Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Dalai Lama Speaks at SMU

Today I left work early and went to see the Dalai Lama speak at Southern Methodist University. Yeah, the frickin' Dalai frickin' Lama. Head of state, spiritual leader, Mr. Buddhism to the world. For the average Buddhist, this is sort of like a Catholic getting to see the Pope. And somehow I got tickets to this thing. I'm still not sure how that happened.

I have good news; for a spiritual leader, he has a great sense of humor. He came out wearing an SMU Mustangs cap. It sort of matched his robes, kind of. And he says pretty much exactly what's on his mind, no matter who's listening. In this case, George and Laura Bush were listening, along with a cadre of very large individuals wearing dark suits and an assortment of high-powered weaponry. And at one point he said, directly to George, "I didn't agree with you when you went to Iraq. But you got around to democracy eventually." (Yes, I was in the same room with both George and Laura Bush and the Dalai Lama at the same time. I'm lucky my head did not explode.)

His accent was not easy to understand. Interestingly, it came and went. I think he might have had some sections of a speech prepared, and when he got to those, he spoke almost without accent; then, when he was speaking spontaneously, the accent returned. The whole event was captured on streaming video and can be viewed here. (I had a little trouble with the streaming video and had to refresh it twice before it kicked on, so have patience, like a Buddha.) But he did leave us with these gems:

"Democracy is not an American possession. It is universal."

"Wherever you receive affection, you feel at home."

"Love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance - these are the aspects of a calm mind."

"The purpose of education is to reduce the gap between appearance and reality."

"Don't think of compassion as a religious matter. Be a warm-hearted person. Everyone needs that, irrespective of belief."

Definitely worthy of missing work. And a nice follow-up to becoming an Official Buddhist (TM).

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