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Switch to Forum Live View Is the Dalai Lama too respected?
9 years ago  ::  Mar 19, 2009 - 2:06PM #1
Philosopher Plebian
Posts: 287

In other words, does the western press give him a free ride? Are people in the West too uncritical of the Dalai Lama's message, and do we give Tibetan Buddhism too much respect based on Orientalist myths of "Shangri-La" and mystical Buddhist monks? What do Buddhists think about this, given that the Dalai Lama could be considered the face of Buddhism in the West?


 


 


*Any accusations and/or implications that I am spreading propoganda on behalf of the PRC will be ignored and laughed at.

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 19, 2009 - 6:18PM #2
Kartari
Posts: 2,261

What's there to criticize him about, besides his monotonous wardrobe? :)

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 19, 2009 - 8:04PM #3
Philosopher Plebian
Posts: 287

From Skepticblog:


I have a less charitable view of the Dalai Lama. Every time I run into people demonstrating to help free Tibet or ask me to sign a petition to “Free Tibet”, I usually stare at them and ask them “Free Tibet for what? To go back to their feudal system with slaves and let the Dalai Lama lord over his minions?” Of course, whenever I bring this up, I’m accused of being a stooge of the Chinese government or worse


The Dalai Lama, we must remember, is the head of a traditionally absolutist government (well, absolutist for peasants. Monastic aristocrats got to do the absoluting). Although the Chinese occupation in Tibet is presented as brutal and evil, life for the Tibetans before then was not so cool. To put it bluntly, no-one seems willing to call out the Dalai Lama for being a dictator who ran a theocratic dictatorship so brutal that it would make the Ayatollah himself blanche.


An example from a blog by Michael Parenti:


Young Tibetan boys were regularly taken from their peasant families and brought into the monasteries to be trained as monks. Once there, they were bonded for life. Tashì-Tsering, a monk, reports that it was common for peasant children to be sexually mistreated in the monasteries. He himself was a victim of repeated rape, beginning at age nine.  The monastic estates also conscripted children for lifelong servitude as domestics, dance performers, and soldiers.



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9 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2009 - 7:23PM #4
RenGalskap
Posts: 1,420
You appear to be blaming him for things that happened before he became Dalai Lama. He officially became the Dalai Lama when he was 15, the same year the Chinese occupied Tibet. He finished his education when he was 23, the same year he fled Tibet. During the entire time he lived in Tibet, the country was effectively ruled by other people.

You are not offering any evidence that Tenzin Gyatso had any responsibility for the things you've brought up. Your evidence only indicates that Tibet, which was a backward, undeveloped country, did not have a modern representative government, and that abuses occured at Tibetan monasteries. Those things are quite true, but they're not something the 14th Dalai Lama is responsible for.

BTW, at one time hemmeroids were known in China by a Chinese term that roughly translates as "novice's anus" becuase the use of novices for sexual purposes was so common. Historically, it has occured in all countries with monasteries. That doesn't make it any less abusive, but it's an abuse that occured everywhere, not just Tibet.
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9 years ago  ::  Mar 21, 2009 - 2:43PM #5
Philosopher Plebian
Posts: 287

True, the Dalai Lama is not responsible for the abuses that occurred during his reign. However, this does not change the fact that the aristocratic Tibetan class still exists, and they still benefit from the Dalai Lama's popularity and from international legal protection that they probably would not have gotten without the Dalai Lama. They lived off of an incredibly repressive system, and they haven't suffered for it at all! Perhaps they've managed to work off the bad karma by giving to Buddhist monks?. Speaking of that, Tibetan monks living overseas, including the Dalai Lama, enjoy many luxeries provided by their devoted (and often wealthy) followers, and yet they hypocritically preach about the evils of materialism to the US-and nobody takes them up on this glaring hypocrisy! The Dalai Lama himself has given religious promotions to Hollywood celebrities based on how much they donate to him. And yet, this just doesn't get mentioned in the public discourse about him.

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 22, 2009 - 11:07AM #6
Byte
Posts: 8

No, I don't think you give him too much respect.

