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Gautama Sidhartha who became the Buddha or Enlightened One was raised in a wealthy Hindu family. As a young man he was deeply troubled by the poverty, suffering and death he saw on the streets of his town. His solution was to leave his wife and children and go meditate in a cave for much of the rest of his life. His goal was to deal with suffering by meditation, “chilling out,” and reaching Nirvana or absorption into the universe. Did he believe in God? It is not clear.i How have his teachings affected civilization?

PASSIVITY

A modern day man who followed the Buddha left his wife and children, quit his job and spent years meditating in his garage. This is not standard behavior in Buddhist regions of the world. The wives probably do not allow it. Indeed, this level of meditation is not to be practiced until old age when family responsibilities are past. But the notion that pain and suffering are solved by passivity leads to ongoing, unresolved social and economic problems. If you were Gautama walking the streets, seeing the sick and destitute, what would you do, meditate or support the Red Cross?

CHARITY

A woman described her grandmother, a devout Buddhist, saving up money sent to her by her son for several years to help him establish a medical practice in Taiwan. Before he returned she had given all the money to the Buddhist monks. This woman also tells us that whenever there were disasters the Red Cross or Salvation Army would come in with help, but the Buddhist monks never seemed to be mentioned as helping out.

In Buddhism, alms or almsgiving is the respect given by a lay Buddhist to a Buddhist monk, nun, spiritually-developed person or other sentient being. It is not charity as presumed by Western interpreters. It is closer to a symbolic connection to the spiritual and to show humbleness and respect in the presence of normal society.ii

SUPERSTITION

Tantric practices found both in Hinduism and Buddhism involve ancient rituals and potions. The government in India tries to stamp out these practices, but they are not always successful. One example which occurred in 2003 was the ritual human sacrifice of a neighbor’s six year old son.

The perpetrators were childless neighbors who were desperate to have a son of their own. It was the 25th killing this year linked to Tantric practices – an ancient Indian form of witchcraft that many Indians use to solve problems like unemployment and infertilityiii

CULT ABUSE

Mary Garden shared a disturbing report of her years in Eastern mysticism.

I heard of Sathya Sai Baba a few weeks before I was due to leave. I met some of his Western devotees (one was a medical practitioner) and was astonished by what they told me—tales of Baba healing the sick, curing the lame, resurrecting the dead, transporting himself great distances, manifesting in many places and bodies simultaneously; also, of his drawing necklaces, bracelets, and rings from thin air, and a sacred ash called vibhuti from the palm of his hand. Evidently he had millions of devotees in India, and Westerners from all over the world were flocking to him. They considered him to be the Avatar of the age: a direct incarnation of God. Even India’s prime minister was a devotee.

Most of the gurus I met taught the need to give up all thinking and to surrender totally. At the entrance to Rajneesh’s ashram in Poona was a sign: “Leave your minds and your shoes outside the gate.” (p. 182)

The guru-disciple relationship is probably the most authoritarian of all in its demands for surrender and obedience. Hence it can be the most destructive. And so far from achieving the enlightenment and freedom that many of us “wannabe” spiritual pioneers of the 1970s sought (and were promised), we experienced mental imprisonment and confusion. We were seduced by yogis and swamis telling us what we wanted to hear: that we were special and that they were God incarnate. Our need was our downfall.iv

RISKS OF MINDFULNESS

What is Buddhist meditation, sometimes described as “mindfulness”? You let whatever comes to mind, come to mind. It will pass over your head like an ocean wave, and be gone. “Chill, man.” If the negative thinking doesn’t pass, focus on a sound like “Ooooommmmm”. Mind you, this is not western meditation where you think positive THOUGHTS – pray, and give thanks. Is there any scientific evidence as to what happens when you practice mindfulness meditation?

