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The Dalai Lama - "The World Will Be Saved By the Western Woman"

By October 19, 2009

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About a month ago, the Dalai Lama said something about women that is just now making the rounds on Twitter. His statement, "The world will be saved by the western woman," was delivered during the Vancouver Peace Summit 2009, which opened on the morning of Sunday, September 27th.

Although I'm still trying to track down a transcript of the speech containing the above statement, the Dalai Lama participated in more than one panel discussion that day, and the event most likely to have provoked such a strongly worded declaration was the "Nobel Laureates in Dialogue: Connecting for Peace" presentation held that afternoon. Moderated by former Irish president and peace activist Mary Robinson, the panel discussion featured four Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: the Dalai Lama (who won in 1989); Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams, founders of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement and winners of the Nobel in 1976; and anti-landmine crusader Jody Williams, an American peace prize winner in 1997.

If the "western woman" statement were made in the context of the Dalai Lama's appearance with these extraordinary women, the words would seem less stunning than sensible. Truly, these western women have already changed the world, and have been doing so for more than three decades.

Writing for the Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) blog, executive director Marianne Hughes ponders the idea of the aging women as hag (originally a representation of feminine power) and how it relates to the Dalai Lama's statement:

I'm not entirely sure what he meant...but I am wondering if when he travels across the globe and sees so many of our sisters impoverished and repressed he sees western women of all ages in a position to speak out for justice and to take on the responsibilities of the hag... to take loving care of the planet and its people.

The Dalai Lama's comment about western women was not the only notable pro-female statement he made during the summit. In the Vancouver Sun, Amy O'Brian quotes others including a call for "increased emphasis on the promotion of women to positions of influence."

In response to a moderator's question about what he sees as priorities in the quest for world peace, here's what the Dalai Lama said:

Some people may call me a feminist....But we need more effort to promote basic human values -- human compassion, human affection. And in that respect, females have more sensitivity for others' pain and suffering.

World-saving aside, women do what they do because it's work that needs to be done. None of them do it with an eye toward winning a Nobel Peace Prize, but the acknowledgment is valuable in that it draws attention to these efforts and eases the ever-present fund-raising struggle...and recruits more followers, like those who are retweeting the Dalai Lama's statement. Hopefully every woman who forwards those words will dig down deep enough to find the source of his inspiration and understand that he honors real women whose work continues day in, day out...regardless of whether they're in the limelight or not.

Comments

October 21, 2009 at 1:57 am
(1) Carole says:

Women disregard their biggest power. Imagine the impact if all women fed their families healthy meals. Would we be having health care discussions? Would there be an obesity problem? Would depression or illness or ADD be a problem?

Or how about if women were to spend less time in front of the TV and more time with their kids?

I hear the screaming – why is it up to women?

Because we have the strength. We can change a lot of what is wrong with the world. And we can still have a career.

I think a lot of women are starting to wake up and realize that the manly approach is not working. Not for them, or the world.

Instead of feeling like a victim, we need to celebrate our strength. We have a lot of power that the world needs right now.

Just my 2 cents…

October 24, 2009 at 11:36 am
(2) Ronnie says:

Thank you for this excellent report – you have summed it all up nicely – women do what they were created to do – we chose our sex – let us not forget the power we have for bringing about change – it is linked to our ability to sustain life – i especially like your comments on the hag or chrone – the first time I was addressed as such by a beautiful young goddess who runs our Moon circle I was hurt and shocked until I read about the crone – we crones still use our feminine ability and power to nurture and create, it does not stop at menopause – only for those of us unlightened enough to believe that our life’s work is finished and that we are no longer “attractive”
sexual that is – of course we are – we nurture the planet and we are given all of humanity to work with after our own children lent to us have grown – we should search within ourselves because we are wise beyond the many years under our belts and showing on our faces.

October 31, 2009 at 6:36 am
(3) Lionel Lund says:

Bishop Tutu should try and get the ANC in South Africa to practice equality and try uplift people that are not so called “black”.Non black women have very little chance of growth in South Africa.

December 16, 2009 at 1:19 am
(4) William Bond says:

I think the reason why the Dalai Lama mentioned western women rather than eastern women is because only Western women have the political power to get things done.

