Dagmo Kalden Dunkyi Sakya on Leadership: Honesty and Preserving Ritual and Culture

Adapted from the original feature

Dagmo-la is the first to concede that everyone has an opinion on what makes a good leader. “There are many different qualities, hence we are fortunate that there are such a wide variety of teachers for this very wide variety of students! I personally have quite strict requirements. For me, one of the main qualities I would wish for a teacher to have is of course the knowledge, but also the honesty. In our situation, when people place so much faith in the teachers and leaders, it is especially important for the teachers to be true to their word, their practice, and their own teachings.”

She elaborates: “In this day and age, when it’s easy to give an impression of being a certain way through a photograph or a social media post, I think it’s even more worrisome because one can give an impression of being something one is actually not, and hence be deceptive. Therefore, for me, honesty is key. It is a huge responsibility for a Buddhist leader to practice what they preach, but as leaders and guardians of the faith, I believe it is the only way. For this reason, I have the highest regard for those few gurus whom I have seen close-up over many years, and who have been the same whether there are people around them or not, whether there is a camera present or not, and whether they are in public or in private.”

Dagmo-la also believes that another essential quality of a Buddhist leader is a strong sense of purpose and responsibility to preserve and share the words and teachings of the Buddha, as well as preserve Buddhist practices: “Without a sense of purpose and maybe even a sense of urgency, that need, and that drive to work tirelessly and single-pointedly for the Dharma would not be strong enough.”

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