|Dalai Lama: Seeds of "Compassion"
or Seeds of Deception?
By Pastor Joe Fuiten
Sermon Transcript Presented on Sunday, April 13, 2008,
at Cedar Park Church, Bothell, WA. (Audio or Text)
The arrival of the Dalai Lama to Seattle has been greeted with considerable fanfare. As head of the Tibetan Buddhist religion, it seems to me, his visit has been received with insufficient objectivity. We continue the na´ve idealization of Tibetan religion and history.
I certainly understand why many want to support him. I do as well on some levels. After all, he is one of the few that is standing up to the Chinese Communists. From my perspective, he can be supported from a strategic point of view, just as we supported Joseph Stalin against Adolf Hitler in WWII. The ongoing treatment of the Tibetans by the Chinese has rightly been subject to the world's condemnation.
How does political support for Tibetan independence translate into "Seeds of Compassion"?
I do not understand how political support for Tibetan independence translates into the present appearance of the Dalai Lama in Seattle for the so-called "Seeds of Compassion" conference. I understand and support the idea of compassion. It is the second core idea of Christianity behind loving God with all your heart. What I don't get is why the Dalai Lama, or the Tibetan Buddhist religion he leads, represents any of those ideals. It is not plain to me that the legacy of Tibetan Buddhism is compassion to any comparable extent with Christianity.
It is also not clear why the media in Washington State has been doing such a poor job of investigative reporting. If the Dalai Lama is going to come to Seattle to talk about compassion, surely one reporter among hundreds in the Northwest will investigate the level of compassion in those areas where Tibetan Buddhism has governed for centuries.
What are his "seeds of compassion" producing?
Indeed, if I got a package of seeds with the Dalai Lama's picture on it labeled "seeds of compassion" and I planted them, I wonder what would come up. We have to look at the flowering of his seeds of compassion where they have had time to grow.
It is good to talk compassion. But when the Dalai Lama was in charge of Tibet, 95% of the Tibetans were slaves to the 5% of Tibetans who owned all the means of production and wealth. Over 85% of the people lived in dire poverty. How can the Dalai Lama come here and talk to us about compassion for people when his own record in Tibet showed so little regard for the personal and economic well-being of his country.
According to the Buddha Dharma Education Association "various forms of the caste system are practiced in several Buddhist countries, mainly in Sri Lanka, Tibet, and Japan where butchers, leather and metal workers and janitors are sometimes regarded as being impure. If you were going to drop a seed of compassion, one would think that one of those seeds should go to the 95% who were slaves. One would think another seed of compassion might go to the leather or metal workers, or butchers, and to the local janitor who cleans your office.
Where are the "seeds of compassion"
for orphans in Buddhist countries?
The Dalai Lama wants us to have compassion for children in Foster Care here in America. Maybe some reporter will go to the orphanages of Lhasa to see whether they are run by foreigners from Western and Christian countries rather than by people from Buddhist countries or by his own monks. If His Holiness is going to be dropping seeds of compassion here in Seattle, one would have hoped that a few might have been dropped earlier in his own capital city. I am still waiting for that report. I know that Christians operate orphanages in his countries mostly because those Buddhist seeds of compassion are not sufficiently in evidence to take care of the need locally.
I know that two days ago I buried Dorothy Nelson who had spent over 25 years as a Sunday School teacher and Missionette leader and had cared for over 100 Foster children in her home over a 30 year period. I know about that kind of compassion expressed in deeds. Compassion that is only words is less impressive.
The Dalai Lama wants children to be cared for. Jesus blessed and welcomed children. Jesus' harshest criticism was against those who harmed children. ("It would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their neck and be dropped into the sea.") In Buddhism, we learn that everywhere that Buddha went, his footprints were swastikas.
What kind of footprints are left behind His Holiness?
How many hospitals have sprung up to care for the sick? If you believe that suffering is caused by bad Karma, do your "seeds of compassion" include building hospitals to care for the sick? Does medical care cure bad Karma? Is there any point in trying to find help for a person whose problem really is bad Karma? Does that Buddhist ideal motivate anyone into the helping professions? I know that this church, by ourselves, built a hospital to care for the sick in one of his Buddhist countries. How many hospitals has his government built? Surely one Northwest reporter will want to know the answer to that question.
When I thought about the Christian doctrine of compassion which requires actual good deeds, I considered calling this sermon "My Dogma is chasing your Karma" but thought better of it.
I read all the time about the greatness of Eastern medicine. No doubt they have learned things. I just wonder how it is applied. In Christianity, ever since Jesus taught about the Good Samaritan, we have believed in helping those who are wounded. That's why the world's first hospital was a Christian hospital. That is why Christians have led the way ever since in health care and medicine. What is the record of His Holiness in health care?
"Seeds of Compassion" lacking a soul
For His Holiness, each person who now lives has also lived in past lives. There is no soul. There are only Karmic elements that endure from reincarnation to reincarnation. If I do not obtain enlightenment or Nirvana, then I cannot escape the endless cycle of death and rebirth. Even so, I should not even possess the desire for Nirvana. I should empty myself of all desire.
This is quite different from what the Dalai Lama thinks of Jesus. He thinks of Jesus as a fully enlightened master who has been through all those stages, suffering again and again as he progressed to Nirvana.
