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Dalai Lama: 'It's better for you to keep your traditions'.

Ficus_religiosaFicus_religiosa Veteran
edited April 24 in Faith & Religion

According to Danish newspaper "Kristeligt Dagblad" (Christian Daily Paper), the Dalai Lama thinks Christians and people in the West at large, should not convert to Buddhism:

"I hesitate a bit when I give lessons on Buddhism in Denmark and the West, because you have Christian traditions. It is better for you to keep your Christian traditions than change them and convert to Buddhism" -he allegedly said on a seminar about meditation.

This was in 2009, but I'm very surprised, actually. I'm not a follower of his tradition, but being such an important figurehead for Buddhism everywhere, I can't help but feel a little let down, and maybe even betrayed.

Link to article (in Danish)

Comments

  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    The first thing everyone should know about the Dalai Lama is that he is a homophobe: https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Dalai-Lama-Speaks-on-Gay-Sex-He-says-it-s-wrong-2836591.php There's also reports that he may be tied to Western intelligence agencies: https://geopolitics.co/2016/12/19/mainstream-media-confirm-dalai-lama-is-a-cia-asset/ So much for His Holiness.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    The path is not a sectarian undertaking - this is a misconception. Religions are nothing more than toolkits. Different tools, same project.

  • Ficus_religiosaFicus_religiosa Veteran
    edited April 22

    @Fosdick said:
    The path is not a sectarian undertaking - this is a misconception. Religions are nothing more than toolkits. Different tools, same project.

    I reckon the end goal is very different between religions of different origin.

    In the abrahamitic religions, the project is the same: keep God happy, live in Paradise after death.

    In sramanic/samanic religions, the project has to do with ending a cycle of rebirth or reincarnation, but the end station is very different between religions (in hinduism you become part of the great soul, in Buddhism you cease to exist).

    In germanic religions, like old norse (asatru) the project was (is?) to keep the gods happy so they will help you while you live, after which you will go to any number of places. For warriors dying in battle it could be Folkvangr or Valhalla (50/50 chance iirc), but most people just went to Hel.

    If you mean, that religions try to promote the same basic ideas, I must disagree too. The ethics of a viking, or roman, or even just a christian from the early days of christianity, is totally different from what we see today. Back then, in the early middle ages, war was the norm and everyone and his granny fought with the gods or God on his side - for glory, for conquest or to promote Christianity (which was seen as to sides of the same coin).

    Buddhism, to my knowledge, differs from all the rest on one key point especially: it was always discouraged to hurt other living beings, and it was always discouraged to make strife. Buddhism did not evolve into a more humanitarian religion on that account, it was humanitarian all along - unlike any other religion I can think of.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited April 22

    @Ficus_religiosa said:
    According to Danish newspaper "Kristeligt Dagblad" (Christian Daily Paper), the Dalai Lama thinks Christians and people in the West at large, should not convert to Buddhism:

    "I hesitate a bit when I give lessons on Buddhism in Denmark and the West, because you have Christian traditions. It is better for you to keep your Christian traditions than change them and convert to Buddhism" -he allegedly said on a seminar about meditation.

    This was in 2009, but I'm very surprised, actually. I'm not a follower of his tradition, but being such an important figurehead for Buddhism everywhere, I can't help but feel a little let down, and maybe even betrayed.

    I certainly don’t agree with him. I think the west would be better off if people converted to Buddhism en masse. However, I don’t think it should be Tibetan Buddhism or any other standard kind of Buddhism, these things come with too much cultural baggage. But the core of buddhism is very suitable to being taught in the West.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 22

    In case there's any doubt - Wearing my Moderator hat here:

    @opiumpoetry said:
    The first thing everyone should know about the Dalai Lama is that he is a homophobe

    One: The article is from 1997.
    Two: I can categorically clarify that he is nothing of the kind. There are more up-to-date articles clarifying the rationale behind his declarations.

    There's also reports that he may be tied to Western intelligence agencies:

    "May be" is a very far cry from "He definitely is".

    The Dalai Lama is well used to smear campaigns, and I would thank you to show some respect. You are posting links to references you clearly have no idea about.
    I would have a care about the territory you're treading in.

    What's your end game here?

