That’s right. I’m calling out the Dalai Lama.
I have worked with the Tibetan diaspora, met privately with the Dalai Lama (see the picture, above), he grasped my hands and sent energy racing up my arms (no lie), and His Holiness even put a Tibetan prayer scarf (Kata) around my neck, which I still have to this day. I get it. He’s the Dalai Freaking Lama. And everyone loves Mr. Lama.
But here’s my problem with His Holiness in particular, with Buddhists in general – and it also happens to be one of the first things that drew me to Judaism:
Jews understand evil. Buddhists do not.
As Sara Yoheved Rigler wrote, “Judaism does not just resign itself to a world of darkness. Judaism advocates jumping into the fray, facing evil head-on.”
“Facing evil head-on” is the defining characteristic of my life.
Wherever and whenever I see evil, my first reaction is to run at it and punch it in the face. I do this for a living: on behalf of Tibetans, Falun Gong, Israeli Jews, and against anyone who threatens America.
What did the Dalai Lama do when Tibet was threatened by the evil of Communist China? He retreated into exile. Since then, Tibet has been virtually destroyed and consumed by its invaders. That does not mean there were no courageous monks. A number of them fought valiantly against the Chinese. But the Dalai Lama was not among them. He followed the example of Buddha and retreated. As Maurice Lamm wrote, “buddha, upon seeing death, sickness and poverty, retreated from the world into a life of contemplation.” In that way, Buddhism is more attuned to peaceful retreat than to facing evil head-on.
When Israel was threatened by its neighbors with destruction, Israel did not retreat. It faced evil head-on.
That is not to say that all Jews, or even all Israelis, are 100% badasses who fully understand how to deal with evil. Many Jews today still believe that they can get along peacefully with those whose only aim is to wipe all Jews from the map.
But Judaism, as I have come to understand it, is profoundly “of this world.” It demands that we take action in this world. And sometimes that means facing evil head-on.
By contrast, Buddhists believe that “enlightenment” means elevating one’s self out of this world. Buddhist monks retreat from the world into monasteries, and this particular monk – the Dalai Lama – retreated from his country in 1959 and has lived in exile ever since. Perhaps the Buddhist lack of understanding of evil is what led the Dalai Lama in May 2010 to declare “I’m a Marxist,” or to say in January 2012 that he was still seeking a “middle-way” policy with the Chinese communist thugs who took over his homeland and butchered his brothers.
That’s my problem with the Dalai Lama. When evil crawls up your leg with a knife in its teeth you don’t retreat, you don’t meditate on it, and you don’t try to find a “middle-way.” You kill it.
Jews love life. But the world’s most evil people (who just happen to be the world’s biggest Jew-haters) proudly declare “we love death more than you love life.”
How do you deal with bad people who love death?
You give them what they love.