Out of the closet or appeasement?
By Jim Mone, AP
Usually what we hear from the Dalai Lama is an insistant yet soothing voice for compassion and peace.
So Tsering Namgyal, a journalist based in Minneapolis, was jolted by the Dalai Lama's talk to 150 Chinese students this month at University of Minnesota. Writing at Religion Dispatches, he says:
Midway through the conversation, His Holiness, much to their surprise, told them "as far as socio-political beliefs are concerned, I consider myself a Marxist ... But not a Leninist," he clarified.
After all, China is constantly pressing to legitimize its takeover of Tibet in world opinion. Meanwhile, the Buddhist spiritual leader is the global symbol of Tibetan opposition what they consider the obliteration of their independence and religious culture.
The Dalai Lama, who withdrew from his political position as head of the Tibetan government in exile earlier this year, is still the face of the cause to most Americans.
When one student asked it this didn't contradict the Dalai Lama's philosophy, he replied:
Marx was not against religion or religious philosophy per se but against religious institutions that were allied, during Marx's time, with the European ruling class. He also provided an interesting anecdote about his experience with Mao. He said that Mao had felt that the Dalai Lama's mind was very logical, implying that Buddhist education and training help sharpens the mind. He said he met with Mao several times, and that once, during a meeting in Beijing, the Chinese leader called him in and announced: "Your mind is scientific!" -- an assessment that was followed by the famous line, "religion is poison."
According to Namgyal, two other speakers pointed out that both Buddhism and Christianity, perhaps riding in with the surge in western-style capitalism in China, are both on the rise there today.
He's continued chatting up on China this week during his 11-day tour of Australia. The Associated Press reports he told a crowd in Mebourne that his enemy was
Not China. Some hard-liner Communists. They really brought a lot of suffering.
Do his political and economic take affect your view of him as a spiritual voice?