Does the Dalai Lama really have anything Important to Say?

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Gern Blanston Gern Blanston's picture
Does the Dalai Lama really have anything Important to Say?

The Dalai Lama was in Vancouver last week, but really does he really have anything

important to say? Tibet is better off under Chinese tutelage, and the monks were, l

et's face it, a bunch of violent thugs. I just don't get why politicians fall over each

other to hang around with the Dalai Lama.

 http://wickedscholar.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/is-the-dalai-lama-relevant

Unionist

Agreed. But China has always been an important prize for the West, and if the Dalai Lama and his ilk can help them to make inroads, it pays to keep him close and pretend that he's some kind of saint, genius, and stand-up comic all rolled into one.

 

Ghislaine

I don't think he has anything important to say and I agree that rule by religious monks is not something to fight to get back. However, your comment that china treats Tibetans just fine is false.

HeywoodFloyd

Really? I'd think that someone who opposes the mission in Afghanistan or the deveopment of the oil sands would be a little more supportive.

http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Dalai+Lama+sounds+Afghan+oilsands/2055...

 

Quote:

CALGARY - Military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq has been a failure, according to the Dalai Lama.

At a press conference today, the Tibetan spiritual leader said military action is sometimes necessary, citing the Second World War and Korea.

"In Iran and Afghanistan, it's too early to say. So far, I think a failure, using military force. Hard liners (are) becoming even more harder," he said.

Civilian casualties, he said, are creating sympathy for the other side, without specifically citing the Taliban.

Asked about the development of Alberta's oilsands, he said in a choice between "destruction of environment or losing money, then we have to choose losing money."

 

Unionist

His comment about Afghanistan could have been made by any two-bit NATO or U.S. or Canadian general whining about how "we're losing".

As for the oilsands, I haven't read him in context. If he were to publicly demand that the oilsands be shut down to help save the planet, I would definitely reconsider my dismissal of this individual. I don't expect to hear that any time soon, but please let me know if my pessimism is misplaced.

 

HeywoodFloyd

More from the same press conference

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2009/10/02/11247346-sun.html

 

Quote:

Following a question and answer session with an audience of 1,200 at the Telus Convention Centre, the 74-year-old Buddhist monk said the jury is still out on NATO's campaign in Afghanistan.

But he said countries like Canada should leave Afghanistan's fate to its own people following efforts that so far have failed.

"Your government solving man-made problems using force is a mistake -- it's up to the Afghan people," said the Dalai Lama, who finished a two-day visit to the city as part of the University of Calgary-organized NOW conference.

"Military forces the hard-liners to become harder and civilian casualties has the other side getting more sympathy from the local people."

Unionist

As I thought, HeywoodFloyd. He says the "other side" (his words) are getting sympathy from the "local people" (whew) because of "military force" and "civilian casualties". Could be Karzai talking. It's just part of the tactical debate as to how to win the hearts and minds of the people for the West and its puppet regime(s).

 

HeywoodFloyd

Unionist wrote:

As I thought, HeywoodFloyd. He says the "other side" (his words) are getting sympathy from the "local people" (whew) because of "military force" and "civilian casualties".

So he doesn't like the Taliban and that makes him a puppet? Sheesh

Maybe he was reading from rabble for interview.
From CTV/CP:

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20091001/dalailama_calgary_091001/20091001?hub=TopStoriesV2

Quote:
CALGARY - The Dalai Lama says the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are failures so far, but it's too soon to tell if there will be positive outcomes in the end.

Speaking to reporters in Calgary on Thursday, the Tibetan spiritual leader said some military interventions, such as the Second World War and the Korean War, have had overall positive effects. Other combats, such as the Vietnam War, were outright failures.

It's hard to tell which category the current military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq will eventually fall into, he said.

"I think too early to say. So far, I think, a failure," he said, adding that civilian casualties are making the situation more complex because they make local people resent foreign troops.

The use of military forces makes hard-liners become even harder, he said.

He said he did know one thing for certain: If the billions of dollars spent on military action by both Canada and the United States had gone to education and health care in Afghanistan, "today the picture may be different."

The Dalai Lama is in Calgary for the first time in 30 years to take part in a conference organized by the University of Calgary. He spoke before a crowd of 15,000 Wednesday, telling them to try to practise compassion in their lives and educate their children to do the same.

