It might be surprising for some to find out that I have read a great deal of the Dalai Lama's books in English. I find him a fascinating figure. He handles himself very well on the world stage, and has made a very strong case for his nation's plight before the world. As I read my way through life, I want to make a point of knowing about the world's full intellectual tradition.
And Chesterton has to do with this........how?
Chesterton was one of the first to notice how some of his contemporaries were attracted to Buddhism. Those familiar with Chesterton's corpus of works probably do not need quotes, be he wrote several ILN articles on this point as well as a fairly well thought out section in Orthodoxy where he makes a point of how some of the English elites of his time had glamorized Buddhism and taken it at face value, and were willing to overlook the social, political, and moral ills of Asia but not the cultural failings of the West......honestly we should realize that the whole human race is fallen.
The Dalai Lama has done several books with psychologists and researches seeking dialogue between Western Science and the Buddhist understanding of the inner person. Ive read a great deal of this, and the same double standard that Chesterton notices still exists. The Dalai Lama is a wonderful communicator, and a vibrant person, but most of what he says that researchers really pick up on are elements of practical spirituality and mystical philosophy no different than what is found in the classical Cistercian, Carmelite, and Eastern Orthodox traditions. The cultural baggage of Christianity seems to weigh down those truths, and certain classes of people will only listen to a different source........whom they idolize to the point of editing. There is an article I read years ago online that I wished I would have saved to my hard-drive which alleged that the Dalai Lama has written chapters on sexual ethics for some of his books, but that Western publishers refuse to print in final editions. Buddhism and some of the other Eastern systems are far more prudish and "repressive" than Christianity.
With Pope Benedict in such trouble in the news in recent weeks, it makes me even more curious regarding the international double standard that mainstream culture seems to weave around these two figures.
2 months ago