The Bible has quite a different picture in Hebrews 9:24-28.
"For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once , and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."
James A. Beverley interviewed the Dalai Lama in 2001 for Christianity Today. He asked how Jesus could be "Enlightened" and teach falsehood according to Buddhist teaching. Here is a bit from that article:
I reminded him of his belief that Jesus is "a fully enlightened being" and asked, "If Jesus is fully enlightened, wouldn't he be teaching the truth about himself? Therefore, if he is teaching the truth, then he is the Son of God, and there is a God, and Jesus is the Savior. If he is fully enlightened, he should teach the truth. If he is not teaching the truth, he is not that enlightened."
As the Dalai Lama felt the momentum of the question, he laughed more than at any other time in the interview. He obviously understood the argument, borrowed from C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity
"This is a very good question," he said. "This is very, very important, very important." Even in Buddha's case, he said, a distinction must always be made between teachings that "always remain valid" and others that "we have the liberty to reject."
He argued that the Buddha knew people were not always ready for the higher truth because it "wouldn't suit, wouldn't help." Therefore, lesser truths are sometimes taught because of the person's ignorance or condition. This is known in Buddhist dharma as the doctrine of uppayah, or skillful means. The Dalai Lama then applied this to the question about Jesus
"Jesus Christ also lived previous lives," he said. "So, you see, he reached a high state, either as a Bodhisattva, or an enlightened person, through Buddhist practice or something like that. Then, at a certain period, certain era, he appeared as a new master, and then because of circumstances, he taught certain views different from Buddhism, but he also taught the same religious values as I mentioned earlier: Be patient, tolerant, compassionate. This is, you see, the real message in order to become a better human being." He said that there was absolutely no lying involved since Jesus' motivation was to help people. (Beverly. 2001. Christianity Today. Hollywood's Idol: "CT visits the Dalai Lama, spiritual hero to millions". Online [p6])
What is at the root of political decision-making
in the Tibetan government?
I want to come back to the political for a moment. I am sure that a great part of the Dalai Lama's visit to Seattle is political. Apparently he is going to make a political statement today about China. I want to say a few words about the spiritual dimension of political decision-making in the Tibetan government.
The Tibetan government operates with an Oracle. The following paragraphs are from the official website of the Tibetan government in exile in a section called "Nechung - The State Oracle of Tibet". It reads:
"Like many ancient civilizations of the world, the phenomenon of oracles remains an important part of the Tibetan way of life. Tibetans rely on oracles for various reasons. The purpose of the oracles is not just to foretell the future. They are called upon as protectors and sometimes used as healers. However, their primary function is to protect the Buddha Dharma and its practitioners.
"In the Tibetan tradition, the word oracle is used for a spirit which enters those men and women who act as mediums between the natural and the spiritual realms. The mediums are, therefore, known as kuten, which literally means, "the physical basis.""
"Of these, the principal one is the Nechung oracle. Through him manifests Dorje Drak-den (Nechung), the principal protector divinity of the Tibetan government and the Dalai Lama. It is because of this that Nechung Kuten is given the rank of a deputy minister in the exiled Tibetan government hierarchy.
"In his autobiography, Freedom in Exile, His Holiness the Dalai Lama writes:
"For hundreds of years now, it has been traditional for the Dalai Lama, and the Government, to consult Nechung during the New Year festivals. In addition, he might well be called upon at other times if either have specific queries. I myself have dealings with him several times a year. This may sound far-fetched to twentieth-century western readers. Even some Tibetans, mostly those who consider themselves 'progressive', have misgivings about my continued use of this ancient method of intelligence gathering. But I do so for the simple reason that as I look back over the many occasions when I have asked questions of the oracle, on each one of them time has proved that his answer was correct. This is not to say that I rely solely on the oracle's advice. I do not. I seek his opinion in the same way as I seek the opinion of my Cabinet and just as 1 seek the opinion of my own conscience. I consider the gods to be my 'upper house'. The Kashag constitutes my lower house. Like any other leader, I consult both before making a decision on affairs of state. And sometimes, in addition to Nechung's counsel, I also take into consideration certain prophecies."
The official website goes on to describe the demonic possession of this government oracle in the course of these consultations:
"Now the kuten's face transforms, becoming rather wild before puffing up to give him an altogether strange appearance, with bulging eyes and swollen cheeks. His breathing begins to shorten and he starts to hiss violently. Then, momentarily, his respiration stops. At this point the helmet is tied in place with a knot so tight that it would undoubtedly strangle the Kuten if something very real were not happening. The possession is now complete and the mortal frame of the medium expands visibly."
There can be little doubt that the governmental affairs of the Tibetan government in exile belong to the realm of the demonic rather than the democratic.
This whole propagandizing in Seattle about "seeds of compassion" is nothing more than a demonic strategy to appeal to Westerners who have been raised in the Christian tradition, a tradition that follows genuine compassion. Both the spiritual and physical reality of Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama are quite different.
We are in the days described by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1-5:
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."
|Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten is the senior pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, Washington, and he is the former president of Positive Christian Agenda. Currently, Pastor Fuiten serves on the Board of Directors for the Family Policy Institute of Washington, an associate organization of Focus on the Family.