There are only three people in this world who have the power to turn me into a shrieking groupie
One is Jello Biafra, who more than any other person shaped who I was and how I related to the world when I was a young teen. Another is David Bowie, because SWOON. The other is the Dalai Lama, who has always impressed me as the most amazingly wise, humble, funny, and gracious person I could ever hope to be in the presence of. And you know what? I was right!
Last Saturday I finally got to check “Meet the 14th Dalai Lama” off my bucket list
Ok, I didn’t get to actually meet him as in a tête-à-tête over a delicious vegan repast, but I did get to sit about 50 feet away from him and bask in his awesomeness for the better part of the day. My proximity to him was a total fluke; I bought inexpensive tickets to the event at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum that were labeled as “partially obstructed view,” and told myself I would be satisfied simply to be in the same room with him. However, when we took our seats I very quickly realized that not only were we just a few scant rows back from the side of the stage and had a direct line of sight to the chair in which he would be sitting, we also had full view of the backstage area and the entrance to the green room. Once that dawned on me, I sat in a state of rigid attention with my eyes riveted to the entrance, even when a friend came up and started chatting with me at right about the time that the Dalai Lama was expected to arrive.
Thus it was that I was one of the first to see His Holiness enter the room, which led me to such a heightened state of excitement that I embarrassingly whispersquealed “Oh my god it’s the Dalai Lama!” and pressed my tiny fists to my mouth to hide my giant smile and stop the tears that had sprung to my eyes from rolling down my happy chipmunk cheeks.*
The Dalai Lama speaks a language we can all understand
The Dalai Lama has a wide appeal, there’s no doubt about it. The 10,000 people in the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, many of whom were neither Tibetan nor Buddhist, attest to that. Perhaps it’s his humility. Despite the fact that people the world over hang on his every word, the Dalai Lama makes sure to point out that he is “just another human being. Nothing special. Nothing more.” Maybe it’s his easy smile and deep huffing laugh, which seem to go hand in hand with his benevolent appearance. And then there’s his gracious demeanor, evidenced by the fact that prior to his appearance that morning I watched as stage hands took away the ornate seat they had placed onstage for His Holiness, and instead brought out a chair just the same as the other three chairs for the other three speakers. Of course, there’s his wisdom, gained through years of study, interactions, and experiences. Or maybe it’s the fact that despite his immersion in his own faith he holds compassion, and not religion, in the highest regard.
He’s like Yoda, Santa Claus, and Jesus all rolled up into one
His Holiness, by nature of his office, has been granted the gift of being able to spend his entire life completely immersed in thought. He has delved inward more deeply than almost anyone else alive today. It’s understandable that we want to hear what he has to say, and indeed it would be negligent of us if we did not strain our ears to listen. He is a powerful presence, possibly the last of his kind. Who else in the world can you think of who operates on no agenda other than to spread knowledge, happiness, and compassion? He does not want your money or your worship, and he will not promise you any miracles. He just wants talk with you.
The Dalai Lama teaches truths you already know
Being in the presence of the Dalai Lama is a profound experience. He manages to impart his teachings simply and elegantly, and he has such a kind and charismatic personality that you cannot help but walk away a better person for having heard him. But what the Dalai Lama has to say is nothing new. The reason his words resonate so deeply is that he reminds us of the deep truths we already know. Be kind. Be compassionate. Happiness is a state of mind, not something you can buy. Be good to each other. Be good to the earth. The Dalai Lama simply speaks truth from his heart to ours, reminding us to embrace the truths that already reside within us.
If you’re interested in watching the conversation between Andrea Durbin, Governor Kitzhaber, David Suzuki, and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama entitled “Universal Responsibility and the Global Environment,” just click on the link below and move forward to 22:12. (Unless you like slide shows of tropical flora and fauna accompanied by piano music, in which case I highly recommend watching from the beginning.) David Suzuki was also brilliant, and I should probably write another post devoted to him because he deserves it.
If you’d like to hear what the Dalai Lama had to say in the afternoon when he took to the stage solo, click below and move forward to 8:06, or watch from the beginning if you want to listen to Darren Aronofsky talk about stuff.
*I had a similar reaction to Eeyore while at Disneyland years ago.
**As an added bonus, you can also listen to a Think Out Loud Dave Miller did on Tibetans living in the NW if you’re interested in gaining some perspective.
photo credit: kk+