November 21, 2017

An Open Letter to the 2016 US Conference of Mayors Regarding the Keynote Speaker the XIV Dalai Lama

An Open Letter to the 2016 US Conference of Mayors

Regarding the Keynote address by the XIV Dalai Lama on June 26, 2016

Site: Indianapolis, Indiana

Date: June 24-28, 2016

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

by James C. Stephens

In 1996, the XIV Dalai Lama, recognized at that time as the god-king of Tibet, was awarded the key to the City of Pasadena.  Concerned about the series of events, Dr. Arthur Glasser, Dean Emeritus of Fuller School of Intercultural Studies and I attended the Dalai Lama’s acceptance speech at Pasadena City Hall.

In an interview, aired on CBN, I asked Dr. Glasser how one should address the visit of the Dalai Lama. He replied, “He is a foreign personage of prominence, we should be respectful of him, but to offer him the key to the city, Christians would tend to react. They would say, ‘the key, the authority, what sort of authority is going to be understood by the Dalai Lama?”

Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, and the Dalai Lama being awarded the US Congressional Gold Medal in the US Capitol Rotunda.

Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, and the Dalai Lama being awarded the US Congressional Gold Medal in the US Capitol Rotunda.

As a former Buddhist youth leader and graduate of a Buddhist Study Academy, I had an intimate knowledge of the practice of Buddhism (1970-1984).  In 1981, prior to a Buddhist pilgrimage I had an accident in a train station in Japan.  For the following three years, I investigated other religious paths and practices and made a decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ, believing Him to be my Savior and Messiah.  In the ensuing years, I have studied Christianity as zealously as I had Buddhism, and came to deeply respect the historic Christian faith as originally delivered to the Jewish Apostles.

At the same time, I have continued to watch with concern, the deterioration of Christianity in the West and the funding of various religious traditions in America that have taken root through Government support.  I have closely watched the Dalai Lama and his work in the US and have seriously investigated his worldview, one which he carefully disguises in his public personae as a man of peace.  Formerly a paid agent of the CIA, his work continues to be heavily supported by the US Government as a key speaker at major universities, corporate venues, coliseums, and government halls.  It was also quite disconcerting that he was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Second Anniversary of 9-11 at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. He now has become a leading spokesman for climate change.

While I understand that his story is quite engaging, have seen movies about his life, read many of his books, heard him speak,   I find myself questioning the American public’s naiveté in writing him a spiritual blank check and elevating him,  in a sense,  to the position of “the pluralist pope” by providing a public platform to introduce his curriculum of secular ethics to our public school system.

As leaders of your respective cities, I urge you to pursue a candid and intelligent survey of the available external evidence of my concerns, which I believe will satisfy a reasonable mind.  While, I agree with Dr. Glasser that we should treat dignitaries from other countries with respect, our mandate as gatekeepers requires us to carefully weigh any proposal or ideas arising from those who are invited into our house, in this case, the US Council of Mayors.

In the early nineties, while teaching in the UK, I spoke to the Director of the London Buddhist Society who proudly showed me the loophole in the 1988 Religious Reform Act which opened the door in the UK to teach all religions and introduced a new curriculum overriding centuries of public policy wherein Christianity had been taught in their school system for hundreds of years.  Fast forward to 2016, and Sadiq Khan the new Mayor of London is a Muslim and all of Europe is in the throes of great religious turmoil as a result of the refugee crisis. The Dalai Lama recently shocked others when he stated, “There are now too many (refugees),” he said. “Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab land,” he added with a laugh. “Germany is Germany. From a moral point of view too, I think that the refugees should only be admitted temporarily. The goal should be that they return and help rebuild their countries.” (India Times, June 01, 2016 by Kunal Anand).

The stability of a nation depends upon its religious statecraft, but also upon religious freedom and freedom of conscience.  Engraved on the North entrance of Los Angeles City Hall, the words of Israel’s King Solomon, the wisest King in history ring true,

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Samuel P. Huntington, Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University warned in his 1993 essay on The Clash of Civilizations, “What ultimately counts for people is not political ideology or economic interest. Faith and family, blood and belief are what people identify with and what they will fight and die for.”   While it is the duty of Christians in pluralist societies to cooperate with people of other faiths in seeking a just ordering of society, we are also required to hold to our original founding principles that made America a land in which refugees were welcomed to her shores.  It is a very simple question of hospitality, you are welcome to stay in our home, but there are a few rules you must follow. A guest is no longer a guest, when they begin to tell you how to run your own household. A lesson we all must remember as most of us are guests (immigrants) to Turtle Island.  The First Nations know that the land belongs to the Creator and not to any one man and if violated will vomit those out which defile her.

