The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

132 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGFINDING THE WAYAt other times and in other civilizations, this path of spiritualtransformation was confined to a relatively select numberof people; now, however, a large proportion of the humanrace must seek the path of wisdom if the world is to be preservedfrom the internal and external dangers that threaten it.In this time of violence and disintegration, spiritual vision isnot an elitist luxury but vital to our survival.To follow the path of wisdom has never been more urgentor more difficult. Our society is dedicated almost entirely tothe celebration of ego, with all its sad fantasies about successand power, and it celebrates those very forces of greed andignorance that are destroying the planet. It has never beenmore difficult to hear the unflattering voice of the truth, andnever more difficult, once having heard it, to follow it: becausethere is nothing in the world around us that supports ourchoice, and the entire society in which we live seems tonegate every idea of sacredness or eternal meaning. So at thetime of our most acute danger, when our very future is indoubt, we as human beings find ourselves at our most bewildered,and trapped in a nightmare of our own creation.Yet there is one significant source of hope in this tragic situation,and that is that the spiritual teachings of all the great mysticaltraditions are still available. Unfortunately, however, thereare very few masters to embody them, and an almost total lackof discrimination in those searching for the truth. The West hasbecome a heaven for spiritual charlatans. In the case of scientists,you can verify who is genuine and who is not, becauseother scientists can check their background and test their findings.Yet in the West, without the guidelines and criteria of athriving and full-fledged wisdom culture, the authenticity of socalled"masters" is almost impossible to establish. Anyone, itseems, can parade as a master and attract a following.This was not the case in Tibet, where choosing a particularpath or teacher to follow was far safer. People coming toTibetan Buddhism for the first time often wonder why suchgreat importance is placed on lineage, on the unbroken chainof transmission from master to master. Lineage serves as a crucialsafeguard: It maintains the authenticity and purity of theteaching. People know who a master is from who his masteris. It is not a question of preserving some fossilized, ritualisticknowledge, but of transmitting from heart to heart, from mindto mind, an essential and living wisdom and its skillful andpowerful methods.

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