He also weighed in on the Alberta oilsands on Thursday, saying that all use of natural resources must be balanced by a sincere concern for the environment, especially in light of the dire predictions by scientists about what will happen if global warming continues.

The oilsands are considered the world's largest proven oil deposit outside of the Middle East. But environmentalist argue that too much carbon dioxide is generated when the tar-like bitumen is turned into oil.

One side may advocate stopping oil development altogether, while another may say that oil is necessary enough to outweigh any potential environmental consequences, the Dalai Lama said.

"We have to find some kind of middle way, using nature's resources with maximum care of environment protection," he said. "And in some cases, if there's only two choices, destruction of the environment and losing some money, then I think we have to choose losing money."

earth_as_one earth_as_one's picture

What is this?  A string to discredit the 1989 Peace Prize winner? Or am I missing something.

Dalai Lama Quotes:

Quote:
All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.

If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.

If you have a particular faith or religion, that is good. But you can survive without it. 

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
 
In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.

It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to desist from harming them.

It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.

Sleep is the best meditation.

Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.

The purpose of our lives is to be happy.

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.

The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.

There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.

We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace.

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion.

With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world.

 

Unionist

To HeywoodFloyd:

Quote:
The Dalai Lama says the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are failures so far, but it's too soon to tell if there will be positive outcomes in the end.

The wars are "failures"? He speaks from the viewpoint of Bush and Harper and Blair and Brown. "Positive outcomes"? I shudder to think what he would view as positive.

One thing for sure: This great man of "peace" (pardon me while I reach for my Gravol) forgot to suggest that the invading troops should go home.

Quote:

One side may advocate stopping oil development altogether, while another may say that oil is necessary enough to outweigh any potential environmental consequences, the Dalai Lama said.

"We have to find some kind of middle way, using nature's resources with maximum care of environment protection," he said. "And in some cases, if there's only two choices, destruction of the environment and losing some money, then I think we have to choose losing money."

As I said, if he demands the oilsands be shut down, let me know. Otherwise, platitudes are a dime a dozen. Speaking of which:

earth_as_one wrote:
What is this?  A string to discredit the 1989 Peace Prize winner? Or am I missing something.

No, I think your long quote of Reader's Digest-type aphorisms does more to discredit this Peace Prize winner than anything any babbler could offer.

 

kropotkin1951

I don't know Unionist I liked this quote:

 

"Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace."

 

To bad he only provides platitudes but no real knowledge or insight into the oppression of the majority of the world by the western powers.

 

I am sure that if you went back and looked at sermons made by our NS Bishop you could find similarly enlightening platitudes. Actions speak louder than words and his actions is a continual tour of the world for self agrggranizement. I wonder what his speakers fee is.

mahmud

Unionist wrote:

His comment about Afghanistan could have been made by any two-bit NATO or U.S. or Canadian general whining about how "we're losing".

As for the oilsands, I haven't read him in context. If he were to publicly demand that the oilsands be shut down to help save the planet, I would definitely reconsider my dismissal of this individual. I don't expect to hear that any time soon, but please let me know if my pessimism is misplaced.

 

I agree.

 

Unionist

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I am sure that if you went back and looked at sermons made by our NS Bishop you could find similarly enlightening platitudes. Actions speak louder than words and his actions is a continual tour of the world for self agrggranizement. I wonder what his speakers fee is.

Point very well taken - in fact, doesn't this "words-deeds" disconnect characterize much of what passes for religious wisdom in our world. At least in older times (Qur'an, Sermon on the Mount, Upanishads...), they had more of an air of profundity. The Dalai Lama would fit well in a corporate retreat or on Just For Laughs - if he weren't such an insidious spokesperson for imperialism.

 

zazzo

 

Why all this animosity toward the Dalai Lama?  He is advocating a philosophy that is needed in this world that is spiralling toward destruction and death.  I don't see that he is doing any harm.  Maybe we should take a hard look at (or stance against) leaders who spout (Reader's Digest) platitudes, but whose policies have the opposite effects.

 

I would like to know how he is a spokesperson for imperialism.

Erik Redburn

Because rabble.ca is just about the only known space in the world where China is still seen as "socialist" and imperialism a purely American initiative. 

