Here and there I have seen mentions of the Dalai Lama speaking against conversion. “I always believe it’s safer and better and reasonable to keep one’s own tradition or belief,” is a quote from 2001.
While I can see the sense of avoiding aggressive recruitment or hard sell techniques, I fail to see why it would "always" be "safer and better" to stay with the religion of your upbringing.
Well there’s integration with the local population. In some countries it’s not as accepted as in the USA or the Netherlands to be of a different religion than the majority, and you might find yourself in the role of an outcast if you choose to be different. That could be dangerous.
There might also be some risk of mental illness. Its well-known that immigrants for instance have a significantly higher risk of serious mental illness than members of a native population. Maybe that carries over to those who set themselves apart.
But here in the Netherlands Buddhists are well-thought-of, even admired. I don’t think there’s any reason if you live here not to stand up for the religion you choose to follow.
I personally disagree with HHDL. It's a definite case of "If it's broke, then fix it.!"
I was baptised a RC. But in spite of honest efforts on my part to really try to connect with what the church taught me, and what my parents tried to lead me through, nothing ever quite completely gelled.
And so it was that I discovered Buddhism.
Which, incidentally, my still-church-going mother introduced me to.
Every page of the book she sent me, sang my name, and called me thither.
And so, I went.
While my practice has definitely been an up-and-down, in-and-out adventure, I have never looked - or been tempted to go - back.
Sorry your Holiness.
You're stuck with me.
I understand the dangers of conversion in some countries. If you are lucky enough to not be in such peril, then why not? Sangha building, community support, engaged Buddhism, and perhaps a stronger practice.
Though to be a Buddhist you do not need to convert at all. I think, of course...! There is some freedom as long as your practice and respect towards the precepts is solid or at least well-intended.
My personal, although I'm sure biased, take is...
That he also says, in some rare cases it makes sense. I think he often talks to broad and general audiences when speaking in the west and in that context maybe it makes more sense to warn people away from lightly swapping religions.
I also wonder if it isn't something of a protective measure for Tibetan Buddhism itself. The more westerners adopt the religion the more it affects their own traditions, which are already under a lot of pressure.
Came across this more recent and thorough answer from HHDL that might shed some more light.
Devout to his own beliefs, he speaks of keeping them.
What's in the way? Maybe look from a different angle?
Looking at your post again, I think you may be slightly misinterpreting. He says he "always believes" rather than its "always" safer and better. What the "always" is referring to makes some difference in meaning.
"Came across this more recent and thorough answer from HHDL that might shed some more light.2
Thank you for the link @person I was very interested in his comment that one should avoid criticizing a former faith. Through my reading, I have discovered that some of my early criticisms are not quite as watertight as once believed. You never know what is around the corner do you?
In our tradition, we do not ask others to believe. We do not attempt to make them give up their current beliefs. Instead, we request the individual to apply the practice and see the effects....
While the Dali Lama's practice differs from mine, His being a Tantric tradition, I feel that our approach somewhat approximates what he is saying.
Peace to all
Sure … but trying to give them up …
Searched most of my life for religion that I could truly believe in. Then studied Buddhism. Almost feels like that's been my belief all along. Very freeing.
Welcome @Jeri. To me it was like coming home, very familiar.
That's the way it was for me too. Anglican Christianity just wasn't in the cards for me as the story just didn't sit right with me. I knew I was supposed to believe certain things but to me, they didn't ring true.
I looked at a few different religions and though some were really cool (I was young) I couldn't get myself to really believe them. I went through an atheistic phase but that rang hollow too. Eventually I got to Hinduism and Taoism and something started changing. I was liking what I was hearing and then when they naturally led me to Buddhism it was instantaneous. "Oh, ok... I get it now. I'm Buddhist"
Ah ha! (also available as a mantra …)
We study … we find sense … we sense potential benefit.
Then we practice until free …
I knew there was a plan …
I convert all the time out of spite.
As an evangelical Buddhist™️
I hope to convert the Dalai Lama
… not quite sure to what … yet …
… maybe Chinese Buddhism?
Or better yet-I?
… And now back to the Hear and There There …
I'm very much in agreement. If something ain't broke, don't fix it. But if something is broke...fix it! And I agree completely with that one phrase you used: "nothing ever quite completely gelled" with christianity with me, either.