In many eastern countries women are not allowed to obtain any political power and so are very limited in what they can do. It is not a lot better for western women but at least western women are getting more and more involve in the political system.

The truth of the matter is that while men continue to rule our world we will always have conflict, wars and injustice. We need far more women in positions of power throughout the world, if we are going to live in a more caring and compassionate world.

May 22, 2010 at 8:00 pm
(5) Teri says:

Women know and have known discrimination. Even the comment about the love and compassion of women is feeding a stereotype. (Not that I disagree, it is just that perhaps these qualities come from experience, and all downtrodden people know suffering, and therefore can access compassion for others who suffer?) As Western women step out of the stereotyped roles, they are in a position to build a new self, outside of the established “norms”. This “emptiness” of the proscribed “self” coincides very nicely with the Buddhist goals of overcoming the manufactured self-image to see the Ultimate Reality that is relational, not individual. Western women are in a sufficiently advantaged position to be able to lead, and perhaps have the luxury to really examine “self”, and from that, as the majority in this country, enact a change which can impact the entire world. (Read Mary Daly’s Beyond God the Father … behind the feminist anger are some very good points.)

July 21, 2010 at 3:37 am
(6) ddsnorth says:

a google page w lots of info on the Dalai Lama visit; including video! i’ll let YOU do the searching for the actual statement made. BEST!

http://odurl.com/gUu

August 21, 2010 at 12:27 pm
(7) andrea adler says:

I would love to have a conversation with you, Linda and talk about a conference I am putting together.
Please call me at 310-597-1462.
thanks
andrea

September 9, 2010 at 2:59 pm
(8) Susan says:

The Dalai Lama is right – men use harsh words and weapons to create order. Woman can use reason and love. I think you will like my idea of creating a currency with handbags (and other fashion items eventually) – see http://www.susanhaywardoflondon.com – we women can work together to improve everything if we really want to. I’m doing my bit and starting with building up communities – will you join me?

September 9, 2010 at 3:37 pm
(9) Susan says:

I hope I didn’t sound sexist :) I love men but I just think they have had their own way for so long, it’s about time we tried something different. I have tried to contact Angelina Jolie in Pakistan because of the idea I have but am happy to share on skype if you email me.

December 8, 2010 at 7:15 am
(10) Debbie says:

ddsnorth…I’m trying to view the link you left but to no avail….I am looking for the transcript of these comments…can you help me?

February 2, 2011 at 6:47 am
(11) eeyorn says:

I’m a longtime admirer of HHDL and try to follow the basic tenets of Buddhism as I understand them from his teachings.

I would agree wholeheartedly with his attributed wisdom here.

Carole: Although women can generally cook better meals than men, generally as a result of classes taken in school, I would disagree with you that men are incapable of performing the home-parental role, and know of several men who have successfully performed this role. The key, I think, is that a couple needs to be earning sufficient for their needs so that one or other can be available for when the children are at home.

Susan: I like your idea very much

February 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm
(12) Loc Dinh says:

One thousand years ago, some vietnameses woman ( hai ba Trung ,ba Trieu) who collected people and arms to fought back Chineses invaders.This land is being good place to produce stronger women.So if Google interest,please come to visite Women Museum in 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Ha Noi.I am Vietnamese American woman,love and support to respect women in the world.

March 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm
(13) tristan says:

my favorite dalia lama quote, is that if you lose, don’t lose the lesson… here is a funny joke I saw about the Dalai Lama retiring, http://ponderingstuff.com/2011/03/19/dalai-lama-retires-groupon/

June 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm
(14) LaurieN says:

He means, the return of the DIVINE FEMININE is the energy coming back to usher us through the Golden Age.
The ultimate goal is for balance or a marriage of the male/female energies within each person… think Yin/Yang, or as above, so below… equal…
Now add in the fact that the male energies throughout the world and history have been overbearing and unbalanced. This is where we see war and other extremes of power.