N.R.KISSED

More platitudes I suppose

"Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes—that is, the majority—as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair. I just recently read an article in a paper where His Holiness the Pope Benedict XVI also pointed out some positive aspects of Marxism (though disapproving of it on the whole).

As for the failure of the Marxist regimes, first of all I do not consider the former USSR, or China, or even Vietnam, to have been true Marxist regimes, for they were far more concerned with their narrow national interests than with the Workers' International; this is why there were conflicts, for example, between China and the USSR, or between China and Vietnam. If those three regimes had truly been based upon Marxist principles, those conflicts would never have occurred.

I think the major flaw of the Marxist regimes is that they have placed too much emphasis on the need to destroy the ruling class, on class struggle, and this causes them to encourage hatred and to neglect compassion. Although their initial aim might have been to serve the cause of the majority, when they try to implement it all their energy is deflected into destructive activities. Once the revolution is over and the ruling class is destroyed, there is not much left to offer the people; at this point the entire country is impoverished and unfortunately it is almost as if the initial aim were to become poor. I think that this is due to the lack of human solidarity and compassion. The principal disadvantage of such a regime is the insistence placed on hatred to the detriment of compassion.

The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist"

Erik Redburn

Maybe platitudes to some, NRK, but somethings need repeating here by someone more diplomatic than I.  Did I tell you I'm glad to see you back?  I have few problems with Marx, stripped of all the political distortions applied to his ideas over the "cold war" years --on either side. 

(I like to call myself as a Zen-Pagan Humanist with a Socialist-Syndicalist bent.  Which of course is almost nonsensical....which is exactly the point.  =:))

Unionist

NRK, I am very happy to see you posting again and hope to see you more frequently.

As for that passage from the Dalai Lama, it is fascinating how, of all the failures and hardships and crimes committed in the socialist experiments so far, he manages to focus on the only one he really cares about - the loss of his paradise:

Quote:
I think the major flaw of the Marxist regimes is that they have placed too much emphasis on the need to destroy the ruling class ...

Whether he's right or wrong kind of pales into insignificance when set beside his howling conflict of interest.

Quote:

Once the revolution is over and the ruling class is destroyed, there is not much left to offer the people; at this point the entire country is impoverished and unfortunately it is almost as if the initial aim were to become poor.

Could have been said by Stephen Harper or Michael Ignatieff - "the socialists can't manage an economy, our standard of living will collapse".

My biggest problem with those regimes has been the inability of the working masses - those on behalf the regimes purportedly rule - to have any definitive say or control over economics, politics, or social policy. From that springs all the other evils. Fascinating that the Dalai Lama doesn't mention that part. Democracy was anathema to his Paradise. All that was needed was "Love" - i.e., love of the Tibetan feudal-religious order - kind of like demanding "love for the socialist order", if you ask me.

 

earth_as_one earth_as_one's picture

I would never have guessed that anyone outside of the Chinese politburo harbored animousity toward this man.  I believe strongly in the concept of non-violence and as a result I find the man to be inspirational and wise.   He has said and written far more than just the platitudes I listed for reference.  My intent was to outline his beliefs and philosophy.  I think the world would be a far better place if more people adopted his philosophies and beliefs.  I don't accept all his beliefs as I'm agnostic, but the Dalai Lama is more relevant to me than the Pope. 

I can understand why people might disgree with him and at the very worst consider him harmless.  But a violent thug?  C'mon, you must be kidding.  I'm pretty sure even I could beat up the Dalai Lama...  ;-)

So what's next?  How about a string denigrating Mother Theresa?

N.R.KISSED

"So what's next?  How about a string denigrating Mother Theresa?"

 

I don't think we want to go there because there is plenty more to criticize than there is for the Dalai Lama.

KenS

Kicking anything perceived to associate with religion is one of the preffered pastimes of the left intelligentsia.

RosaL

 

I'm pretty sure there's been at least one Mother-Teresa-denigrating thread.

Buddhism is trendy in in affluent liberal circles in the west and I suspect it's a rather romanticized version of buddhism, too. 

Unionist

Of all the things I find offensive about the Dalai Lama - and I've written about them above - religion isn't one. I respect his religious beliefs. It's how he applies them to various social and political situations that I disagree with. And who called him a violent thug, earth as one? I called him a standup comic.

