Three days ago, the Dalai Lama confirmed – again – in an interview that he could reincarnate as a woman. Leaving aside the exact words he used, which were construed as a little sexist, it’s interesting that he confirms the basis of one of my recently published short stories.
The Tulku of Titan, published in The Martian Wave 2015, dealt with exactly that idea. While calling on writers to submit stories, the editor commented on how few authors thought about how religion might be affected by the colonisation of the Solar System. I was struck by this comment, immediately seeing how right he was – writers often avoid including religion in depictions of the future, despite the fact that people are plainly going to continue to believe in things regardless of how advanced our technology becomes. When religion is featured in a sci-fi story, it is usually shown in a negative light – which is a very one-dimensional approach to depicting a complex facet of human life, if you ask me.
Spurred on by the editor’s observation, I considered how the spread of humanity across our planetary system might affect, say, Buddhism. I encountered Buddhism and Shinto during my many years of living in Japan, and I have read many books on Buddhism and Tao over the years. I don’t want to give away too much about the story – I’d prefer for you to read it – but let’s just say that my story is very much in line with what the Dalai Lama said in his interview.
For more details about the story and how to buy the book, click here. Buddhists can rest assured that their religion is shown in a non-critical and respectful manner. Also, I have to say, even though I’ve read tens of thousands of sci-fi stories and novels, I can’t remember very many at all that talked about Buddhism in the centuries to come. But Buddhism is a major world religion – do other sci-fi writers think it’s just going to vanish into thin air in a couple of hundred years time? I really can’t see it doing that myself.
As for what the Dalai Lama said recently – let’s start by assuming he’s not sexist. But, even a man as charitable as him might well assume a lot of other men are.
If we proceed from that basis, his comment that being reincarnated as an attractive woman versus a less attractive one might be more useful in achieving the goal of spreading the teachings of Buddhism… is actually not unreasonable. I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but he’s probably trying to say that horribly sexist people are more likely to pay attention to a “hot” woman than a not-so-hot one. Sadly, he’s kind of got a point, right?
After all, don’t most news shows pursue the exact same thought process? “We want viewers to listen to our female news anchors, so we’re going to put the most attractive ones we can find up there, so long as they can do the job too.”
Let’s face it, he’s trying to act in the interests of the religion he represents – he wants the best for Buddhism in general. If you’re going to fault his reasoning (and this is a pretty mild criticism), it should be on the grounds of his thinking poorly of a large number of men in the world… If he thought men were able to rise above their hormones, he wouldn’t worry about being reincarnated as a not-hot woman.
Of course, it’s also entirely possible he was joking. He’s been known to joke around.
Just my two cents. Thanks for reading.