Claim: The Dalai Lama once said that if someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, April 2013]
"If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun."
I've found this on many sites, but just can't believe it's true.
Origins: In May 2001 Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th and current Dalai Lama (the head monk of the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism), made a three-day visit to Portland, Oregon, during which he gave a talk to 7,600 area high school students in what was billed by organizers as the "Educating the Heart Summit."
As reported by the Seattle Times, during that talk the Dalai Lama responded to a question posed by a student about how to react to a potential school shooter by stating that it would "be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun," with the proviso that one should aim to wound and not to kill:
Students, in a question-and-answer period, asked some hard questions.
One girl wanted to know how to react to a shooter who takes aim at a classmate.
The Dalai Lama said acts of violence should be remembered, and then forgiveness should be extended to the perpetrators.
But if someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, he said, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. Not at the head, where a fatal wound might result. But at some other body part, such as a leg.
The exaggerated image of pacifism projected on Buddhism (and Hinduism) was embraced and promoted by natives, as it conveyed moral superiority over colonialist oppressors and missionaries. Getting the message fed back by natives reinforced the original misconceptions.
But the ultimate source is Euro-Americans themselves, weary of a century of warfare and longing for a pacifist
The Buddhist world is racked with violence and it has never been more important to understand Buddhist ethics. These include never acting in anger; exhausting alternatives such as negotiation; striving to capture the enemy alive; avoiding destruction of infrastructure and the environment; and taking responsibility for how one's actions and exploitation cause enemies to arise. They also emphasise the great psychic danger to those who act violently, something we see in the large number of suicides among youth sent to these wars. Above all, rather than "national self-interest", the guiding motivation should be compassion.
Last updated: 10 October 2015
Bernton, Hal. "Students Urged to Shape World." The Seattle Times. 15 May 2001 (p. B1). Jenkins, Stephen. "It's Not So Strange for a Buddhist to Endorse Killing." The Guardian. 11 May 2011 (p. B1).