This Tweeter follows no one

I just came across the Dalai Lama’s Twitter page.

Maybe it’s common knowledge that he has one, but I hadn’t seen it.

It’s really something — compact nuggets of Buddhist, but universal-sounding, wisdom.

4 minutes ago, we got this: “Genuine love should first be directed at oneself – if we do not love ourselves, how can we love others?”

Hmmm.

On Monday: “We need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others.”

Saturday: “Because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence.”

Friday: “An affectionate disposition not only makes the mind more peaceful and calm, but it affects our body in a positive way too.”

I assume he writes them himself.

Does he dictate them to someone? Or tap them out on his own smartphone?

Who knows?

How many followers does he have? 1,278,372 at the moment. Not quite Ashton Kutcher numbers (6 million-plus), but not bad.

How many Tweeters does the Dalai Lama follow? Zero.

Who is that Dalai Lama guy, anyway?

I’m not at all surprised that Americans don’t know much about religion in general.

But the findings of a new Pew Forum poll are still kind of shocking.

45% of Catholics don’t know that their faith teaches that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ during Holy Communion?

53% of Protestants cannot identity Martin Luther as the father of the Reformation?

47% of respondents know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist?

43% of Jews don’t know that Maimonides was Jewish? (This might not seem like a big deal to non-Jews, but M. was one of the most significant figures in Jewish history.)

What do people know?

The Pew Forum asked people 32 questions about faith. The highest average scores went to…atheists and agnostics. This isn’t terribly surprising, given that non-believers tend to be very educated, but it’s still pretty embarrassing for all those who call the U.S. a “Christian nation.”

Catholics, on average, got only 14.7 questions right — fewer than Jews, Mormons and Protestants, not to mention atheists and agnostics. On the one hand, this is surprising because Catholics are generally a very educated group.

On the other hand, it’s well know that the quality of Catholic education for those who do not attend Catholic schools has been quite low for decades. And it’s long seemed to me that Catholics, in general, know less about faiths other than their own than other religious groups. Many Catholics, in fact, know little about Protestants — what they believe and why.

What else? I’m kind of surprised that 62% of Americans know that most people in India are Hindus. I would have expected 30% based on the other results.

And 51% know that Joseph Smith was a Mormon? Could have been worse.

Here’s a Pew Forum summary:

*****

Atheists/agnostics, Jews and Mormons still have the highest levels of religious knowledge, followed by evangelical Protestants, then those whose religion is nothing in particular, mainline Protestants and Catholics. Atheists/agnostics and Jews stand out for high levels of knowledge about world religions other than Christianity, though they also score at or above the national average on questions about the Bible and Christianity. Holding demographic factors constant, evangelical Protestants outperform most groups (with the exceptions of Mormons and atheists/agnostics) on questions about the Bible and Christianity, but evangelicals fare less well compared with other groups on questions about world religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Mormons are the highest-scoring group on questions about the Bible.

Make yourself at home, Your Holiness

The Dalai Lama holds court tomorrow, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Radio City Music Hall.

The first three days, he will teach Nagarjuna’s Commentary on Bodhicitta and A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva.

The last day, he will give a talk called “Awakening the Heart of Selfishness.” Huh?

The description: “His Holiness will discuss the process of realizing true selflessness and how this realization awakens a genuine caring for others. This is how we achieve inner peace for ourselves, a feeling of responsibility for the happiness of others, and ultimately a more compassionate world for everyone.”

In the picture, he is speaking yesterday at the University of Northern Iowa.

New York magazine has a “Guide to the Tibetocracy” — those groups in NY that support the DL and and Tibetan cause.

The guide, for instance, notes that Tibet House, the “primary New York cultural outpost for all things Tibet,” had a hard time getting going in 1987. “Even the Grateful Dead wouldn’t do a benefit concert for us because they hoped to tour in China,” says Robert Thurman, its well-known boss.

I got an email yesterday with a subject line reading: “Dalai Lama Propagates Spiritual Errors on his U.S. Tour.”

I thought it was odd that some Buddhist group or other was critiquing the Dalai Lama’s teachings.

But it was only an email refuting all of Buddhism by a group called ChristianInvestigator.

It noted, for instance, “Tibetan Buddhism teaches reincarnation. However, the Bible teaches that reincarnation is not a possibility. The Bible clearly teaches that there is one life and then comes judgment.”

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)