    SuraShine
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Ficus_religiosa said:
    According to Danish newspaper "Kristeligt Dagblad" (Christian Daily Paper), the Dalai Lama thinks Christians and people in the West at large, should not convert to Buddhism:

    "I hesitate a bit when I give lessons on Buddhism in Denmark and the West, because you have Christian traditions. It is better for you to keep your Christian traditions than change them and convert to Buddhism" -he allegedly said on a seminar about meditation.

    This was in 2009, but I'm very surprised, actually. I'm not a follower of his tradition, but being such an important figurehead for Buddhism everywhere, I can't help but feel a little let down, and maybe even betrayed.

    Link to article (in Danish)

    Perhaps this article may shed some light on his actual opinion, rather than one briefly reported in a newspaper.

    SuraShine
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran
    edited April 22

    @Ficus_religiosa I reckon the end goal is very different between religions of different origin.>

    I think you are confusing the tools with the project itself. That is one of the difficulties in using artificial metaphysical constructs as tools - they are as likely to confuse as to illuminate. The end goal is a mind unassailably at peace, nothing more.

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    The Dalai Lama has advised people to seek enlightenment within their own religion ... since they were raised in that culture, it "fits" them psychologically better than a foreign religion. Also, often when we take on a foreign religion, many people do a lot of "play-acting" (that leads to ego-strenghtening and that interferes with genuine spiritual growth).

    His Holiness became friends with Thomas Merton (Merton died in the mid-60s), a Catholic Trappist monk. Merton said that learning Buddhism made him a better Christian (probably because of the compassion techniques that Buddhism has), and the Dalai Lama said that Merton showed him that Buddhism doesn't have a monopoly on spirituality. So the Dalai Lama sees the truth that all religions lead to enlightenment (if properly followed).

    I never could warm up to my culture's religion - Christianity - probably because dad was a scientist-atheist and mom had been a student of Paramhansa Yogananda after meeting him in 1930 and practiced yoga/meditation the rest of her life. But even with this upbringing, I feel a bit out-of-place when I take lessons from the Tibetan Lama who is my local teacher ... I just am not FROM the Tibetan culture, so while the techniques work, I have a hard time feeling "at home" with the entire panoply of Vajrayana. And have finally decided it doesn't matter since the techniques do work after all.

    SuraShinelobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    I can understand where the Dalai Lama is coming from...It may have something to do with him voicing his concerns about Christian missionaries travelling to Mongolia and trying to convert Mongolian Buddhists a while back...

    However, it would seem that there are 'some' Christians who are now finding Christianity lacking, no longer bringing them comfort and are beginning to see biblical stories, as just that... 'stories'...(Tis said the bible is one of the best recruitment tools for Atheism and I guess Buddhism too )

    When it comes to those Christians who are thinking of converting to Buddhism... it's a case of "If it an't broke( eg if one still finds comfort and meaning in the bible's teachings ie, it bring them peace of mind ) don't fix it" ( why shop around ? when peace & happiness can be found in the teachings of Jesus the Christ )...

    The grass is not always greener on the other side...

    SuraShinelobster
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 23

    The DL said, that he used to think Buddhism was the best path to follow, so he felt his job was to proselytize. But later he realized, that the world's religions each evolved out of a specific cultural matrix, and were best suited to the cultures that produced them. So he started recommending, that people explore the religion of their country or ethnic group's tradition.

    lobsterShoshinFosdickSuraShine
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited April 23

    Well looking at the trends it seems western society is in flux, Christianity’s hold is decreasing and nothing is taking its place. The no-religion and “there’s something but I have no idea what” groups are pretty large in this country, and increasing in size even in Catholic strongholds like Spain and Italy.

    The thing is, Christian religion is largely a work of fiction. People like Augustine of Hippo just wrote a bunch of what they liked, were declared a Doctor of the Church and their writings were taken wholesale into the dogma of the church. That’s how the doctrine of original sin was invented. Nowadays with the scientific education that a lot of people are getting at school, this kind of thinking is no longer popular.

    So for the Dalai Lama to say that it would be better for western people to look for enlightenment within the Christian religion doesn’t make much sense to me. There just isn’t enough truth in that religion, although you’d have to say that with Buddhism you also have to pick and choose.

    Ficus_religiosa
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @opiumpoetry said:
    The first thing everyone should know about the Dalai Lama is that he is a homophobe: https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Dalai-Lama-Speaks-on-Gay-Sex-He-says-it-s-wrong-2836591.php There's also reports that he may be tied to Western intelligence agencies: https://geopolitics.co/2016/12/19/mainstream-media-confirm-dalai-lama-is-a-cia-asset/ So much for His Holiness.