Sam Geppi of S.F. Yoga says, “Negative side effects from meditation? There really are none. Meditation is just about going within, toward what is real. There is nothing ‘created’ through meditation. We create our problems and negative side effects more by escaping into the world, escaping from meditation. Meditation is a long-overdue look within. Sometimes a student will discuss their initial fear of the inner void once the space and depth of being is first encountered, or that they feel like they are going crazy. I simply tell them, ‘Meditation is not making you crazy. It is making you aware that you are already crazy.’”v

But Geppi does not know the science of what is happening in the brain during meditation. Meditation raises serotonin levels – good if your serotonin levels are low. Taking SSRIs like Prozac and Paxil raise serotonin levels in depressed people. But raising serotonin levels in folks with normal levels is not a good thing.

Dr. Michael Persinger, a psychologist at Laurentian University in Canada, found in 1993 that meditation induces epilepsylike brain seizures in some people. His study of 1,081 students showed that the 221 meditators among them had a higher rate of hallucinating floating spots of light, hearing voices, and even feeling the floor shake. Other studies reported that meditators complained of feeling emotionally dead and seeing the environment as unreal, two-dimensional, amorphous. Those results aren’t surprising if meditation reduces blood flow to the parietal lobe. In longtime meditators, unreality can strike spontaneously. Singer describes it as “involuntary meditation.” One of her patients took anti-seizure medication for 25 years after quitting meditative practice to regain control of his mind.vi

RELIGION DOMINATED STATE

The People’s Republic of China is the current government of Tibet. During the Summer Olympics of 2008 the Dalai Lama, backed by much of the Western world, protested the fact that he is exiled from Tibet. I found myself wondering why we living in a free society would push to have a religious leader take over a nation. Do we want the Pope to restore the Holy Roman Empire? The Western Shugden Society, a branch of Buddhism, is opposed to restoring the Dalai Lama.

Like a dictator, the present false Dalai Lama has complete control over both religious and secular life within the exile Tibetan community.

For many years the Dalai Lama repeatedly said that he was not seeking Tibetan independence and that he has not done anything to promote it, yet in 2008 he suddenly organized demonstrations in Tibet against China for this purpose. Although the demonstrations were intended to embarrass the Chinese government in the year when the Olympic Games were held in China, the widely distributed video footage of Buddhist monks involved in looting and violence brought Buddhism into disrepute. He himself enjoys life in his luxurious palace in India, while the poor Tibetan people experience great suffering and danger. His senseless actions have caused Tibetans living in Tibet many difficulties, again through destroying their internal trust, peace and harmony.vii

Whatever wrongs and new oppressions introduced by the Chinese after 1959, they did abolish slavery and the Tibetan serfdom system of unpaid labor. They eliminated the many crushing taxes, started work projects, and greatly reduced unemployment and beggary. They established secular schools, thereby breaking the educational monopoly of the monasteries. And they constructed running water and electrical systems in Lhasa.viii

Buddhism speaks to us in a troubled world because it seems to give the individual peace. But what price do we pay when “peace” amounts to hiding your head in the sand and never dealing with reality? What real problems does that solve?

v Sandy Brundage, SFweekly.com/8/28/02, http://www.rickross.com/reference/brainwashing23.html

vi Sandy Brundage, SFweekly.com/8/28/02,http://www.rickross.com/reference/brainwashing23.html

viii http://michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html,Greene, A Curtain of Ignorance, 248 and passim; and Grunfeld, The Making of Modern Tibet, passim.

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14 thoughts on “OOOMY!

  1. Hi Paula. With any religion, it is easy to find examples of people who do not practice the teachings properly, and instances of opportunism and dishonesty by so-called adherents. That is what your posting describes. It doesn’t provide an accurate description of Buddhism. Incidentally, it couldn’t be clearer that Sidhartha/Gotama Buddha rejected the concept of a creator deity, and taught that blind faith in such a concept is an impediment to spiritual progress. Thus, whoever wrote “Did he believe in God? It is not clear!” knows nothing about Buddhism. Likewise, the Buddha was not raised a Hindu, and Tantric practices are nothing resembling witchcraft, although they are not a feature of the original Buddhist teachings. Almost nothing in that article is accurate. It’s quite obvious that the author is highly biased and poorly-informed.

