Dalai Lama: There is no “Muslim Terrorist” or “Buddhist Terrorist”

September 18, 2016 by Justin Whitaker 

Addressing the European Parliament last week, the Dalai Lama said:

Buddhist terrorist, Muslim terrorist. That wording is wrong.”

“Any person,” the Dalai Lama continued, “who wants to indulge in violence is no longer a genuine Buddhist or a genuine Muslim.”

The Dalai Lama, who is teaching on ethics beyond religion at the moment in Strasbourg, has been making this point for some time already.

He continued by saying that all religions teach, “love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, and self-discipline.” This, he stated, gives us a common ground for building genuine harmony.

This is nothing new coming from the Dalai Lama, who wrote in 2011:

“All religions… to some extent, ground the cultivation of inner values and ethical awareness…” and yet: “…religion alone cannot answer all our problems.” And, “To my mind, although humans can manage without religion, they cannot manage without inner values.”

– Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World

Here he is at the European Parliament:

Here he is in the U.S. in June making the same remarks after the Orlando nightclub shooting:

“The very word ‘Muslim Terrorist’ – that, I think, is wrong” (6:20):

This is largely what I have been writing for years, noting that most Westerners, Buddhists included, are okay with the term “Muslim Terrorist” while recoiling quickly from the very possibility of a “Buddhist Terrorist.” Writing in 2013 after the mass shooting by Aaron Alexis and noting the various “dark sides” of Buddhism andmeditation, I wrote:

So what does this tell us about Buddhism’s role in the actions of Aaron Alexis? Not much. As with the two Muslim men who killed the British soldier in London last May (see Buddhism, Islam, and a serious talk about fundamentalism) other factors are clearly more important than religion. The role that Buddhism played is, if anything, a diversion from other issues…

In fact, while his meditation might have opened up some violent feelings, we have to be careful not to suggest that he was part of a violent religious group or one that in any way condoned violence. As I wrote in the case of the killings in London, it helps to get some perspective (historical, textual, etc) on the religion and violence – so re-read/listen to Buddhism and Violence on the BBC.

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