The Authoritative Rod Dreher
I am in the early stages of writing a book on Buddhism in the West. On the advice of several professors, I have been plodding through such weighty tomes as Rick Fields’ How the Swans Came to the Lake and Lawrence Sutin’s All is Change in order to gain a general picture of William Jones and the Asiatic Society, the Theosophic movement, the influence of Zen Buddhism on beat poetry, and the Vajrayana path as taught by Trungpa Rinpoche.
But why go digging through library archives, when I can simply pop open my laptop and read the blog of Rod Dreher? Here is a sample of the kind of learned reflections I have come to expect from that consummate Orientalist:
Some time ago, I read something, can’t remember where, about Tibetan Buddhism. The author may have been a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism; I just don’t recall. Anyway, the writer said that in the West, we have a completely romanticized view of Tibetan Buddhism, one that ignores the dark and violent side of the tradition. If memory serves, this writer wasn’t putting Tibetan Buddhism down, only saying that there’s a lot more to it than people in the West think, and that if they saw the entire thing, instead of only what they wanted to see, they’d be a lot more troubled by it. I’m in no position to say whether this person was right or wrong, but I do know that all of us have a tendency toward confirmation bias, and toward filtering out information that challenges narratives we prefer to believe. That’s human nature.