    I hope you are doing well.

    Sincerely,
    Anthony

  2. How am I doing? Tired of writing about world religions, and only just started. Buddhism, especially, is hard to summarize in a short article. It also varies from one culture to another. My experience, limited, would suggest that in China Buddhism does take donations primarily to maintain the lives of the monks. Also, there are ideas we westerners would find superstitious. As to whether Buddha was a believer in a creator or whether he was raised a Hindu, the first is debatable. I think most historians would agree he was raised a Hindu. I would love for you to post links to articles refuting this.

    • Hi Paula. Here is an excerpt from the introduction of Maurice Walshe’s introduction of his authoritative translation of the the ancient Pali language Digha Nikaya (The Long Discourses of the Buddha). It appears unlikely that Gotama Buddha was raised as a Hindu.

      The Brahmins were the guardians of the religious cult brought into India by the Aryans. In later, non-Buddhist sources we always hear of the Brahmins as taking the leading place in society. Buddhist sources, however (Sutta 3, for example), assert the supremacy of the Khattiyas (Skt. ksatriya), the Noble or Warrior class [that had become farmers] to which Gotama belonged. It appears that while further west the Brahmins had already established their supremacy, this was not yet the case in the Ganges valley….

      The religious situation in northern India around 500 B.C. is very interesting, and was undoubtedly exceptionally favourable to the development of the Buddhist and other faiths. Though the Brahmins formed an important and increasingly powerful hereditary priesthood, they were never, like their counterparts elsewhere, able to assert their undisputed authority by persecuting and perhaps exterminating other religious groups. It seems that some Brahmins would not have been averse to such a course, but it was not open to them. They were a caste set aside from other men (in reading about them in the Buddhist texts, one is insistently reminded of the New Testament picture of the Pharisees, though in both cases the picture presented is, to say the least, one-sided). They alone were learned in the Three Vedas, knew the mystic mantras, and could conduct the all-important, bloody and expensive [animal] sacrifices. In fact, not all Brahmins exercised their priestly functions; some had settled down to agriculture or even trade, while continuing to expect the deference which they regarded as their due.

      The earlier (Dravidian?) inhabitants who had been overrun by the Aryans were the creators of the Indus Valley civilisation with the great cities of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, all now in Pakistan. And it is to this civilisation that we must look for the origins of the second stream of religious life, that of the samanas
      (Skt. sramanas). These have sometimes been absurdly called ‘recluses’, whereas the term really means the very opposite. True, a samana might occasionally be a recluse, a hermit shut away from the world in a rocky cell, but the more usual type was a wandered who had indeed ‘abandoned the world’ to lead a more or less ascetic life. He – or, rarely, she – was in fact, to use a modem expression, a drop-out from society, though differing from our modem drop-outs in at least one important respect: the samanas as a group received no less respect from all classes, even kings, than did the Brahmins (see Sutta 2, verse 25ff.). Their teachings were many and varied — some wise and some exceedingly foolish, some loftily spiritual and some crudely materialistic. The point is that they were completely free to teach whatever they pleased, and, so far from being persecuted as they might have been elsewhere, were received with honour wherever they went. We can distinguish several different groups of these people. There were in particular the self-mortifiers on the one hand, and the wanderers on the other, whose only austerity probably consisted in their detachment from family ties and, in theory at least, their observance of chastity….

