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Book review: 'Beyond Religion' by the Dalai Lama

After a lifetime of Buddhist reflection, he suggests that religion is tea to the water of compassion. Tea is nutritious, water essential.

(Ashwini Bhatia / Associated Press)

December 21, 2011|By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times

For most of his 76 years, the 14th Dalai Lama has been the spiritual light for followers of Tibetan Buddhism, his every word parsed for guidance to living a better, more fulfilling life. Awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, the Dalai Lama has been an outspoken advocate for compassion, meditation and religious tolerance.

Now, as he steps down as leader of Tibet, the perpetually smiling monk in saffron and burgundy robes makes in "Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World" what some may regard as a heretical pronouncement: You don't need religion to lead a happy and ethical life.

Amid the clash of global, multicultural societies and religious values today, he argues in his new book that what is more important is "an approach to ethics which makes no recourse to religion and can be equally accessible to those with faith and those without; a secular ethics."

A metaphor the Dalai Lama likes to use goes like this: The difference between ethics and religion is like the difference between water and tea. Ethics without religious content is water, a critical requirement for health and survival. Ethics grounded in religion is tea, a nutritious and aromatic blend of water, tea leaves, spices, sugar and, in Tibet, a pinch of salt.

"But however the tea is prepared, the primary ingredient is always water," he says. "While we can live without tea, we can't live without water. Likewise, we are born free of religion, but we are not born free of the need for compassion."

This is anything but a book denouncing faith. But some readers, particularly those with strong religious beliefs, are bound to find the Dalai Lama's argument troubling...


Please see HERE to read the rest of the review.

And, here is an interesting section from The Urantia Book about Buddhism:

The God Concept of Buddhism

Here's what Jesus said about Buddhism, from The Urantia Book:

132:7.3 It was on the visit to Switzerland, up in the mountains, that Jesus had an all-day talk with both father and son about Buddhism. Many times Ganid had asked Jesus direct questions about Buddha, but he had always received more or less evasive replies. Now, in the presence of the son, the father asked Jesus a direct question about Buddha, and he received a direct reply. Said Gonod: “I would really like to know what you think of Buddha.” And Jesus answered:

“Your Buddha was much better than your Buddhism. Buddha was a great man, even a prophet to his people, but he was an orphan prophet; by that I mean that he early lost sight of his spiritual Father, the Father in heaven. His experience was tragic. He tried to live and teach as a messenger of God, but without God. Buddha guided his ship of salvation right up to the safe harbor, right up to the entrance to the haven of mortal salvation and there, because of faulty charts of navigation, the good ship ran aground. There it has rested these many generations, motionless and almost hopelessly stranded. And thereon have many of your people remained all these years. They live within hailing distance of the safe waters of rest, but they refuse to enter because the noble craft of the good Buddha met the misfortune of grounding just outside the harbor. And the Buddhist peoples never will enter this harbor unless they abandon the philosophic craft of their prophet and seize upon his noble spirit. Had your people remained true to the spirit of Buddha, you would have long since entered your haven of spirit tranquillity, soul rest, and assurance of salvation.

“You see, Gonod, Buddha knew God in spirit but failed clearly to discover him in mind; the Jews discovered God in mind but largely failed to know him in spirit. Today, the Buddhists flounder about in a philosophy without God, while my people are piteously enslaved to the fear of a God without a saving philosophy of life and liberty. You have a philosophy without a God; the Jews have a God but are largely without a philosophy of living as related thereto. Buddha, failing to envision God as a spirit and as a Father, failed to provide in his teaching the moral energy and the spiritual driving power which a religion must possess if it is to change a race and exalt a nation.”

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