The Dalai Lama Does Not Represent International Buddhism 29-11-08

· Buddhism, Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama Does Not Represent International Buddhism 29-11-08

The Dalai Lama represents about 80,000 Buddhist belonging to the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

The non-Buddhist world attaches great value in the wisdom and peaceful efforts of the 14th Dalai Lama, H.H. Tenzin Gyatso, in trying to achieve full autonomy for his “Yellow Hat” sect of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet. Most Westerners see the Dalai Lama as a peaceful, righteous religious Buddhist monk representing Buddhism much like the Pope Benedict XVI, (Joseph Ratzinger) represents the Head of the Roman Catholic Church or Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury represents all International Anglican Christians. But we must look at these representations with a proper perspective.

The Roman Catholic Pope represents 1.13 Billion Catholics world wide.
The Archbishop of Canterbury represents 77 million Anglican Christians world wide.
The 14th Dalai Lama represents approximately 80,000 Yellow sect Buddhists mainly based in Dharamsala, India.

This means that the Dalai Lama is speaking on behalf of 0.09% of world Buddhism. Less then 0.1 % of Buddhists. That is the real perspective.

Detail of Analysis:

Explanation: Records of Buddhist memberships are not obtainable and quatification is confusing because like in China, Buddhism and Taoism, and Confucian philosophy are all inter-mixed and it is not possible to know when one begins and the other ends. Buddhist rituals are used in Taoist temples and vice versa with Confucian doctrines permeating throughout. In India Buddhism and Hinduism again is inter-mingled and confusing. In other regions, the separation of Buddhism and Shintoism is again a vague distinction. Through the Buddhist world, because it is more of a philosophy than a religious doctrine, Buddhism is can be incorporated into any religious belief without serious conflict. Hence to separate Buddhism from other religious faiths is at best guess work. Hence the figures presented are at best informed estimates. I will use mean figures and favour the underdog for the purposes of illustrations. I have found these statistics:

The total world Buddhist Population is estimated to be from 680 to 1,512 million. (Mean used is 1,101 million.)
The People’ Republic of China’s Buddhist ppopulation is estimated to be from 278 to 1057 million. (Mean used is 668 million.)
Tibet’s total ethnic population pre-1950, was about 1 million of which 900,000 were serfs (i.e. not Buddhist monks or aristocrtacy.) The remaining 100,000 ethnic Tibetans were either Monks or wealthy aristocracy.
Of this number, 80,000 (mostly Gelug (Yellow Hat sect) members fled to Dhramsala, India). Here I assume that the 20,000 remaining behind belonged to other budist sects and were not Gelug as there are 3 other Buddhist sects in Tibet.

My assumptions are as follows:
(1) Assuming all Tebetans were of the Gelug sect (Dalai Lama Sect) of 1 million in 1950. (In reality probability there were 65,000 Gelug followers in 1950.)
(2) Assuming world Buddhists averaged 1,101 million and
(3) Assuming Buddhists in China averaged 668 million

The Dalai Lama represents 0.09% Tibetan Buddhists in the world of Buddhism.
The Dalai Lama represents 0.149% Buddhists in the whole of China.
Yet the West treats the Dalai Lama as though he speaks for world Buddhism. HE DOES NOT SPEAK FOR BUDDHISM!

An Observation:

Unlike the Pope who confines his influence on spiritual matters and confines his authority to mostly religious doctrine and hierarchy and restricted to the Vatican, the Dalai Lama wants autonomy over not only religious matters but also political jurisdiction as well as territorial, fiscal and jurisdiciary matters over 20% of China representing an authority similar to that of “The Emperor of Tibet.” I cannot see any self respecting government capitulating to such a ridiculous demand from a self opinionated Buddhist monk. The Chinese stance on Taiwan is a clear example of Chinese attitudes on such a ridiculous demand. Northern Island, Kosovo, Georgia, Ukraine, Tamil Ceylon, Kashmir, are all examples that come to mind in such disputes. We need to see and understand perspectives which in the case of the Dalai Lama, the Western perspective is disproportionate.

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