      The wanderers ( paribbdjakas),some of whom were Brahmins, wore clothes (unlike many of the others, who went completely naked), and they led a less uncomfortable life. They were ‘philosophers’ who propounded many different theories about the world and nature, and delighted in disputation. The Pali
      Canon introduces us to six well-known teachers of the time, all of whom were older than Gotama. They are Purana Kassapa, an amoralist, Makkhali Gosala, a determinist, Ajita Kesakambali, a materialist, Pakudha Kaccayana, a categorialist, the Nigantha Nataputta (the Jain leader known to us as Mahavlra), who was a relativist and eclectic, and Sanjaya Belatthaputta, an agnostic sceptic or positivist (I borrow most of the descriptive epithets from Jayatilleke). Their different views are quoted by King
      Ajatasattu in Sutta 2, verses 16— 32.

      Besides these there were the propounders of the originally secret teaching incorporated in the Upanisads which came to be grafted on to orthodox Brahmanism, and whose doctrines were
      later to form the core of the Vedanta system. For them, the impersonal Brahman is the supreme reality, and the goal of the teaching is the realisation that the individual human soul or self (atman) is ultimately identical with the universal Self (Atman, which is another term for Brahman (the capitalisation here is
      merely for clarity: the teaching was at first and for long oral, and even when written down in an Oriental alphabet, such a distinction could not be made, since capital letters do not exist in any Eastern script). These aupanisadas [Upanishads] are not mentioned in the Pali Canon, though it is almost (but not, perhaps, quite) certain that Gotama was acquainted with their teachings.

  3. And here is Bikkhu Bodhi’s introduction to his authoritative translation of the Pali language Majjhima Nikaya (The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha). It describes Buddhism as it was originally practiced.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/6rfsgpgngky8zxh/The%20Middle%20Length%20Discourses%20of%20the%20Buddha%20-%20A%20Translation%20of%20the%20Majjhima%20Nikaya%20-%20Intro%20%281995%29.pdf?dl=0

    As Buddhism spread, it was grafted on to other religions or belief systems. But the core concepts remained unaltered for the most part. Of course, many people don’t understand the core concepts and focus on the least important aspects. And as with Christianity, there is quite a bit of belief in supernatural events (superstition), varying by region where it is practiced. Original Buddhism was best preserved in Sri Lanka and Burma, although there are major differences from early Buddhism. For instance, during Gotama’s lifetime elaborate temples did not exist. It’s not even possible to discuss a category such as Buddhism in Burma without taking into account different historical periods. To my knowledge, nobody was forced or pressured into donating to the community. Here is an excerpt from Andrew Skilling’s book, A Concise History of Buddhism, describing how the Buddhist community lived during and shortly after the Buddha’s lifetime:

    [Begin quote]

    We have already seen how the Buddha sent his first sixty disciples to wander abroad among the villages and towns teaching his Dharma: ‘Go now, monks, and wander, for the gain of many people, for the welfare of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the good, the gain, and the welfare of gods [with limited lifespans] and men.’ 31 From this we can gather that the Saṅgha, the spiritual community of the Buddha’s disciples, was originally peripatetic, that it consisted of a loose organization of homeless wanderers, parivrājakas, who had no fixed abode but during the dry season would sleep in the open and beg for their food. For this reason they came to be called bhikṣus (Pāli bhikkhus), because they wished to share or partake (bhikṣ) in the food of the community….

    During the life of the Buddha the Saṅgha was unified through the direct sense of refuge that each disciple had with him. After his death such formal recitation and confession helped the community cohere, especially as the Buddha had specifically stated that no individual was to succeed him as head of the order. 37 After the Buddha’s death his followers were to take his teaching and the ‘rule’ (vinaya) of the spiritual community as their guides. 38 Though externally the Saṅgha was bound by the laws of the monarchist state (e.g. slaves and royal servants were not permitted by the state to join the Saṅgha), internally its constitution reflected the ancient republican institutions of the clans among which the Buddha himself had been born. 39

    There seems to have been some flexibility in the early Vinaya, or Monastic Code, which was apparently defined to some degree, but not fully codified, by the time of the Buddha’s death. He seems to have been willing to adapt the rules of conduct to the specific conditions and attainments of individuals. There are a number of references which show the Buddha stating a preference for mental discipline over bodily discipline, 40 and in one instance he explains to a parivrājaka called Udāyin that the other disciples admire the Buddha not for his observance of the prātimokṣa rules the rules of personal training] (only five are mentioned, and maybe these were all that were established at that time), but for his practice of śīla, samādhi, and prajñā, i.e. morality, meditation, and wisdom. 41

