Kate Beckinsale joined the chorus of people lashing out at the Dalai Lama this week after his comments about reincarnating as a woman.
The 14th Dalai Lama gave an interview this week with BBC News, discussing the possibility that he would reincarnate as a woman in his next life. The religious icon noted that, if he did so, his new form should have an "attractive face" to help her hold the attention of her followers. The statement caused outrage on social media, and The Good Place star Jameela Jamil and Beckinsale got in on it.
"[Oh my God] [because] we have all loved fantasizing about a woke turtle," quipped Beckinsale in the comments.
The remarks were met with a whole spectrum of responses, from laughter to cultural and religious outrage. Mahayana Buddhists believe that the Dalai Lama is more than a mortal spiritual leader — he is the 14th reincarnation of a being who has achieved spiritual awakening, yet chooses to continue incarnating on earth to help guide the spiritual development of humankind.
With that in mind, an insult to the Dalai Lama is sacrilegious in many eyes, as is the implication that he falls short of a moral standard. Still, the Dalai Lama's statement is puzzling, especially in relation to his usual message of unconditional compassion.
This was perhaps the most surprising moment in the interview. I asked the Dalai Lama if he stood by his earlier comment that if his successor was female, she should be attractive.June 27, 2019
"If a female Dalai Lama comes, she should be more attractive," he said. Otherwise, "people, I think prefer, not see her, that face."
Asked to clarify, the Dalai Lama admitted that the real measure of a person was on the inside. However, in terms of leading the spiritual awakening of the planet, it would benefit the world to have an attractive guide.
"Yes, I think both. Real beauty is inner beauty, that's true. But we're human beings. I think the appearance is also important," he said.
Everyone trying to Twitter-pitchfork the Dalai Lama seems to have conveniently forgotten that he's discussing his own reincarnation. He wants to change gender! And also assuming that their own ethical schema are superior to one of the most ethically trained individuals on Earth— Jason Louv (@jasonlouv) June 28, 2019
While outrage spread among westerners online, backlash rose to meet it. Many felt that the Dalai Lama was being unfairly skewered, with news outlets ignoring his laughter, his tone and the fact that English is not his first language.
Others interpreted the Dalai Lama's statement as a self-deprecating joke. According to Buddhist doctrine, he himself will get to choose his next incarnation after death, so it is entirely possible that he was simply trying to make light of the situation as he approaches old age.