"When we look into the face of every single refugee, especially the children and women, we can feel their suffering," said the Tibetan spiritual leader, who has himself lived in exile for over half a century.
"A human being who is a bit more fortunate has the duty to help them. On the other hand, there are too many now," he said, according to the German translation of the interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
"Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country," he added with a laugh, the daily reported. "Germany is Germany."
"There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult."
The Dalai Lama added that "from a moral point of view too, I think that the refugees should only be admitted temporarily".
"The goal should be that they return and help rebuild their countries."
Germany last year took in 1.1 million people fleeing war and misery in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, but the flow was reduced sharply by the decision of Balkan countries to close their borders to people travelling through Turkey and into northern Europe.
The Dalai Lama also said in the interview, conducted in Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India, that he hopes to one day return to Tibet.
"Maybe in a few years," said the 80-year-old. "If an opportunity for my return arises, or at least for a short visit, that would be a source of great joy."
Thousands of Tibetans have fled their Himalayan homeland since China sent in troops in 1951, and many have settled in India.