GENEVA, Dec. 31 (AFP) -- The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and the faith's best-known exponent, has criticized the current fashion for Buddhism in Europe and elsewhere in the West, saying he opposed attempts by any religion to win converts.

"Above all, let us not try to convert one another," he told the Swiss weekly Dimanche

Asked about the current vogue for Buddhism in France, the Buddhist leader said he was against it.

"I believe that the French, who are Christian by culture and ancestry, should remain Christian. It is better to stick to your own traditional values.... It is only if, after mature reflection, you believe that Buddhism could offer you more than Christianity, that you should become a Buddhist."

According to the Dalai Lama, Buddhism and Christianity have many points in common--"the same philosophy of love for the other, the aspiration to lift the human being above his vices, compassion and forgiveness."

But, he said, Buddhists believed in "an infinite number of lives while you [Christians] believe there is only one, and in a creator. You believe you have free choice, while we only swear by karma. Every action committed has its consequences in this life or another.... We Tibetans, for example, are suffering today a black karma for what we did in previous lives, feudalism, closure to the world. Once we have expiated this karma, we will be free."

The Dalai Lama criticized the proselytizing by Christians in Asia. "In east India, U.S. missionaries are using economic arguments to convert the poor mountain tribes.... You practice conversion like a kind of war against peoples and cultures. That is not the message of Christ."

He said he often challenged his monks to seek inspiration from the examples of St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

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