WASHINGTON — Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, warned Wednesday not to generalize Islam as a negative force and called on believers of different faiths to reach out to one another.
On a lecture tour of the United States, the world’s best-known Buddhist monk said that every religion including his own had “mischievous” people and that he has made efforts to reach out to Muslims since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
“Due to some mischievous action or destructive action carried out by some mischievous Muslims, due to that, to generalize the whole of Islam as something negative is totally unfair, unjust,” he said to applause.
“We need more effort to reach out to other faiths,” he said at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Historically, in most cases of conflict in the name of religion “the real reason is not religious faith, but economic reasons” or power struggles, he added.
The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since fleeing Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959, said that Buddhists had suffered under Muslim rule in India but that he believed “the past is past.”
He voiced admiration for the ability of different religious communities to live together in India.
“I think, really, a thousand years religious harmony (is) already there. So I think the rest of the world should learn from India’s experience like that,” he said.
The Dalai Lama is spending two weeks touring the eastern United States for public talks on some of his favorite themes, including compassion, religious harmony and meditation.