The Dalai Lama criticizes Anti-Whaling Protestors. The Dalai Lama should stick to what he knows about.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jun 20, 2010
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Update! I’d asked if anyone knew of violent behavior exhibited by Sea Shepherd folks that contradicted their civil disobedience policy. This tip comes via Bill Schwartz, quote via Japan Times:

“…Sea Shepherd recently said it expelled [a member, Peter] Bethune because he violated its policies against carrying weapons. The group said he had a bow and arrows with him while he was aboard the Ady Gil, although he never used them.”

According to Bill, this incident happened 10 days before His Holiness’ statement, which would give me and our readers all context necessary to empathize with the Dalai Lama’s concern. ~ ed.

~ Original article below ~

The Dalai Lama, in Japan, criticized the Sea Shepherd Society. AFP:

“The rebuke came as the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader visited Japan for an 11-day lecture tour.

At a news conference, he said he had told the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to stop its violent harassment of Japan’s whaling fleet.

“One time I wrote a letter…(saying) their activities should be stopping,” he told reporters.

The Dalai Lama said he supported Sea Shepherd’s goal of preventing whalers from harming the giant sea mammals but added that “their (activities) should be non-violent”.

Remember, Japan is the nation that is leading the (more and more successful) fight to re-legalize whaling for the first time since the famous, wonderful Save the Whales campaign of the 1970s. Japan has taken to bribing small, poor, corrupt nations (that often have no whaling traditions of their own) to side with Japan in overturning the whale-hunting ban.

This is well-reported by our friends over at Tricycle Magazine, and the comments are well worth reading. Excerpt:

The Dalai Lama, who is visiting Japan, criticized anti-whaling protesters, saying that while he sympathized with their efforts to protect the mammals, protesters’ methods should be nonviolent

…read the rest at Tricycle.

Make sure to read the comments. Excerpt from one, which states the case well:

While I have the utmost respect for HHDL, I have to say I feel he is mistaken in this case.
I have been following the activities of the Japanese Whaling fleet and the Sea Shepherds for some time now, and from what I can tell, the Sea Shepherds have done nothing overtly violent in their protection of marine mammals.

However, the Japanese whalers have: thrown metal objects at protestors in small boats; used a LRAD device against the protestors’ helicopter pilot; and (allegedly) rammed and destroyed the protestor’s specialized boat (and I’ve seen the footage, it was deliberate AFAICT). This was all done in the name of exploiting a loophole in the International ban on whaling.

The Sea Shepherds have only: thrown (essentially) stink bombs onto the whalers’ ships to try to slow down/stop their work; and attempted to disable the whalers’ ships by fouling their propellors. Neither of these actions could be considered violent (or life-threatening, unlike the LRAD and boat-ramming scenarios).

I feel HHDL must have based his comment on Japanese propaganda. It is sad that he would make such a public statement without getting both sides of the story.

The Dalai Lama is all about non-violence, and that’s why we love him. But, more precisely, we’re talking about a lineage of civil disobedience, here—not sitting on our hands and staring at our navels in the face of tyranny. The Dalai Lama himself is a hero of this lineage—his peaceful strength in the face of Communist oppression has inspired millions, including of course myself.

But the fact that, in this case, he made such comments while in Japan—which again is actively bribing small, poor nations in a possibly-successful effort to overturn a ban on whaling since the 70s (remember Save the Whales?) make his upaya (skillful means) rather clumsy, this time around.

And it’s okay to call our heroes out when they misstep. In fact, it’s essential, in the Buddhist tradition. No one’s perfect or god-like, in Buddhism—no one’s held up on a pedestal. Honest communication is as vital for our leaders as it is for our loved ones and friends.

And innocent as His Holiness’ intentions are, the context within which his comments were made is harmful—and may well lead to more permissiveness of real violence.

