Daily Archives: 28 May 2009

Dalai Lama offers $100,000 to religion department


Dalai LamaA bit of context first.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama was honoured by the Florida school in 1999 with a doctorate of divinity so he has a personal interest in the welfare of the school.  However I believe that this has only highlighted the financial issue with him rather than defined his reaction.  I’m a bit biased of course because his writings portray him as a person with few material desires and little regard for considerations of status. In a largely material western world this is unusual.

The news story states “Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has offered to donate $100,000 to help save the religious studies program at Florida International University.”

His reasoning for this support is outlined in a letter to the university president where he said that “understanding and appreciation of diversity of religions is critical in fostering a culture of genuine tolerance and peaceful existence.”  A laudable sentiment that crosses boundaries of faith and fosters cooperation and compassion.

Some may wonder how my support of this can be reconciled with my dislike of state funded education by religious schools.  As I explained in the comments I see a clear difference between education about religion and education by religion.  Tenzin Gyatso, the current and 14th Dalai Lama is supporting a cause that educates people about religion and about culture that is intertwined with religious thinking and expression.  He is not supporting a cause that churns out pastors or monks (although people might choose that path) by indoctrinating people into a faith.

DogmaThe key point here is that he has chosen to support an attitude of understanding and cooperation rather than supporting dogma.  He has chosen not to put his own view of Buddhism ahead of Christianity or Islam but to foster an attitude that encompasses all faiths and, dare I say it, no faith.

Good for him.

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