To preserve the integrity of the tradition, we have to distinguish between what is central to that integrity and what is peripheral. We have to discern between what elements are vital for the survival of dharma practice and what are alien cultural artefacts that might obstruct that survival.
Each time the dharma moved into a different civilization or historical period, it faced a twofold challenge: to maintain its integrity as an internally coherent tradition, and to express its vision in a way that responded to the needs of the new situation.
In varying degrees, the authority of the dharma was replaced by the authority of the guru, who came, in some traditions, to assume the role of the Buddha himself.
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