Since the beginning of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the sessions of both houses have opened with a prayer. Not your typical church prayer, but an varying degree of different denominations and faiths have opened the session with a non-specific religious prayer. Today (3/6/2014), the Senate of the United States opened the session with his holiness, The Dalai Lama opened the senate with a prayer of his own. Watch the prayer by clicking on this link.
Dalai Lama Opens Senate With Prayer
"With our thoughts, we make our world," said the Dalai Lama, dressed in gold and red robes. "Our mind is central and precedes our deeds. Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you like a shadow that never leaves."
"as long as space remains and as long as sentient beings remain, until then may I, too, remain and help dispel the misery of the world."
The Dalai Lama is the leader of Tibetan Buddhists who fled China amid the Communist uprising in 1959 and has since resided in India in exile.
Naturally many who are less tolerant of other religious took reservation with a non-christian leader opening the Senate with a prayer of goodwill. But instead of focusing on the remarks of a few people on the outer fringe, let's talk about the prayer itself and why it's so moving a a spoken oration.
There is no mention in New Testament Scripture about being intolerant to other faith's prayers of goodwill. Often times, we as Christians will pray for anyone for whatever reason our heart leads us to do. And as such, we should accept and be blessed by other faiths' prayers to us. I can think of no finer forum for the Dalai Lama's words than the Seat of US Government.
"With our thoughts we make our world." This statement is nothing new in Christian belief. It's by our actions that we shape the world around us, and we can use those actions to make our world better or worse.
"Our mind is central and precedes our deeds." We always hope to think and consider counsel before we take actions. Many scripture references in the Bible have often elevated careful consideration before taking action, such as Proverbs 15:22 "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." or Proverbs 11:14 "For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers." We are asked to consider what we do before we do it. That careful planning will bring a positive outcome.
"Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you like a shadow that never leaves." People who walk in righteousness, who respect their fellow man as human beings, who do unto others as you would have them do unto you, who love their neighbors and execute their offices with reverence and the prominence of the first servant philosophy serve only to serve, and their service is the greatest satisfaction for true public servants. (Matt 7:12, Mark 12:31, Matt 22:36-40)
"as long as space remains and as long as sentient beings remain, until then may I, too, remain and help dispel the misery of the world." This statement by his Holiness is the most interesting to me. As long as we have the capacity of free will, the ability to act and change the world around us, we are charged with bringing peace and love to the world. I find no indifference with this statement, as this is the primary charge of being a Christian. Going unto the world bringing the grace, forgiveness, compassion, charity, and generosity that encompasses being a Christian. And it's not just Christianity that this is tied to. Many world religions both minor and major mostly preach and teach a similar position. Do unto others is not an exclusively Christian teaching It just got the most press. (See Matt 7:12, Mark 16:15, 1 Thess 4:7)
Conclusions: Christianity as a whole has no cause to condemn such a beautiful piece of oration. There is nothing objectionable or controversial that was said by his Holiness, nor was there anything said that indicates praise of another deity. (not that such a thing would matter to me.) Our goal when we interact with other faiths should be to find our common grounds, and collude together how we can move the world to a better place using our shared beliefs and shared goals.