By Fran Race
The Dalai Lama has urged Christians not to convert to Buddhism. The controversial words were spoken by the spiritual leader of Tibet and the leader of the Tibetan Government in Exile at a conference entitled "Ethics for a New Millennium" in Edinburgh, Scotland this weekend.
Instead, the Dalai Lama urged Western Christians and Muslims embrace the teachings of compassion and peace that can be found in their own religious traditions.
"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."
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet, but 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.
For his tireless work to promote human rights and peace he was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1989.
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 come days after British Prime Minister Tony Blair engaged in discussions with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and at a time when US President George Bush is in Beijing.
Proposals to increase trade with China has been met with fierce opposition by both human rights and free Tibet protestors.
Fran Race is a reporter for Ekklesia and a member of All Hallows Anglican church in Leeds. She can be contacted: firstname.lastname@example.org