The Cove touches on Japan’s love of bribing its “allies”:


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


30 Responses to “The Dalai Lama criticizes Anti-Whaling Protestors. The Dalai Lama should stick to what he knows about.”

  1. You get a thumbs up from me simply for acknowledging that the Dalai Lama is criticizable. While there's much to admire in what he says and does, all the bowing down and treating him like he's infallible makes me gag.

  2. Sam says:

    When the Dalai Lama supported Sea Shepherd it was great. They posted his letter of support and feature him prominently on their website. Now when he is critical of their actions and deems them to be violent, he doesn't know what he's talking about and should just mind his own business? Seems a bit hypocritical. Sea Shepherd should remove reference to his support from their website. They should not be in a position where people will say they are trying to mislead the public, claiming support that they once had but now have lost. It's only fair and the right thing to do.

  3. Guest says:


    I think the issue here isn't necessarily that he called them violent. Whether they are or not, relative to the capabilities of the Japanese whaling fleet, is debatable.

    The problem with his comments is that he made them in Japan while the international whaling ban is being reconsidered (with evidence that elements within the Japanese government are corrupt and are bribing representatives of other nations to get their way). Does he support this activity? I hardly think so, but it does indicate that he's not fully informed about the issue.

  4. Losang says:

    His Holiness has always taken a stance of non violence. Here is what was said: "Speaking on the anti-whaling issue in Japan, His Holiness said the group is trying to protect living beings and environment, but the method should be non-violent and peaceful."

    This is being blown all out of proportion.

    And as I respect your opinions, please do not insult me for mine.

  5. Isabella says:

    I am fortunate to have met HH The 14th Dalai Lama in India. I have met a man of humour , compassion a man with an enormous giving heart, a man who is intuitive, a highly intelligent perceptive man with pure love for humanity and I think of this laughing happy man as the only true hero on this planet.
    Losang is correct. This is being taken out of context and as much as it pains me to comment on the Sea Shepherd Society, they have a scurrilous reputation by complaining bitterly if condemned by anyone at all . They seem to be above the law and a law unto themselves. They are violent and should be gracious enough to accept criticism without spite. HH The Dalai Lama was supportive of the SSCS before he knew the truth about this organisation. I dont believe he is hypocritical at all. He has realised this group thrives on untruths and vilolence. I commend him for his always honest truthfulness. The SSCS should learn by example.

  6. Isabella says:

    Sam I agree with you. The Sea Shepherd should remove immediately all reference to HH The Dalai Lama’s support from their website.The SSCS has mislead thousands of people and continues to mislead thousands daily, in all decency they should not continue to do so knowing that the Dalai Lama does not support violence such as shown by the SSCS. To leave this support on their website simply reinforces the deceit this organisation has shown time and time again.

  7. WL is pro-violence? says:

    Apparently this is the author 'sticking to what he knows about,' taking quotes out of context and sensationalizing them out of ignorance?

    Of course the DL is not infallible, however he is correct on this matter. It reminds me of the bumper sticker: why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong? Using violence in protest the violent slaughter of whales will ultimately not win the hearts and minds of enough reasonable supporters to make a difference.

  8. Amen. Making those comments in Japan is like going to a factory farms and criticizing PETA. You might have good points, PETA's techniques might be questionable at times, but context matters.

  9. The Dalai Lama's stance on non-violent protest is admirable. We/I love him for it. But the anti-whaling techniques referenced above on the Tricycle site, in comments, that I read, were non-violent.

  10. Great comment. But what are they doing that's violent? I'm unclear on this.

  11. Again, all the info I've read on the Tricycle web site doesn't include violence from the anti-whalers. Do you have different info?

  12. Guest says:

    We could compare what facts are out there. The Sea Shepherd crew throws bottles of (what they have said is) rancid butter (butyric acid) at Japanese ships. The purpose of this is to foul up the decks of the ships, and of the whale carcasses, to disrupt the whalers activities. This is not particularly violent in and of itself, as long as the goal isn't to hit the whalers directly with the acid, and I've personally seen no indication that this is the goal. They have also used prop-fouling methods to try and disable the whaling ships. While the would certainly incur the cost of repair, but how violent such an action is depends on one's perspective. They also tail the Japanese ships, and generally try to make a nuisance of themselves with their presence to interrupt whaling activities.

