In this modern world, information is spread at break neck speed. No matter what our interest is, just google and you get tons of information.
Interested in Buddhism? No problem. From youtube to facebook, tons of Buddhist related information.
Different faces claiming to be Buddha reincarnate or enlightened masters; Some wearing reinvention of traditional Buddhist costume, some inventing their own religious style. They all claim to be preaching Dharma and the “real teacher”
We also have monks, nuns and lay people supposedly following well established Buddhist orders that have centuries of good track records preaching in cyberspace.
All these are for the furtherance of Buddhism. However, how do we differentiate what is real? The Buddha specifically said not to trust someone simply because they have a large followings, or simply because they are from a distinguished religious family. I interpreted the later to mean traditional monks and nuns that are disciples of acclaimed enlightened masters or from well establsihed buddhist traditions/orders.
Simply put, their religious forefathers, masters and teachers may be enlightened, they may not be.
Each time we listen to a teaching, we should put on our thinking cap and start asking if what is being taught makes sense and will benefit us. The art of listening/reading Buddhist teaching is to be receptive with a balanced dose of critical thinking. Listening without thinking, we get brainwashed. Listening with too much skepticism we cannot absorb what is being taught.
Although everyone taking the preacher seat is claiming to preach the true teaching, I only invest my time to listen to preachers that are educated from well established Buddhist traditions.
This is because the “new found” /”new age” preachers tried too hard to reinvent or repackage themselves at the expense of twisting the meaning of Buddha’s teachings.
Therefore, when I listened to teachers from well establsihed Buddhist traditions, I just need to focus on whether their interpretation of the Buddha dharma makes sense. When in doubt, ask. (that is the golden rule)