Dalai Lama advises Christians not to convert to Buddhism

The Dalai Lama has repeated his message that Christians and Muslims should embrace the teachings of compassion and peace in their own religious traditions, rather than convert to Buddhism.

Speaking at a conference entitled "Ethics for a New Millennium" in Edinburgh, over the weekend, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism said: "All major religions carry the same messages. Messages of love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. I have Muslim friends, Christian friends. All have these same values."

On several occasions during visits to the UK in the past, the Dalai Lama has advised Christians to become more familiar with their own religious teachings and practices, rather than "start all over again" learning another faith.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile for nearly 50 years since his homeland was invaded by China. Despite the continued use of violence against his people by the Chinese he has inspired the hearts and minds of many across the world with his teachings of non-violence and compassion.

As part of his address he urged the USA and Britain to take a "firm stand" with China regarding democracy, freedom of speech and human rights. These words came days after British Prime Minister Tony Blair was engaged in discussions with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and US President George Bush was in Beijing.

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