    Now, let's consider what the Japanese whalers have done. They use powerful water canons against the Sea Shepherd vessels and crew. They intentionally attack the SSCS crew with them. Granted, they can argue they're just defending themselves. They use LRAD (long range accoustic device) equipment to disorient SSCS personnel, including against a helicopter pilot in flight. If it the LRAD device had been successful in that event, it could have brought the helicopter down. I'll also refer to the video above, where (it would seem) the Japanese vessel veers into an SSCS vessel, the Ady Gil, at the last moment and strikes it. The boat sank, thankfully the crew survived. You can make of that what you will.

  13. More over at Tricycle: Sea Shepherd's response:

  14. WL is pro-violence? says:

    You sit with your nose in a computer all day, you really cannot find this information?

  15. Isabella says:

    Read this blog by a ‘REAL’ Captain and you should become more enlightened although why you are unable to read the thousands of forums and articles on the terrorist group SSCS is a mystery.

    The majority are against the extreme killing of whales, what the majority are against is the SSCS leader who have turned his organisation into a money making scam with lies threats, and violence. The SSCS is a criminal organisation headed by a criminal.


    Monday, June 21, 2010AN ACT OF HYPOCRISY

    His Holiness Dalai Lama

    The Press Release folder this afternoon brought the height of hypocrisy. The Sea Shepherds leader has had the absolute audacity to criticise and lie directly to His Holiness Dalai Lama. NAUTICAL LOG is not going to quote or interpret the words of the Dalai Lama so if you wish to read what was said then visit the Sea Shepherds website and read the reply to the Dalai Lamas rebuke of Watson’s violent behaviour.

    This person is now in our opinion quite beneath contempt in an organised society. No longer does he deserve to be in a position where he can influence young lives such as his volunteer crew. NAUTICAL LOG urges you crewmembers of the Netherlands flag state pirate vessel MS Steve Irwin to see him for what he is, an egotistical, violent person now completely lost in a violent world of his own making. You should no longer allow him to lead you on this dangerous cult like, violent, tragic path which achieves nothing other than hate and violence. Most certainly it achieves nothing for the conservation movement which NAUTICAL LOG believes most if not all of you believe in sincerely, as do we.

    It is now time to refuse his orders and demand to be brought to a port (you have a capable Chief Officer) such as Valletta where you can leave the ship. Remember you are volunteer crew and as such have the right under maritime law to be put ashore in a port of your request at any time. The Malta Maritime Authorities will certainly consider reasonably your decision, particularly in the light of this display of appalling ignorance and absolute hypocrisy. When someones ego has grown so massive and out of control that he can even think about criticising His Holiness Dalai Lama he no longer deserves to be in charge of anything. NAUTICAL LOG sincerely asks you to do this because you younger crewmembers lives are being irrevocably destroyed by someone who has become a cult leader. That is highly dangerous in life, it is disastrous in a ship.

    Good Watch.
    Posted by CAPT. D. Peter Boucher, MN (Ret.) at 6/21/2010 04:15:00

  16. goldenmala says:

    I mentioned your site and this article in a recent blog post:

    It's good to see more people questioning the Dalai Lama.

  17. Padma Kadag says:

    How exactly has the Dalai Lama affected you personally in a negative manner? You, personally. Not your organization. You. No organizational rhetoric. Please tell me how has the Dalai Lama affected your "dharma" practice in a negative manner?

  18. Padma Kadag says:

    Your comments regarding the Dalai Lama are now on the Shugden site. presented in such a way as to support their cause.

  19. Padma Kadag says:

    "make his upaya (skillful means) rather clumsy, this time around."

