The Dali Lama
So this is not fashion centric but I went to see the Dali Lama speak today and I wanted to share. His message was important and true but nothing complicated or drastically different. The impactful thing about hearing him is he speaks a message and then he lives it consistently, persistently, and without ulterior motives. That is powerful.
He started by thanking the man that introduced him with a beautiful long white scarf of some kind. He also finished by wrapping one of these same scarves on all of the people that thanked him on stage. I do not know the symbolism of this scarf although I am sure there is some, but it had a beautiful sheen and was long enough and light enough to wrap a large man up in it. I want one.
Then he introduced himself as he sat on a couch and took off his shoes and crossed his legs on the couch. He put on a Miami University visor and indicated he needed to keep the light out of his eyes so he could look into the crowd and have a conversation with the crowd. He explained at the end we had the freedom to ask any question we would like but he indicated he had the freedom to choose whether to answer or not. He was a bit difficult to understand in the beginning and had a man sitting next to him helping find the perfect adjective if he seemed to pause too long. As he continued the Dali Lama became clearer.
The topic was Ethics in the modern world. The Dali Lama pointed out we are all the same in heart, mind, and spirit. Everyone has the right to survive and to pursue a happy life. He indicated there are two types of ethics. There are ethics with religion and ethics separate from religion. He indicated it is important to remember that ethics are important in a secular way. He also pointed out “secular” is often misinterpreted as being against religion but it is not it is inclusive of both religious and those that are not. Ghandi and the first president in India were religious in their personal lives but wrote the first Constitution of India was secular.
From birth we are all appreciative of affection. From birth we receive mothers care, milk, and touch. It is in our blood this experience of affection. When in the presence of true affection there is no stress, no anxiety. Around those that do not show affection there is distrust, suspicion, and it is bad for your health. There is a biological need for affection. He gave the example of a parrot that he had as a pet when he was young. One of his teachers regularly came to visit and each time would feed the parrot nuts. One time he held out an empty finger and the parrot attempted to regurgitate to give him something to eat from its own stomach. The Dali Lama was so impressed by this response he wanted it for himself so he started giving the bird nuts also but the motivation was different and he always got a different response. Even animals can sense the motives behind affection.
He also spoke of community. Even bees need to work together, altruism. Happy life is dependant on the community. That sense of community brings inner peace, compassion. Genuine friendship is based on trust. It is essential to come into the community with an open heart; to open heartedly give trust. The other side of this scenario is to keep a distance from those around you; it creates distrust and fear and cannot foster community. He indicated this affection comes from early experiences. As a child to receive affection creates a mentally and physically stronger person. The child deprived of this affection as a young person is has a scar with them that leads them to suspicion through their entire life. Constant fear and hatred eats the immune system.
He also talked of anger. He quoted the book Prisoner of Anger, that 90% of anger is mental projection not reality. Too many emotions come from not seeing reality. He indicated all methods should be realistic. Don’t use a hammer to kill a fly. Must know the 6 dimensions of reality and if cant research and learn them then you must be objective. If you cant be objective then you must investigate so everything is rooted in reality. You cannot do this if you are distant, irritated, or angered, as the mind cannot think right. Calmness in every situation is very important to be able to bring compassion and inner strength.
He talked of training ones mind to achieve long-term benefits. He indicated we are all interdependent. Countries around the world must develop a sense of “we” that is global. There is no more “we” and “they.” Problems today around the world are negligence and wrong policy: violence. He indicated Iraq and Afghanistan situations were good policy, to bring democracy to these countries, but the method of violence was not good.
The 21st century should be of dialogue. We are bound to face conflict of opinion but must talk through it and think, “this person is a part of me.” We must promote this spirit of dialogue. He has a vision of a generation of dialogue in the 21st century. He indicated people in their 20s and 30s are responsible for peace in the 21st century. This 21stcentury we must train in conflict to find peaceful means. We must make “war” obsolete or out of date, viewing it as a century old idea. Selling weapons to others thinking this may keep peace is horrible and doesn’t solve anything.
The Dali Lama casually asked us to look at ourselves, look at those around us, and look to the future with an attitude of peace. The whole speech was effortless. He naturally flowed from one topic to another. While there was no stated outline and he indicated he does not plan out his topics in advance, his message was clear, and cohesive.
1. A woman introduced herself by saying al-salamo a'laikomwith and indicated she is a concerned Muslim woman. She asked, “how would you define compassion and how can we combat misrepresentations of individual religions?”
-Dali Lama indicated compassion is love and kindness, and it often comes from attachment to familiar things
-Human intelligence and awareness allows us to extend this compassion to an infinite people without bias
-“Unbiased” we can extend concern for the well being of an enemy or someone we do not know- this is compassion.
After defining compassion he attempted to address some of the misconception this woman voiced concern about:
- He indicated all religions carry the same message of compassion
- He indicated he had a friend that is Muslim that explained to him practitioners of the Muslim faith must extend compassion to all things so if they do not practice this, if someone is violent or sheds the blood of another they are not truly practicing this faith
-He indicated that his friend also told him the true meaning of “jihad” is to combat ones own inner negativity and anything else is a misinterpretation
2. Everyday we hear about new oppressions. What is the best way to combat these without ourselves falling to that level?
-The Dali Lama started by indicating the media has a responsibility for this. They have a responsibility to present the truth in an unbiased way.
-He also indicated that human nature is generally good. Bad things are still “news” because they are not the norm, if they were and more people were being killed than nurtured the population would decline and it is not and this is a good sign. He also indicated we must recognize works of love also.
-We must promote values, promote religious harmony and the remedy of harmony must be presented clearly.
3. What are the similarities between Christianity and Buddhism?
-Love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, self-discipline, and charity
- He indicated the Buddhist and Christian monasteries are very similar
-Dedicating oneself to service is a great work and many nuns and Christians do this just
- The Dali Lama indicated he felt the Christian promotion of education and health resources are very good; promoting and providing education is the greatest contribution.
- He also chuckled while talking of missionary work as he indicated this sometimes brings conflict and not good. Often times missionaries work so hard for the conversion it loses it’s meaning. He indicated keeping traditions is good. Different religious methods don’t really matter as they all have the same mission to promote love.
-He indicated he respects and admires other religions
4. What is the importance/role of comparative religion education?
-He indicted Education is the key factor in peace
-Humans have great potential for peace but education is the key to achieving it.
-Me must teach modern ethics and knowledge of other religions is important to have a sense of compassion for others
-Too much attachment to the familiar is a challenge and this education creates a broadened and sophisticated view
5. Clash of civilizations, much of it is political but also religious in nature. How can we not be divided?
- Again the Dali Lama indicated education is key
- Most causes of religious conflict are not about religion but about power, economic interest, and position. Clever people use the name of religion for their own agenda and innocent people are manipulated by this.
-Isolation to one religion does not foster community; we can keep tradition of individual religions and still have one community
-He quoted Livingston, “6billion (at the time) human beings each have different chromosomes, and different views of reality.”
-There are always contradictions in teachings but it is the willingness to follow along, and listen that brings us closer to God.
-Remember “if I do a good thing I will get a good thing tomorrow. If I do a bad thing I will get that back also.”
-He closed by saying, “religions are medicine and food for the mind. If you go to a restaurant and have the same food everyday it gets boring. Variety is good.”
-There are differences and there are also common practices. Education is important to identify them.