    NKT Alert! hehe :)

  • @Fosdick said:

    @Ficus_religiosa I reckon the end goal is very different between religions of different origin.>

    I think you are confusing the tools with the project itself. That is one of the difficulties in using artificial metaphysical constructs as tools - they are as likely to confuse as to illuminate. The end goal is a mind unassailably at peace, nothing more.

    That is not the goal in Christianity, Islam, Judaism or the polytheistic antique religions, to name a few. Many christians, who discover buddhism, and either converts or stays christian, would like to make equals of the religions to ease their socially inherited bad consciousness of having to reject the teachings of christianity. That is ok, of course. Each to his own. But when we have a friendly discussion like this, I will oppose such a view. Buddhism and christianity - and most middle-eastern and european religions, old or new - are fundamentally different. Buddhism shares values, goals and concepts with other sramanic belief-systems, though.
    Christianity, just for sake of the example, never had anything remotely similar to The Noble Eight-Fold Path or the Precepts. The Ten Commandments aren't even explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Nibbana is almost the exact opposite of everlasting life in a paradise. I'm sorry, but I don't buy into it

  • Ficus_religiosaFicus_religiosa Veteran
    edited April 23

    @Shoshin said:
    I can understand where the Dalai Lama is coming from...It may have something to do with him voicing his concerns about Christian missionaries travelling to Mongolia and trying to convert Mongolian Buddhists a while back...

    However, it would seem that there are 'some' Christians who are now finding Christianity lacking, no longer bringing them comfort and are beginning to see biblical stories, as just that... 'stories'...(Tis said the bible is one of the best recruitment tools for Atheism and I guess Buddhism too )

    When it comes to those Christians who are thinking of converting to Buddhism... it's a case of "If it an't broke( eg if one still finds comfort and meaning in the bible's teachings ie, it bring them peace of mind ) don't fix it" ( why shop around ? when peace & happiness can be found in the teachings of Jesus the Christ )...

    The grass is not always greener on the other side...

    @Dakini said:
    The DL said, that he used to think Buddhism was the best path to follow, so he felt his job was to proselytize. But later he realized, that the world's religions each evolved out of a specific cultural matrix, and were best suited to the cultures that produced them. So he started recommending, that people explore the religion of their country or ethnic group's tradition.

    Well, I disagree with this and I find it bordering on biggotry. Of course I will have a hard time understanding his particular branch of Buddhism, since it contains as much heathen hoo-hah as actual Buddhism, but the core teachings are universal and not dependent on a cultural context - which may be exactly why Buddhism migrates so easily.

    I find it bordering on biggotry because it infers that certain peoples have certain cultural references which suit them and resonates with them best. If history teaches us anyting it is just how culturally flexible humans are. We pick and choose all the time, make new traditions and lay away old ones - both as peoples, as members of subcultures, as families, as groups of friends, in our businesses. It happens slowly over generations and quickly from one day to the other. Like KFC is now the nb one christmas dinner in Japan - a strong tradition started by marketing from one year to the next. The christmas tree came to my country from Germany only a couple of generations ago, and is now seen as quintessential every christmas. Nothing indicates that Buddhism or parts of Buddhism couldn't or shouldn't take root in different parts of the world too. In fact, that was exactly how Buddhism became a world religion in the first place.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran
    edited April 23

    @Ficus_religiosa

    I'm sorry, but I don't buy into it>

    Save your sorrow for another day. I do not mean to say that I consider religions to be equal. I consider only that they share the common - even if unstated and unrecognized - goal of attaining a peaceful, stable and untroubled mind.

    Buddhism is the only faith I have encountered that addresses this goal directly.

    Christianity doesn't mention it in it's much-trumpeted and transparently fictional metaphysical doctrines, but it is clearly sought, even though the seeking often seems rather muddled.

    I feel that those doctrines are merely tools, tools which have been widely mistaken for goals. Fingers that have been mistaken for the moon. Menus - in the words of Alan Watts - that have been mistaken for the dinner.

