I Have a Problem with The Dalai Lama

I realize that’s a bit like saying, “I have a beef with Mother Teresa” or “I have issues with Nelson Mandela.” First, let me say, I think the current Dalai Lama is an inspired and inspiring teacher, leader, and human being. I don’t have a problem with the person himself. What I have a problem with is the office of Dalai Lama in the first place.

On his deathbed the Buddha said he didn’t want anyone to lead the sangha. Just the dhamma. It goes back to the issue of the Dhamma Heir.

Over and over he taught monks not to get caught up in politics. But the Dalia Lama is traditionally a political leader of Tibet. This is unwise. In the next few years we will learn again why. What happens when you end up with a powerful leader, the next Dalai Lama, that isn’t so great, isn’t so inspired? What happens when the world of politics starts ruling the world of the dhamma rather than the other way round?

Remember: the Dalai Lama isn’t enlightened. If he was, he wouldn’t be reborn!

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3 thoughts on “I Have a Problem with The Dalai Lama

  1. In Mahayana Buddhism, a highly evolved individual can choose to come back into the world to help alleviate the suffering of others rather than going on to full enlightenment outside the world. This is what the DL does. I know it’s not a concept in Theravada.

    1. Of course you’re right on both counts, but I very much stand by what I said. The Buddha lived as a penniless begger with no political power, and that’s what I expect of his followers. The person of the Dalai Lama may be a beautiful evolved person, but the office perpetuates a temporal authority that over the long haul does much more damage than good. He should follow the example of the Buddha.

      What he DIDN’T do was to establish a lineage of power office holders. The monks asked him to name a leader after his death, and he refused. What bothers me about the office of the Dalai Lama is that you have a rich, powerful man named to a political office for life. That is very far from the example of the Buddha.

      My point is that this Dalai Lama has a lot of great qualities, but there is no reason to expect that the next one will. Indeed, there will probably be two Dalai Lamas: one named by the Tibetan authorities in India and another approved by the Chinese government. It will be a mess.

      Better to have just followed the example of the Buddha from the beginning.

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