    [End quote]

    But a some wealthy patrons, incliding “kings,” donated land and built monasteries. These “kings” were the rulers of regions of India, not what we think of as a king. According to Buddhist Monastic Life According to the Texts of the Theravāda Tradition (1990):

    [Begin quote]

    Most of these rules [about monastic life] were established with two intentions in mind: monks should not stray from a simple way of life, and they should not abuse the generosity of their benefactors.
    Some monks wanted to build cells or larger residences, with the help of lay donors. But the Buddha forbade them to do so in whatever manner and wherever they pleased. Monks had to limit the size of the residences they built, and the building site had to be approved by the Community. If a benefactor,on the other hand, had a monastery built, or added some rooms to a monastery, he could do so without regard for size, but the building site still had to be approved by the Community. The construction of a residence was not to entail the destruction of plant life or of ancient sanctuaries belonging to other religions, and there had to be an open space around the building. Once the building work was completed, monks were not allowed to importune the benefactor with requests for more rooms. These rules were intended to avoid making difficulties for the donor, and to encourage monks to keep to a simple way of life (Sahghddisesa rules 6-7, Vin III 144-157).

    [End quote]

    My primary interest is to understand and practice Buddhism as it was originally taught, so I do not spend much time learning about schools of Buddhism that incorporated aspects of other religions. As with any religion that has existed for roughly 2,500 years, it should be easy to find examples of corruption or misinterpretation by groups of adherents.

  4. My primary interest as a follower of Christ is also to understand and practice my religion as it was originally taught. I expect I will cover some of these issues when I cover how Christianity affects the culture. I would follow Jesus even if the churches had gone off the tracks, but not the deviant or harmful teachings of various churches.

    • Hi Paula. I din’t see any “argument” or analysis in the web page at that link. I see only summary statements that Ehrmann “got it wrong again.” If you know of any books that refute, partially refute or attempt to refute the three books of his that I have read, I would be interested in reading them. I don’t you can argue that Ehrmann got it wrong if you haven’t actually read the books that you can download from the links I provided, I would be surprised if everything Ehrmann wrote were correct, If you re-read the earliest of the synoptic gospels (Mark), Jesus refers to himself as the son of man. The author of Mark clearly intended to convey that Jesus was referring to himself in the third person (Mark 8:31, 9:9, 9:31, 10:33, 10:45, 14:21, 14:41). Markian Christians in Palestine had a much different view of Jesus than Paul, who, of course, never met Jesus and described him much differently than Jesus describes himself in Mark. And as you know, post-crucifixion events were added to Markl. According to the the commentary disagreeing with Ehrmann:

      Whereas Ehrman asserts that the early church ebbed and flowed in its beliefs about Jesus from a man exalted to heaven, to an angel who became human, to a pre-existent “divine” person who became incarnate, to a subordinated god, to being declared one with God Almighty; in contrast, Simon Gathercole and Chris Tilling show that many of these assertions do not stand up to scrutiny. Instead, they contend, biblical authors are remarkably consistent in their identification of Jesus with the God of Israel.