    Religions are distinctly unequal - some are more confused, some less. Some use tools that seem well suited to the job at hand, others use tools that seem clumsy and troublesome. Neither set of tools guarantees a successful project, and neither set guarantees failure.

    lobster
  • @Fosdick said:
    @Ficus_religiosa

    I'm sorry, but I don't buy into it>

    Save your sorrow for another day. I do not mean to say that I consider religions to be equal. I consider only that they share the common - even if unstated and unrecognized - goal of attaining a peaceful, stable and untroubled mind.

    Buddhism is the only faith I have encountered that addresses this goal directly.

    Christianity doesn't mention it in it's much-trumpeted and transparently fictional metaphysical doctrines, but it is clearly sought, even though the seeking often seems rather muddled.

    I feel that those doctrines are merely tools, tools which have been widely mistaken for goals. Fingers that have been mistaken for the moon. Menus - in the words of Alan Watts - that have been mistaken for the dinner.

    Religions are distinctly unequal - some are more confused, some less. Some use tools that seem well suited to the job at hand, others use tools that seem clumsy and troublesome. Neither set of tools guarantees a successful project, and neither set guarantees failure.

    I am interested in where in the christian scripture you find this clear seeking?

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Dalai Lama dosen't want you to convert to Buddhism

    ...If there is no need to...

    Sometimes the mind has a habit of reading more into something than what's actually there..and this is when those charming thoughts take over...So....

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran
    edited April 24

    @Ficus_religiosa

    I am interested in where in the christian scripture you find this clear seeking?>

    It's not in the Christian scriptures, so far as I am aware. To me, it is clearly implied, not clearly practiced, understood, or stated. If we were naturally possessed of stable and peaceful minds, there would be no need of any religion, Buddhist of otherwise.

    To put it crudely, no one is apt to swallow a truckload of garbage if not in hopes of ingesting some trace nutrients. It's not as though the garbage is alluringly disguised in any way, as the Greeks were once accustomed to put a layer of succulent fat over piles of bones and offal when making offerings.

    The western mind, and other minds as well, have been long accustomed to associate the spiritual quest with the fanciful and imaginary beings known as gods. This is not something that is easily cast off for many, and the cost of doing so could conceivably outweigh the benefits. I suspect the Dalai Lama may have had something like this in mind when he said what he said.

  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Explorer

    CAVEAT - I am not Jewish, but was born and raised Catholic and have a handful of Orthodox Jewish friends who have given me the privilege of attending many of their holy days and festivals over the years. I'd like to state that if there are any Jews here and I am incorrect in any of my information, I am willing to be corrected and apologise for my misunderstanding of what I have learnt.

    @Ficus_religiosa said:
    Christianity, just for sake of the example, never had anything remotely similar to The Noble Eight-Fold Path or the Precepts. The Ten Commandments aren't even explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Nibbana is almost the exact opposite of everlasting life in a paradise. I'm sorry, but I don't buy into it

    You don't have to "buy into it", but at least do your homework if you're going to use another faith as an example in your argument. The Ten Commandments are described in detail in the Talmud which is the Oral Law of Judaism. The Torah which is the Written Law of Judaism is, as I'm sure you're aware along with most other people, the "original" version of the Old Testament in Christianity. Christians are taught that Moses accepted the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai and brought them to the Israelites after communing with God on the mountain top. While he was doing that, the Israelites got worried and doubted their exodus, so built a golden calf and started worshipping it - and THAT is explicitly found in the Bible in Exodus Chapter 32.

    The only difference in Talmudic teachings and Christian teachings on the Ten Commandments is that in Judaism there are 613 of them and they are called 613 mitzvot.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @FeistyGibblets said:

    The only difference in Talmudic teachings and Christian teachings on the Ten Commandments is that in Judaism there are 613 of them and they are called 613 mitzvot.

    Holy sugar puffs ...
    http://www.jewfaq.org/m/613.htm

    “Don't be naughty ...” [It is hard being kosher when you are a lobster] :'(

  • @FeistyGibblets said:
    CAVEAT - I am not Jewish, but was born and raised Catholic and have a handful of Orthodox Jewish friends who have given me the privilege of attending many of their holy days and festivals over the years. I'd like to state that if there are any Jews here and I am incorrect in any of my information, I am willing to be corrected and apologise for my misunderstanding of what I have learnt.

