to get around to all the places where there are Sangha. Therefore, older monks and nuns should take responsibility for the young ones. If you go to the monasteries in south India, you’ll see the opposite to what you’d normally expect: that in making sure that they get educated and have the means of living, the older monks are almost servants to the young ones. So far we’ve not been able to do that, but we definitely should.

Q. How much contact should there be in the future between Western monks and nuns? Should we have different monasteries?

Lama. There should be separate monasteries. We already have some 50 monks and 50 nuns, so we should definitely have a broader vision. In the future we’re going to have many more; both the monks’ and the nuns’ communities are going to grow…by thousands, millions! So we have to figure out how we’re going to take care of them. If you check out why you got ordained, you can see that it’s logical that others will also become monks and nuns. As our organization grows and facilitates the spread of Dharma, as we produce more and better educated teachers, it’s only natural that there’ll be more monks and nuns. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to create conducive conditions for the future Sangha. You may have faced difficulties coming up during this early time, but we have to establish better facilities for those coming after you, separate places for monks and for nuns. Basically, the nuns are responsible for the future nuns and the monks for the future monks, but since we’re a Sangha community, we have to help each other. Nalanda Monastery in France is only the beginning. Not everybody wants to go to France. For one thing, the language is too much! So in the future, we’re going to have Nalanda Monasteries in each European country, in Australia, in all Western countries. It will happen through the power of Buddhadharma, not just because I wish it. I just let go. Don’t think Lama Yeshe wants a million monks and nuns. Who’d want all that trouble! But think about why you became monks and nuns; it’s interesting. Then you can see how in the future many others will want to do it. Therefore, we should dedicate ourselves to creating better facilities for them. Getting back to the problem of older Western monks and nuns not taking care of the younger ones, I think this is partly a result of cultural influence. In Tibet, as I mentioned before, senior monks and nuns take great care of the young ones. When I saw that the older Western Sangha didn’t do this, I went into culture shock; I didn’t understand that. It’s not that we don’t have older monks and nuns; we do. But they have no ambition to look after the new ones. What do you think about that? Let’s hear from one nun and one monk.

Q. Well, it’s not only that the older nuns don’t want to take care of the new ones; sometimes the young ones don’t want to be told what to do.

Lama. Yes, that’s possible. What about the monks?

Q. I’ve found that older monks have been helpful when I’ve asked.

Lama. Yes, that’s right. Perhaps if new monks ask older ones respectfully, they respond. We should develop good relationships with each other like that.

Q. When I was the gekö at Kopan, it was the older monks and nuns who created the most trouble, so from that point of view it was difficult to respect them.

Lama. Yes, that’s a good example. Sometimes it’s true that older monks and nuns don’t cooperate for the benefit of the group—they make incredible rationalizations based on their own individual trips. I’ve seen it myself. But I hope that the situation is changing, that older monks are becoming more concerned for the benefit of the majority than for their own trips.

Q. Sometimes the older Sangha may not realize they’re the senior ones; they might still think they’re fairly new. But when you look behind you, you can see that there are many young ones there.

Lama. That’s true; that’s a good example. That definitely happens. They still think they’re young. Anyway, I just want to emphasize again that I want the senior monks and nuns to take responsibility for ensuring that the future generations of Sangha are comfortable and well educated for their own growth and for the benefit of others.