I think the Tibetan failures in having no defence against desire
This is pretty uninformed, Tibetan Buddhism has countless ways of developing renunciation and the examples of figures like Tenzin Palmo and Drikung Khandro Tara (to cite two very inspiring female practicioners) is enough to show that their renunciation is just as serious as in Theravada.
But Tibetan tantric Buddhism has such things as “guru yoga”. The Buddha’s final words were for people to be their own refuge and to stick to the teachings. But the subsequent tradition that has developed is full of all sorts of dangerous and dubiously authoritarian personality cults, obsessions with “lineages”, “transmissions” “empowerments” etc. It is not surprising that this kind of encouragement for surrendering one’s mind to a living savior leads to abuse.
I’m not interested in sectarianism so I’ll just say that all Buddhist traditions have dirty laundry and hierarchical elements, so have fun opening up all those closets if you want to and arguing about who is the best and so on.
I like it. But agree with other comments that this is not just a problem of the West. But the problem as described in the essay does seem to relate more, in my experience, to communities of Buddhist converts. I think that Ajahn Lee Dhammaro was preaching over 70 or so years ago about a student’s need to assess their teacher and understand whether they were teaching from hearsay, or teaching from direct realisation. From my memory, I think he said that it is our requirement (duty perhaps,) as practitioners to know which ones are Ariya Sangha, and which are not. When we can tell the difference, then we will have made real progress on the path. This teaching was important when Thai Buddhism was facing a crisis of decadence and rejection of meditation practice in the early to mid 20th century and seems to have been helpful to many then, as it has been to me, as a convert to Buddhism
I think we can learn something wholesome from most dhamma teachers- however much we might expect perfection from each one! The Buddha recommends associating with the teachings of a particular teacher over a period of time, and if you are reflective, you will come to know if your teacher exhibits those qualities of someone who is attained if not enlightened, however, this isn’t certainty, as the nature of humanity is to place ‘my’ teacher above all others, and in doing so assign to them attainment, which matches the devotion.
Meditation has been important, and a revival, and has been important for me to go from ‘buddhist, by birth’ to being a buddhist with actual conviction!
My understanding of Ajahn Lee’s message is that you have to try to be discerning of the teachings you adopt and teachers you associate with and that in a sense as you develop wisdom you are better able to see the wisdom in others. He stressed the importance of the Ariya Sangha just as the Buddha did when he described the characteristics of the Sangha, and included in that Sangha the pairs of beings on the path and experiencing the fruit of Sotapana, Sakadagami, Anagami and Arahant. Most of whom have already had a direct realisation of non-self. Ajahn Lee was perhaps telling his students they had to become Sotapanas at least, then they would be able to discern members of the Ariya Sangha and gravitate to them, rather than to other teachers, who can be respected, but who teach by hearsay rather than direct realisation.
My understanding is also that the Buddha stressed the importance of direct realisation even for his own abilities and compared this with others who taught from hearsay, but had not themselves experienced the state’s of mind or the heavenly realms they preached about - like people building stairways to palaces that they could not see our locate.