Charles Bridges (1794-1869), one of the leaders of the Evangelical party in the Church in England called its leader’s decisions into question when they began to chase after the traditions of men which had not proven to provide steady counsel to direct the affairs of state.  He stated, “The Bible exhibits a divinely appointed remedy commensurate with man’s infinite distress, and accepted of God in its power and prevalence. Who can doubt the excellency of the things that are written, so rich in counsel and knowledge—‘words fit for a prince to speak, and the best man in the world to hear? Such a minute and practical standard for relative life and social obligation!”

Over the last several years, the Dalai Lama has been developing a secular curriculum of ethics that he desires to be introduced into the curriculum of our nation’s schools.  His talks on “Beyond Religion” that seemingly appeal to the secularist mindset are touted to teach compassion and ethics without religion.  As Mayors, many struggle with the pluralist mix of religious and “none’s” in their cities.  However, embracing an untried curriculum with a questionable agenda designed by scholars from a progressive, Buddhist socialist background albeit supposedly stripped of any religious intent, still presents a major challenge to the prevailing foundations of the United States of America.

“If the foundations be destroyed, how can the righteous stand?”  Who now becomes the interpreter of what is right and what is wrong in a nation that has abandoned the faith of her fathers?  Some may argue, “Oh, but it’s for those who are not religious” and the like.  However, our laws and justice system were founded on Judeo-Christian principles as any astute legal mind will attest.  New curriculum proposals are serious changes of course that pack within them, unforeseen consequences. Making quick friends will bring lasting regrets.  This is not limited to any one foreign guest or leader in our nation, as our internal issues and crisis require more than a new Band-Aid. Our moral crisis is severe and it is not time to switch boats in midstream.  While the Dalai Lama as a foreign personage may provide key insight into our shortcomings providing a valuable outsider’s point of view, it does not mean that the solution he holds out with the other hand is an acceptable alternative.

The prophets of Troy, warned the city fathers not to trust Greeks bearing gifts.  The prophets out rightly said, “Burn the Trojan Horse.”   The City fathers instead accepted the gift and you know the rest of the old story.  Not unlike King Hezekiah that showed his enemy all his treasure stores unwisely, only later to have the City sacked.  It didn’t happen overnight, but set in motion a process whose seeds of destruction were carefully planted over time.

Yes, peace and compassion and mindfulness at first may sound wonderful. Who would reject them?  A wise man however, remembers “caveat emptor,” buyer beware.  The seller of his wares may call into doubt the integrity of the country’s foundation, promoting vain imaginations of how peace can be won by just calling a city a city of compassion. One may clean the outside of the cup, but inside it’s full of dead man’s bones.  As a young Buddhist, I recall marching in a Buddhist Brass Band dressed up in Santa Claus uniforms and playing Christian hymns  for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Christmas party.  Marketing Buddhism as American as Mom and Apple Pie; strategies cooked up by Madison Fifth Avenue Ad executives.

So, when you listen to the Dalai Lama and his fascinating story, one must ask oneself the more difficult questions as a mature leader whose constituency no doubt contains a high portion of Christians, “Why has the Dalai Lama been chosen as the keynote speaker? What is the agenda? Am I about to embrace something I have no understanding of and discard what I have known? Am I willing to implement an ideology that may be divisive to many of the people I shepherd? As the wise King Solomon said, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end leads to destruction.”   Even the wisest king lost his way for a time and embraced many false ideologies, before coming to his senses at the end of his life. Is it not better to question your own judgment upfront and seek what your elders once taught? Why waste present possibilities and needed reformation by embracing what you only perceive to be a better way?

Doubts may arise as distance lends enchantment to the view. Carefully weigh and survey the information you hear for the destiny of your city depends upon the wisdom of its counselors.

“When warnings for instruction are not received, they are tokens of destruction. This is a truth which none almost deny, and none almost believe. Had it been believed, many desolating judgments in former ages had been prevented; nations and cities should have abode in prosperity, which are now sunk into ruin, yea, into hell.”

               -(John Owen to the UK Parliament in a day of reflection on the nation’s spiritual state).

 

Resources:

EpicycleMedia:  The Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism playlist.

https://youtu.be/5oAZMn3Vx6E?list=PL6ysZa-S0tJs_l4PCIVlIQseHTebCFiXq

“The Dalai Lama and the Anatomy of Politically Correct Buddhism” by James C. Stephens based on a chapter in InterVarsity Press’s Guide to New Religious Movements edited by Dr. Ronald Enroth, Sociology Professor at Westmont College, Santa Barbara.

http://www.worldviews101.com/?p=2420

Dalai Lama and the Kalachakra: A Wake-Up Call for the West.  Stephens’ Interview of Victor Trimondi on the Dalai Lama and 9-11 (in English and Chinese).

http://www.worldviews101.com/?s=interview.

The Shadow of the Dalai Lama: Sexuality, Magic and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism by Victor and Victoria Trimondi

This study is not for the fainthearted. If you want to live in the world of fantasy, don’t read this expose.

http://www.trimondi.de/SDLE/Contents.htm.

