I think Huseng, like many of us, is not fond of institutions in general. They are a very necessary development in modern Buddhism, in my opinion, but do in some ways go against the traditional notion of the wandering sramana. Along with larger organizations go a lot of politicking, people seeking their own advantage, competition and other problems. This is just part of being a big organization in general, and I don't think is specifically related to Chinese Buddhism or a particular temple at all- but to people's minds, which are under the control of karma and affliction, and the associated behaviours that brings out when we are put in a competitive situation. The best of us can use that reality to challenge our afflictions and use the power of the organization to bring maximum benefit, which is what exceptional people do.
I always keep in mind that without the organizational structure of FPMT there would have been no translator school in Dharamasala, I probably would never have learned Tibetan, and never been able to work with and serve Geshe Sonam and the centres as an interpreter. The smaller, loosely organized centres are what I am attracted to in many ways, but more limited resources mean more limited reach and opportunities.
And the ethical issues around donations I think could be said not only for the large Chinese Buddhist organizations like FGS, DDM, Chung Tai etc. But also many of the larger organizations in my tradition- such as FPMT, Tergar, Shambhala etc. Sometimes Tibetan lamas think of this but usually only in retrospect- because the needs of the large monasteries, feeding many monks and so forth, are so great that donations often come just in the nick of time to prevent disastrous organizational cosequences. But one lama did tell me for example that he feels accepting Michael Roach's money, which could have in part come from transactions involving conflict diamonds, problematic. He said there could be consequences to MR's work later on for that sort of livelihood. But this seems more of a personal thing, he did not mention the possible impact on the organizations where the money went. (And certainly it went to some great projects, whatever people want to say about MR, like having refugees digitize important portions of the Tibetan canon.
In terms of the FGS home for the aged, I cannot feel cynical at all about that. I think it is wonderful. Even if it serves a practical function of helping monks and nuns stay in the temple, it is an amazing service and touches my heart. I know I should be perfectly renounced, but I do have some level of fear for my old age (wordly concern I know). The fact is Tibetan organizations generally just don't think about offering people who devoted their whole lives to the centres and projects any sort of security in their old age. This does lead to worry. I've thought about it- will there be any space on the social housing lists when I'm old? Will I be going to food banks? Out on the street? If FGS can offer freedom from these worries to its clergy and their families that is a cut above.
Osel (who was designated as the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe and is just now returning to active FPMT involvement) made these comments in an open letter to FPMT:
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It seems like FGS is doing that.While our goal is to benefit as many living beings as possible, and while the scope of that is so vast, we must not allow that to blind us to our immediate responsibility of showing appreciation, kindness, and concern for each other and each other’s welfare within our own community. Unfortunately sometimes our rapid growth has caused a number of situations where we haven't measured up in this respect.
It is my intention to make sure that in the next phase of FPMTs growth we focus on looking after each other. Some of our teachers and students who pioneered the early days of our development are now in their 60s and 70s. While one of our priorities is education for the youth of our world today, as our organization matures, we also have to take care of those who have contributed so much and who are now reaching the stage where they require care and consideration.