    @Ficus_religiosa said:
    Christianity, just for sake of the example, never had anything remotely similar to The Noble Eight-Fold Path or the Precepts. The Ten Commandments aren't even explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Nibbana is almost the exact opposite of everlasting life in a paradise. I'm sorry, but I don't buy into it

    You don't have to "buy into it", but at least do your homework if you're going to use another faith as an example in your argument. The Ten Commandments are described in detail in the Talmud which is the Oral Law of Judaism. The Torah which is the Written Law of Judaism is, as I'm sure you're aware along with most other people, the "original" version of the Old Testament in Christianity. Christians are taught that Moses accepted the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai and brought them to the Israelites after communing with God on the mountain top. While he was doing that, the Israelites got worried and doubted their exodus, so built a golden calf and started worshipping it - and THAT is explicitly found in the Bible in Exodus Chapter 32.

    The only difference in Talmudic teachings and Christian teachings on the Ten Commandments is that in Judaism there are 613 of them and they are called 613 mitzvot.

    Yes, I know the story. But there are no ten commandments, as you say yourself, and they are not worded in the way presented. Except maybe for the four about not killing, stealing, adultery and bearing false witness (whatever that means) - those are quite explicit. The passages are found both in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. I think the latter is the most clear.

    From the Encyclopædia Britannica:

    Traditions differ in numbering the Ten Commandments. In Judaism, the prologue (“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”) constitutes the first element, and the prohibitions against false gods and idols the second. Medieval Roman tradition, accepted by Luther, regards all these elements as one and preserves the number 10 by separating the prohibitions against coveting another’s wife and coveting another’s possessions. In the Greek Orthodox and Protestant Reformed traditions, the prologue and the prohibition against false gods are one commandment and the prohibition against images is the second.

    >

    As seen, there are not ten commandments unless you fiddle and make up your mind about what the actual commandments are. In Exodus, God continues giving commandments, but those are not included for some reason:

    Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold, An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee,
    And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it,
    Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon... it continues on and on.

    I think very little is in common with Buddhism. Like the bare minimum is there, the two rules present in any and every human society - don't kill (people) and don't steal.

    @Fosdick said:
    @Ficus_religiosa

    I am interested in where in the christian scripture you find this clear seeking?>

    It's not in the Christian scriptures, so far as I am aware. To me, it is clearly implied, not clearly practiced, understood, or stated. If we were naturally possessed of stable and peaceful minds, there would be no need of any religion, Buddhist of otherwise.

    To put it crudely, no one is apt to swallow a truckload of garbage if not in hopes of ingesting some trace nutrients. It's not as though the garbage is alluringly disguised in any way, as the Greeks were once accustomed to put a layer of succulent fat over piles of bones and offal when making offerings.

    The western mind, and other minds as well, have been long accustomed to associate the spiritual quest with the fanciful and imaginary beings known as gods. This is not something that is easily cast off for many, and the cost of doing so could conceivably outweigh the benefits. I suspect the Dalai Lama may have had something like this in mind when he said what he said.

    Buddhism is full of gods (devas) and spirits. They play a minor role compared to Jahve/Allah, just as an example, but they are there.

    @Shoshin said:

    Dalai Lama dosen't want you to convert to Buddhism

    ...If there is no need to...

    Sometimes the mind has a habit of reading more into something than what's actually there..and this is when those charming thoughts take over...So....

    I see what you mean, it was just a catchy headline on my part, but maybe I shouldn't have worded it like that. And I surely should have wrote "doesn't" ;)

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Ficus_religiosa said: I see what you mean, it was just a catchy headline on my part, but maybe I shouldn't have worded it like that. And I surely should have wrote "doesn't" ;)

    Should have written

    Would you care for a change of title? Or shall I just correct the 'dosent'...?

  • @federica said:

    @Ficus_religiosa said: I see what you mean, it was just a catchy headline on my part, but maybe I shouldn't have worded it like that. And I surely should have wrote "doesn't" ;)

    Should have written

    Would you care for a change of title? Or shall I just correct the 'dosent'...?

    ahem written ahem...

    Maybe: Dalai Lama: It's better for you to keep your traditions

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Ficus_religiosa said:

    @federica said:

    @Ficus_religiosa said: I see what you mean, it was just a catchy headline on my part, but maybe I shouldn't have worded it like that. And I surely should have wrote "doesn't" ;)

    Should have written

    Would you care for a change of title? Or shall I just correct the 'dosent'...?

    ahem written ahem...

    Maybe: Dalai Lama: It's better for you to keep your traditions

    Done. :)

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