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 22, 2009 - 11:11AM #7
bddh
Posts: 21

I will chime in on this one:


Is HH the Dalai Lama too respected?  In my opinion, I would say no.  And here is how I came to that conclusion.  If you look at his life and what he is devoted to, then you would realize that he has much to contribute to the world at large.  We see him as others would show, yet no one, expect those who know him personally, see him as he is.  To many he is a well respected religious leader.  His concern and care is for those who would follow him.  Make no mistake, he does such as that is his calling.  I do know that a year or 2 ago, he was willing to step down from the title of Dalai Lama, for the sake of his people, and they had a vote to either accept or refuse, and the cries were unamious, he was to remain where he is.  Though many will give him many things or even the monks, but the question is what they do with such.  By following the precepts, any item of wealth is distributed to where it is needed for the community for which they live.  And in America, it is not cheap to live, it is very expensive, and the cost of health care is even more so.  So the monks, may take in the wealth, but it pays for them to live with the essentials to survive and pay for their health care.  It is not easy, as they often must make decisions that the sutras have no clue on or even thought to deal with in this day and age.  For example, and this is a question I asked, stumped the nuns and monks:  If a person is cloned, does the clone possess a soul or even share in the same Karma as the original.  (Asked that when Cloneaid was stating that they had cloned a person)  The monks and nuns are doing all they can, but in reality what you are seeing is a people who are trying to regain their homeland. 


Now yes they do live under a theocracy, a system of government that is devoted more to the spiritual side of life.  But unlike alot of other theocracy's they do not abuse the authority they have. 


I would also state that in todays world, with all of its problems we need more people like HH the Dalai Lama to give the one thing we all need, hope for something better.  Without him or people like him, it would be a much more bleaker world and alot more scarier out there.  Men of peace are often the targets for many things, including assinations and persecution, but by their actions, they show of something better.  All we have to do is listen and watch.


 


Peace

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 22, 2009 - 11:25AM #8
davidilynch
Posts: 2

Well I will not get into any name calling or finger pointing, but to me the answer to this question is a resounding NO, NO, NO!!!  How can the most compassionate and forgiving man be too respected.  He lost everything, his home, his freedom and his country and yet he is never bitter or angry towards the Chinese.  The world needs more leaders like His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.  We all would be wise to learn from the lesson he teaches and lives daily.  That is my opinion and we are certainly all entitled to our own opinions.  I wish everyone happiness, love and joy in their life.

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 22, 2009 - 11:53AM #9
ArizumaBrett
Posts: 5

Unfortunately, it's not simply a question of the Dalai Lama and the repressive feudal system in Tibet... can we hold the Dalai Lama personally responsible for that system? I think not. I see him as as much a victim of that system as the slaves below him or the novices exploited as sexual fodder.


But I think we need to look into the way the Buddhist religion (which I would distinguish from the Buddha dharma or the teachings of the Buddha BTW) has been used to exploit the masses historically in the East and continues to be used to exploit the "sangha" here in the West. After 40 years plus in and around the Buddhist scene here in America, I have seen many examples of this exploitation, including people being cheated out of their land in the name of the "sangha", and AIDS deing spread amongst young boys and other followers by those claiming to be dharma teachers.


In fact, in many cases, it could be said that many "practitioners" merely relabel the selfish and unsavory desires of the ego "Buddha" or "Dharma" or "Sangha" and commit unspeakable crimes with disaterous results for others, but because of the relabeling it suddenly becomes OK.


I should hasten to add that this is not a particular problem of buddhism or buddhists but seems to be the problem of True Believers in general, whether christian, muslim or hindu, fascist, capitalist, or communist.  I highly recommend that before anyone enter into any dharma trip that one read Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements."


Sadly, in my experience all Dharma trips, but especially Buddhism, includes a lot of inappropriate power tripping and nasty groupthink that the West had evolved beyond prior to the introduction of these religions in the West in recent decades. Most of us freed ourselves from the sexual repression and exploitation, economic exploitation, and dogmatic thought of the Catholic Church centuries ago. Do we really need or want to become True Believers, and suspend intelligence and compassion because these old religions seem so exotic and exciting? Or should we not bring the full force of our intelligent discrimination and suspicion of charlatinism to the forefront? Some degree of cynicism may be appropriate in this case.


I realize that this will be labeled as "ego" or "being unable to surrender" by many of the True Believers. But how many times have I heard the "dharma teacher" say "just trust me" only to see the religious community betrayed? "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." No more free rides for any dharma teachers, the Dalai Lama or the Ayatollahs or the Pope for that matter.


The danger seems to be that most of these religions seem to have cut themselves off from their original sources, both in terms of practice and sacrament and have become ritualised and dogmatic. Buddhism is somewhat better than some religious practices with its emphasis on actual sitting practice, but even that sitting practice has become so framed by repressive priesthoods and the desire for outer accouterments that the wellspring threatens to be strangled at the source.


Maybe we need to return to sitting under the Bodhi tree and preaching/teaching from the bamboo grove.

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 22, 2009 - 2:00PM #10
Philosopher Plebian
Posts: 287

Arizuma-


Your post was a good read. Would that everyone could understand the flaws of their belief systems, religious and otherwise, as well as you do yours!


However, you don't have to feel that you're being cynical when you approach a leader's claims skeptically. There is a difference between critical thinking and cynicism (though I myself have confused the two in the past), and you don't have to surrender all your ideals in order to think critically.

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