      Yes, the anonymous authors of New Testament we have today “consistently identify Jesus with the God of Israel,” But these texts represent only one of many competing factions of Christians. Even at 200 AD, there was no fixed New Testament canon.The texts were altered quite a bit, so the documents we have (written circa 200 AD) are not unreliable sources. As Richard Carrier (in agreement with most other New Testament scholars) has pointed out, “we know early Christianity and Judaism were wildly diverse and that we have scarce to no data about all the many different communities we know were flourishing at the time.” Carrier notes that a certain scholar (John Meier) “often speaks of the Gospels as if they were all products of a single monolithic ‘Church’ that never changed from beginning to end, when in fact they were produced by very diverse church communities in different places and times, and thus whose authors did not share the same values and concerns, nor even the same beliefs. Hence, we cannot speak of … “the church” (as Meier repeatedly does) because there was no such animal. There were many churches, constantly changing and competing over time and place.” The authors of the article at http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/04/16/3986412.htm make exactly the same mistake, claiming that “Ehrman asserts that the early church ebbed and flowed in its beliefs about Jesus.” There was a loose network of Christian communities with differing beliefs. But the authors of this article assume there was “an early church” as if it were a centralized entity.

      You might find Ehrmanns books interesting. He also wrote another book arguing that Jesus did really exist.

    • To put it differently, there is no way to ascertain which of the many (if any) different versions of Christianity that existed around 40 AD accurately represented who Jesus was and how he saw himself (if he did indeed exist). Chapter 5 of Richard Carrier’s Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus (2012) provides an excellent analysis of the speculative nature of New Testament scholarship, which applies as much to scholarship by non-believers as it does to scholarship by believers.

      It’s impossible to determine precisely what Gotama Buddha said and did, since the earliest documents we have are dated 450 years after his death (incidentally, the King James version of the New Testament was based on documents that were composed circa 400 AD). But the remarkable thing in Buddhism is that the copies of copies of the original Buddhist cannon and commentary about the canon preserved in Sinhalese, Pali, Chinese, Sanskrit and Tibetan do not contain significant differences over a 2,000 year span of time, although additional material was grafted on to the original teachings in China, Tibet, etc. What’s just as remarkable is that the copies of copies from the 19th century are consistent with the material we do have that was actually composed circa 50 C.E. Since we have proof that authentic preservation of the canon was of extreme importance in India, Sri Lanka, China, etc for the past 2,000 years, and because monks specialized in memorizing specific parts of the canon to pass it down, we do not find significant disputes concerning the doctrinal contents of the original teachings, even though we don’t know specifically what information about Gotama is fact or legend (and we do assume some of it was legend).

      • According to the article you cited:

        ” It wasn’t difficult to anticipate what is by now an utterly predictable narrative. Jesus was not God. He did not think he was God. The myth about Jesus being divine was later invented and got codified at the behest of the Roman Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea in 325 CE. In many variations of this narrative – thankfully, Ehrman’s is not one of them – Constantine, who converted to Christianity around 312 CE, wanted Jesus “made” divine so he could use Christianity as propaganda to keep his empire together: one emperor, one state, one God. As popular as this narrative remains, it is has one fatal flaw – namely, it is demonstrably false.”

        I haven’t read Ehrmann’s latest book, but this summary of his views does not accurately state Ehrmann’s position in the four books of his that I have read. To my recollection, Ehrmann does not argue that Jesus does not think he was God. I think he merely concludes that we don’t have enough any reliable information as to what Jesus really thought. I have looked at books by several people who disagree with Ehrmann, but I didn’t find them the least bit convincing. To the contrary, I think Richard Carrier makes a very compelling case that what passes for scholarship in New Testament studies would be characterized as speculation in any other field of historical research. I think Carrier makes a very strong case that scholars like Ehrmann (let alone scholars who oppose him and argue for an orthodox interpretation) use utterly unreliable criteria to establish things as basic as dates when the texts were originally composed. Since the attempted rebuttal of Ehrmann’s latest book undoubtedly uses the same unreliable historicity criteria, it could not prove anything “demonstrably,” especially with regard to any supposed prevailing view as early as 40 A.D. We have no reliable sources about prevailing beliefs so early. The earliest documents are ascribed to Paul, who never met Jesus, and who considered his own “revelations” about Jesus to be more accurate than the views ascribed to illiterate eyewitnesses, which most scholars believe were put into writing starting at least as 60-70 A.D. (though the dating of the documents is not agreed upon). But we know that these documents were altered heavily, so it’s not possible to say whether the versions of Paul’s letters we have from 200 A.D. state what was written circa 50 A.D. (based on speculative criteria for determining date of original composition). And of course, half the documents attributed to Paul were not written by him, and there is controversy as to the authorship of the documents ascribed to him.