KenS

Unionist wrote:
Agreed. But China has always been an important prize for the West, and if the Dalai Lama and his ilk can help them to make inroads, it pays to keep him close and pretend that he's some kind of saint, genius, and stand-up comic all rolled into one.

Notwithstanding the meat of what you just said, did you also mean to agree with the part of the opening post that said "Tibet is better off under Chinese tutelage"

 

This is honest curiousity, because I definitely don't want to replay that endless debate. [And one answer could be that particular question is a diversion. More or less, no commen, not relevant to the point made, etc.]

KenS

Unionist wrote:
And who called him a violent thug, earth as one? I called him a standup comic.

Well, I like that. Even if I don't follow where it came from.

I suspect that the DL would appreciate it too.

Erik Redburn

"And who called him a violent thug, earth as one? I called him a standup comic."

 

Opening post:

"Tibet is better off under Chinese tutelage, and the monks were, l

et's face it, a bunch of violent thugs. I just don't get why politicians fall over each

other to hang around with the Dalai Lama."

 

I also find it rather colonialist, if not racist.  We've had this discussion before.

 

ennir

Gern Blanston wrote:

The Dalai Lama was in Vancouver last week, but really does he really have anything

important to say? Tibet is better off under Chinese tutelage, and the monks were, l

et's face it, a bunch of violent thugs. I just don't get why politicians fall over each

other to hang around with the Dalai Lama.

 http://wickedscholar.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/is-the-dalai-lama-relevant

I don't know the Dalai Lama and have no big interest in meeting him but I do know a number of Tibetan monks and between you and them I would say that you are the violent thug, you started the hate fest.

 

thetorygirl

Just a bunch of atheist separatist thugs on this board polluting our country as they usually do. They hate Canada now they hate the religious leader the Dalai Lama. you can always tell them by their bitter divisive hatred pouring from their violent separatist mouths.

Notice it's always the same thugs and their sock puppets coming up with this shit on babble rabble. Always the same thugs on this board shooting off their racist separatist mouths already.

remind remind's picture

Sorry do not believe this person is really who she is pretending she is.

N.R.KISSED

thetorygirl wrote:

Just a bunch of atheist separatist thugs on this board polluting our country as they usually do. They hate Canada now they hate the religious leader the Dalai Lama. you can always tell them by their bitter divisive hatred pouring from their violent separatist mouths.

Notice it's always the same thugs and their sock puppets coming up with this shit on babble rabble. Always the same thugs on this board shooting off their racist separatist mouths already.

Go play now. Adults are talking.

N.R.KISSED

Unionist wrote:

NRK, I am very happy to see you posting again and hope to see you more frequently.

As for that passage from the Dalai Lama, it is fascinating how, of all the failures and hardships and crimes committed in the socialist experiments so far, he manages to focus on the only one he really cares about - the loss of his paradise:

Quote:
I think the major flaw of the Marxist regimes is that they have placed too much emphasis on the need to destroy the ruling class ...

Whether he's right or wrong kind of pales into insignificance when set beside his howling conflict of interest.

Quote:

Once the revolution is over and the ruling class is destroyed, there is not much left to offer the people; at this point the entire country is impoverished and unfortunately it is almost as if the initial aim were to become poor.

Could have been said by Stephen Harper or Michael Ignatieff - "the socialists can't manage an economy, our standard of living will collapse".

My biggest problem with those regimes has been the inability of the working masses - those on behalf the regimes purportedly rule - to have any definitive say or control over economics, politics, or social policy. From that springs all the other evils. Fascinating that the Dalai Lama doesn't mention that part. Democracy was anathema to his Paradise. All that was needed was "Love" - i.e., love of the Tibetan feudal-religious order - kind of like demanding "love for the socialist order", if you ask me.

Thanks it's nice to know I was missed.

I guess what I find interesting though in your response is that you seem to be focusing only on what you  disagree with that he says but not acknowledging anything you might agree with.  You don't seem to acknowlege that he sides morally, socially and economically with Marxists. He also acknowledges that totalitarian communist regimes are not genuinely socialist. I agree I found some of what he was saying about the ruling class somewhat perplexing, although I'm not sure your interpretation is necessarily the only reading. I took what he said to mean that if one focuses extensively on destructive activities to the extent of engaging in tyranny than society will suffer socially and economically.

