Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.

Now Blogging Afresh at Ad Orientem 西儒 - The Western Confucian

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Western "Buddhists"

It is not an uncommon experience to meet a Westerner, here in Asia or in the West, who claims to be a Buddhist. Usually, when pressed, it has been my experience that the espoused Buddhist knows very little about the religion but is instead attracted to some vague concept of Buddhism as a relativistic, tolerant, non-judgmental, non-imposing belief system that might have as its motto, “live and let live.” In other words, these disaffected Westerners see Buddhism to be everything that they perceive Christianity,particularly Catholic Christianity, not to be.

With no disrespect whatsoever intended toward the Buddhist faith or its sincere followers in the West, I would suggest that those who profess to be Buddhists read this article, written by none other than the Dalai Lama:

Dalai Lama Asks West Not to Turn Buddhism Into a "Fashion": Says Beliefs Cannot Be Unified With Christianity

In it, the Dalai Lama expresses these important truths:

"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. Like the New Age. They take something Hindu, something Buddhist, something, something... That is not healthy...

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

"I am Buddhist. 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." [my emhases]

On his previous meetings with Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama had this to say:

"I had a very pleasant meeting with him right at the beginning. 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."