Why was the presentation of Buddha’s teachings changed?

Sometimes if we mix ordinary view and profound Dharma, then it causes people more confusion. For we Buddhists the confusion is enough! It is everywhere, big confusion in Buddhist people beforehand because previously our Buddhist texts were very profound and modern people found them very difficult to understand.

Buddhist Teachers are also giving teachings following the tradition of their own country, which is very difficult for other people in other countries to understand. In this way, huge confusion.

So now our responsibility, the main job of Kadampa Buddhist Teachers, is to disappear the confusion of the people throughout the world. We never cause confusion to increase. Therefore, you need certain skillful methods.

Even for myself, at the very beginning it was very difficult. If I taught according to Tibetan tradition, Western people found it very difficult to accept or understand—there was not much meaning for them. If I taught my own presentation, a different design, I worried because I need to follow my lineage Guru’s tradition. So big problem, you know.

Every Teacher who came from Asian countries, from eastern countries, had this problem. But I solved my problem when I had my last meeting with my Spiritual Guide, Trijang Rinpoche.

At that time, he was nearly passed away, so I went to India to see him. I had a very good opportunity to have a long meeting. I made him a long life ritual prayer called “ten shu,” with an assembly of monks, and then I had a long meeting.

During this, I asked many questions about my own problem, because if I taught according to Tibetan tradition, Western people found it difficult to accept because they are not like Tibetan people. They are educated people who went through school and university or college. They have learned a lot, they are knowledgeable people. They will not follow blind faith. They immediately check how it is true or not. They immediately want practical things.

So if we follow our own tradition, it is very difficult. So now I gave many lists from Sutra and Tantra: “Now what do we do with this?”

He said clearly, “Don’t worry! My students are Tibetan people. Your students are people from other countries. Of course you teach with different methods. Of course your presentation of how to present Dharma is necessarily going to be different than mine because people’s characteristics, nature, capacity, wishes, and society are different.”

He said this and I was so happy that he gave me permission. He said: “You don’t worry. Buddha himself said that the way of presenting Buddhadharma should be like the way a doctor gives medicine to different people. The doctor never gives one medicine to everybody, every sick person. Different sick people receive different medicine because they are not the same way. Similarly, the way of presenting Dharma is going to be different according to different people.”

He told me this example. So then I realized he gave me permission to make a new design for the people of the modern world. So we did, and it works very well! (Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, A New Presentation of Dharma, Summer Festival 2004)