The Dalai Lama’s Game Of Thimblerig

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

Less than a minute

Compulsive Western apologists have a hard time understanding that in 1993 the Dalai Lama could neither share nor shirk his responsibility and accountability as the constitutional leader of the Tibetan people.

Their thinking is hopelessly muddled by ignorance. The same may have been true of the participants in the 1993 meeting between the Dalai Lama and Western Buddhist teachers.

One of the reasons why the Arte-documentary is so revealing, is that we can watch him play verbal thimblerig in real time.

The Dalai Lama did so in 1993 by egging the Western Buddhist teachers on, fooling them—while they uproariously laughed—into endorsing his claim that they shared in the responsibility that was uniquely his.

The Dalai Lama did the same with the victims and survivors in 2018—actually citing the 1993 ‘precedent,’ although his constitutional position had changed by then.

Having thus ‘shared’ and ‘shirked’ his responsibility as any consummate, smooth-tongued rhetorician would, he left both meetings feeling satisfied that he had no responsibility for any kind of reformatory movement left.

It’s about time that we break the spell of the Dalai Lama’s ‘hilarious’ parlour resolutions and hold him accountable for his own enabling conduct, although I’m not under the illusion that inveterate Western Buddhist apologists ever will.

The bare truth is that if the Dalai Lama is not part of the solution—because he prefers to hide behind rhetorical parlour tricks—he is part of the problem.

Originally posted as a long-Tweet on October 2, 2022 (with slight edits).

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.