IN terms of him speaking in platitudes;I would disagree that claiming that the central organizing principle of human existence should be compassion and loving kindness is a platitude. It is interesting that is viewed as a platitude but there is greater meaning than a presciptive "try to be nice" the essential tenet is the practice of compassionate action towards all living beings to actually live that is a complex and radical action. I also find it interesting that people seem to expect someone who speaks english as a second language to hold forth on profound and complex issues of Buddhist Dharma and its relalation to world events.

I also have never heard any heads of organized religions make the claim that temples, dogma and rituals are non-essential components to a "good life" You won't hear that from Catholics and Kropotkin comparing him to a pedophile bishop is rather a cheap smear.

I would like to be clear that I don't believe the Dalai Lama is an unassailable saint and I also don't agree with many things that he says. He would admit that his response on Iraq and Afghanistan were quite weak and I would agree that he does balance what he says because he doesn't want to alienate his support from the west. At the same time I do think some things that he says are valuable considering the high profile he has.

Let me be clear though I agree that Tibet prior to occupation was not a paradise( I would challenge you to find the Dalai Lama making this claim.) THe idea of the Tibetan Shangi-la sort of falls into racist trope of the "noble savage". I also agree that many liberals have embraced/appropriated Buddhist belief due to some sense of lack or spiritual thirst and these people actually miss some essential components of the actual Dharma. At the same time I do have difficulty with the construction of preoccupation Tibet as a land characterized as brutally feudalic equally problematic. The suggestion that Tibetans were too backwards and in need of progress and liberation is the a rather common rationalization for violent colonial interventions. "We are doing this for their own good". Sound familiar?

Finally it is worth noting that the Dalai Lama was only 15 when he left Tibet so he can hardly be held accountable for the entirety of the historical social conditions of pre-occupation Tibet. It is also my understanding that he was also interested at that time and continues to be interested in democratic and social reform.

http://www.tibet.com/whitepaper/white4.html

Unionist

I appreciate your balanced account, NRK. All very thought-provoking, and I will think it over.

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Erik Redburn wrote:

Because rabble.ca is just about the only known space in the world where China is still seen as "socialist" and imperialism a purely American initiative. 

Really? Who claims that China is socialist ... other than the MSM in North America? Socialist rhetoric, maybe, devoid of content.

Unionist

Actually, I was going to ask Erik the same question. I haven't seen one babbler describe China as "socialist" - nor have I seen anyone identify only "America" as imperialist.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Since there are quotation marks here, without attributing the quote to anyone in particular, I'm assuming you're quoting the Dalai Lama  (... or yourself) .

N.R.KISSED wrote:

"Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability.

Wrong. Marx ridiculed this sort of approach. His ideological predecessor, Ludwig Feuerbach, tried to found an ideology that rejected using religious belief and "faith" as the basis for social understanding and could only manage a weak "all you need is love" philosophy. Feuerbach's philosophical materialism was numbingly contemplative. Marx's approach was founded on his understanding of social life, whose analysis he sought in political economy. And Marx's views were of society as dynamic and capable of change ... which would, in turn, transform moral values themselves. In a nutshell, you've got the cart before the horse.

Quote:
As for the failure of the Marxist regimes, first of all I do not consider the former USSR, or China, or even Vietnam, to have been true Marxist regimes, for they were far more concerned with their narrow national interests than with the Workers' International; this is why there were conflicts, for example, between China and the USSR, or between China and Vietnam. If those three regimes had truly been based upon Marxist principles, those conflicts would never have occurred.

Good grief. Socialism is not paradise. Furthermore, as long as there are capitalist countries, there was bound to be attempts to incite conflict, etc. For example, Nixon went to China in 1972 with that aim in mind; to incite/increase conflict between China and the Soviets. Nixon was very successful in that regard.

Quote:
I think the major flaw of the Marxist regimes is that they have placed too much emphasis on the need to destroy the ruling class, on class struggle, and this causes them to encourage hatred and to neglect compassion.

Yes, yes. All you need is love, right? Feuerbach said this 150 years ago. Marx went beyond such schoolboy views. Good grief.

One of the great merits of Marxism as an ideology is PRECISELY that it emphasized struggle as the means for people to improve their lives, does not preach social isolationism, and always promotes solidarity and unity in that struggle. For that reason alone it still carrries a nasty sting that riles up the right wing and for that reason alone it deserves careful scrutiny by people who want to make the world a better place and believe that thoughtful struggle, clarifying allies and so on, is the way to go.

