Rinpoche on Spreading the Joyful Dharma

A close up of a bright pink flower with a blurred green background and a darker pink center.

We have to be aware of change and we have to be adaptable because our mission is really to propagate and preserve the Buddhadharma. We also have to keep the dharma, authentic dharma, alive and kicking.  At the same time, we have to think in terms of making the Buddhadharma available—not only available in terms of translating the words of the Buddha, organizing teachings, facilitating practice. Of course, that we have to do, and we are doing it. But we also have to think seriously about how to make the dharma translatable, chewable, digestible, and appetizing for the next generation.

In these pandemic times, KF has been contemplating how we can help people encounter Buddha’s wisdom, and what it means to present dharma in a joyful, relevant, and appetizing way. Rinpoche has said many times that he wants to find new ways to make the dharma understandable for modern people, without losing its authenticity.

If you read the Buddha’s teachings, there is just so much. But I think we have been really behind in translating the words of the Buddha. I’m not talking about the literal sense of translation, I’m talking about translating in the form of nuances, language, culture.

According to Buddhism, diligence is Tsön gang ge la trowa’o (བརྩོན་གང་དགེ་ལ་སྤྲོ་བའོ། [“Diligence means joy in virtuous ways.”]—the joy of practicing the dharma, the joy of getting into the dharma. I think the patrons and teachers—our generation—we have the responsibility to make it joyful for the next generation.

This joyful characteristic is sometimes overlooked in Buddhist study and practice, but it can be an integral part of the path, and one that invites the curious to come and investigate the dharma for themselves. In his teaching You Are Your Own Master, Rinpoche said:

Sometimes Buddhism is seen as some sort of harbinger of bad news, as people who talk about suffering and renunciation and don’t want to have fun. That’s not true at all. We have the idea that all Buddhists have to be ascetic, which is really not true.

The ascetic life or the simple life is for those who think that is their satisfaction. There are a lot of people who get satisfaction from a simple life. But there are also sutras where Buddha refused to ordain somebody who wanted to become a monk. He told them, “You should remain as a merchant.” So of course, Buddhism is not at all against happiness and satisfaction.

There is not a single way to approach and understand the dharma, and the joy of seeing the truth is just one aspect of what Buddhism has to offer, but we invite you to consider how we can truly help all people, especially future generations, encounter the wealth of Buddha’s wisdom.