“Our study is divided into two parts. The first contain a depiction and critique of the religious foundations of Tibetan (“Tantric”) Buddhism and is entitled Ritual as Politics. The second part (Politics as Ritual) examines the power politics of the Kundun (Dalai Lama) and its historical preconditions. The relationship between political power and religion is thus central to our book.”

Critical Forum for the Investigation of the Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala Myth.

http://www.trimondi.de/SDLE/Annex.htm.

The Kalachakra-Tantra is anything but pacifist, rather, it prophesies and promotes a bloody religious war for world domination between Buddhists and non-Buddhists (Shambhala myth).

The text explicitly names the “leaders” of the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) as opponents of Buddhism: “Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, the White-Clad one [Mani], Muhammad and Mathani [the Mahdi]”. The Kalachakra Tantra describes them as “the family of the demonic snakes” (Shri Kalachakra I. 154).

Thus, the Kalachakra Tantra is opposed to all religions of Semitic origin, and for this reason has been pressed into service by right-wing radical and anti-Semitic circles for their racist propaganda.

The Kalachakra Tantra invokes a global war between the Islamic and the non-Islamic world in which the followers of Mohammed are presented as the principal enemies of the Buddhists. The original text refers to Mecca, where the “mighty, merciless idol of the barbarians” lives as a “demonic incarnation” (Shri Kalachakra I. 154).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Holy Days and Sand Mandala at Pico Union Project

March 19 2014 The Ten Commandments Photo iNote: I wrote this letter to Craig Taubman at Pico Union Project hoping to get a response on my concerns about his invitation to Tibetan lamas to build a sand mandala during the High Holy Days. I also expressed my objections to the questionable interfaith model he is building and desires to see reproduced across the nation.

Sincerely,

James Stephens
September 20, 2015
___________________________________

September 17, 2015

Dear Craig,

My name is James Stephens. I came across your website recently and was quite interested in your efforts to restore Sinai Synagogue, the historic site of Los Angeles’ first Synagogue. At the same time, I was quite dismayed to hear that you had invited Tibetan Buddhist lamas to build a sand mandala in the midst of the High Holy Days.

Why might you ask? As a former devout Buddhist of fourteen years and now a follower of Yeshua Ha’Moshiach and a Torah observant believer, I found myself grieved knowing much about the intent of the lama’s ritual having thoroughly studied it for over 25 years.

First of all, I do believe in the command to love one’s neighbor as thyself. To genuinely love one’s neighbor, one must be truthful. You have children. You know that they venture into areas which can cause them great harm. We tell them, “Don’t touch the oven. You’ll get burned. It’s hot.” As they grow older, they make their own decisions and often reap the blessings or pay the consequences for their poor choices.

I love the lyrics composed by Paul Simon, “Fools,” said I, “you do not know, Silence like a cancer grows/ Hear my words that I might teach you/Take my arms that I might reach you” /But my words like silent raindrops fell/ And echoed in the wells of silence./ And the people bowed and prayed/to the Neon god they made/and the sign flashed out its warning/in the words that it was forming/and the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls/And tenement halls/And whispered in the sound of silence.”

Etched over the arch of one of the entries to LA City Hall the words of King Solomon remind us like those prophets, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Matthew Henry commenting on this wisdom said, “An upright man will venture the displeasure of the greatest to bring truth to light.”

Personally, I know little about your life story except that which I gleaned after visiting your site. I did read that you like to hear others stories. As a former Buddhist and graduate of a Buddhist institution, married to a Messianic Jewish wife whose father was a holocaust survivor, I clearly recognize the barriers that exist between human beings because of their ethnic and religious make-up. I also recognize that it takes courage and time to get to know one’s neighbor, neighbors that often come from very different backgrounds.

In 1993, I attended the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in order to get a face to face perspective on other’s beliefs and a sense of who they were, what their story was. For ten days, I intently listened and asked questions about their beliefs. While talking with a Burmese Buddhist monk, we quickly cleared the air about the use of politically correct religious speech and agreed that it was often harmful to genuine understanding. We agreed that Buddhism and Christianity both held to exclusive religious points of view and were diametrically opposed to one another. With clear boundaries established, we could respect one another and talk about our fundamental issues as human beings.

One Buddhist monk at Wat Thai Temple in North Hollywood invited me inside the temple and asked me to “tell him the story of creation.” He even asked me to read the Scriptures to him in between his interaction with worshippers in his context.

During the Ten Days of Awe, I pulled out an old sermon entitled, “The Necessity of Self-Examination” by Jonathan Edwards, one of America’s greatest theologians. It was based upon his meditations on Psalm 139 verses 23-24. “Search me O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” I love King David, a man of God’s own heart, a shepherd boy who listened intently to God, and as any human is capable of, ended up making some very tragic choices. His adultery and pre-meditated murder of his loyal commander Uriah was the first time I wept reading the Bible. I was grieved. Our spiritual leaders are supposed to hold to the highest standards, and here he falls. He confesses, “Against Thee and Thee only have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight.”

