Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The New Intolerance

In response to my last post someone sent me this extract from a dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the famous Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff. http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/sharonsaw-385037-religion-important-boff-dalai-lama-leonardo-truth-yourreligionisnotimportant-spiritual-inspirational-ppt-powerpoint/
I would take this as an example of the Dalai Lama being ‘unchallenging’ and ‘nice’ rather than precise and straightforward. The Dalai Lama would not be a Buddhist monk and Leonardo Boff would not be a Catholic (and a Catholic priest, if he still is) if they did not believe that their respective religions were truer than others. A way of answering Boff’s question which would have been inoffensive while at the same time honest and accurate would have been to say something like this. “Different people are looking for different things and see things differently. The religion that best fulfills my needs and seems most realistic and true for me is Buddhism. And while being a committed Buddhist I recognize that there is truth and goodness in other religions.”

And if the Dalai Lama desire to please means he doesn’t go far enough, Boff goes too far when he says that his question was ‘malicious’. What on earth is malicious in asking someone, “What seems most true to you?” If someone asks me whether I believe in the Inuit walrus god and I politely say “No” why am I being ‘malicious’? Why am I being malicious when I say that astronomy is more true than astrology, evolution more true than intelligent design, medicine more effective than faith healing and psychiatric intervention more reality-based than exorcisms. Aren’t we allowed to honestly express our opinions any more? Is it getting to the stage that we are going to be labeled ‘malicious’ or ‘intolerant’ if we simply, gently, politely but also clearly and honestly say what we believe? We are constantly being urged to ‘celebrate diversity’ in our societies which I agree is a wholesome thing to do. But express ‘diversity’ in your religious beliefs and you are shunned as ‘intolerant’. In some quarters this sort of thing is called ‘political correctness’. I call it ‘the new intolerance’.

9 comments:

luke.jmo said...

I think I like what the DL says here... Obviously, in one respect the DL thinks Tibetan Buddhism is the best, he's a monk. But why state the obvious? If you ask me, Boff was being a bit of a jackass (as he recognized) for asking such an impolitic question at what I guess was some sort of inter-faith conference. And the DL turned it around by using a different meaning of "best", as in "best fit". I don't think the DL was being politically correct, I think he was averting an uncomfortable and totally unnecessary situation and making a point (which he has repeated before) that any of the great religions, practiced properly, makes you a better person. Boff = jackass. DL = not making a stink of it. IMHO.

MidPath said...

Dear Ven Sir,

I really cannnot see what the Dalai Lama has said that is less honest, accurate, precise or withholding.

His Holiness answer is intended to induce a total and immediate let go of a start to a malice.

The answer further open up the mind of Leonardo to listen instead. Successfully changing Leonardo from his malicious intent to an appreciative and positive stance.

And Leonardo Boff is equally graceful. Salute to him.

luke.jmo said...

OK, just to cover my own butt on this one, maybe I was a little harsh on Boff. I do think his comment was unnecessarily (that being the operative word) inflammatory, but calling him a jackass might also have been a little unnecessarily inflammatory on my part. :)

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Jackasses are actually quite nice animals – hardy, uncomplaining, patient, gentle and they’re vegetarian too.

Riglin said...

I don't agree with Dalai Lama's stand That Islam is peaceful. This is grossly political correctness. Why say things that is not true? It's better to refrain from making such statement.

Dharma said...

The last slide's quote is from Frank Outlaw. Makes me wonder how many more words were put in HHDL's mouth.

MidPath said...

Yes we can express opinions. The same opinion may or may not be accepted depends on thoughts and how it is phrase.

D said...

One who is enlightened can never be offended.

luke.jmo said...

D, then why am I always so ticked off? :P