May 9th, 2011
12:25 PM ET

Dalai Lama: Osama bin Laden deserves compassion

By Ishaan Tharoor, TIME

After delivering a lecture on "secular ethics" at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles just days after the U.S. raid on Abbottabad, the Dalai Lama was asked of his thoughts about the killing of Osama bin Laden. A headline in the Los Angeles Times claimed the great spiritual leader in exile thought bin Laden's death "was justified," quoting the Dalai Lama: "If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures."

But the Dalai Lama's camp responded almost immediately, claiming this was not at all the gist of his remarks, emphasizing his appeal for us to distinguish between "the action" and "the actor" and stressing that, as a fellow human being, even bin Laden deserves our compassion and forgiveness. But, he stressed, "forgiveness doesn't mean forget [sic] what happened."

Red the full story on TIME.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Dalai Lama • Osama bin Laden

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. James Black


    June 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  2. john

    Was it Jesus who asked about seeing a mote in your brother's eye and being oblivious of the beam in your own eye?

    or about forgiving your brother 70×7 ?

    when something is morally right you dont go about justifying yourself. But something is terribly wrong here and therefore the need for rationalising the crime perpetrated in the name of punishing another crime. It only shows that in pursuing Bin Ladin Americans have become worse than Bin Ladin himself. The man in death managed to twist American excellent moral values into something grotesque and twisted and worse.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  3. Tony Berkman

    Thank you for sharing this with your audience.

    Cher who organized Int'l Day of Compassion did a phone interview with Patch Adams.

    It is now online and is really moving


    May 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  4. Nick

    Before embracing a life of peace, the Dalai Lama was a secret ninja assassin.

    May 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  5. Frogist

    I am genuinely conflicted about my feelings about Osama Bin Laden's death. I did not think I would feel the relief or sense of finality I felt. And it is difficult for me to reconcile those positive emotions with the death of another human being. I am still trying to figure it out myself. Having said that, I think forgiveness is about letting go of anger. It benefits the forgiver more than the forgivee by a thousand. And it is excruciatingly hard to do with honesty. Anger can hide itself very well from its owner. It takes a great deal of humanity to be able to look at Bin Laden as a person rather than an object. Sadly, the more we look at a human being as an object, the easier it becomes. That is the slippery slope to be aware of here. So I applaud the Dalai lama, and I share his view that we should try to strive for forgiveness and compassion. There is so much anger about 9/11 and the wars since that it spills out in other areas manifesting in fear and anxiety that causes hatred of our fellow man, distrust and a panicky need to second guess everything while we look for reds under our beds. It might do us a great deal of good to dispel some of that negativity by reflecting on how humanity can go wrong. While I did feel some relief, I just didn't feel the joy that some people seemed to feel when I found out he had been killed. I mostly think of the people who died on 9/11. I mostly think of what the families all have said, his death does not bring back our loved ones. I think if we focus our thoughts on them, we might retain some of our humanity and that feeling of celebration might not be present after all. I'm not condemning those who danced in the streets, I'm just saying maybe they might not have danced so readily if they reflected a little more on what prompted his death.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Tracy EcoGeek

      Well put, Frogist. I felt exactly the same way. Watching crowds cheer over the death of someone, even bin Laden, troubled me greatly. It seems perhaps a day of reflection was called for. I was touched by an NPR interview of a woman who has lost a family member. She did not feel like celebrating, but was beginning to feel a sense of closure. I think it is important to respect those who lost someone and at the same time understand our role, as a country in the sequence of events that leading to 9/11. It felts as if they people celebrating bin Laden's death were at a sports event. A (if not the) major thread in Buddhist teachings is to cause no harm to others. That does not mean we let anyone do what they want. Sometimes causing no harm might involve killing to prevent further harm (the case that could be made for bin Laden's death). But to party on the streets? I would feel better if we could have taken him into custody but perhaps that would not have been possible.

      May 31, 2011 at 4:47 am |
  6. T-party

    The Dali Lama knows that Koresh,Bin laden,Iatolas, Jim Jones, Swaggert, Haggerd,Jim Bakker , the Pope and priests,pat robertson,joel Osteen, and lama himself are weak minded religious fanatics and the masses are begining to figure it out.

