East Meets West: Pope Francis Meets the Dalai Lama

Essay by Luke Foster

“A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.” “Too often we participate in the globalization of indifference. May we strive instead to live global solidarity.” Pope Francis

Sometimes when cultures with different values and beliefs meet there is friction, but I can only see good of the meeting of Catholicism and Tibetan Buddhism.

“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” Dalai Lama

Its ironic that even though I went to a Catholic school and grew up as a child attending a Catholic church with my mum that I have a deep affiliation with the teachings of the Dalai Lama as much as the teachings of the current Catholic Pope.

However, my understanding and knowledge of the bible is not what I study daily like most devout Catholics but rather is something I know intuitively, and it affects my writing. In the same way that the bible is written my ideas come out as sort of warped parables not quotes, from the bible.

When I was travelling in Europe in January, I stayed in Rome for ten days and it has always been on my bucket list to visit Vatican City and see the Michelangelo painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel but the day I had booked for a tour was the funeral of the previous pope so I couldn’t go. My mum was on her deathbed when I left for Europe and in the final weeks had a return to Catholicism praying with a nurse at her nursing home and she asked me to get her some rosary beads at the Vatican but because I didn’t go, I ordered them online and sent them to her but by the time they arrived she had passed gently in her sleep.

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10.28.29

I think the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people have different spiritual beliefs, but it can only help the world if there are more philosophical and religious exchanges like the language exchange between me and my Korean friend Christina. Meeting in person and sharing beliefs and information strengthens the beliefs we have grown up with.

I find that compassion is the most important emotion, and the following are some quotes by the Dalai Lama on compassion:

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” Dalai Lama

My intuition tells me every day when I walk on the beach that I need to focus on compassion as a foundation in my life not as an idea but rather as something I live by and gives me courage, happiness, and strength.

The Dalai Lama

Pope Francis