Mountain sanctuary, Tirdrom in central Tibet.
In a recent interview, H.H. the Dalai Lama said that Westerners had become too self-absorbed, burdened with too much choice. "It is fascinating. 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," he said.
"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."
He also revealed some aspects of his relationship with the US President George W. Bush. According to the Dalai Lama's opinion, modern terrorism was born out of jealousy of Western lifestyles.
"Fundamentalism is terrifying because it is based purely on emotion, rather than intelligence," the 70-year-old monk said at the seat of his government-in-exile in the northern Indian hilltop town of Dharamsala. "It prevents followers from thinking as individuals and about the good of the world.
"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."
The Dalai Lama warned that terrorists must be treated humanely. "Otherwise, the problem will escalate. If there is one bin Laden killed today, soon there will be 10 bin Ladens. Awesome. Ten bin Ladens killed, the hatred is spread; 100 bombed, and 1000 lose members of their families."
Although he appeared not to approve of the war in Iraq, he was admiring of Mr Bush. "He is very straightforward," said the monk. "On our first visit, I was faced with a large plate of biscuits. President Bush immediately offered me his favourites, and after that, we got on fine. 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."
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 when Beijing crushed an anti-Chinese uprising there. He is the first Dalai Lama to travel to the West and has been accused of being obsessed with the trappings of fame there. "I never asked people like the actor Richard Gere to come, but it is foolish to stop them," he said. "My attitude is to give everyone some of my time. If I can contribute in any way to their happiness, that makes me happy."
April 01, 2006
© PROMETHEUS 106/2006
PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, News, Politics and Science. Nr. 106, APRIL 2006