        I will send another message summarizig Carrier’s arguments.

  5. Last note: the information you posted about the Dalai Lama sounds remarkably similar to Chinese propaganda.None of it is accurate.

    “The People’s Republic of China is the current government of Tibet. During the Summer Olympics of 2008 the Dalai Lama, backed by much of the Western world, protested the fact that he is exiled from Tibet. I found myself wondering why we living in a free society would push to have a religious leader take over a nation. Do we want the Pope to restore the Holy Roman Empire? The Western Shugden Society, a branch of Buddhism, is opposed to restoring the Dalai Lama.” Please see China co-opts a Buddhist sect in global effort to smear the Dalai Lama
    http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-dalailama/

    “The People’s Republic of China is the current government of Tibet. During the Summer Olympics of 2008 the Dalai Lama, backed by much of the Western world, protested the fact that he is exiled from Tibet.” False. He supported the right of Tibetans to peacefully protest that the Olympics were being held by a brutal communist dictatorship that is systematically trying to destroy Tibetan culture by populating Tibet with Chinese settlers. But he personally did not oppose the Olympics being held in China, which he made clear. He publicly opposed any violent protests. A handful of people dressed in monks robes committed acts of violence. It’s more likely that they were pretending to be monks and acting under orders from China.

    “Like a dictator, the present false Dalai Lama has complete control over both religious and secular life within the exile Tibetan community.” Completely false. On March 10, 2011, the New York Times reported: “The Dalai Lama announced Thursday that he would formally relinquish his political leadership role in the Tibetan exile government, a decision intended to strengthen the democratic structure of the Tibetan movement on the eve of elections to choose a new generation of political leaders.” According to the same NYT article, one of the DL’s biogrophers told the NYT: “Tibetan exiles have only reluctantly embraced democracy despite the Dalai Lama’s many urgings. Many would prefer that the Dalai Lama continue to make all major decisions. And he has had to push hard for them to accept someone other than himself as a political leader.”

    “Whatever wrongs and new oppressions introduced by the Chinese after 1959, they did abolish slavery and the Tibetan serfdom system of unpaid labor. They eliminated the many crushing taxes, started work projects, and greatly reduced unemployment and beggary. They established secular schools, thereby breaking the educational monopoly of the monasteries. And they constructed running water and electrical systems in Lhasa.” The wrongs imposed by China far outweigh any reforms they have showcased. They maintain their authority with brute force, and imprison, torture and murder people in Tibet who criticize Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama was 17 years old when China occupied Tibet. He certainly wasn’t responsible for inequities in Tibet prior to the invasion. And the Tibetan population longs for his return.

    “He himself enjoys life in his luxurious palace in India, while the poor Tibetan people experience great suffering and danger. His senseless actions have caused Tibetans living in Tibet many difficulties, again through destroying their internal trust, peace and harmony.” The wording sounds like this was taken from the Chinese State News Agency.

    • It was my writing that no government should be controlled by any religion, be it the Dalai Lama or the Pope. Sometimes the communists get it right.

      • I agree with you that no government should be controlled by any religion. But I would prefer the Dalai Lama as a political leader if the choice were between him and the Chinese government. The vast majority of Tibetans disagree with us, and want the Dalai Lama to be their political leader. He had to disempower himself politically against Tibetan public opinion. The Chinese government actually does promote other lamas who are their puppets. It is heavily involved in trying to promote Chinese-backed sects and in trying to misrepresent the Dalai Lama’s views.

  6. Anthony, I will get back to these issues after I finish covering the primary topic of how the major religions affect the culture. Again, thank you for your brilliant replies and research.

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