The Dalai Lama’s Mixture of Religion & Politics

The below text is by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso about the Dalai Lama mixing religion and politics from a 1997 interview. This evening, I came across it and found it helpful, so I decided to share.

Question: Do you support the separation of Church and State in any reconstituted Tibet?

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s Answer: Yes, I believe that the separation of Dharma and politics in a reconstituted Tibet is of the utmost importance. I appreciate that you also agree with this. This mixing of religion and politics causes so many problems, I understand this very clearly. The problem surrounding the worship of Dorje Shugden is due to mixing of religion and politics. The Dorje Shugden issue is a religious issue, but the Dalai Lama is using his political power to try to destroy this practice. This is the source of the problem. I clearly understand that although the Dalai Lama may say he supports a separation of Church and State, the reality is far different. Otherwise why is he still holding on to both these positions, that of religious leader and political leader of the Tibetan community in exile?

The issue of the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama is in reality a religious issue, likewise the reincarnation of the Karmapa. Why is the Tibetan political leader involved in these things? Why does he not leave these matters to the disciples of these two religious leaders? I don’t believe that the Dalai Lama is interested in a separation of Dharma and politics. If he were really interested in changing to a more democratic society, he would have already begun the transition from a feudal autocracy to a free society within the Tibetan communities in India. This has manifestly not happened. – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, November 18th, 1997

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1 Response to “The Dalai Lama’s Mixture of Religion & Politics”


  1. 1 Bill Esterhaus February 8, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Thanks for sharing this, I must have missed it the first time around. Geshe-la is very clear that the problem is mixing politics and religion and that the Dalai Lama, as a politician, has no right to interfere in religious matters. He’s quite right too. Religion is never the problem, it’s when people use religion for worldly purposes as the Dalai Lama is doing. Shame!


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