Mountain Lake Considering today's media environment, it is impossible to achieve a certain level of success in any field without having detractors. What do you have to say about your critics?

Every day I get letters from people thanking me for helping them to become successful, whether because of their personal growth or because of economic rewards. I understand that a few of my former students have even become millionaires. Buddha More importantly, the vast majority of the students I have taught have become self-sufficient and confident individuals who enjoy their lives. Nevertheless, it is inevitable that, in the process of teaching an Asian religion in a Western country, many of the teachings will seem strange or unusual -- in the same way that Christianity and Judaism may seem strange and unusual to people from the Far East. Although it is regrettable, it is understandable that over the years, my teaching -- of what is perceived to be a complex and foreign-sounding religious philosophy -- has become the target for people's prejudice and religious intolerance.

HimalayasCertainly, I am aware that there have been a number of articles written about me and television shows in which I have been featured and referred to as a "cult leader." These stories -- and that is exactly what they are, stories -- have been concocted and repeated over and over again by a very small but vocal handful of persons who, for a variety of misguided reasons, have fed the media's insatiable appetite for "cult" stories. The source of their motivation ranges from what you might expect -- from the seeking of money and publicity, to those who genuinely suffer from chronic personal problems and have fixated on me as the cause of their frustrations and failures.

I don't think there is anyone in public life today who can escape the inevitable onslaught of the media. It seeks to pry into and often grossly distort aspects of one's personal and professional life. I guess it just comes with the territory. When you combine a media Snowboarding to Nirvana and Surfing the Himalayas-- bent on exploiting tabloid-type stories to boost ratings and circulation by innuendo and titillation -- with unhappy or opportunistic individuals who have nothing going for them in their own lives, you get a bitter brew.

All I can say is that these cult stories are totally untrue, are without any foundation, and trade on a deep bias against Westerners who dare to embrace an Eastern belief-system. Sometimes, I find it ironic to read stories about myself which have never occurred and are simply so absurd that they are comical. At other times, it is very painful to be so misinterpreted and vilified. And yet, maintaining balance in the face of adversity and overcoming hatred, intolerance and prejudice is precisely what my philosophy is all about -- and is what I have striven to teach throughout my adult life.

Perhaps my own struggle against the negativity created by these so-called critics, has enabled me to develop a more resilient, peaceful, inner strength which I, in turn, have attempted to communicate to others. It is one thing to teach a dynamic Oriental philosophy and religious code; it is quite another to put such a discipline to the test by Buddha successfully living it in the face of ridicule. Obviously, following my convictions has come at a personal price, but they are important enough that I have been willing to endure the abuse.

If a person is really interested in what I have to say and what I teach, rather than hearing it second- or third-hand, I suggest that they read Surfing the Himalayas or Snowboarding to Nirvana and make their own decision about the merits of my philosophy and moral code. Much of what I have taught concerning meditation and Eastern philosophy is contained in these two books -- with, I hope, more to come. In the near future, I am looking forward to graduating from the world of fiction (albeit fiction based upon my personal experiences) and write a comprehensive autobiography. Ultimately that will be the work which will embody the whole of what I have experienced and accomplished.