Researchers at University of Wisconsin have found out that Western Buddhist Monk and a disciple of Dalai Lama, Matthieu Ricard (a molecular geneticist by training), produces the highest level of Gama waves (responsible for consciousness, attention, learning and memory) – ever produced in their recorded history.
So, hilariously, they were quick to announce that he – one who has learnt his meditation – from Dalai Lama – is the “Happiest Man in the World”. Vanity of Western world and its ignorance is unbelievable. Of course, Ricard hopefully knows better and still regards for his Guru, Dalai Lama. But there are so many Westerners who have gone to Indian and other Eastern Gurus only to come back and declare stuff (knowledge and capabilities) they possess, as if it was their own creation.
And, that brings me one of the strangest thing I have seen in the Spiritual world. Since Swami Vivekananda set foot on the US shores, its been almost 120 years. Since then, except for one or max two, I haven’t really seen a whole lot of Westerners going all the way to Realization. Instead, folks go to India (or Tibet), get the “stuff”, come back and start their school or write a best seller and they are done! After that there is no urge to go ahead.
Ricard is a good disciple I am sure and I only have high regard for who he is and his level of realization.
However, at the same time, I can bet it that there would hundreds of Monks in the Tibetan monasteries who are as good or even better out there. When he spends the time doing promotions, those folks are busy leading an uneventful life.
Yes, his role is important for Dalai Lama to promote his teaching which is essential in today’s world; but one wonders if that is what should be the goal and only role of Westerners in a Spiritual school? Writing Best-sellers, Promoting something or starting a school to teach things themselves without having really Realized it?
In their eagerness to share stuff and also look “different”, many like Ken Wilber etc, throw away all the linkages with the source from where they get it and present the whole practice and philosophy as if they just dreamt it one fine day. Some Indian writers are – for a good reason – now calling this practice as Digestion of Dharma. (read The Tiger and the Deer: Is Dharma being digested into the West? by Rajiv Malhotra)
There are many issues with this practice of digestion. One of the most important one is that the “digesting” structure is not ready nor built to handle the entire philosophy and practice in its completeness, since it is an inorganic implantation.. After all, if it was really “built” for such a process, it would have come up with the practices itself. Ricard wouldn’t have been the “First and the Happiest Man on the Planet”.
Two, it presents an incomplete practice and philosophy devoid of its upstream processes. Let me explain using a business scenario. Erstwhile Continental Airlines tried to mimic Southwest Airlines to create a low cost subsidiary, but it failed miserably. The reason was because Southwest’s processes – including the flight turnaround times – are all intertwined with the corporate structure and processes. One couldn’t take simple ONE aspect – low cost – of Southwest and hope to transplant that in another structure and hope it will work. It didn’t!! Similarly, you cannot give just Yoga as taught by Yoga studios or Meditation as taught by the New Age enthusiasts, and hope to create an enlightened society. It just doesn’t happen that way. That is why in US you have this bizarre situation where people are “practicing Zen Meditation”. Zen is a lifestyle. The way you breathe, the way you walk, the way you eat, the way you talk – everything is part of the whole practice of Zen! You cannot take 20 mins practices from the day of a Zen Master and hope to be benefited by Zen! It is downright foolish. But that is what is happening in Western world where Western “Teachers” are busy using Hindu and Buddhist practices to come up with their own “short cuts” and “cocktails” to basically bastardize the entire work done by some truly great human beings!