‘Living nonviolence is not always easy’

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

1 minute

“When you are not the Dalai Lama—that is, not an incarnation of a bodhisattva (or even a ‘simple monk’ as he prefers)—living nonviolence is not always easy.”
Carole McGranahan

Always remind yourself that the Dalai Lama’s insistence on nonviolence is pragmatic—not principled.

Not only was the Dalai Lama a beneficiary of the CIA’s military and financial support, he exhorted unwilling members of the Tibetan foreign legion to fight India’s war against Pakistan. He supports India’s development of its nuclear arsenal as well.

Talk is cheap and paper won’t blush. As a true realpolitiker, the Dalai Lama is wont to commit to all manner of conditional promises and principles. So, before celebrating his high-mindedness, look for the scholastic escape hatch. Once you’ve found one, you’ll find more.

The Dalai Lama would be a vegetarian, if only… He would be a pacifist, if only… He would accept scientific evidence, if only… He would embrace secularism, if only… He would be the last office holder, if only… He would confront abuse, if only… He would bring Buddhist sexual mores up to date, if only… He would support monastic gender equality, if only… He would disarm his troops, if only…

When all is said and done, the Dalai Lama remains an orthodox, rigid, reactionary Buddhist priest who keeps modernity at bay by playing up to gullible moderns. The most far-reaching refutation of Buddhist theories he actually accepted since the early 1960s is that the earth isn’t flat. Go figure.

Originally posted as a series of Tweets on December 5, 2022 (with slight edits and links added).

About the author

Rob Hogendoorn

Investigative reporter and academic researcher Rob Hogendoorn (b. 1964) began researching the reception of Buddhism in Western society and culture in the early 1990s. His modus operandi remained the same ever since: independent, inquisitive and provocative.