In light of this, I watched one of his speeches, and also one of the speeches of his precious few western opponents, Colin Goldner.
I won't go into the details here. Goldner, to me, comes across as intensely missionary, rigidly in search of anything he can criticize. I was rather shocked when I googled him to find that he's actually 59 years old. To me, he seemed like the archetypical young rebel. Especially when I compare him to the 70-something year old Dalai Lama. In a direct confrontation, Goldner wouldn't last a minute against the always wisecracking world-renowned uberdaddy with his constant smile and self-irony.
As for what he says, I guess he has a point here and there, while most of it is somewhat contrived and far-fetched.
But anyway. This is not so much about whether Goldner is right or not.
I think that the debate about the Dalai Lama and tibetan buddhism suffers tremendously from polarisation and confusion.
In short, I think that three rather distinct topics are constantly being whipped together in one large swoop:
- Tibetan buddhism as a religious and political system
- Chinese politics regarding Tibet
- The person of Tenzin Gyatso
Sadly, His Holiness' followers fall into the same trap as his opponents.
In order to have a useful debate, we need to learn to keep those factors apart. Only then can we hope to discover their interrelations and contribute something useful to the debate.