Tibet’s “Dark Age,” more than a thousand years ago, may be acutely relevant to the future of Buddhism. History suggests an answer to the question “can Buddhism be successful when monks are scarce or absent?”
Some prominent Western Buddhists argue that the reason Buddhism in the West is “not working” (in their opinion) is that we do not have strong monastic institutions. They suggest that Buddhism has never succeeded anywhere without monks as the core of the religion.
That is almost true—but the Tibetan Dark Age may be a revealing exception.