 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

HeywoodFloyd wrote:

Really? I'd think that someone who opposes the mission in Afghanistan or the deveopment of the oil sands would be a little more supportive.

http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Dalai+Lama+sounds+Afghan+oilsands/2055...

 

Quote:

CALGARY - Military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq has been a failure, according to the Dalai Lama.

At a press conference today, the Tibetan spiritual leader said military action is sometimes necessary, citing the Second World War and Korea.

"In Iran and Afghanistan, it's too early to say. So far, I think a failure, using military force. Hard liners (are) becoming even more harder," he said.

Civilian casualties, he said, are creating sympathy for the other side, without specifically citing the Taliban.

Asked about the development of Alberta's oilsands, he said in a choice between "destruction of environment or losing money, then we have to choose losing money."

 

One wonders where those opinions were when he was calling George W, Bush, the butcher of Baghdad with rape rooms and dungeons, a man of peace.

Ze

N.R.KISSED wrote:
Thanks it's nice to know I was missed.

I guess what I find interesting though in your response is that you seem to be focusing only on what you  disagree with that he says but not acknowledging anything you might agree with.  You don't seem to acknowlege that he sides morally, socially and economically with Marxists. He also acknowledges that totalitarian communist regimes are not genuinely socialist. I agree I found some of what he was saying about the ruling class somewhat perplexing, although I'm not sure your interpretation is necessarily the only reading. I took what he said to mean that if one focuses extensively on destructive activities to the extent of engaging in tyranny than society will suffer socially and economically.

IN terms of him speaking in platitudes;I would disagree that claiming that the central organizing principle of human existence should be compassion and loving kindness is a platitude. It is interesting that is viewed as a platitude but there is greater meaning than a presciptive "try to be nice" the essential tenet is the practice of compassionate action towards all living beings to actually live that is a complex and radical action. I also find it interesting that people seem to expect someone who speaks english as a second language to hold forth on profound and complex issues of Buddhist Dharma and its relalation to world events.

I also have never heard any heads of organized religions make the claim that temples, dogma and rituals are non-essential components to a "good life" You won't hear that from Catholics and Kropotkin comparing him to a pedophile bishop is rather a cheap smear.

I would like to be clear that I don't believe the Dalai Lama is an unassailable saint and I also don't agree with many things that he says. He would admit that his response on Iraq and Afghanistan were quite weak and I would agree that he does balance what he says because he doesn't want to alienate his support from the west. At the same time I do think some things that he says are valuable considering the high profile he has.

Let me be clear though I agree that Tibet prior to occupation was not a paradise( I would challenge you to find the Dalai Lama making this claim.) THe idea of the Tibetan Shangi-la sort of falls into racist trope of the "noble savage". I also agree that many liberals have embraced/appropriated Buddhist belief due to some sense of lack or spiritual thirst and these people actually miss some essential components of the actual Dharma. At the same time I do have difficulty with the construction of preoccupation Tibet as a land characterized as brutally feudalic equally problematic. The suggestion that Tibetans were too backwards and in need of progress and liberation is the a rather common rationalization for violent colonial interventions. "We are doing this for their own good". Sound familiar?

Finally it is worth noting that the Dalai Lama was only 15 when he left Tibet so he can hardly be held accountable for the entirety of the historical social conditions of pre-occupation Tibet. It is also my understanding that he was also interested at that time and continues to be interested in democratic and social reform.

http://www.tibet.com/whitepaper/white4.html

Thanks for that, really interesting points. 

Pico Iyer's recent book on the Dalai Lama points out that he does complex theology in Tibetan, but boils it down to what can sound like platitudes when working in his very weak English - and that the power dynamics and simplifying tendencies of the Western media and trendy Westerners laying claim to a Buddhist identity are partly responsible for shaping the messaging attributed to the Dalai Lama. Tibetan activists are pretty skilled operators, but as they say themselves the "cuddly Dalai Lama image" is one of their best political assets. Stacked up against real power - the Chinese Government and the Western Corporate powers that love it - what else can they do?

