A Buffoon before the Dalai Lama

This Australian TV-face plays the baffoon on many levels in front of the much more discerning Dalai Lama. Now it is not the fault of the suit, of course, because he has only swallowed the common culture images of Buddhism which have been twisted by the Monism of Western Modern Buddhism — a relatively new invention. See my favorite Buddhist commentator on Monism , David Chapman, to perhaps understand what I mean if you are interested.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

6 responses to “A Buffoon before the Dalai Lama

  1. Did you ever see the interview Larry King did with the Dalai Lama on New Year’s Eve in 2000? Here is one short clip — Larry called him a Muslim at least two other times in that interview as well. Utter travesty.

    Chapman’s taxonomy is interesting. I guess I always saw Christianity as being monistic eternalism (with supervenience), and I would definitely peg most materialism in the category of monistic nihilism.

  2. @ Sabio, thanks for the mention! I have actually always enjoyed that joke, even though it does betray a dire misunderstanding.

    @ JS Allen, in Western philosophy “monism” and “dualism” usually refer to the mind/body problem: monism says mind and matter are the same, dualism says they are separate. Materialism is a form of monism under that definition. (But, in what way is Christianity monist?)

    I’m using the terms to refer to the self/other problem: monism says they are the same, and dualism says they are clearly distinct. This is the use in Buddhist philosophy (and it shows up occasionally in the West too).

    It’s an unfortunate ambiguity. I’d like to find alternative terms, but haven’t been able to think of good enough ones. My site is meant mainly for people who wouldn’t be familiar with the common Western-philosophical usage, so my readers probably won’t be confused.

  3. Tim Smith

    What a self-effacing man the Dalai-Lama is. He laughs with the suit, not at the suit. The joke does betray a too easy superficiality regarding what the Dalai Lama (I feel sure) would concede is a highly serious vocation’ viz, the living of a ‘proper’ life. To this end his reaction to this reporter edifies the whole event. He seems apt and proper by disposition, not needing to muster up a measured response.
    Regarding the monism/dualism thread it is important to note ( to me at least) a distinction between historic /systems approaches and the experiential approach. A person trying to avoid double-mindedness ( for example) may tie up many loose ends with a single resolve. Kierkegaard said that purity of heart is to will one thing, and even wrote a series of edifying discourses on this theme. His theology was monistic but equally important so were his spiritual intentions. Spinoza was a philosophic monist who yet propounded a dual aspect within his system. With these two examples alone we see a blending of system and lifestyle. These men were, like the Dalai Lama, willing to live in serious interaction with their own system of thought. In contradistinction to both the monist and the dualist is the pluralist, best exemplified in my limited reading by William James in his fascinating book “A Pluralistic Universe.” The variants are endless!

  4. Thanks, David, that makes sense now! You’re also correct that most flavors of Christianity would best be described as dualism. I think that Calvinism can probably be rationalized with monism, though.

  5. I would try to correct him… I need to learn from the Dali Lama and just ‘not get it’ and then laugh.

  6. Earnest

    The Dalai Lama takes the phrase “ambassador of one’s own culture” to sublime new heights. He is very kind to those beneath him who waste his time.

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