What comes after Truth Realization Enlightenment

The religious scholar Andreas Grünschloß observes a transfiguration of Buddhism in the West. Tibetan Buddhism in particular is for many a projection surface for exotic ideas of special enlightenment and deep spirituality, said the researcher who teaches at the University of Göttingen at the start of the Dalai Lama's visit to Germany. British Tibet expert Paul Williams also warns of a Dalai Lama euphoria.

Asia, and especially Tibet, is subliminally viewed by many as a "refuge of wisdom," added the religious scholar. Tibetan Buddhism in particular is a highly complex structure and diverse. In the West, one usually only sees the spiritual culture described by the terms mindfulness, peace and tolerance, says Grünschloß, who has worked on the mutual perception of religions.

The Dalai Lama, with his sympathetic charisma, is of course an obvious identification figure for many. But it is precisely the "ritual universe" of Tibetan Buddhism that has elements that in contemporary western society would otherwise be dismissed as ancient "magic" and "superstition". According to Grünschloß, this peculiar Asian-Buddhism fascination does not go back to the Dalai Lama alone, but has a long history of reception that goes back to the 19th century and the legacy of the esoteric movement of theosophy.

The widespread view that there is no proselytizing in Buddhism was viewed with skepticism by Green Castle. After all, Buddhism sees itself from the beginning as an "exclusive religious community" whose teaching, according to the classical texts, is the only one to lead to truth and liberation. Grünschloß: "Buddhism is a universal religion that is firmly convinced of the cosmic truth of its tradition." Christianity, like other religions, is viewed by leading Buddhists, such as the Dalai Lama, at best as a religion with less "truth realization".

This strong sense of superiority is often "contrasted" by Buddhist virtues such as friendliness and humanity. The attractiveness of Buddhism is of course also based on its techniques of training the mind such as the various forms of meditation, Grünschloß admitted. Nothing speaks against their "adaptive takeover".

Christians could well incorporate this into their faith. However, one must remain aware of how far one is "entering the other tradition" and adopting religious ideas. Religious-spiritual practices have always "wandered" interreligiously since time immemorial, if they seemed plausible and helpful to people.

Tibet expert warns of Dalai Lama euphoria

The British Tibet expert Paul Williams has also warned of a Dalai Lama euphoria in Europe. "His admirers should bear in mind that he does not tell them what he himself thinks is the ultimate truth," said Williams in an interview with the daily newspaper "Die Welt" in Berlin. In the opinion of the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, most Europeans lack the necessary maturity for this. "As a good Buddhist teacher, he adapts to the level of his audience," said Williams, who was a Buddhist himself for a while before converting to Catholicism.

In truth, Buddhism contains a highly complex teaching, stressed Williams. The British Tibetologist cited belief in rebirth and enlightenment as an example. The expert described the view that Christianity and Buddhism are compatible with one another as "one of the great myths of our time". The spiritual paths of both religions are mutually exclusive. At best, Tibetan Buddhists considered Jesus to be a very mediocre enlightened one.

Even the public judgment of the Dalai Lama himself is sometimes determined by one-sidedness, Williams pointed out. It is true that he is a "fascinating personality". But the image of the always smiling popular figure needs correction. "With Tibetans, he smiles far less and speaks more authoritarian - not because he is dishonest, but because people expect different things from him." Williams attributes the pacifist sentiment of the Dalai Lama to the influence of the Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948). Tibetan history itself, like that of other peoples, is full of violence.

Tibet Office: Germany is the Dalai Lama's main travel destination

In no other country in Europe has the Dalai Lama been as often as in Germany, according to the Tibet office in Geneva. As the official representation of the Tibetan government-in-exile for Central and Eastern Europe announced on Wednesday, this is a sign of the enormous public interest and the great support that the person of the Buddhist dignitary and the Tibet issue in Germany is being shown.

The spiritual leader of the Tibetans will visit Germany and Switzerland from Friday to next week. According to the information, this is the 35th time he has been in the Federal Republic of Germany since his first trip in 1973. The main venue in Germany is the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt. Around 10,000 participants are expected there every day. The visit is sponsored by the German Buddhist Union, the Tibet House Germany and the Vietnamese Buddhist Pagoda Phat Hue.

The Dalai Lama loves Germany, continues the Geneva Tibet Office. He admired "the determination and single-mindedness of the Germans with which they rebuilt their country from the ruins after the destruction in World War II and thereby established a solid democracy and a strong economic system," it said.

During his visit to Europe, the Dalai Lama wants to give lectures on world peace and compassion as well as take part in seminars on issues relating to the environment, economy, science and ethics. He also gives Buddhist teachings. On August 3, the Dalai Lama will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Marburg.

Then he travels on to Switzerland. According to the Tibet Bureau, there are more than 7,000 Tibetans in Europe, most of them - around 4,000 - in Switzerland. On August 6th, the Dalai Lama will give a speech at an international conference in Geneva. The aim of the conference is to find ways for a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue. The Dalai Lama returns to India on August 7th.