Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Dalai Lama Speaks

Telegraph News 'Westerners are too self-absorbed':

On George W Bush: "On my next visit, he didn't mind when I was blunt about the war. By my third visit, I was ushering him into the Oval Office. I was astonished by his grasp of Buddhism."

On the West: "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."

On relationships: "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: 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."

"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."

On British suicide bombers: [H]e was horrified to hear about Britain's "home-grown" suicide bombers. "In any country or society, there will be rich, poor, different races, different religions - but this is all secondary. Your country should be your common ground.

"This new terrorism has been brewing for many years. Much of it is caused by jealousy and frustration at the West because it looks so highly developed and successful on television. Leaders in the East use religion to counter that, to bind these countries together."

On happiness: "I was happiest in my childhood when my mother smiled, or my teacher let me off lessons. But as an adult, life without challenges is meaningless. Now, I feel happy because my flowers are growing in this rain even though I know that, at the same time, my country is facing elimination."

On air travel: "If I fly abroad, I fly business class - or my robes engulf everyone," he explains. "But first class is an outrageous luxury."