My teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, visited Mexico in the seventies as part of his exploration of North America to determine where he would establish his Buddhist kingdom. He already knew that the USA would turn right wing and Fundamentalist. He concluded that the predominate emotional tone of the USA was aggression, of Canada was ignorance, of Mexico was passion. He decided
that Canada, ignorance, was the most fertile ground in which to plant the dharma.
Having lived in Mexico for three years now, it's clear why he made his decision not to choose
Mexico for his seat. For one thing, Mexico is unstable, hardly able to keep itself together.
The Zapatistas still run Chiapas....in the north, the government is loosing the war with the drug cartels. It feels as if Mexico is still in the throes of becoming a nation.
It's said that Buddhism thrives in a place where people are not so concerned with survival,
that it takes a certain amount of repose to even begin asking the questions that would lead one towards the Buddhist path. Those that are drawn towards Buddhism in Mexico tend to be
middle class, speak English, and be somewhat educated...so this idea seems to be true here.
But there are other forces that shape the Mexican mind that make it difficult for the dharma
to be accessible. One is history. Mexicans achieved independence only about an hundred years ago. There is much resentment still towards "El Norte" for having taken about half of Mexican territory. Despite the chaos and problems of the country, Mexicans are very nationalistic...
though they don't trust any of their leaders. It is a place of ambiguity where the truth is concerned. The gringos that were invited to teach Buddhism were later resented because they
were gringos teaching Buddhism to Mexicans. I was told by a friend that Mexicans want to do Buddhism "their own way", perhaps the way they dealt with Catholicism.... by melding it with
their indigenous culture. Buddhism is way different than anything Mexico has encountered
before....anathema to Mexican tradition.
When one takes refuge, declaring oneself to be a Buddhist, one gives up any other possible
sources of refuge....home, family, national identity, are all seen as objects of refuge that
are false....not to be relied on. These are the very things Mexicans cling to with a passion that often breaks out in violence. Mexicans have not experienced the dead end of materialism the
way many Americans have. Their bravado hides their insecurity. With such strong internal conflict, it's hard to see clearly. Like teenagers that have intelligence but no experience,
they will not allow foreigners to even suggest what they might do. Maybe they are right...
they have to do things their own way. Before Buddhism will find a friendly environment in Mexico, Mexico has some growing up to do.