To balance the male energies, or unite both, it is merely a matter of the action/strength (male) within us all to merge in the compassion, love and nurturing that is the divine feminine nature.
It is that simple.
It is not women conquering men, and men need not fear this. It is merely men incorporating and being OK with and accepting that they can display and openly show emotion, love, compassion and nurturing.
The fact it is the western woman is that we have the technology and know how to spread the word and show the way in a much bigger way.
Namaste all, this is going to be a fun ride!
This, will

July 7, 2011 at 10:31 am
(15) Lily says:

As an eastern woman who grew up in Asia in an economically advanced but heavily patriarchal society, I agree with HHDL’s statement. Also, I think it is fair to say that western men have been relatively supportive in promoting the progress of western women and not being threatened by it- by educating the female child, having laws in place to fight against gender discrimination & violence against women. In many parts of the eastern world, the upliftment of women through education is seen as a corruption of their moral values and to the detriment of the society they live in.

October 2, 2011 at 9:35 pm
(16) Marlowe Aster says:

This quote – about the Western Woman saving the world – has been in my brain ever since I first heard it. Finally, the seed has sprouted, and I founded the Sacred Feminine Leadership Institute to support women to make sure that happens.

Please check it out, if this is a topic that interests you. The address is http://sacredfeminineleadershipinstitute.com.

November 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm
(17) Jan King says:

Perhaps, as little girls, we watched too many “Disney” features and are still waiting to be rescued by the prince. Substituting “Hallmark” fits this line of thought also.

In maturity we learn that we can be self-directed in our approach to our dreams. We can be an example by demonstrating to our children that they too can create their own reality and their own world without waiting for someone to decide they are worthy enough to have it.

There is no doubt in my mind that the world will improve as technology makes it possible to have clean water, food, and communication. The best is yet to come and western women are certainly in a position to influence positive change.

December 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm
(18) doris patton says:

you don’t know if he ment one or many

February 20, 2012 at 5:31 pm
(19) Beth says:

He is correct! We have the power to change the world by everything we do, how we eat, live, shop, raise our children… everything! We currently live in a world created and dominated by men of the recent recorded past (last few thousand years). Look what they have done and continue to do!! It is the western women who are in a unique position to be a force to change the world!

March 2, 2012 at 11:43 pm
(20) Deb says:

LaurieN hit the nail on the head, on an individual basis we must focus on unified balance.
Women tend to be more emotional than men, in my experience, just as men tend to be more results driven by default.
Both are admirable qualities that, when taken too far, can be detrimental.
Both qualities must be present in each of us to move forward as a society without running each other over in the process.

March 9, 2012 at 1:59 am
(21) Josh says:

Cool. This kinda takes the pressure off. :)

March 12, 2012 at 11:23 pm
(22) STUFULL says:

When you say east n’ west your automatically throwing your perspective into a dualistic approach to life, black n’ white right n’ wrong too fast to slow to little to much n’ soo on… leads to more tension if you ask me. Plus im sure you don’t know your world history all the well either. Ever think theres a girl waiting for the Dalai Lama to stop rambling so much?

March 14, 2012 at 12:56 am
(23) bk says:

I agree that women change the world, but why does it have to be western women? i really don’t understand this. what about all of the fantastic asian feminists and non-western-minded feminists–including those who have a daoist view of feminism (yin/yang) as above be included?

May 8, 2012 at 8:11 am
(24) Hilary Isabel says:

“…real women whose work continues day in, day out…regardless of whether they’re in the limelight or not.”
Umm just wanted to mention that every single WOMAN on this planet is except western women is continuing to work day in and day out regardless of whether they are in the limelight or not!
Western women may have power and freedom (?!) and even this is arguable but women everywhere are keeping the planet and the world’s population going and need to be celebrated EVERYWHERE!

June 5, 2012 at 8:48 am
(25) Jivanmukti says:

Er…perhaps the Dalai Lama has forgotten that it is a country of Eastern women – Indian women – that has been giving him shelter since the Chinese trashed Tibet and forced him into exile. I didn’t see any Western women helping him – or the world – with that one.

July 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm
(26) Denise Ward says:

Our Constitution, bible, koran, and almost all civilized writings and philosophies for living come from a man’s point of view. Though many men are loving, the view has come from their ideas of domination and greed – and we can see where that has led. With the exploitation of the planet’s resources, and continued poverty, it has now come time for women everywhere to join up and re-write the framework. Even women without much power can talk to their husbands and use their womanly powers of persuasion. They can do this in the bedroom too. They can teach their sons and daughters. For Western women, we have work to do to re-envision a life of abundance and love where everyone is cared for, not just those who have the money to pay. Envisioning is the most important thing we can do – envision the life we desire for the family, community and world even in the midst of the chaos that currently exists. We can vote with our money. Do a bit of research and patronize only companies that treat workers or the environment kindly. Bank with a small community bank instead of a big Wall Street bank. Use barter systems, community currencies or hour banks. Buy locally. Buy enough but not too much because the excess becomes waste. Let’s see what we can do. Even as individuals, we have power. As a united group, we create the world that is waiting.

