smcj wrote:Do you know of any equivalent opportunity for practice anywhere in the world today?
In Theravada countries, as far as I know, there are places to do long-term, indefinite retreat, at least if you're a local.
Actually I think that when a Westerner gains deep realization it will be easier to tell because we know the mud puddle his lotus grew out of.
Maybe, but I doubt many western Tibetan Buddhists in the present day would ever see a non-Tibetan/Himalayan in the same light. It is a bit different in Theravada perhaps (look at how much respect there is for Ajahn Brahm).
In any case, that's a personal decision to venerate someone and entirely optional. It is illustrative though of orientalism.
Much has been said in this thread about the disappearance of the Dharma. We may be witnessing it as we speak. But it's not gone yet, and the outcome is not a foregone conclusion.
There is more Dharma available to more people than ever before in history. The fact that you can get someone like HHDL to travel with his entourage to several continents a year and do teachings for hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, is illustrative of something significant.