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I find it presumptive as well, and a bit odd to hear him speaking of souls, and subtle and causal planes/energies. It's also possible his view has changed over the years, the article is from 1998. My sangha leader has met him and been on retreat with him, and really likes him. I don't so much, I just find him "pokey" and kind of boring to read.
For myself, when I met my teacher, I never considered that he was without ego or infallible. He takes his promises to his students very seriously when they take refuge vows with him, and he's very devoted to his students. I don't know anyone, though, who has super-human expectations of him. He talks about how much he misses his mother, and how his father is elderly and not well and it's hard for my teacher to be away for half the year. He discusses the issues he has with living in our world, especially in the US, and his challenges in traveling and eating and all sorts of things. He doesn't put his titles or monkhook on a pedestal, and neither does anyone else. Perhaps that is part of the issue. We want to blame the students for putting the teacher on the pedestal, but how many of those teachers put themselve there, first?
With regards simply to the "don't worry be happy" ideal, one thing I've realized is that happiness can't be a goal. At least not for me. Contentment, however, is another story. I can be content when I am sad, upset, frustrated or whatever. I cannot be happy in those states. When I've tried to make it my goal to be happy, I fail miserably and end up feeling even worse that I can't "turn that frown upside down" much of the time. But I can learn to accept and be ok with how I am feeling, even if I can't say I'm happy. Even if I happen to be worried or stressed. The second I say to myself "I'm worried right now. That's ok. What can I do?" the sensations of anxiety and inability to act lessen. Then my mind clears and I can go forward, either to let go of the worry or put something into action if possible.
I think it's great to do that kind of stuff @person! Even on long drives, they can be opportunities to see new people and places, have conversations you wouldn't have otherwise, hear new music, and share a big event with others. All good stuff!
If we try to tell someone "You can't meditate or practice mindfulness unless you understand Buddhism" you are going to lose a whole lot of people for no good reason. Any time people start slowing down, calming themselves, and looking inward, it benefits them and everyone around them. We need much more of this. It is so very helpful, even if Buddha is never mentioned. Look at all the studies about how meditation and mindfulness programs have helped children and even prisoners. This is a good thing for our world and I refuse to split hairs over its origins and the "right" way to do it. Every time a single person learns how to change their actions and reactions in the world, humanity benefits. It's so important.
Much of what we find in Buddhism was intended for Buddha's audience, which were monks. They often do not apply in the same way to householders/lay people. You do not have to give up your wife. Nor should you (at least for sure not because of Buddhism!) And you are not unnatural. Not at all. One of the most well known teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, suffered a severe stroke a few years ago, and received extensive medical treatment and rehab. The Dalai Lama is seen regularly at the Mayo Clinic in MN.
Theravadan and Tibetan schools in Buddhism are completely separate It's a lot to explain, so I wouldn't worry about the differences much at this point.
If I had to explain Buddhism in few words to someone new, I think I would tell them that it is the best way I have found to know myself so intimately. To recognize and know the inner workings of the mind and work to change it and thus how we get along in the world as a result is life changing. Try not to worry about the details of the teachings and look for the forest for the trees.
I find HHDl a little...scholarly and sometimes dense (as in information wise, not thick-headed, lol). I highly recommended 2 books to new people, which are the ones I started with. The Heart of Buddha's Teaching, by Thich Nhat Hanh, and "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche. Don't mind the Tibetan title, there is a lot of really valuable stuff in the book that has little to do with Tibetan. The stuff that does and gets confusing towards the end, you can skip if it doesn't speak to you. Both helped my understanding of Buddhism immensely. Truly grasping the 4 Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold path are are a good starting point, as they continue all of Buddha's teachings within them. Simple, but not simplistic. But still easy to get confused by, but that is why we are here.
Welcome! You have been through quite the journey, I'm glad you are here.