25 May 2010

The Dalai Lama on religious harmony

His Holiness the Dalai Lama (the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet) wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times on 24 May 2010. Extract
WHEN I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best — and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today.

Though intolerance may be as old as religion itself, we still see vigorous signs of its virulence. In Europe, there are intense debates about newcomers wearing veils or wanting to erect minarets and episodes of violence against Muslim immigrants. Radical atheists issue blanket condemnations of those who hold to religious beliefs. In the Middle East, the flames of war are fanned by hatred of those who adhere to a different faith.

Such tensions are likely to increase as the world becomes more interconnected and cultures, peoples and religions become ever more entwined. The pressure this creates tests more than our tolerance — it demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding across boundaries.

Granted, every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity. Even so, I believe there is genuine potential for mutual understanding. While preserving faith toward one’s own tradition, one can respect, admire and appreciate other traditions.
Read more. It's a powerful article worth reading.

Interfaith dialogue is an important means of social interaction to improve mutual understanding.

Interestingly, the byline used was Tenzin Gyatso, meaning ocean of wisdom. It's the shortened version of the full name of Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom) given to the Dalai Lama as a young boy who was born as ལྷ་མོ་དོན་འགྲུབ་ (Lhamo Döndrub) after he was recognised as the 14th reincarnation.

Given the name Dalai Lama is a title, similar to Pope, the byline could not have been simply 'Dalai Lama'. Similarly, an article by Pope Benedict XVI would probably have the byline 'Benedict XVI' and not Joseph Ratzinger or 'Pope'.

Unlike the Dalai Lama (aside from the expected criticism from the Chinese Government) who has been considered to be embracing of all people, Pope Benedict XVI has been criticised by some for divisive views.

No comments: