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Thursday, April 10, 2008


posted by on April 10 at 10:55 AM

The Dalai Lama is probably a nice guy. He giggles a lot. Seems like a sweetheart. Hooray for the Dalai Lama.

But please remind all your liberal do-gooder friends, who are working themselves into a lather because His Holiness is coming to town next week for a five-day Lamapalooza, that the man is a pope for hippies: rosaries, robes, posh living, and all.


Talking jive about enlightenment and transcendence for liberal Americans who like their religion with a side of inscrutable Orientalism is fine. Nothing wrong with being the world’s most successful motivational speaker. (And he certainly is. Every ticketed event for the five-day Lamapalooza is sold out.)

And Tibetan national self-determination is a good thing in principle (and the Chinese Communist Party is nobody’s idea of a good overlord), but let’s not forget that the “free Tibet” the monks are agitating for might well be a theocracy living off the labor of a rural peasantry. Sort of like the Catholic church, circa 1100.


Yes, the Tibetan people-in-exile had their first democratic election ever in 2001, to elect a prime minister-in-exile. But it was a show election. In which they elected a religious leader. I’m not saying Tibet would be the East Asian Iran—but just because Tibetan Buddhism has spawned a bazillion-dollar industry that preys on gullible honkies does not mean a government, run by Tibetan Buddhists, would be paradise. Or even pleasant.

Plus, we have serious reason to doubt the sanity of the monks: One of the Lama’s high priests has anointed Steven Seagal as a reincarnated lama.

Speculation says Seagal bought the honor. For the Lama’s sake, I hope he did.

Because Steven Seagal, people. Really.


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You are making one half of the argument of the Han Chinese: they need to be under the dominion of the Chinese Communist Party for their own good because they are too simple, religious and/or primitive to make decisions for themselves. Bravo. [the other half of the argument is that if a geographic space was under the control of the Chinese Empire at anytime stretching back hundreds of years, the central governing body has a sovereign right to control and exploit anyone and everything within it]

Here's what you said: "And Tibetan national self-determination is a good thing, in principle, but let’s not forget that the “free Tibet” the monks are agitating for might well be a theocracy living off the labor of a rural peasantry. Sort of like the Catholic church, circa 1100."

Posted by cracked | April 10, 2008 11:09 AM

Over $100 a ticket? REALLY? How very buddhist and inclusive of him.

Posted by Hello Dalai | April 10, 2008 11:13 AM

@ 1: Distrusting the monks doesn't automatically make me a fan of the PRC. I thought that was obvious, but I've added a dig at the commies, in your honor.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | April 10, 2008 11:20 AM

If Hofstede is to be believed, Asian people have a very high collectivist spirit within. So, perhaps the Tibetan people enjoy working in the fields all day for the DL.

But your parallel to Roman Catholicism is a good one - a religion that teaches piety, personal sacrifice, disavowal of material possessions while members and hierarchy frequently exhibit quite the opposite. Granted, I'm lacking the religious gene, but I never could understand why Central Americans who make $600 a year turn out in droves to see an elderly, bejeweled man in a $15000 robe and Prada slippers telling them, "Blessed are the meek. And don't forget to have plenty of children."

Posted by Bauhaus | April 10, 2008 11:24 AM

So, basically, you're saying that the Iraqis should throw off their chains and become American colonists, right? Because we're so superior? Just as the Han Chinese are so superior to the Tibetan society?


Uh, not going to happen.

Get over yourself.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 10, 2008 11:27 AM

Well, hello Dalai!
namaste, Dalai
It's so nice to have you back where you belong!
You look serene, Dalai!
and so clean, Dalai
Meditating, reincarnating, blessing massive throngs.

etc. etc.

i got my ticket FREE, hello. nyah nyah nyah!!!

Posted by scary tyler moore | April 10, 2008 11:27 AM

I suggest this New Yorker article on the Dalai Lama

talks about how his relationship with Western liberals is dividing him from Tibetan Buddhists. and how he wants the next dalai lama to be elected rather than selected in the manner he was.

Posted by vooodooo84 | April 10, 2008 11:38 AM

Yup, that New Yorker article was...enlightening. He sounds like a pretty reasonable fellow. He refutes the notion that he was divinely chosen. That says a lot.

Posted by Misty Brown | April 10, 2008 11:44 AM

I'm dateing this "artist" girl who worships the dali lama's and ram das's shit.

she is one of the most profoundly ignorant people I know,but she drapes it in gibberish thinking she's "deep"
whenever you try to educate about something vaugly political.important or outside her hazy wprld view she ignores it and says "the worls is unimportant"

she's good in the sack though, so I'm willing to overlook her rather obvious retardation....I feel like I sold my soul a little.

but yeah,the commies maybe brutal and oppressive but so was the native theocracy for that matter

Posted by linus | April 10, 2008 11:58 AM

From what I understand the Dalai Lama does not think Homo-people are as good as, the same as, worthy of, able to do as good as, raise kids like str8 people, and generally not 100% human. Something like that from what I hear. Is that REALLY the case? Surely not, but I have heard this little rumor.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | April 10, 2008 12:07 PM

Since Iran is in Asia, I think that would make Iran the "Asian Iran".

Posted by dreamflying | April 10, 2008 12:12 PM

Any sort of theocratic elements must never be encouraged, and that includes eastern theocratic systems. Sorry, Religion = Evil; I don't care whose religion it is.

The Dalai Lama, the Pope, Moses and the 12th Iman can all lick my ass for all I care. FREE THE PEOPLE, ABOLISH RELIGION!!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | April 10, 2008 12:27 PM

@ 11: Thanks. I meant "East Asian." Fixed.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | April 10, 2008 12:29 PM

#10, somewhere I read comments by the Dalai Lama stating that he was against homosexuality, it was unnatural, and it was part of Buddhism to support one man + one woman marriages.

Posted by isabelita | April 10, 2008 12:35 PM

I can understand religions being against homosexuality on the breeding level....religion want to survive forever, in order to do that you have to make a next generation to order to do that you need a breeding couple, homosexuality screws up this paradigm

how bout a compromise? the world religions agree to accept any life style choice a person makes in exchange said person agrees to buck up,grit his or her teeth and breed at least once in there life

sound acceptable...the religions have a new generation of potential converts and you dont have to worry about stake burnings

Posted by linus | April 10, 2008 12:41 PM

Wow, Brendan, you're still my ridiculous girly internet crush -- the mustache was adorable -- but your ignorance is showing like crazy.

First: the Dalai Lama isn't advocating complete political freedom as a separate nation. He hasn't for years. He's advocating -- and is continuing to advocate -- regional autonomy, with more religious and cultural freedom for Tibet. It's the aforementioned honkies who have the FREE TIBET bumper stickers -- and some Tibetan expats who (surprise!) don't necessarily agree with the Dalai Lama's policy.

Second: there are multiple sects of Tibetan Buddhism, and the lama who recognized Steven Seagal as a tulku isn't part of the Dalai Lama's sect. The Dalai Lama (and any of his "high priests" -- not that he has them) is Gelugpa; Seagal's BFF is Nyingma. There's a difference.

Third: try reading about Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan history, and the history of Tibetan Buddhism in the West before trying to comment intelligently on current issues pertaining to these topics. (The Seagal thing isn't current, for the record.) Two good places to start are Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West by Jeffrey Paine, and The Story of Tibet: Conversations With the Dalai Lama by Thomas Laird.

Posted by Sweeney Agonistes | April 10, 2008 12:56 PM

@15: Being gay is not a "life style choice".And while we're at it, it's also not a 'sexual preference'. You make being gay sound like a hobby.

Oh, I've got something for you to buck up on.

Posted by cw | April 10, 2008 12:59 PM

@15: How about accepting the fact that a lot of gay don't give a flying fuck what the world's religions think of them. I have no need to compromise with religious people because what they think of me means nothing to me. I might as easily suggest that you should compromise with the animal kingdom by getting fucked by a giraffe at least once in your life, but you'd just say you don't care what giraffes think of you. That's how I feel.

Posted by MNG | April 10, 2008 1:08 PM

@10 and @14, it took very little time to google up a whole mess of links about the Dalai Lama's stance on homosexuality. What I found is that he supports equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation, but that his religion does not support oral/anal/manual sex for any Buddhist regardless of orientation.

I guess you can look at that and decide that the Dalai Lama hates gays, but that's kind of a spurious argument.

Posted by haunted leg | April 10, 2008 1:18 PM

Thank you #14 Isabelita for the info. It seems the Dalai Lama is and holds dear the same olde religious crap against Gay citizens of the planet as the rest of the religous extremists. And all this time I thought he was for world peace and harmony, I know better now. Behind the smile is the dagger.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | April 10, 2008 1:19 PM

Haunted leg, that comment about a spurious arguement..."From a "Buddhist point of view," lesbian and gay sex "is generally considered sexual misconduct," the Dalai Lama told reporters at a press conference a day earlier."

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | April 10, 2008 1:24 PM

Sargon, if you've tried reading anything about Buddhist beliefs, or if you even read my previous comment fully, then you'd understand that sexual misconduct to a Buddhist means ANY anal/oral/manual sex. They don't care if you're gay or straight. Straight Buddhists are supposed to refrain from blowjobs, handjobs, and anal sex.

They're not picking on the gays, dude, they're picking on everyone. Stop looking for persecution where none exists.

Posted by haunted leg | April 10, 2008 1:35 PM

Wow, really taking some big risks with this one. Steven Seagal and the Hippie Pope? VERY edgy.

Please set your next targets on other untouchables like: Carrot Top, Barry Bonds, Criss Angel, and/or Ann Coulter. Hard hittin' journo, preach the Truth!@!!

Posted by Brandon Ivers | April 10, 2008 1:36 PM


Straight Catholics aren't allowed to engage in those acts either. That still makes the Catholic Church homophobic.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 10, 2008 1:42 PM

Dang, hit the post button before I was ready...

Sargon, my point is this: Buddhism, like almost every other religion on the planet, considers sex to be solely for procreation. I honestly can't think of any Judeo-Christian sects that are like, aw yeah, bring on the recreational non-PIV sex acts! If you know of any, and you can actually provide links to source material that backs you up, I encourage you to share that info.

But really, all I see you doing here is getting pissy that a religious leader doesn't support recreational sexual activity. I have NO IDEA why that would come as a shock to anyone with two brain cells to rub together.

Buddhism also doesn't support abortion or contraception, but funny, I have yet to see anyone here get all butt-hurt over that.

Posted by haunted leg | April 10, 2008 1:45 PM

@24, I won't delve into the many many other issues that surround homosexuality and Catholicism, because we could be here for days. Let's stick strictly to the thing about straight Catholics not being "allowed" to engage in non-PIV sex acts. As I said earlier to Sargon, that's a standard belief in almost every Judeo-Christian sect. (I'd say all of them, but I'm allowing for the possibility of some weird offshoot of Lutheranism where they do DVDA before Wednesday night fellowship.) To most religions, sex is only for procreation. It's not supposed to be something you do for fun when the cable is out. So by that rationale, wouldn't organized religion be just plain old sexphobic?

Posted by haunted leg | April 10, 2008 2:00 PM


Liberal do-gooders? Is that you Rush Limbaugh?

How dare those Tibetan monks cause trouble to their dictatorial Communist Chinese overlords?

This post matches the stupidity of your review of the film, "Once."

Posted by Hank | April 10, 2008 2:16 PM

NO ONE expects the Tibetan Inquisition!!!

Posted by LeslieC | April 10, 2008 2:20 PM

Regardless of whether I agree with the occupation or not (of, uh, Tibet), I'll simply remind outraged Americans that our government has intervened in/annexed/occupied other countries (vitually always with a "justifiable" cause to unleash the military) many, many, many, many times in our history. Including China. More than once, even.

It's not in a cynical way that I think that Americans don't have much credibility in this one.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | April 10, 2008 2:43 PM

if he rode a lama would that make him a dandy?

Posted by SeMe | April 10, 2008 3:31 PM

@26, yes, most all religions are sex phobic.

Posted by infrequent | April 10, 2008 3:38 PM

they are sex-negative because their view is narrow compared to what the culture deems permissible, and because the moral standard is determined in an religious manner, not a social or culture way. using your inferred definition of sex-negative, find me the church group that believes sex is actually evil. even catholics think you can enjoy sex while procreating. that's not sex positive. that's the base line.

