Not who you thought he was

Not who you thought he was

The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader believed by Buddhists to be the reincarnation of the Buddha, is a darling of the West’s glitterati, who fancy the Lama’s religion to be a light kind of spirituality that offers no moral judgments on their lifestyles. They’re sadly mistaken apparently. In an interview with the UK’s Telegraph, the Dalai Lama has some strong words for homosexuality and Western “values.”

On consumerism and materialism:

“It is fascinating,” he says, speaking in slightly stilted English. “In the West, you have bigger homes, yet smaller families; you have endless conveniences - yet you never seem to have any time. You can travel anywhere in the world, yet you don’t bother to cross the road to meet your neighbours; you have more food than you could possibly eat, yet that makes women like Heidi miserable.”

The West’s big problem, he believes, is that people have become too self-absorbed. “I don’t think people have become more selfish, but their lives have become easier and that has spoilt them. They have less resilience, they expect more, they constantly compare themselves to others and they have too much choice - which brings no real freedom.”

On promiscuity and marriage:

“Too many people in the West have given up on marriage. They don’t understand that it is about developing a mutual admiration of someone, a deep respect and trust and awareness of another human’s needs,” he says. “The new easy-come, easy-go relationships give us more freedom - but less contentment.”

On homosexuality and other perversions of sex:

Although he is known for his tolerant, humane views, he is a surprisingly harsh critic of homosexuality. If you are a Buddhist, he says, it is wrong. “Full stop.

No way round it.

“A gay couple came to see me, seeking my support and blessing. I had to explain our teachings. Another lady introduced another woman as her wife - astonishing. It is the same with a husband and wife using certain sexual practices. Using the other two holes is wrong.”

At this point, he looks across at his interpreter - who seems mainly redundant - to check that he has been using the right English words to discuss this delicate matter. The interpreter gives a barely perceptible nod.

“A Western friend asked me what harm could there be between consenting adults having oral sex, if they enjoyed it,” the Dalai Lama continues, warming to his theme. “But the purpose of sex is reproduction, according to Buddhism. The other holes don’t create life. I don’t mind - but I can’t condone this way of life.”

It’s funny—and this will drive the ecumenism conspiracy theorists crazy—but if you substituted the Dalai Lama’s name for Pope John Paul’s or Pope Benedict’s you’d have a hard time telling the difference.

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