Richard Gere, deeply devoted to the teaching of the Dalai Lama, says the best way for Americans to deal with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is with "the medicine of love and compassion."
"In a situation like this, of course you identify with everyone who's suffering," the actor told ABCNEWS Radio in an exclusive interview.
But, he said, we must also think about "the terrorists who are creating such horrible future lives for themselves because of the negativity of this karma. If you see it from a much wider point of view, we're all in this together. We're all intimately interconnected in all of these actions."
Gere was in New York on Tuesday to help celebrate the release of Good Life, Good Death, a book by Rinpoche Nawang Gehlek, a Buddhist lama, or teacher. The event was planned before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and included performances from Paul Simon, wife Edie Brickell, composer Philip Glass and Patti Smith.
Love as Medicine
One of Hollywood's most vocal advocates of Buddhism, Gere stressed the importance of compassion for everyone — even terrorists.
"It's all of our jobs too keep our minds as expansive as possible," said Gere, star of such movies as The Runaway Bride, Pretty Woman and Primal Fear. "If you can see them [the terrorists] as a relative who's dangerously sick and we have to give them medicine and the medicine is love and compassion. There's nothing better."
Gere said he was on his way to a Buddhist retreat in Massachusetts on the day of the attacks, and arrived just after the attack on the World Trade Center began.
"I got there about 10 o'clock, and when I arrived there everyone was in a state because the first tower had been hit," he said. "Within a few minutes, the second tower had been hit and it was, um, extraordinary chaos. An enormous amount of tears and a lot of compassion and suffering was being generated there in this retreat."
This isn't the first time Gere has publicly advocated using love to deal with international incidents. At the 1993 Oscars, he asked the audience and the millions watching the awards ceremony on television to send "love and truth" to then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping to persuade him to pull Chinese troops from Tibet.