Over many decades in China, especially during the Cultural Revolution, when the Four Olds were being destroyed, there was a lot of persecution, with opposition to religion and culture being total. But human nature is such that it needs a source of faith and hope, and, as a result, the number of followers of the Christian faith is witnessing high growth.
The number of people practising the Buddhist faith, too, is growing likewise. Especially, in the recent period, many people have been turning their attention to Tibetan Buddhism. Over the last two decades, there have been many Chinese people paying attention to Tibetan Buddhism and receiving teachings from Tibetan Lamas, Geshes, etc. Today, this number is increasing ever more.
Take the case of the seat set up by Khen Rinpoche Jigme Phuntsog. Not only were there a large number of ethnic Chinese disciples there, but it also had a flourishing academy. But it suffered unimaginable decline recently and, ultimately, even the great abbot himself passed away. This was an immensely sad development.
The Lamas and Geshes of Tibet, and other teachers and propagators of Buddhism, must all bear in mind that in this period one very important consideration to be borne in mind is that it would be a grave error to propagate and teach Buddhism for the purpose of monetary or material gains or for the purpose of living a life of luxury. Not only that, when looked at from the point of view of the karmas of merit and sin, this would amount to merchandising religion. Practitioners of religion would not act like that. In any case, concerned persons from all sides need to exercise caution.
It is possible that sometimes Lamas and religious masters will feel a sense of being important and develop an inflated ego on the basis of strong faith and hope reposed in them by believers as they make offerings and pay obeisance. Such developments are not at all good. As Drom Toenpa has said: “Even if one were held in the highest esteem by everyone/ It is better to hold oneself in subdued humility.” One should never forget this.
In my own case, too, I have constantly been keeping this in mind. Whenever people show great obeisance to me by addressing me as His Holiness, I always humble myself by earnestly recalling thus: Wherever and whomsoever I go to for whatever purpose,/ by holding myself the humblest of all,/ may I hold others, in all sincerity,/ to the highest level. I do this at all times without any relaxation of effort. You, too, should do likewise.
To speak to you about a sad aspect in our situation today, recently, in many countries such as Taiwan, America, Europe, Russia and Mongolia, there have been cases of fake Tibetan lamas and religious masters doing irreligious things. In China, too, reports have been emerging about fake Tibetan religious masters coming from Tibet. All this is an extremely tragic development.
What one witnesses is of well-endowed and capable religious masters remaining in meek withdrawal while there are out there fake religious masters who, devoid of all sense of shame, and brimming with greed and talking naked falsehood, wear the mask of religion with great audacity, carry out irreligious activities and thereby bring disrepute to the Buddhist religion and faith.
In view of this, everyone should exercise utmost care to gain purposive determination. It is especially important that the well-endowed religious masters should assume the responsibility to serve the religion and humanity.