I wrote below about something I’m calling “the buddhist syndrome.” Here’s the first excerpt from Khandro Rinpoche’s talk I’ve transcribed, not specifically about said syndrome yet, but a warning to buddhist teachers and in fact everyone of how extremely powerful words are. Teachers in particular bear a grave responsibility in this regard.
She has just told the story of growing up and having to choose between becoming a doctor (which her mother wanted her to be), or a monastic. Eventually she decided that becoming a doctor would be the harder path, but…
…today when I look back, I begin to see that it’s easier perhaps becoming a doctor [laughter]. You kill a person once, you know [laughter], say out of negligence of some kind you kill a person once … Today what I do: I can kill many, many times. Because you’re working with minds. You’re working with life. There is no actual cutting up of a person and the consciousness of the person leaving the body. But on the other hand, if you think about it from a Buddhist philosophical, teaching perspective of cause and effect, and the impact of words – what you say, what you teach … you can actually, sort of, always mess with people’s lives. So easy to do.
Such an immense responsibility … Again, if you look at it from karma’s perspective – cause and effect – or from the perspective of birth and rebirth, then you begin to realize the immense impact and influence, as well as responsibility, that you have when you relate to something that is just words, in appearance and in sound, but at the same time affects a person over lifetimes.
The goodness of the person can be influenced by that, the weakness of the person can be influenced by that. Discouragement can come from that, encouragement can come from that. Positivity can come from that, negativity can come from that. Schism and aversions and sadness and suffering, and a person never being able to overcome all the negativities. You can do that. You can influence that. You can influence a lot of goodness and we always hope that that is what is happening, but the impact of negativity that can occur is something that these days I’m beginning to really think [about], that really occurs to me more often.