The Dalai Lama In Louisville

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit Louisville, Kentucky this week.  His appearance is attracting a lot of media attention and evoking a number of thorny questions.  When considering your response to this eastern, “holy man,” take a moment to review the following information.

Who is the Dalai Lama?

He is the traditional governmental ruler and highest priest of the dominant sect of Buddhism in Tibet and Mongolia.  He is understood by Tibetans to be the essence of perfect knowledge and compassion.  Though not a perfect analogy, we might say what the Pope is to Roman Catholics the Dalai Lama is to the Buddhist religion.

What is the Buddhist religion about?

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama who is estimated to have lived from 566-480 B.C.  It’s reported that Gautama renounced his princely title and became a monk, depriving himself of worldly possessions in the hope of comprehending the reason for suffering and the truth about the world around him.  He maintained that the culmination of his search came while meditating beneath a tree, where he finally understood how to be free from suffering, and ultimately, to experience nirvana.  Nirvana is a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and represents the final goal of Buddhism.

Following this epiphany, Gautama was known as the Buddha, meaning the “Enlightened One.” The Buddha spent the remainder of his life journeying about India, teaching others what he had come to understand.

What is the difference between the beliefs of Christianity and Buddhism?

Buddhism                                         Christianity
There is no creator (Buddhism is non-theistic.)    “in the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth”  (Gen. 1:1)


Man has no soul   “What can a man give in exchangefor his soul?” (Matt. 16:26)
There’s no need of a Savior   “All have sinned” (Rom. 3:23)“the wages of sin is death”  (Rom. 6:23)“How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3) 
There is no heaven  (cycle of rebirth involving karma)     “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:3)
Truth is discovered through Human meditation     “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom”  (1 Cor. 1:25)
The purpose of life is nirvana – personal happiness    “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God” (John 17:3) 
Personal goal – Self realization   “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matt. 16:25)

What did Jesus say about other religions?

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

“Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”   (Matthew 7:15)

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:17-18)

*For a more in-depth comparison chart explaining some beliefs and practices of Tibetan Buddhism go to Under Tibetan Buddhism on the first page, click on “Compare.”

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