The following post is by Zac Alstin on the MercatorNet website.
One of the world’s best known religious leaders has came out in favour of same-sex marriage. But what does he really think?
Widely reported as having recently “thrown his moral weight behind gay marriage”, the Dalai Lama’s actual words to talk show host Larry King were not quite so compelling. He described sexual morality for the non-religious as a “personal matter”, but noted that same-sex marriage was “up to the country’s law”. When pressed further on his personal opinion, he replied “That’s okay. I think individual business”.
Westerners have confused and contradictory impressions of Eastern religions and philosophies. On the one hand, fantasies of the mysterious and enigmatic Orient are nothing new: Omar Khayyam was as popular in Victorian England as Jalalladin Rumi is in America today. Nor need we watch Madam Butterfly to understand how Asia has continued to serve as a canvas for weird Western dreams, projections, and insecurities.
Some compassion for the Dalai Lama is duly warranted. The poor guy is, at face value, a perfect vehicle for the Western ideal of a tremendously wise, compassionate, yet safely foreign master – the nearest living equivalent to Yoda from Star Wars. But at the same time he’s the serious head of a serious sect of Buddhism, the spiritual leader of a dispossessed people, and a living manifestation of Avalokite?vara, the bodhisattva of compassion, roles he must somehow balance against the neediness of Westerners anxious to find a convincing spiritual counterpoint to the stifling moral authority of their own religious heritage.