- The Dalai Lama presents as the world face of Buddhism the world’s best face on Buddhism. Most of us aren’t acquainted with Buddhist homes cluttered with shrines venerating Buddhist teachers. (Or, in more syncretist modes, shrines venerating Buddhist ancestors.) We don’t know the equivalent of the boring local Buddhist “pastor.” Nor do we know the Buddhism of the polite businessman behind the hostile Japanese takeover. We just know a man who wears saffron robes, always smiles, and never says an unkind word. That is to say: he is clearly different from you and me.
- The Dalai Lama gives a human face to Buddhism. He’s someone a seeker can see. And he can tell a seeker, “Do these things that you see me do.” Even Mother Teresa rarely said that. She’d send seekers home with the encouragement to do things that would help them become more like God – whom they could not see.
- Buddhism offers Four Noble Truths, an Eight-Fold Path, and Ten Perfections. Christianity offers Ten Commandments (phrased in the negative); sixty-six books, which are not always easy to understand; and absolutely no codification of core practices. (Unless you count the Creeds, the Confessions, and the Catechisms, but those tell you what to believe, not what to do.)
So I get why people like the Dalai Lama. They can see him; he’s out of the ordinary; he behaves better than ordinary people; and he offers clear teaching about what they should do to make their own lives extraordinary.
Is there anything that would make it easier for people to “get” Christianity?