Your religion is not important

Yesterday friend of mine sent me an email with a a brief dialogue between the Brazilian theologist Leonardo Boff and the Dalai Lama, which deeply touched me. Here is what Leonardo, one of the renovators of the Theology of Freedom, recounts of this remarkable encounter:

In a round table discussion about religion and freedom in which Dalai Lama
and myself were participating at recess I maliciously, and also with interest, asked him:  

“Your holiness, what is the best religion?”

I thought he would say: “The Tibetan Buddhism” or “The oriental religions, much older than Christianity.”

The Dalai Lama paused, smiled and looked me in the eyes …. which surprised me because I knew of the malice contained in my question.

He answered:
 “The best religion is the one that gets you closest to God. It is the one that makes you a better person.”

To get out of my embarrassment with such a wise answer, I asked: “What is it that makes me better?”

He responded:
“Whatever makes you
more compassionate,
more sensible,
more detached,
more loving,
more humanitarian,
more responsible,
more ethical.”
“The religion that will do that for you is the best religion”

I was silent for a moment, marveling and even today thinking of his wise and irrefutable response:

“I am not interested, my friend, about your religion or if you are religious or not.

“What really is important to me is your behavior in front of your peers, family, work, community, and in front of the world.

“Remember, the universe is the echo of our actions and our  thoughts.”

“The law of action and reaction is not exclusively for physics.  It is also of human relations. 
If I act with goodness, I will receive goodness. 
If I act with evil, I will get evil.”

“What our grandparents told us is the pure truth. You will always have what you desire for others. Being happy is not a matter of destiny. It is a matter of options.”

Finally he said:
“Take care of your Thoughts because they become Words.
Take care of your Words because they will become Actions.
Take care of your Actions because they will become Habits.
Take care of your Habits because they will form your Character.
Take care of your Character because it will form your Destiny,
and your Destiny will be your Life

… and …

“There is no religion higher than the Truth.”

This entry was posted in Buddhism, Karma, zz HH Dalai Lama and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Your religion is not important

  1. Lorna says:

    There are two Buddhist temples in my area that I might visit just to see what it is like. The thing is, I do not speak Japanese, and I am imagining that the services are held in that. But I guess they reserve one service for English speaking?

    What is it like when one sits in on a Buddhist service?


  2. Bernie says:

    Hi, I am very sorry but I don’t think I can provide much helpful information about what services the temples in your area might provide. There are many different schools in Buddhism with all different traditions. Some temples serve more the ethnic Buddhist communities and have mainly services, others offer more instruction on meditation and the teachings of the Buddha in general. Maybe the best thing is to go visit and see how it is. Cheers Bernie

  3. I saw a lot of version on this video on the youtube about a dialogue between The Dalai Lama and Dr Leonardo Boff on The Best religion.

    Can anyone confirm if this interview actually happened? So many emails have been circulated with his Holiness name and how can we know which one is true and which one is not.

    I understand that it is about the finger pointing at the moon, but some would still like to clarify before they circulate this content further.


  4. Bernie says:

    Hi Robin, thanks for your comment. I think it is a really good point that we should check out the authenticity of this statement. I know many things get said in his Holiness’s name. I actually don’t know if this quote is authentic. It is described as an informal conversation during a conference, so I guess the only way to verify would be to ask both Dr Boff and His Holiness. If you get any definitive answer let me know. Being a little familiar with His Holiness’s teachings it definitely does not contradict anything I have ever heard him say or teach. The quote seems like a beautiful essentialisation of his teachings and views on religion. I think even if the story is made up completely he would not object to the content and therefore I feel okay about using it as an inspiration. Cheers Bernie

  5. hammerfrost says:

    hailsa, i found this article quite reassuring, ive recently changed from christianity to asatru, i did this because i found many things in christianity i did not agree with and the way of my ancestors seemed to be the best choice. in response my family hasnt left me be theologically, im made to fear hell and other such things i found this a refreshingly opened view so thank you and frith to you

  6. Hi Jonathan, I am sorry that your family is not supportive of your sincere search for the truth. Don’t let that deter you. Keep following your heart and inner wisdom. Keep up your good efforts reading, studying and trying to understand more deeply All my best Bernie

  7. Edith says:

    Whether the dialogue actually happened or not is irrelevant in may ways (though of course this doen’t negate the need to verify). What matters really is the message, and I have read of other references to the Dalai Lama’s recommendation to avoid getting too caught up in formulaic creedal dogmatic beliefs and cut straight to the heart of spirituality, which in its essence is ultimately the same no matter which tradition we practice. [Of course this is never to undermine the need for and necessity of engaging with a specific tradition. ]

  8. Bernie Schreck says:

    Well said! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! Cheers Bernie

  9. RonTaek says:

    So true, the Dalai Lama’s words. Anyway, to see deeper into The Dharma, The Lord Buddha’s Teachings, try to look up The Kalama Sutta, read it, digest it well and one should be able to understand the gist of The Dharma, that is, Do Good, Avoid Evil and Purify the Mind.
    May All Be Well And Happy.

  10. ELi says:

    Obviously a made up conversation… The quote that begins with

    ““Take care of your Thoughts because they become Words.
    Take care of your Words because they will become Actions…..”

    has been circulating in the web for years, before being attribute to the Dalai Lama.

    However, it still might be consistent with some of his beliefs.


  11. Bernie Schreck says:

    Hi Eli, thanks for letting me know about the quote circulating before being attributed to the Dalai Lama. I didn’t know that. If that is the case then it is obviously an at least partially made up conversation. I am going to leave the article though because I feel it is consistent with the beliefs of the Dalai Lama. Thanks again and all my best Bernie

  12. Denis Nyman says:

    Does it matter if he said this or not,it is the words and meaning that matter.

  13. Bernie Schreck says:

    Hi Denis, in a way it does matter because I do think it is important to quote correctly, but I agree with you the meaning matters more! Cheers Bernie

  14. Tim says:

    The quote is from the Upanishads. It is quite possible that His Holiness quoted it from there.

  15. Bernie Schreck says:

    Hello Tim, thanks for that clarification. Cheers Bernie

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