Dalai Lama: Larger Than Life, Profoundly Human

Dalai Lama: Larger Than Life, Profoundly Human

Oct 20

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DALAI LAMA: LARGER THAN LIFE, PROFOUNDLY HUMAN
Dr. Charles Raison
CNN
October 20, 2010

Original Link

I try to make it a practice not to name drop, but on Monday I spent a half-hour talking to the Dalai Lama. It wasn’t exactly a private affair — 2,000 people more or less were in the audience listening, but one of the remarkable things about big meetings with the Dalai Lama is that once you start talking with him you get this eerie feeling that he and his translator are the only people in the auditorium.

Why are so many of us profoundly moved in his presence? Well, first off, one of his most often used titles is “kundun” which in Tibetan simply means “presence.” So that’s the first thing. But on a more down-to-earth level, I think all of our expectations are scrambled when we run into one of the most famous people in the world who says whatever he pleases and acts however he wants.

Before we all went on stage, the Dalai Lama noticed a portly cameraman. Suddenly he escaped the circle of burly Secret Service agents surrounding him and ambled over to the bewildered fellow. The Dalai Lama patted him on the shoulder and then began rubbing his big belly. “Happy Buddha!” he shouted in English, roaring with laughter.

There is a powerful downside to the Dalai Lama’s completely liberated behavior. If he doesn’t like or agree with what you’re saying he’ll tell you so in no uncertain terms. There are stories of famous scientists thinking they were going to get a rave review and instead the Dalai Lama devastated their pretensions with one simple question or observation. And if what you are saying is not of interest to him you can see his mind drift off to wherever minds like his go. Then he’ll look at his wrist watch to see how much longer he has to endure it.

So I was as prepared as I could be for any type of reception and felt my hands shake when I began showing him our data on how compassion meditation appears to help reduce stress hormones in teenagers in foster care. The data were far from perfect — what would he do? To my immense relief his eyes misted up a little when he saw what we had done and he began to nod enthusiastically. “Yes, yes” he said “Very good, very good.”

I felt the thrill one gets when the ultimate father-figure gives you a smile and pat on the back. In the moments of silence after my talk before I stood up to allow the last speaker to sit next to him in the “hot seat,” I noticed the old scuffed-up brown shoes and purple socks the Dalai Lama always wears. On this day, he quietly untied his shoes while the first speaker was talking and tucked his sock-clad feet up under himself. Then at the end of the day when he figured it was about time to go, and while the last speaker was holding forth, he pulled his shoes out, stuck his feet in and tied his shoe laces. It was such a human act that I found it profoundly moving. What must it be like to have that level of internal freedom and self-confidence?

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RELATED LINK:

NHNE Dalai Lama Resource Page

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