there. Is there a place somewhere? Some of the religions think there is, that there's absolutely a place. Some of them think it's not a place but it's a spiritual feeling. The Buddhists feel that you are recreated as some thing, as an insect, or an animal, or a person, but that you're not in some beautiful shiny place.

Are we closer to heaven or hell?

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  • You asked the Dalai Lama a very interesting question, about whether or not we're currently closer to heaven or to hell.
    Barbara Walters on the Dalai Lama
    He thought we were closer to heaven. He believes in the benevolence of nature. I also thought it was interesting when I asked him if he was a God. He laughed and said, "I have an eye infection. If I were a God, I wouldn't have an eye infection. But for the past few days I've had an eye infection. This proves that I'm not God." He said, "What I am is a teacher." This is a man who, no matter what you feel about Buddhism, to meet him and to be in the warmth of his personality, the humanity of his personality, is an amazing experience. He gave each of us white scarves, which is a symbol of Buddhism, and I think we all felt the better for being with him.

    And what would you say to the question that you asked him, about whether or not we're closer to heaven or hell?
    It depends on what day you get me.


    Barbara Walters on whether we're closer to heaven or hell
    It would be nice to feel that we are a better world, a world of more compassion and a world of more humanity, and to believe in the basic goodness of man. But when you listen to the news and read the papers and see the harm that people do, too often in the name of God.look at some of the major problems in the world. Aren't they a fight over which God you believe in? In the name of God, people kill each other? In the name of God, people kill themselves? In the name of God, bombs are thrown and countries are torn apart? That's hard for me to fathom.

    The stories of people who claimed to have had near-death experiences were fascinating.
    Yes, and these are very sensible people. These are very normal, not necessarily very spiritual people. And yet their experience was such that the near-death experience transformed their lives. Now, you can tell them that scientifically, something happens to the brain that creates a hallucinatory experience, which is how [near-death experiences are] explained by many scientists. They will say, "Yes, but I saw it, I felt it." They believe that they did experience something real, and nothing can persuade them that they didn't.