September 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm
(27) Tim B says:

The dichotomy is almost beyond the ability for human understanding: Here we have Eastern Mysticism (Dalai) placing the blame on his own religion (Non-Western) for subjugating women for these long years. Ladies truly, get hold of yourselves. That last comment was as close to bigotry as one can get with diving in the pool. Let me be a Thinker, once removed, on top of a mountain. The Dalai’s not stupid: He knows that Western Males don’t buy what he’s selling. The Dalai sees where the checks are coming from–Western Women. Western Men are demonized because, well, anyone can get away with it. Try saying the same thing in Pakistan, Laos, Japan, China or India. You will come back with a new and invigorated view of how pleasant Western Men really are. Look, if you’re looking for gold don’t don’t go to the bank. Try a little hard work…if you’re not appreciated for it, then join the ranks of Western Men! Every stinkin’ day most Western Men work hard to put food on the table: We don’t have time for the Dalai’s stuff. Western Women are pampered and will never be happy until they make one Dollar more and work one Minute less than men. Feel free to follow the Dalai;it’s your choice. Remember, his Eastern mysticism and yes, Ying/Yang are exactly the course that he is opposing. And you wish to follow him back into that Lion’s Den?? Not practical thinking at all and a big “Whew!” that Western Women are not in charge! But, if you must follow the Dalai then that is your Choice; correct? But look first where the Dalai and his mysticism has influence? Where are most of his followers and the followers of his religion? Precisely where you find the MOST bigotry against women? C’mon, Lord. Think about it…

November 30, 2012 at 9:01 am
(28) a.j. says:

This last comment about men working hard to keep food on the table etc., and not having time for the dalai lama is exactly the kind of thinking that has gotten the world into the mess it is in. Balance is the key. Balance materialism with spirituality, ego based motives with selfless motives and so on. All dualities when in balance are symbiotic. The world is out of balance now largely because of the male power structure which has suprressed the feminine power for centuries. Women were seen as a threat if they tried to put money on the table when a man was not around to do it for them. A good example of this is shown in the movie North Country with Charlize Theoron. They were sexually harassed, physically and verbally abused for stepping out of the roles men set for them and had to fight for every right they now have all the whike still in many cases having to care for children and take care of the home. Once the majority of men realize that trying to force everyone and eveything into submission is not the way; once they start working with women not against them and the world will change for the better.

December 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm
(29) Troy Bunnell says:

This new age of enlightenment we are entering into now is a time of the feminine energy being the predominant energy of the planet and humankind. It is a time when the receptive qualities of the feminine will be prized for the insight and connection that is the essence of it’s nature. Many people will confuse “feminine” with the female gender but they are not the same. It is true however that females are much more easily connected to the feminine.

This new energy will be and has already been challenging to some women especially those who took on the masculine energy and behaviors in order to compete or feel safe within the old and passing masculine flow. The masculine flow of energy and all its associated manifestations that came from the assertive nature of that energy are changing positions if you will or perhaps it it more accurate to say that the masculine flow of energy is moving from a place of prominence into a position of supporting the feminine.

It will be much easier to tap into and flow in this new energy if we can look at it as simply that…energy and not associate the types of energy with male or female gender. This frees us from the supposed differences, separation and wounding associated with being one gender or another. In this new feminine prominent flow this does not “validate” women as being better now or more important now nor does it mean that men are somehow now in a subservient position to women. It does mean that the nature of the feminine, the nurturing, insightfulness, connectedness to the divine, trusting, loving, gratefulness become more prominent and manifested into form.

Men will do what they have always done…create and build things but now they will create and build things into form in support of the desire of the feminine…in support of protecting, nurturing, growing, love, trust, courage in the earth…and those women who are tuned into the feminine flow will be revered for providing that access to the divine.

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