Edwards shines the looking glass on our hearts and observes, “Many are very careful that they do not proceed in mistakes, where their temporal interest is concerned. They will be strictly careful that they be not led on blindfold in the bargains which they make: in their traffic one with another, they are careful to have their eyes about them and to see that they go safely in these cases; and why not, where the interest of their soul is concerned?”

“Good fences make good neighbors.” Old proverbs are the currency of years of experience. When the young King Rehoboam went his own way, neglecting the counsel of his elders and just listening to those in his new inner circle, he went astray. He did not finish well. One quote of Rabbi David Wolpe resonated with me when I read Ellul’s Jewels, “Our darkness and sins are part of us, stitched into our soul.” Jeremiah the prophet wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

When I was at the Parliament, there were many experimental exercises in Interfaith worship. Exercises that I as a former Buddhist knew intimately and now as a follower of Yeshua Ha’Moshiach (Jesus Christ) could not embrace. I witnessed persons from other faiths who chose not to be involved as well because of their religious convictions. They were respectful, but they also were in a temporary venue which had established certain ground rules. Unfortunately, even then participants were encouraged to sign “The Declaration of a Global Ethic” which read that “we embrace the practices of all the world’s religions.” From my extensive past experience of all sorts of religious practices, I could not sign it as a follower of Yeshua Ha’Moshiach.

All ground is not holy ground. When a Tibetan Buddhist builds a sand mandala, they conduct rituals to bind demons from entering them and subjugate all other gods under their dominion. It is a religious portal, a palace, home to 722 deities depending on the type of mandala. Deities we would call fallen angels. In the dissolution ceremony the sand that is given to others carries with it the incantations of the Lamas. In the past, the sand mandalas were constructed with the blood of human sacrifices. According to John Huntington from Ohio State University and curator of the Himalayan Art Collection, “the most efficacious skull used in the mandalas were the skull of a sixteen year old virgin.” These are not my opinions, but are based upon interviews with Lamas at Pacific Asia Museum who construct the mandalas and from extensive reading of Buddhist documents as well. To the public the mandalas are intriguing works of art. Is what I say true?

As a watchman, someone who has knowledge of various practices, it is my duty to warn others, especially leaders, lest the blood be on my own hands (Ezekiel 33). I do not want to displease Hashem in anyway. Tibetans are often cheerful and amiable people. I have hosted Tibetan Christians in our home and have also been asked by Tibetan Buddhists for the Scriptures and even went as far as I delivering a copy to Kopan Gompa, a Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Kathmandu, Nepal.

You were quoted as saying that you wanted to create, “neutral ground in which to work on interfaith connections and collaboration between Jews, Christians, Muslims and others without any limitation or ground rules.” That sounds like a prescription for a dangerous fall. One must ask oneself, “What am I seeking to accomplish when I assimilate other religion’s practices into my daily life?” While God has given man free will, Is it just to take others on your own personal quest? It is certain that teachers bear greater judgment.

Boundaries are critical. When an epidemic is being treated, the one treating the disease must be careful lest he become a victim. You were quoted in an article for JTA as saying, “You can’t expect the world to love each other if you can’t model it in your houses of worship. At such point in time that our houses of worship become more open, on that day, God will be one and God’s name will be one. It’s only at that point that it can happen.”

My opinion is not what is important here in response. God said through His prophet Isaiah, “I am the LORD, that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8). “God does not tolerate rivals (Nahum 1:2) Jamieson-Faucet and Brown comment, “We are jealous only of those we love: a husband, of a wife; a king of his subject’s loyalty. God is jealous of men because He loves them. God will not bear a rival in His claims on them.”

The most important question to be answered is “What does the LORD require of me? “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8; Jeremiah 7:5-7; Leviticus 19:33-34). You were quoted as saying, “Let people model it in their own houses of worship.” My question is, “Why bring into one place every religious practice and belief?” The LORD said, “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there” (Deuteronomy 18:9). King Solomon said, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is death.” Even then, being the wisest man on earth, did he not fall because he took on so many wives and accommodated their religious practices, building high places and idols for each of them to practice their faith? It may be that it is time to remember what Moses was given by Adonai on Mount Sinai, the original gathering place lest we replace Him with our own modern day version of the Golden Calf.

“For they went and served other gods and worshipped them, gods that they did not know and that He had not given to them. And the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 29:26).

“Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of a craftsman, and set it up in secret. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:15).

And yet if we repent, He waits for us to return to Him and promises,

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).

2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

13 Thou shalt not kill.

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

15 Thou shalt not steal.

16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.