Thursday, October 19, 2006

Don't turn Buddhism into a fashion ...

This is from an interview with the Dalai Lama (who just had a private audience with the Pope) back in 2003. [Zenit]
Asked if the future of Buddhism is in the West, the Nobel Peace Prize winner replied: "People from different traditions should keep their own, rather than change. However, some Tibetan may prefer Islam, so he can follow it. Some Spanish prefer Buddhism; so follow it. But think about it carefully. Don't do it for fashion. Some people start Christian, follow Islam, then Buddhism, then nothing."

"In the United States I have seen people who embrace Buddhism and change their clothes," he said, laughing. "Like the New Age. They take something Hindu, something Buddhist, something, something. ... That is not healthy."
[T]here "cannot be unification" between Christianity and Buddhism. "If you mean having a closer relation, understanding, that is happening in religions," he noted.

"For individual practitioners, having one truth, one religion, is very important. Several truths, several religions, is contradictory," he said.

"I am Buddhist," he added. "Therefore, Buddhism is the only truth for me, the only religion. To my Christian friend, Christianity is the only truth, the only religion. To my Muslim friend, Mohammedanism is the only truth, the only religion. In the meantime, I respect and admire my Christian friend and my Muslim friend. If by unifying you mean mixing, that is impossible, useless."

1 comment:

assiniboine said...

Well, indeed. But the thing is, when it's authentic Buddhists -- Sri Lankan Singhalese, shall we say, or worse, Maldiveans who have shucked off Islam on passing through Sri Lanka and resumed their ancestral Buddhism en route to the West -- who come by it honestly, and not Richard Gere types, it is just SO BORING to have to listen to from go to woe! Even when, or perhaps especially when, one is as willing and sympathetic a listener as I am.

I once spent a couple of weeks (as you have heard inordinately from me) traversing rural Sindh with a bunch of native Sindhis who were of course Muslim, but their relatively recent ancestors were Buddhists: that is, after all, more or less where Buddhism comes from. And there are stupas all over the place, and they kept asking me, "Just what IS it that our ancestors believed, that they kept building all those monuments? In Islam, you see, it is the Dark Time before we learned the truth of Islam, and we are not really permitted to know...."

And do you think I could come up with a cogent answer? Not on your life, despite having been told in exhaustive detail innumerable times. (Obviously I have always switched off.)

One of these days I must invest in some Idiot's Guide to Buddhism by Karen Armstrong or someone like that....hey, I have an idea: why don't those Sindhi guys just do that themselves. I can't stand to listen to it all and report back, much though it would contribute to international good will.