Like a recurring itch that keeps annoying me, there something about the compassionate and bubbly spiritual figurehead of Tibetan Buddhism – the one that reminds so many of the kindly, cuddly and wise grandfather they had or wish they had had – that makes me want to scratch … below the surface.
A few months ago, in 2010, the Dalai Lama was in New York. Then His Holiness held a series of conferences in Japan and elsewhere. In February he delivered various lectures across India. April will see him in Denmark and fresh from the jaunt, here, Down Under, in June, he will speak in Washington, DC in July.
Cool, but why does this self-proclaimed Marxist attach a price-tag of at least $400 to the better seats in the house – wherever in the world the house happens to be?
The Dalai Lama will soon be back in my town. According to official website info, I could have saved roughly $100 if I had booked a seat by December 2010. But if I had done that, I would have sent Karma the wrong message because, though I am free to enter anything I wish in my social calendar, even a year in advance, I know that Karma is the Ultimate Decider on the content of each and any of my ‘next’ moments – one moment at a time.
Isn’t it my spiritual duty to trust that, if I am intended to attend the Dalai Lama’s conference – or any other event for that matter – as long as I accept my days peacefully one moment at a time, through a synchronistic coming together of various factors, the opportunity to be wherever I am intended to be will manifest itself in time for me to attend whichever event – at the right time and in the right manner, for the right reasons – and at the right price.
Like so many others, I am well aware that our soul and karma combo has the right to shorten abruptly the long string of moments between now and then without even the courtesy of an advanced warning. There are simply too many moments, butt-to-butt, between the months of December and June to commit to a $457 seat in Reserve A, somewhere below a $751 Platinum seat but somewhere above one in Reserve C. So, really, as much as I would like to have saved dollars on this deal by booking early, I had to pass.
Serious question: Since Buddhism underplays the importance of material wealth, why does having more dollars to spare entitle one to sit closer to the kindly holy man and to better hear his words of wisdom?
The last time the Dalai Lama was here, a free book on the art of meditations was the reward for being a little early bird with big bucks to spare. On the occasion of his visit before that, a white scarf was the reward. So far, on the website, I haven’t yet spotted the sugar-coated hook to book early for the upcoming June 2011 visit, but it might yet appear closer to the time to entice laggers.
In all seriousness, though the Dalai Lama probably did not need 200 monks on stage to ‘beef up’ his presentation with entertainment, why did this spiritual leader need to fill the stage like a pop star on tour, as was the case during his New York show?
And what of the bevy of bodyguards and security agents around His Holiness? Surely, the Dalai Lama would agree that he is not exempt from the law of Karma and that no number of body guards and doctors touring with him will manage to keep him alive one second longer than has been decreed by his soul. If one truly believes in Karma, walking the talk from the beginning, it can be assumed that even if he had not fled into Tibet with the help of the CIA, the Dalai Lama would still be alive today, following his destiny – albeit within a different framework.
Should an incident happen to him while on tour or back in Dharamsala, surely he will be the first to remind us that all in life is impermanent, that nothing just happens, that there is no such thing as good luck or back luck and no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that any accident, illness or setback is a karmic event brought upon the person for specific reasons – mostly that of testing active acceptance of all that befalls us and the opportunity to take stock of our current spiritual integrity.
Anyway, if this good man were to die prematurely – knowing that folks of faith recognize this as an impossibility – it would probably be from being over-honored. If the month of October 2010 is as good a sample as any other, he received a Harry T. Wilkes Leadership Award from the Oxford foundation by the same name, as well as a Doctor Honoris Causa from the Miami University in Oxford, U.S.A. plus the International Freedom Award from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, USA.
I can assume that a backward mapping of all the various forms of formal recognitions that have been bestowed upon him since the 1959, Asian-type Nobel Prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, would be an painstaking exercise.
The Dalai Lama travels tirelessly and selflessly to raise funds for the Tibetan cause but when he comes here in June, he will be speaking in a country whose many urban communities as well as the agricultural section and the overall economy have recently been ravaged by floods. Australia also happens to be the close neighbor New Zealand who, a couple of weeks ago, has been brought to its knees by a devastating earthquake and a series of aftershocks. Wouldn’t it be most inspiring if the most famous monk on the planet illustrated graphically that, karmically, there is no difference between one human plight or another, that there is no such thing as separation of one over or under another, that any concept of separation is an illusion and, so, give the proceeds from his Australian tour to these two local causes that made world headlines?
Still in all seriousness, why are we, in the West, so mesmerized by His Holiness when he says nothing more than what any self-respecting sangha monk would say?
Actually, don’t our earnest local parish priests, our local rabbis or our local imans explain that universal responsibility is the key to our survival, as is an interfaith dialogue?
Don’t these religious people tell us in their own way that devastating acts of nature are acts of nature but devastating wars are acts of men?
• That we need to see and care beyond the illusory boundaries of our bodies, of our homes, of our jobs, of our status, of our affiliations and of our country’s boundaries to finally do away with the idea that we are all separate from each other?
• That the law of nature – from the bees to the dolphins – shows us how to cooperate with one another?
On a similar vein, aren’t there enough Planet Earth programs to convince us beyond doubt that animal mothers in the wild have such a loving heart for their babies that, while healthy, these mothers remain single-mindedly devoted to the mission of rearing their little ones, that they lovingly teach them the many skills they need to survive in their unstable environment? There are no post natal blues – no angry moments – no violent outbursts – no nannies for the ‘animal mothers’.