(By the way, as I understand it he's more than just interested in reform - he's sponsored the creation of a democratic system among Tibetans in exile and even tried to abolish his own political position, but the community rejected that part.)

--

"One law for the lion and the ox is oppression" - Blake

Erik Redburn

N.Beltov wrote:

Erik Redburn wrote:

Because rabble.ca is just about the only known space in the world where China is still seen as "socialist" and imperialism a purely American initiative. 

Really? Who claims that China is socialist ... other than the MSM in North America? Socialist rhetoric, maybe, devoid of content.

 

Really Beltov?   Can you give me one plausible reason then why the opening post is seen as acceptable by so many here?  And can you show me exactly where you have admitted that China is no longer even remotely socialistic?   I'd really rather not reopen this old argument again, so I'd actually be quite pleased to see it.

N.R.KISSED

Actually I've been doing some research and I might want to change my answer. Is it too late to change my answer? More research is needed...

KenS

Your reply Beltov compares a cardboard cutout straw person version of what the Dalai Lama said [and actually NRKs simplified version], to a self interestedly charitable reading of Marx.

It would be easy but fruitless to turn the tables on that.

KenS

One further attempt to elaborate on this small quote from the DL. Fair game to see his comment on overthrowing the ruling classes as self interested.

But I think his problem would be the overthrowing part. He's a complete pacifist. Which by the way, in relation to relations with China, is a persist tension between himself and younger Tibetans [both exiles and in Tibet]. There is nothing necessarily pacifist about Buddhism- and I'd say even less so about Tibetans.

I'd also guess that the DL would not be comfortable with the 'overthrow' part of anything, even if it wasn't violent. But I'm really just guessing that his belief in dialogue might go that far.

KenS

A couple of interpretive comments I'll make that I think are useful in their own right.

One is that the DL's understanding of Marxism is not at all simplictic. When he says "applying Marxist principles" he is not meaning in some purist sense.

The DL would by nature anyway have strived to understand Marxism as much as he possibly could- in and on its own terms rather than his- simply for practical reasons. But the elegance and essential simplicity of dialectical materialism would appeal to anyone intellectually raised in Tibetan Buddhism.

Not to mention the sheer joy that Tibetans would appreciate in smashing the bonds. Way cool for them.

Another side point is that a Tibetan Buddhist while appreciating dialectical materialism would see Marx's understanding of historical imperitaves as more metaphysial than their own beliefs.

autoworker autoworker's picture

What's the role of the Dahli Lama vis-a-vis Western culture, other than that of a celebrity?  His comments on world affairs are no different, in that aspect, than those of rock stars and movie idols.  Perhaps we're missing something spiritually in our society, so we trope toward what appears to be enlightenment.  Anyway, 15,000 in Calgary? I guess he fills a void.

Unionist

KenS wrote:
He's a complete pacifist.

First, who cares what the Dalai Lama thinks about "Marxism" and what he calls "Marxist" states? This thread is about whether he has anything of importance to say. Arguing about Marxism may be interesting to some leftists (I'm not among them, but that's neither here nor there), but it's heavy drift here.

As for the Dalai Lama being a "complete pacifist", let me know when he calls for the U.S. and NATO to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. He may be a great fan of "pure" Marxism for all I know or care. But as a pacifist, he is a fraud.

 

KenS

I really don't care what he says about international affairs either.

But the premise of the thread and most of you who first commented on it is not "does the DL have anything important to say", but to simply express your feelings about the DL. Some of that is very ill informed and/or simply convenient to the speakers outlook. thats what I respond to.

Unionist

Actually, Ken, while I don't like the Dalai Lama for a number of reasons (not least of which his too-cute-by-half snake-oil salesman act), if he had something important to say, I'd look at that.

So far, the only comments of his quoted here have been the list of truisms (on which I commented), and his remarks on Afghanistan and the oilsands and Marxism (on which I've commented). None of it has the slightest air of originality or insight.

In fact, up to this point in the thread, the only comments that really have given me cause to reflect (and I'm still reflecting) are those by N.R. KISSED. Given a choice, I'd sooner pay money to listen to him than to the giggling DL guy.

ETA: Having said all that, if there's something important that you think the DL has to say, Ken, why not quote it here and let's discuss it?

 

earth_as_one earth_as_one's picture

Unionist wrote:

KenS wrote:
He's a complete pacifist.

