Dalai Lama Asks West Not to Turn Buddhism Into a "Fashion"

Says Beliefs Cannot Be Unified With Christianity

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MADRID, Spain, OCT. 8, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, appealed to the West not to embrace Buddhism as a mere cultural fashion.



Under questioning by reporters, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama and exiled head of the Tibetan state, denied proposing in his meetings with the Pope a sort of mixture or unification of Buddhism and Christianity.

The religious leader made these statements following a talk in the 21st Century Club at the Eurobuilding Hotel of Madrid.

Asked if the future of Buddhism is in the West, the Nobel Peace Prize winner replied: "People from different traditions should keep their own, rather than change. However, some Tibetan may prefer Islam, so he can follow it. Some Spanish prefer Buddhism; so follow it. But think about it carefully. Don't do it for fashion. Some people start Christian, follow Islam, then Buddhism, then nothing."

"In the United States I have seen people who embrace Buddhism and change their clothes," he said, laughing. "Like the New Age. They take something Hindu, something Buddhist, something, something. ... That is not healthy."

The Dalai Lama also spoke about his meetings with John Paul II.

"I had a very pleasant meeting with him right at the beginning," the Buddhist recalled. "As he is also a Communist opponent, we share this background, of having no freedom. Me too, since 1951. We had very close feelings for each other. I admire his energy, and also his feelings for humanity, and his effort to get closer at Assisi with other traditions and religions."

However, the Dalai Lama added, there "cannot be unification" between Christianity and Buddhism. "If you mean having a closer relation, understanding, that is happening in religions," he noted.

"For individual practitioners, having one truth, one religion, is very important. Several truths, several religions, is contradictory," he said.

"I am Buddhist," he added. "Therefore, Buddhism is the only truth for me, the only religion. To my Christian friend, Christianity is the only truth, the only religion. To my Muslim friend, Mohammedanism is the only truth, the only religion. In the meantime, I respect and admire my Christian friend and my Muslim friend. If by unifying you mean mixing, that is impossible, useless."