    May 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • davey schouten

      i do not agree. there is an huge difrence between the pope and the dalai lama. buhdidm is about all living creatures deserve compassion and more things. its the same how i look to it. you need to forgive him, or you walk around with hate in your hart for the rest of your live. i am hapy he is finally caught, but i have forgived him for what he did. i did not forget it however.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:07 am |
  7. Artist

    This Dali Lama is so relevent there are now 25 posts. Curious has the Dali Lama ever lived in the real world with real world experience?

    May 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Tracy EcoGeek

      Yes, the Dalai Lama is very much in the world. I have met him in Ladakh, India where hwe was giving teachings. He travels around the world meeting with heads of state, giving his teachings the world over. He is incredibly astute regarding political events, has a wonderful sense of playfulness, and a wisdom unlike any I have seen in my life. He is one of those spiritual leaders of whom you can ask a practical question about day-to-day life and he does not give some pie-in-the-sky answer. It is amazing that in this country has had a few books on the best seller list. We are not a Buddhist country yet we sense something in his teachings. He calls himslef a simple monk (he is so humble) and says his teaching is compassion. To me he often seems like the only sane leader on the planet. He is not out to get something for himself, to sell something, to convert people, to politically manouver, to power play. When I met him, he came down the stairs in a pair of blue rubber flip flops-quit a departture from what we see most powerful people wear. He is the real thing. He is old and there will be a great loss in the world when he is gone.

      May 31, 2011 at 5:00 am |
  8. doctore0

    Laden got what he deserved ; Live by the sword, die by the sword.
    Showing compassion to Bin Laden is clearly a sign of mental collapse.

    May 10, 2011 at 5:33 am |
  9. Adelina

    Dalai Lama should be speaking out for religious freedom in the Buddhist-majority land... Non-Christians always miss the point.

    May 10, 2011 at 4:02 am |
    • T-party

      He should become agnostic like me and realize his meditations are from within and the wisdom is from within too. I have learned this and it has brought me such peace!!!

      May 10, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Adelina

      T-Party, he is not that stupid like saying, "I choose to decide there is no truth in this world." You are just too used to be filthy you and know no better. Also, your peace is too selfish it helps no one. True peace is only in Jesus.

      May 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  10. Adelina

    Christians have personally forgiven in Christ all the human terrorists, criminals and violators. But judicial justice must be carried out, weather the offenders are repentant or not, according to the nature of the crimes they have commited, based on the law of the society. The ultimate justice is and will be done to every human by God. Every human being, including Dalai Lama, needs forgiveness of sins and salvation by repentance and trusting in Jesus Christ. No exception, according to the eternal Word of God.

    May 10, 2011 at 4:00 am |
  11. J Tache

    Wrote about bin Laden on my blog! If you're interested, check it out here:


    I appreciate it!

    May 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  12. JohnR

    This is what is known as damage control. The Dalai Lama is perceived as super compassionate. Can't risk spoiling the franchise with a candid comment, eh?

    May 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  13. Reality

    bin Laden admitted his guilt. The global "citizens' court" found him guilty of crimes against humanity. The US Navy Seals carried out the execution. The End.

    With respect to D. Lama:

    " It is true that many exponents of Buddhism, most notably the Dalai Lama, have been remarkably willing to enrich (and even constrain) their view of the world through dialogue with modern science. But the fact that the Dalai Lama regularly meets with Western scientists to discuss the nature of the mind does not mean that Buddhism, or Tibetan Buddhism, or even the Dalai Lama’s own lineage, is uncontaminated by religious dogmatism.

    Indeed, there are ideas within Buddhism that are so incredible as to render the dogma of the vir-gin birth plausible by comparison. No one is served by a mode of discourse that treats such pre-literate notions as integral to our evolving dis-course about the nature of the human mind. Among Western Buddhists, there are college-educated men and women who apparently believe that Guru Rinpoche was actually born from a lotus. This is not the spiritual breakthrough that civilization has been waiting for these many centuries."


