C h i n a N e w s D i g e s t
January 3, 2001

The Dalai Lama Speaks Out Against Fashionable Buddhism in Europe

[CND 01/02/01] The Dalai Lama spoke out against the current craze for Buddhism in Europe and said he opposed religions trying to convert one another, AFP reported on Saturday. In reply to the fashion for Buddhism in France, the Dalai Lama said: "I believe that the French, who are Christian by culture and ancestry, should remain Christian. It is better to stick to your own traditional values ... It is only if, after mature reflection, you believe that Buddhism could offer you more than Christianity that you should become a Buddhist."

The Buddhist spiritual leader believes Buddhism and Christianity have much in common: "the same philosophy of love for the other, the aspiration to lift the human being above his vices, compassion and forgiveness." He said he often told his monks to look for inspiration to St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

The Dalai Lama explained that Buddhists believed in "an infinite number of lives" while [Christians] "believe there is only one, and in a creator." He further differentiated: "You believe you have free choice, while we only swear by karma. Every action committed has its consequences in this life or another ... We Tibetans, for example, are suffering today a black karma for what we did in previous lives, feudalism, closure to the world. Once we have expiated this karma, we will be free."

He also criticized the proselytizing by Christians in Asia. "In east India, U.S. missionaries are using economic arguments to convert the poor mountain tribes ... You practice conversion like a kind of war against peoples and cultures. That is not the message of Christ." (Mei HUI, YIN De An)