The Dalai Lama’s shocking wrong views

He’s the most famous Buddhist in the world – but some of his views are not Buddhist.

The Dalai Lama
A famous Buddhist with non-Buddhist ideas

During a talk at ‘Ideas for a new Millennium in Panaji, Goa, the Dalai Lama urged people not to worship idols and said:

Instead of having speechless objects such as the statue of Buddha, one should print more books. Knowledge does not come from the temple or church, but from education

Of course it’s not constructive to worship idols, but is this what the Dalai Lama thinks about having an image of Buddha in your home?  He’s completely wrong.  Buddhists regard any image of Buddha as an actual Buddha; indeed, this is a commitment of Buddhist refuge, so what are we to make of the Dalai Lama’s comments?  He clearly doesn’t understand what the nature and function of Buddhist refuge is which is quite shocking.  It’s taught that looking at holy objects such as statues of Buddha place positive imprints in our minds which are causes of the highest happiness – enlightenment itself. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says in Eight Steps to Happiness:

In the lamrim teachings, it says that just seeing an image of a Buddha places a potentiality on the mind that is a

The Dalai Lama doesn't value 'speechless' Buddha statues

definite cause of enlightenment and which nothing can destroy.

This isn’t just Geshe Kelsang’s view, because Lama Zopa, a sympathizer of the Dalai Lama and supporter of his ban on Dorje Shugden practice says:

Holy objects only leave positive imprints, no negative imprint. When we watch TV or go sightseeing in the city many of the things we see can leave a negative imprint on our mind, depending on how we look at them. But the benefit that we get from looking at holy objects is like the limitless sky.

The Dalai Lama therefore appears to contradict traditional Buddhist teachings by regarding Buddha statues as less worthwhile than education.   Ordinary education is destroyed by death, whereas the imprints of seeing holy objects such as a Buddhas are not –  therefore, in the long term, which is more valuable?  It seems that the Dalai Lama is thinking only of this life alone, which is not even spiritual, let alone Buddhist! Also his assertion that Buddha statues are speechless is incorrect – there are many stories of Buddha statues speaking.  One famous example is Atisha’s statue of Arya Tara, whom he would consult.  He would make a mandala offering in front of the statue and then ask advice.  The statue would then speak to him and tell him what to do.

The Dalai Lama’s comments regarding the temple or church are ambiguous – of course knowledge doesn’t come from a building, but religious teachings that do alleviate the suffering of the world are given in temples and churches, so it’s very curious of him to say otherwise.  It’s good that he’s encouraging people to develop compassion as this is one of the main paths to true happiness, but ordinary education doesn’t necessarily encourage this.

The Dalai Lama also disparages prayer in his speech:

Action is more important than prayers to achieve the desirable

Again, he is contradicted by traditional Buddhist teachings.  Lama Zopa says:


The Dalai Lama doesn't rate prayer as a way to get things done

Medicine Buddha practice is not only for healing. In addition, it is very powerful for success and for solving any problems. Medicine Buddha practice is good for someone who has died, for family problems, for someone who is sick, for receiving happiness and freedom from suffering, for finding a job, for success in business, and for all one’s wishes to be actualized.

So Lama Zopa advises praying to Medicine Buddha for success and to solve all problems, whereas the Dalai Lama advises engaging in physical actions.  How are those actions going to help those who have died or those who are suffering in hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and so forth?  Physical actions have limitations whereas mental actions, such as prayer, have no limitations.  Many years ago, at Medicine Buddha teachings, Geshe Kelsang taught that prayer is how Buddhists get things done because resorting to politics is not an option.  Dalai Lama take note – no wonder you haven’t got Tibet back in over forty years of political manoeuvring.


11 thoughts on “The Dalai Lama’s shocking wrong views

  1. This means that the Dalai Lama finds it more worthwhile to speak to Nechung (an unenlightened, worldly being) than to make requests to Buddha himself.

    Sounds like his refuge is deteriorating into spirit worship to me.

  2. dharmaprotector, despite all the Dalai Lama’s good words about love, compassion and respect, I don’t think he can be trusted. It’s clear that his views are quite different to traditional Buddhist views, so even if he wears robes and speaks Buddha’s beautiful words, I would never rely on him because, as you say, his refuge is clearly deteriorating.

  3. Who are we to juge the actions or speech of an other human being? Specially if this person is the spiritual guide of millions of other souls such as the Dalai Lama. Don’t waste your energy on such thoughts, just follow your path and let him follow his.

  4. dear Aurelie, Buddhism is all about critically judging what is correct and what is incorrect. Just because the Dalai Lama is the spiritual guide of millions of others doesn’t make him correct because he may be (in fact, he is) leading people to wrong views that are not conducive to inner peace and happiness. This needs to be highlighted, especially since he is critical of other spiritual practitioners.

  5. I’m sorry but i think you completely misunderstand what the Dalai Lama is saying. Knowledge is freedom and peace, for knowledge is understanding, and without understanding one can accomplish nothing, and after you die it won’t matter how many idols of Buddha you’ve seen, if in your lifetime you learned nothing.

  6. I have read your words and I do not agree! I think the true meaning has been lost in translation. The word of Buddha is more important than an image. To most westerners an image of Buddha is meaningless but the word of Buddha can be taught and understood.

  7. “Should anyone, looking at an image or likeness of the Buddha, claim to know the Buddha and worship him, that person would be mistaken, not knowing the true Buddha.”

    Perhaps reading the Diamond Sutra would give you greater insight into the Dalai Lamas view. Ultimately to be in the unconditioned one cannot know the conditioned. Even though a Buddha image can enlighten some rare sentient beings it does not forsake the fact that the said individual would still have to sacrifice the image to reach enlightenment, it is simply a signpost to the end goal, a goal that may have been reached without this divine image. Buddhism is simply a path to reach the unconditioned the enlightened, but it is not part of that end goal and should not be clung onto in my opinion.

  8. Dear friends, thanks for reading these words and for your comments, they are appreciated. Of course knowledge that liberates is of great importance, in other words, the Buddha’s teaching, but most knowledge does not liberate – it simply reinforces delusion. An image of Buddha is in some cases more precious than the teaching because not everyone accepts Buddha’s teaching or would want to study and meditate on it, but most people are happy to look at an image of Buddha and receive immeasurable future benefits by doing so. Even seeing an image of Buddha on TV provides this benefit, so Buddha’s form is immensely meaningful and beneficial in all cases.

  9. established religion with images and prayers and chanting and incense and rituals is always conservative and reactionary and backward-turning, as well as self-indulgent. the DL knows this, and the Buddha knew this. You are playing selfish private games, and not living a life of active service – or even clear thinking. If you need an image, watch the wind, a lotus, or a bird in flight. dissolve your idols, look at the world with clear eyes – leave your selfishness behind and DO something to help others.

  10. He also has said he doesn’t do mandala offerings and has discouraged that practice taught by Buddha because he thinks Mt. Meru doesn’t exist. He completely misses the point of a fundamental Buddhist practice for accumulating merit — that we use the power of the imagination to create purity. Seems as though he does not understand emptiness nor does he have faith in Buddha’s words!

  11. Buddha taught that actions of speech and body come from the mind, specifically mental intentions. The Dalai Lama is directly contradicting this fundamental teaching and leading people in the wrong direction. We must first create positive intentions through meditation and prayer before our actions are to genuinely change. How in the world are we going to bring benefit to others with our minds full of selfishness and anger? Dalai Lama totally misses the mark.

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