Enchantment with Tibetan Lamas in the United States
This article explores the relationships of non-Tibetan American disciples with Tibetan spiritual teachers (lamas) in terms of theory, practice, and experiential meaning. Contrary to some previous studies, data for this article indicate that submission to the lama is not an end in itself, but rather ideally provides an opportunity for disciples to become lamas themselves. Many disciples may find personal empowerment, oriented around the theme of compassionate social action. Understanding that surrender to the spiritual teacher is only a means to a personally empowering goal clarifies our understanding of many Asian religious practices in the West.