His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron are working together to present the Buddhist teachings to new students that don’t come from a culture with a belief in rebirth and many of the topics included in the Buddhist path. Venerable Thubten Chodron mentions that most material assumes that students have a firm understanding of these things, and then proceed to delve into other topics.
In an interview with Mandala, she mentions:
Another challenge non-Tibetans have with the lamrim is that—as His Holiness explains—it was written for people who are already Buddhists. Lamrim texts don’t talk about why rebirth makes sense; they assume you already believe this. And the guru is Buddha? People say, “I just came to learn to meditate! What’s that all about?” So in this new series we are re-ordering some topics and approaching some of them in a different way. Regarding, for example, how to relate to a spiritual mentor, His Holiness explains that in depth for a modern audience. If people start out reading Pabongka Rinpoche’s Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, they don’t know that he was teaching Tibetans who were about to take highest yoga tantra initiations. That’s not who walks into Dharma centers! People need preparatory material. In the West, what does His Holiness usually teach? Love, compassion, and secular ethics for everyone. For Westerners who are interested in the Buddha’s teachings, he starts out with the Buddhist worldview: the nature of the mind, the two truths—conventional and ultimate—the four noble truths, and the possibility of being free from the afflictions.
Understanding these topics, people will then understand something about the basis, path, and result and will see how the lamrim meditations fit in. This project takes on the task of explaining the whole path, in some depth, to people who have a modern education. This series is not limited to Westerners. His Holiness says it’s also for young Tibetans as well as Chinese, Vietnamese, and other Asian students.