Posted by infrequent | April 10, 2008 3:43 PM

Possibly none of the best things I have read on Slog in a while. None of my friends get why I don't really like The Dali Lama. Its nice to know I am not alone...

Posted by Giffy | April 10, 2008 3:43 PM

Oh and whats really sad is that he is involved in one of the bigger foreign issues goign on right now. So what does the UW do, knowing that he will be visiting? Seek to use the visit to give students a chance to learn first hand about an important issue? Maybe hold a panel, or otherwise make the visit educationally relevant. Nope they make it clear the visit will solely be focused on the hippy bullshit that is oh so important and certainly something college students get too little of.

Posted by Giffy | April 10, 2008 3:47 PM

the man is a pope for hippies: rosaries, robes, posh living, and all.

Uh huh. He's livin' large in that orange bedsheet.

If I remember my world religions/theology classes, Buddhists respect all life and make no explicit judgment about gay/straight. Those matters are up to the individual.

Posted by Wolf | April 10, 2008 4:11 PM

What is going on with Slog today? This Dalai Lama item is so behind the curve. This criticism has been around for a while, and it is easily answered (see a bunch of previous comments). You have the internet, Brendan. You could have found out what the DL's real positions were, but you didn't.

Posted by Miles | April 10, 2008 5:22 PM

i've always thought he looks like hunter s thompson

Posted by kinkos | April 10, 2008 6:21 PM

Haunted leg: so all Gay sex is recreational and not for love? Str8s that are sterile can't make babies SO THEREFORE str8 sex is NOT always for baby making and we all know it's often recreational too. As you said, "But really, all I see you doing here is getting pissy that a religious leader doesn't support recreational sexual activity." Back to my original point, the Dalai Lama says Gay citizens of the planet are not as good as.... blah blah as str8 people.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | April 10, 2008 6:49 PM

Are you a communist? A member of the FSP? Of CPUSA or Maoists for America? Cause only a hardline Commie -and the "Mao was right in starving millions int he Great Leap Forward" type of capitol-C Commie, not a "GW sucks, workers unite" lower-case c commie- makes that argument. And let me guess, Native Americans are better off now under US occupation because women have the right to vote? Or -I apologize for evoking the mother of all genocide analogies- Jews are better off now cause they have Israel, thanks to the Nazis? Sorry, but genocide is genocide and what China is doing to Tibet -forced marriage, destroying temples, et al- is an absolute crime in the utmost sense. The idea that Tibetans are better off cause at least it's not a feudal state only enable the Chinese to commit the atrocities that they do. And as you've seen, the Commies LOVE enablers! Thank you Brendan, there will be all the forced-labor electronic goods you want at a Walmart near you!

Posted by Lose-Lose | April 10, 2008 9:48 PM

People are sure sore over this. The post doesn't seem to be choosing the side of the Chinese gov't, but apparently Brendan doesn't make the independant-Tibet argument strong enough for some people's tastes. (Does the internet really need another post about that particular angle?)

The most insightful line is "like a pope to hippies", and I love this post for it. Most of what comes out of this guy's mouth (nothing personal, it goes with the religious territory) is horseshit.

If Italy overran the Vatican tomorrow, taking its land back (yes, not a perfect analogy, but it will do), most of these enlightened posters wouldn't care that much. It's far less fashionable of a theocracy.

(Personally, I'd cheer the Vatican being sacked, but hey, I'm one of those people who knows that religion poisons everything)

Posted by S | April 11, 2008 12:52 AM

That said, fuck large military superpowers that occupy states at will.

Posted by S | April 11, 2008 12:54 AM

The argument that Tibet is part of China is about as good as the argument that Texas is part of Mexico because the Mexicans owned it 150 years ago. Let's start a movemen to give Texas back to Mexico...and Tibet to China. Not.

The pre-Chinese theocracy led to a happy, well-fed, torture-free society. Chinese rule has led to "cultural genocide". Not cool.

Posted by Archimedes | April 13, 2008 10:28 PM

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