I came on your site by accident-if there is such a thing. I've been reading about the Dalai Lama's scandal with the little boy in India and other 'faux pas' he has been accused of in the last few years and am at a loss what to think.
I've been a follower of Tibetan Buddhism for over 25 years and hold the Dalai Lama as a guru a role model like no other-the epitome of wisdom and compassion. I acknowledge that there are cultural differences that can be misconstrued and don't think of him as a pedophile or anything like that. It all took place in such a public arena but such a lack of judgement from such profound leader is hard to reconcile.
Then there is me, projecting my own ego-centered expectations on someone else's life. The Dalai Lama is not Buddhism but how can such a highly realized practitioner behave in a way that, at least on the surface, defies Buddhist wisdom.
The thing is, already as a westerner you feel at a disadvantage to deal with a tradition that is so culturally embedded in the East. Yet my intuition tells me that Buddhism has something I've found nowhere else.
'Frankly it shook me and I don't know what to think right now and don't want to judge too hastily. So I'm in limbo! Please if you have a perspective that can help me understand better, please write to me.
Thank you for your heartfelt comment and question. When I heard a report of what happened I was shocked as you were. And I felt that the apology was lacking. it's explanation of what happened wasn't sufficient.
Because of your question I did some research into exactly what happened. The boy first asked if he could hug the Dalai Lama. He consented but indicated the boy should first kiss him on the cheek, which he did and hugged him. Then he indicated the boy should kiss him on the lips, which he did. Then he "poked" out his tongue and said the infamous words, "Suck my tongue. "
I would say that the Dalai Lama made two innocent but very bad judgments in this situation. The fact that he was innocent in his actions is clear by the fact that this was very public. But you would think he would know, in this day of well-publicized clerical scandals with boys, that there are some thing you just don't do or say, regardless how innocent or friendly.
The furor over this episode is really a comment about how sick we as a society have become. There is no more acceptance of innocence with children. I know that, as a teacher, I have felt that myself; feeling I shouldn't put my arm around a young boy who is crying and feeling down as I talked to him and supported him, because of how it might be viewed. And we are taking the phrase "suck my tongue" and giving it the meaning it would have from the mouth of a pedophile or a gay man talking to a boy. Or even worse, we are giving it the meaning it would have regarding a different appendage, whether said to a man or woman.
I think the answer to your question is that the Dalai Lama is so saintly, so pure, that the idea that anything he would do would be so interpreted just never crossed his mind. I think you can rest easy in your faith in the Dalai Lama and in Buddhism. He has had a rude awakening about how the world views things these days. It is most unfortunate and will certainly raise questions in some people's minds about Buddhist monks, about whether they are guilty of the same thing as Catholic monks. We can only hope that it does not tarnish the Dalai Lama's image in any lasting way.
May you experience peace and happiness.