    May 9, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • T-party

      I agree to a point Reality

      May 9, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Tracy EcoGeek

      I think you are missing the point by judging the whole of Buddhism by one man. The Buddha told his followers, "Don't believe the words of any teacher. Find out for yourself." And he laid out a path to follow if you wanted to find out (non-dogmatic, BTW). And yes, I agree, there are some very "weird" beliefs in Tibetan Buddhism to this Westerner's sensibilities. This is bc when Buddhism got to that part of the world it was affected by the more shamanistic Bon religion practiced by the people living in that part of the world. To his credit, I heard the Dalai Lama tell an audience of probably a couple thousand Westerners to hold on to their own religions-there was no reason for them to become Buddhist. His message is very simple and appeals to people of all religions and even to people with no religion. If you pared Buddhism down to its very basic tenets and take away any ceremony, I bet even an agnostic or athiest could find meaning in it. Heck, all these classes on stress reduction at all the major hospitals are based on Buddhist teachings and practice-they just take the -ism out of it and do not mention the Buddha.

      May 31, 2011 at 5:15 am |
  14. ConservaFascists

    The Dalai Lama has a point. For this to supposedly be a christian nation, some people sure don't adhere to Christ' teachings of loving thy enemy. I'm not saying that what OBL is a saint by any means, but there's no justification to be jubilent in the street over anyones death.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Ron

      Boy, ain't that the truth! ConservaFascists...you said a mouthful and are right on.

      May 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I agree with you but at the same time I heard a report on the radio over the weekend and a lady said that many of those jumping for joy are mostly ones that were maybe 9 or 10 when 9/11 happened. To them some of us, who were older back then should try to look at it as the end of the cold war. Sorta the years when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed. To them they grew up with Bin Laden as much of a boogieman as with my generation did at the close of the cold war. Add to that parents and news media hyping that Bin Laden was going to be marching on the country and that our sisters, wives and mothers would be forced to wear ejabs, thats pretty much the same fears I had a kid except that we thought it would be either a Soviet takeover or we would be reduced to radioactive dust. The thing is that I know I was happy when the soviet threat went away for the most part. I think that, while I can not cheer Laden's death I could never lack the understanding why others do such.

      May 9, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • TasteandSee

      MiddleMan, you weren't even alive when the Iron Curtain came down.
      Did you suddenly change your age? Your Reagan was an idiot who destroyed much of this country. He is burning in hell right now. You will too.

      May 9, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Taste, sure I was alive when the Soviet Union fell and I think if I search my mothers house I can still find my Knight Rider and my ThunderCats Lunch-box 🙂

      Interesting "my Reagan" ... good grief dude, but I am sorry but I am a follower of Christ, a simple Christian and I do not believe my salvation is based on who i "would of" voted for in the eighties. I will say that I did vote Clinton and GW Bush 🙂 Middleman.... thats funny.

      May 9, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  15. Coaster

    I don't agree with the Dalai Lama on this matter, certainly not with his camp's response. Bin Laden does not deserve our compassion or forgiveness. The magnitude and evilness of his crimes are just too great to warrant sympathy of any kind. But the Dalai Lama is perceived by many to be a voice-of-reason and therefore overall quite relevant, "Artist."

    May 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Artist

      Coaster just not seeing him as relevent. More power to those that care what a strange looking little freak in robe says.

      May 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Artist

      ps and somebody refer him to Lenscrafters for some better looking glasses. He needs more bling

      May 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  16. Artist

    The dali lama is as about as relevent as the homeless preacher on the corner saying the world is going to end. You glance and then move on.

    May 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  17. Colin

    Bin Laden is dead. His body is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. "Compassion" to him is irrelevant. It can only benefit his followers. Scru them.

    May 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  18. typo

    change "red the full story on TIME.com" to "READ the full story.."

    May 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Ted M

      they still haven't fixed it as I post this. Busy editors will never find the time to spellcheck, I guess.

      May 10, 2011 at 4:21 am |
  19. STEVE

    Whats a dali lama?

    May 9, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • me


      May 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Artist

      Special lama?

      May 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Elmo

      It's sorta like a Barbie, but grazes in the Andes.

      May 10, 2011 at 4:13 am |
    • Timmay

      A dali lama is a person who has lots of sweaty man se-x when he isn't traveling or giving lectures. That's about it really.
      They are trained to give out the most ambiguous answers possible under every circu.mstances.
      And they are shorn of their hair to make rugs. I forgot that part.

      May 10, 2011 at 7:12 am |

      I think It's a llama that is sliced up and put on sandwiches on an italian roll bun

      May 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm |

      OH ..sorry That's a Deli llama

      May 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
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