In the days when I was an Indian classical dancer, we were beset by doubts and anxieties about authenticity. How could we possibly practise an ancient art form in the rootless west? Were modifications to the form or the teaching method possible? Or were they anathema? If we learned one form of the dance, was it alright to go to a teacher of another form?
I was reminded of those anguished late-night debates at Joseph Goldstein’s session at King’s Place for London Insight Meditation on Sunday. Similar anxieties were raised in the questions from the packed and respectful audience. Broadly, they provided a stream of queries that fell into two camps – firstly how to live the dharma in daily life here – “How do I deal “skilfully” with a neighbour who persistently hems my car in?” – and secondly, how precise about its boundaries should western Buddhism be….