The Dalai Lama said this a while back, I think he was getting a little tired of the influx of Westerners in his comfortable Tibetan tradition. But for some people its important to belong to a tradition, with its guidelines for behaviour, and its positions of respect, monastics and leaders. So what do you think, was the Dalai Lama correct?
I believe that for some people the beneficial/inspiring/happy option will be to be better whatever-they-are, while for others it will be to convert. Others still might go back-and-forth. No general rule here.
The DL's sentiment under such conditions, not to force any option, is for me extremely commendable.
I think there's a lot more to this than what meets the "I" ..
Watch the entire video (or start at 12 minutes in )
I think he is right when it comes to feeling pressure to convert but following traditions is not always the same as seeking the Way. Sometimes we just feel the need to belong and I think H.H. is trying to say that you don't have to follow any specific tradition to belong. That Buddhism is also a process that can compliment ones heritage and traditions with no need to convert religions.
Be whatever you are.
What a brilliantly compact way to say the path to Enlightenment/God/Understanding is not monopolized by any singular tradition, they are all functional tools that can help the mind focus it's way towards this understanding, and it's beneficial to work within the cultural connotations and language that your communities share.
Take The Lord's Prayer of the Christian tradition, for example: The general concepts of Buddhism function within that prayer, and there is likely a mantra or chant in Tibetan Buddhism that either expounds or reduces that concept to a palatable concept that more succinctly fits the environment that created and supports that specific set of language.
In other words, the tools of all the world's religions are similar in base concepts and goals and the language/processes you are most familiar with are likely the easiest path. They all point you to submitting to the flow.
I don't think His Holiness was gatekeeping Buddhism, rather he was taking the pressure off people feeling the need to "convert" out of their current religious faith. I know Christianity and Islam "witness" and their MO is to gain converts by pressuring others to renounce their former religions to be "saved". Buddhism doesn't require this. I think that's what His Holiness is highlighting here.
There are many paths up the mountain, that is true, and no one path has a monopoly. I think within it His Holiness was also trying to express a certain compassion for the community, by having people convert to Buddhism you fracture the community and create different senses of belonging.
If you say to the Christians, don’t become Buddhists but become better Christians, you encourage them to upgrade their faith from within. You may find these congregations find themselves on the path to a better conception of Jesus’ words.
His concern, I think, is the putting on the trappings but not taking in the substance.
An example is a group, of people going the a talk by the Dali Lama and paying $50 OR $100 to be there as they blow by temples and centers where they can learn for the price of just going in the door. They are more interested in the image, the flash, than the message. The wear the trappings but do not hear the message.
Buddhism, no matter the specific tradition, is to be lived. It is not show, it is life.
I live my Buddhism. I do not put on airs, I do not shout out how great I am because I am a buddhist. I live it. It is not the flash or flavor of the day. It is a life, a culture, a way of thinking and acting that has become embedded in my life and living. It is an understanding transcending words. It is to live fully as a human being, to live honestly, warts and all and allow/enable other to do so as they are.
Just a thought
Peace to all