    "And innocent as His Holiness’ intentions are, the context within which his comments were made is harmful—'and may well lead to more permissiveness of real violence."

    'And it’s okay to call our heroes out when they misstep. In fact, it’s essential, in the Buddhist tradition. No one’s perfect or god-like, in Buddhism—no one’s held up on a pedestal. Honest communication is as vital for our leaders as it is for our loved ones and friends."

    Sooo….."The Dalai Lama should stick with what he knows about" Waylon…. Samsara? Maybe the Dalai Lama knows something about Samsara? What do you think? I am thinking that you regret writing your comments as expressed in this post. Am I correct? or not? What would be the motivation to even comment , in an official capacity as the owner of EJ, on this? It is a "NO Big Deal" event. Yet, you build the Dalai Lama up with your praise which sounds less than sincere and then ridicule him in the next line…"upaya"? You know the Dalai Lama's mind?

  20. Padma Kadag says:

    I say all of this because you are a self proclaimed vajrayana buddhist. How you question your Lamas is your business. I am assuming that you do not regard the Dalai Lama as one of your Gurus. Yet you take it upon yourself to mention "upaya" and his lack of "upaya" in this instance? The Dalai Lama needs no defence certainly not from me nor is it my intent do defend him. I find it curious that you, who I do not know and visa versa, would make these kinds of comments publicly or privately. This blog has a tendency to portray any authentic lineage whether hindu or buddhist with a "democratic", western, watered down, feel good, take what you want so long that it does not require diligence and effort and leave that with which you do not agree.

  21. Padma Kadag says:

    It is not in the Buddhist tradition to make public statements about your teachers. There is a lack of "upaya" when you comment about a Guru, who's mind you could not fathom, in a negative manner where it will effect the view of others of that teacher and buddhism in general. If we have an issue with a teacher and with that which he or she teaches that is meant for us, as individuals to contemplate. Or maybe you feel a need to make excuses for your readership and embarrassingly reprimand the Dalai Lama in order to maintain your "western" democratic sense of fairplay so that your readers do not misunderstand your commitment to 'Buddhism". Yet you use "upaya" as a rebuke on the emanation of Chenrezig for his behavior? Wow…Waylon.

  22. Padma Kadag says:

    goldenmala….I have no problem with people critisizing any Lama; as I stated in my comments. It seems that you and your organization do nothing but critisize the Dalai Lama. Your quote, as all quotes from the Buddha should be read and contemplated by the individual who is doing the reading. So…how wonderful for you, if in fact, you quote here in order to emphasize the meaniing to yourself.

    My only point to you in any of this is my original question….assuming that you can be honest with your self…How has the Dalai Lama curtailed, obstructed, blocked, or kept you from practicing Dharma? Certainly your organization does not reside in your mind. Certainly if you search for Shugden he will not be there? Right? Or is Shugden now a God which you should know is not really there? How has the Dalai Lama negatively affected YOUR PERSONAL practice?

  23. Doris says:

    To be fair, Sea Shepherd has also sunk several whaling ships while they were in port and no one was on board (They checked to make sure the ships were empty before they sunk them). Is that "violent"? I'm sure some would argue it is, while others would say it's not violent because no one was injured.

  24. Here is my non-violent protest to the slaughter of dolphins.
    My Japanese friends and I made it with the hope that peaceful means can be successful.

  25. william says:

    Throwing noxious chemicals, fouling propellers and sinking unmanned ships are all violent actions. The suggestion that whalers do worse to protesters does not change the violent nature of these actions.

    It may seem like relative non-violence, but if you were to disrupt street vendors with butyric acid or by vandalizing their vehicles, would that still be non violent?

    HHDL is correct to criticize the activities of an organization which invokes his name, and one which uses dramatic, destructive confrontation.

    The debate should be about whether these methods are effective deterrent, or if they promise a future of escalating conflict.

    Please note that endangering oneself, is also a fairly violent form of resistance.

    It may be that people should go to war over whaling.

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