donald_lopez_jr

: One of our misconceptions about Tibet is that it was a pure society in which there was no crime and no corruption. Tibet, like every other society on earth, had both saints and scoundrels. Tibet for the last 50 years has been a colony of China, and during that time much of traditional Tibetan culture was destroyed. So the question is not so much preserving a spiritualized Tibet which never existed historically, but gaining political independence for the Tibetan people.

quantum_prophet

: What are the significant traditions of Buddhism besides Tibetan?

donald_lopez_jr

: Every Buddhist nation has its own Buddhist tradition. Those that have become well known in the West include Zen Buddhism, which originated in China and spread to Japan and Korea; there is also the Theravada tradition of Southeast Asia, which is known in the West primarily through the practice of insight meditation. But there are many other forms of Buddhism, both historically and present day.

j_padinha

: And what about your students? Do most of them study Buddhism because they have a personal interest? Do they become Buddhists usually?

donald_lopez_jr

: There are undergraduate students who take courses like "Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism," which often draws 300 students. Those students come for a wide range of reasons--interest in Tibet, or personal curiosity about Asia, or interest in Buddhism. I find that, in general, their interest in Buddhism is very similar to my own back in the '70s. I also have graduate students who are studying the Tibetan language in order to become scholars of Buddhism.

Anarkiehayseed

: What can the people of the world be expected to do for Tibet?

donald_lopez_jr

: Write your congressman!

whataboutthis_98

: Does the Dalai Lama consider himself as God?

donald_lopez_jr

: There is no "god" in Buddhism, in the sense of a deity who is omnipotent and is the creator of the universe. So despite the fact that the Dalai Lama is sometimes referred to in the West as the "god king," he in no way considers himself to be a god.

Rougekitty

: What's the principal difference between Tibetan and Zen Buddhism?

donald_lopez_jr

: Zen Buddhism originated in China and spread to Japan. It has a strong emphasis on seated meditation and the use of koans. Tibetan Buddhism came to Tibet from India and is a Tantric form of Buddhism which offers what is considered a quick path to enlightenment. In Zen, one of the basic ideas is that we are already enlightened, and we just need to recognize that fact. There are similar statements in forms of Tibetan Buddhism, but one also finds in Tibet the idea of the Buddhist path as a gradual process of purification of the mind.

KWinters1972

: I'm studying Buddhism, and I still can't figure out--is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy?

donald_lopez_jr

: Buddhism is a religion, in the sense that it presents an entire worldview with which to confront the issues of life and death. It is not only a worldview but also a form of practice. Hence, although there are many philosophical schools within Buddhism, it is best to consider Buddhism a religion.

beliefnet_ellen

: Thanks for being with us Professor Lopez and thanks to all of you for your great questions!

donald_lopez_jr

: It's been a great pleasure to attempt to answer all these interesting and intelligent questions!

beliefnet_ellen

: Make sure to check out the webcast of the Dalai Lama's recent public talk and the daily Dalai Lama and much more at www.beliefnet.com. Remember, Beliefnet.com is *the* place for matters of religion and spirituality on the net. Make sure to check out our message boards too!