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Is the Dalai Lama . . . canceled?

He made some beyond tone-deaf remarks objectifying women. Does that mean the Dalai Lama has to go?

Is the Dalai Lama . . . canceled?
[Photo: Flickr user Christopher Michel]

The BBC released an interview with the Dalai Lama this morning, on the occasion of his upcoming 83rd birthday, and it was a real rollercoaster ride.

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On one hand, his holiness the 14th Dalai Lama slammed Donald Trump as lacking moral principle (“whee!”), but on the other, he reaffirmed a previously stated belief that if his successor were female, she would need to be attractive. (“oof!”)

During the interview, BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan revisited the spiritual leader’s 2015 remark that a female successor “must be attractive, otherwise it is not much use.” Since the Dalai Lama never elaborated during the original interview on what exactly he meant by that, Vaidvanathan asked him about it this time.

His response was to double-down.

“Real beauty is inner beauty, that’s true. But we’re human beings, I think the appearance is also important, too,” he says, with the confidence of someone who definitely didn’t have to pass a handsomeness litmus test before achieving guruhood.

Apparently, not one thing has happened in the last four years that has influenced the Dalai Lama’s thinking around women, which begs the question: Is the Dalai Lama . . . canceled?

The answer is obviously in the eye of the beholder. An uprising of Tibetan Buddhists striking out in mutiny against the current regime is not in the cards, so any level of canceling here will take place on an individual level. News of the Dalai Lama’s decidedly unenlightened outlook on women will probably most likely affect the sale of spiritual-quote-a-day calendars at the few remaining Barnes & Noble’s, and not much else.

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For one thing, the Dalia Lama is at an age where a sea change in gender parity might just be too much heavy lifting. Even if he were somehow open to such change, however, anyone who has obtained inner peace probably stays from away from the internet, missing out on crucial context and exposure to the kinds of feminist points of view that might convince him. But finally, if anyone is considering personally canceling the Dalai Lama based on his problematic attitude toward women, I have some bad news about pretty much every spiritual leader throughout human history.

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