Words of Wisdom 6
You Are our Own Master
Rinpoche on Engaging the Younger Generation
A lot of kids feel groundless and directionless, so this is something to do with touching your own ground, which can be something so simple, so ordinary, so not complicated.
A consistent theme in what Rinpoche has been expressing recently is how KF and our sangha can explore new ways to engage younger people and ignite an interest in Buddhist wisdom and practice. Rinpoche has spoken broadly on this topic, and this month we share his thoughts on finding new ways to communicate with young people.
We need to speak the language of teenagers, we need to learn about these 12-year-old boys and girls—what they like, what they don’t like, what they are afraid of, what are they imagining and fantasizing about. And not with some sort of missionary mind to convert them into some sect or group, but to answer their needs and wants. We need to think of other ways to reach the younger generations.
We need to make people understand and appreciate and get attracted to the dharma, to the teachings of the Buddha. And for that, we have a lot of work to do. We need to learn how to package. We need to learn how to communicate with future generations about the dharma. Because there is so much to offer. Every shloka, every stanza of the Buddha’s teachings, offers so much, and each and every one of them is relevant and beneficial.
This is something that we can deal with by bringing our awareness of interdependent reality, the dependent arising nature of our lives, and also emphasizing our inner world rather than the external world. The buddhadharma has so many things to offer.
Rinpoche inspires us to think about not just who is teaching the younger generations, but how the dharma could be taught.
We have to be aware of change and we have to adapt to it 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 also 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 how to make the dharma translatable, chewable, digestible, and appetizing—very appetizing— for the next generation.
We ask you to consider how we might reach young people where they are, and let them know that what the Buddha was expressing 2,500 years ago is still profoundly applicable today.
I don’t think we should say things like, “To be a Buddhist means to be a good human.” Nobody cares about being good. So actually, I think the Buddhist branding should be རང་ཉིད་རང་གི་མགོན་ཡིན་གྱི། །གཞན་ནི་སུ་ཞིག་མགོན་དུ་འགྱུར། ([Wylie:] rang nyid rang gi mgon yin gyi / / gzhan ni su zhig mgon du ‘gyur). This is what Buddha said: “You are your own master, no one [else] is.” (Often it’s translated literally as “You are your own guardian. Who else could be your guardian?”) Buddhadharma, the whole of 84000, is all pointing toward giving you control of yourself.
Well stated for young people
I like the teaching
Hi thank you. It is freeing to know you don’t have to be subject object to your thoughts or memories, and to be able to see the various self images that can arise, which many youth struggle with, self image, and also yes how Rinpoche has taught that the opinions are not so important, not as the mind thinks. some of that is the old social animal hierarchy thing, but human beings have it more extreme than do the other social animals with apparent hierarchies. I did see a video of Buddhist education, how a teacher and a student were together, how the girl did very well on her work, but the teacher did not over praise, he was kind and supportive. He explained that if he overdoes the praise, then what about the next day when she does not do so well, how will she feel. these kind of considerations would be so beneficial in the west where they still rely way too heavily on praise and blame and punishment and reward, in the extremes. punishment and reward feed into the brain chemistry, one gets very hooked, set up for this, and it gets extreme. Not to say that one should not learn ethics and responsibility but at the same time, to not feed into these brain chemicals, so extremely, that it may be a healthier way to live and learn, and better for the kids and everybody. I saw that video also about the masks, by the youth, “the mask is not the boss, you are the boss” how wonderful! thank you
Would you please publish Rinpoche’s whole talk, instead of copy and paste here and there and then mingled with your own comments? What you are currently doing may distort what Rinpoche’s real intent. We have more interest in what Rinpoche talks rather than what you think we should know this or that!
For several years we (e.g. Kannon Zen Sangha) have been sitting in Warsaw on the street for the climate. This month we were asked by the Youth Climate Strike to arrange a sitting for them. These are people even just twelve years old, compared to which “we” are really old. And we did it! You can see the photos.