...As for the Dalai Lama being a "complete pacifist", let me know when he calls for the U.S. and NATO to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. He may be a great fan of "pure" Marxism for all I know or care. But as a pacifist, he is a fraud.

I don't think you understand the Dalai Lama.  He believes in "mindfulness" (intelligent rational thought) and as a result has concluded that in most cases, non-violent options are often the wisest long term solutions when taking into account consequences to actions.  But sometimes intelligent rational thought can lead to other conclusions such as fight or flight.

Quote:
...the Dalai Lama reflected on the complexity of the human condition, and our collective inability to provide simple solutions to life's circumstances. He noted, for example, "For mental problems, there is not one anitdote." What this means, of course, is that the cultivation of any one single attribute--whether compassion, wisdom, or mindfulness--is not sufficient. Compassion is a wonderful attribute to develop, but it has limits. As the Dalai Lama stated simply, "If a mad dog is coming towards you, compassion is no use. You need to use your intelligence." It might also help if you can run really, really fast...

Unionist

earth_as_one wrote:
But sometimes intelligent rational thought can lead to other conclusions such as fight or flight.

Quote:
As the Dalai Lama stated simply, "If a mad dog is coming towards you, compassion is no use. You need to use your intelligence."

Thank you for finding the proof, in the DL's own words, that he is not a "complete pacifist".

So, I guess it comes down to one's perception of a "mad dog".

And given his apparent stubborn refusal to suggest that the invaders should get their death machine out of Afghanistan - NOW - I can only imagine whom he sees as the "mad dogs". Could be the same people Rick Hillier famously called "scumbags"?

Not much of importance or wisdom in his statement so far, unfortunately.

ETA: By the way, it looks as if [url=the">http://www.rabble.ca/babble/international-news-and-politics/afghan-peopl... "mad dogs" are winning[/url].

jas

Here's an interesting article providing some context to armed monks in Tibet. Although it sounds like a convenient cop-out to claim the "non-binary" Buddhist way of seeing things, I think it's nevertheless true - if you can grasp it - and I also agree that you can't impose western values and concepts on an eastern (or any other non-euro) society that has lived a different experience and lives by different rules, and hope to understand it.

We are having the same argument in the thread on alternative health care. Leftists here will decry "imperialism" when nations invade other nations, but can't seem to acknowledge their own imperialism when they impose their particular positivist, reductivist values on other systems. Why would you think that's valid?

Unionist

The Dalai Lama gave a show in Montréal last night. [url=Here">http://www.montrealgazette.com/Dalai+Lama+opens+hearts+Montreal/2064054/...'s one report.[/url] I looked for relevant examples of important things or universal wisdom:

Quote:

He got a big round of applause when he answered a question emailed beforehand about how to raise a child.

“I’m not an expert,” said the never-married monk, with a hint of his well-known humour. “But I believe warm-heartedness and brain development” are key. “Parents must also provide maximum affection and spend more time with their children.” [...]

“People who say ‘me, I and mine’ a lot are at greater risk of having heart attacks” according to scientific studies, he explained. [...]

“We are social animals and deep inside you feel safe when you are surrounded by others,” added the Dalai Lama as he sat cross-legged with two interpreters on a stage adorned with yellow flowers.

Thanks, DL. And my favourite:

Quote:

Much to the delight of the Bell Centre crowd, the Dalai Lama was given a Canadiens hockey jersey, which he immediately draped over his shoulders and wore with a big, goofy smile.

On the back it said Kundun, meaning “The Presence.”

And finally, I loved the reporter's summation:

Quote:
For many in the audience, the Dalai Lama’s reminders about goodness were nothing new, but still a challenge.

Indeed.

jas

Unionist wrote:

Quote:

He got a big round of applause when he answered a question emailed beforehand about how to raise a child.

“I’m not an expert,” said the never-married monk, with a hint of his well-known humour. “But I believe warm-heartedness and brain development” are key. “Parents must also provide maximum affection and spend more time with their children.” [...]

“People who say ‘me, I and mine’ a lot are at greater risk of having heart attacks” according to scientific studies, he explained. [...]

“We are social animals and deep inside you feel safe when you are surrounded by others,” added the Dalai Lama as he sat cross-legged with two interpreters on a stage adorned with yellow flowers.

Yeah, what an outrage.

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