Q & A with Lama Thubten Yeshe
Finding a Teacher
Lama.Yeshe: Remember, we are all responsible for our own lives. Don't think that this Tibetan monk will give you enlightenment or make you powerful. It is not like that. Just think, "At this time in my life I have come into contact with this monk, and I will judge him realistically. I will not blindly accept what he says but will check up on wether it is right or wrong and debate with him."
Question: What should people in the West do when they can't find a teacher? Should those who are really searching go to the East to find one?
Lama.Yeshe: Don't worry. When the time is right, you'll meet your teacher. Buddhism doesn't believe that you can push other people: "Everybody should learn to meditate; everybody should become Buddhists." That's stupid. Pushing people is unwise. When you're ready, some kind of magnetic energy will bring you together with your teacher. About going to the East, it depends on your personal situation. Check up. The important thing is to search with wisdom and not blind faith. Sometimes, even if you go to the East, you still can't find a teacher. It takes time.
Practice of Tantra
Question: Sometimes it's hard to find a teacher. Is it dangerous to try to practice tantra, for example, without a teacher, just by reading books?
Lama Yeshe: Yes, very dangerous. Without specific instructions, you can't pick up a book on tantra and think, "Wow, what fantastic ideas. I want to practice this right now!" This kind of attitude never brings realizations. You need the guidance of an experienced teacher. Sure, the ideas are fantastic, but if you don't know the method, you can't put them into your own experience; you have to have the key. Many Buddhist books have been translated into English. They'll tell you, "Attachment is bad; don't get angry," but how do you actuallyabandon attachment and anger? The Bible, too, recommends universal love, but how do you bring universal love into your own experience? You need the key, and sometimes only a teacher can give you that.