On Monday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama took to Facebook to tell his four million friends that "religion is no longer adequate."
The Tibetan religious leader was quoting from a book he published last year, entitled "Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World," in which he argues that religion by itself may no longer provide a satisfactory solution to the ills of the world.
"Any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate. What we need today is an approach to ethics which makes no recourse to religion and can be equally acceptable to those with faith and those without: a secular ethics," he wrote.
In a review of the Dalai Lama's work, however, the Los Angeles Times notes the 77-year-old Buddhist monk was by no means "denouncing faith," but rather highlighting the need for a universally shared ethos that is rooted in compassion and is relevant in this modern age:
A metaphor the Dalai Lama likes to use goes like this: The difference between ethics and religion is like the difference between water and tea. Ethics without religious content is water, a critical requirement for health and survival. Ethics grounded in religion is tea, a nutritious and aromatic blend of water, tea leaves, spices, sugar and, in Tibet, a pinch of salt.
"But however the tea is prepared, the primary ingredient is always water," he says. "While we can live without tea, we can't live without water. Likewise, we are born free of religion, but we are not born free of the need for compassion."
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, the Dalai Lama has long been a vocal advocate for compassion, religious tolerance and the need to bring together science and spirituality in the face of modern suffering.
In his 2005 book, "The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality," he wrote:
The great benefit of science is that it can contribute tremendously to the alleviation of suffering at the physical level, but it is only through the cultivation of the qualities of the human heart and the transformation of our attitudes that we can begin to address and overcome our mental suffering... We need both, since the alleviation of suffering must take place at both the physical and the psychological levels.
For his dedication to science (particularly neuroscience) and its positive application in the world (both physically and spiritually), the Dalai Lama was awarded the Templeton prize this year.Arianna Huffington met the Dalai Lama before the awards ceremony this May. Watch her interview with him here:
The Dalai Lama is joined by, from left, moderator Dr. James A. Kowalski, translator Geshe Thupten Jinpa, and panelists Sakena Yacoobi and Dr. Eboo Patel as he speaks during an interfaith dialogue at the Church of St. John the Divine on May 23, 2010 in New York City. The Tibetan spiritual leader has appeared at Radio City over the past four days.
The Dalai Lama and moderator Dr. James A. Kowalski, left, bow to one another after an interfaith dialogue at the Church of St. John the Divine on May 23, 2010 in New York City. The Tibetan spiritual leader has appeared at Radio City over the past four days.
The Dalai Lama speaks while participating in a multi-faith panel discussion with, from left, Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Monday, July 18, 2011, in Chicago. The Dalai Lama praised Illinois on Sunday for recently abolishing the death penalty. His talk came a day after meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington, which prompted an angry rebuke from China. The country sent troops to occupy Tibet in 1949.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama (L) is escorted to a multi-faith prayer gathering at Gandhi Smriti prior to his keynote speech at the Global Buddhist Congregation on November 30, 2011 in New Delhi, India. The Dalai Lama is attending the four day Global Buddhist Congregation, which will be attended by religious leaders from 32 countries. The aim of the Congregation is to set up an international forum that will aim to promote global peace, stability and prosperity through collective action, while rejecting prejudices, exploitation and violence.
Tibetan spritual leader His Holiness The Dalai Lama walks with fellow religious leaders as they arrive to attend a session of an International Conference on 'How Can Religions Share Their Wisdom' held at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) in Amritsar, Nov. 28, 2007. The conference is being held by GNDU University in collaboration with The Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (UK) and Elijah Interfaith Institute, Israel as part of the third meeting of the Elijah board of world religious leaders.
Tibetan spritual leader His Holiness The Dalai Lama sits with fellow religious leaders as they listen to a speaker during an International Conference on 'How Can Religions Share Their Wisdom' held at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) in Amritsar, Nov. 28, 2007 The conference is being held by GNDU University in collaboration with The Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (UK) and Elijah Interfaith Institute, Israel as part of the third meeting of the Elijah board of world religious leaders.
Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger hold hands with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, as he leads him down a corridor followed by Menachem Froman, the Rabbi of the West Bank Tekoa settlement, during his visit to the offices of the two chief rabbis of Israel, Metzger and Sephardic rabbi Shlomo Amar, Feb. 19, 2006, in Jerusalem.
Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, center, takes the stage with members from other religious faiths during a prayers for world peace interfaith dialogue in Ithaca, N.Y., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2007.
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, admires a necklace worn by Rohahes Ian Phillips, a Mohawk Spiritual Leader, during an Interfaith meeting April 23, 2004 in Ottawa, Canada.