Friday, April 11, 2008

The Dalai Lama in Seattle --
Via the International Herald Tribune:

Here's one tidbit I find interesting:

People have long moved to Seattle "to separate, to differentiate themselves from their families and their traditions," said James Wellman Jr., an associate professor in the comparative religion department at the University of Washington. "And then they get here, and there's not many people, so there's this sense of isolation. There's an ambivalence about it. They both love it and they wonder, 'Well, how can I connect?' "

Spirituality and self-help sections in bookstores do well, neighborhood farmers' markets thrive, and craigslist is the place to go this week if you want to buy tickets from scalpers to see the "simple monk" from Tibet.

Wellman said it was striking that little had been made of the fact that the Dalai Lama was speaking at a public university, where he is also to receive an honorary doctorate, and that his visit was being openly supported by many local elected officials. Should Pope Benedict XVI extend his United States visit to Seattle, he said, "that would cause so much tension: people would fear church-and-state problems."

Tibetan Buddhism "gets a pass," he said, in part because many people here say it is not so much a religion as "a spiritual way of being in the world that's about nonviolence and peace.

Buddhism as practiced by some Americans is reminiscent of "New Age" religion. I think of them as Rorschach religions because they seem to have belief systems interpreted to confirm what the "believer" already feels is true.
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