French film writer Carriäre (The Return of Martin Guerre, etc.) does most of the talking in this set of conversations with Tibet's world-acclaimed religious leader. Contemporary issues, rather than the finer points of Tantric doctrine and practice, are the subject of these interviews, which took place near Dharamsala in northern India in February 1993. In response to Carriäre's promptings, the Dalai Lama speaks on such themes as the environment, nonretaliation, and how the Buddhist doctrines of interdependence and compassion harmonize with the findings of quantum theory. The Dalai Lama explains his Five Point Peace Plan for an autonomous, if not independent, Tibet, and he endorses birth control in the Third World as a necessity on account of the population explosion, while maintaining that it is ``pernicious'' on the individual level because of the supreme worth of human life in the cycle of rebirth. We are urged to find the inner nature of our minds: The view of the world as essentially competitive is false and ``eliminates any descent into the self, any meditation, and any reflection.'' Carriäre offers some useful background information on Buddhism, but he allows his personality and preoccupations to dominate and tends to railroad the Dalai Lama's profoundly dialectical outlook into his own issues: for example, his facile dismissal of Judaism and Christianity and his open contempt for John Paul II. When he cannot do this, Carriäre is not above patronizing his host, e.g., for holding unenlightened views on sexuality (``On that point he has nothing new to offer us'') and believing in reincarnation. Admirers of the Dalai Lama should not feel they have to add this to their collection.
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