First impressions of the Dalai Lama

Compassion in Action

BOULDER, CO – June 23: His Holiness the Dalai Lama duplicates sign language from an audience member expressing ”I love you” during the Compassion in Action event at the Coors Events Center June 23, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

I got to attend a teaching today with the Dalai Lama.  It was a very big deal for me.  Truly, a bucket list item.  If you have been reading here for a while, you know this was a mutli=year chase for me, with endless setbacks.  It became comical the way things would fall apart with my chasing him, or his books… etc etc.  In the end, I took every one of these as teachings from him about non-attachment.  It worked!  Once I realized that I can’t be attached to his holiness, and maybe I will never get to see him in person… he materialized… and quick.

His first visit that was supposed to be in Oct 2015 (but was canceled for emergency health reasons) was 2 years in the making.  Tickets were not available, because people were coming from around the world.  The angle I worked to get in was to be a volunteer.  Two years led up to his visit in Oct, me salivating the whole time.  When it was re-scheduled, there was only a 12 hour notice, and it was just barely leaked by the press.  Tickets had been sold out before there was even a press release about it… or before it was announced on his website.

How exactly, then, did I find out…. And get tickets?  Well, that is between me and the Lama.

I want to share with you just some of the things that seemed interesting to me.  I am not going to talk about his teachings.  He has 81 years on earth, it would be an insult for me to try and sum up in a paragraph or three.

He was not one for pomp and circumstance.  There was little formality to any of this work.  Though there was a theme of the teaching, he was clearly winging in.  He referred to his mortality more than I have seen or heard… alarmingly so.  Just late last year, he mentioned he would settle one and for all the issue if he will re-incarnate.  Though he is the 14th Dalai Lama, he is strongly considering not re-incarnating for good reason.  See, he isn’t the leader of all Buddhism (though in my mind, he absolutely is.  A man holier than the Pope, for me at least).  The Dalai Lama is the leader of Tibetan Buddhism.  Problem is, that doesn’t exist anymore in Tibet.  In fact, for all purposes, Tibet barely exists.  China has wiped it out over the last 60 years.  They have killed all the natives, abolished the language, and made one most spiritual stop on Earth just a vacation destination for the Chinese.

Sorry, back to the point about the reincarnation… and why I mention it.  He said just late last year he will have a formal written succession plan and decision in place by the time he turns 90.  He is 81 right now, and today he said that would be ‘very soon’, ‘next few years’, and ‘imminent’.

I have read he is a joyful man, but I had no idea.  He was often giddy.  He would crack himself up, and loved the small discomforts that occur in polite conversation.  It may be a cliché, but he had a child-like demeanor.

He was really hard to understand.  I guess it was his accent, or perhaps the acoustic, but I only got about 20% of the words he said.  Probably best, because his shit was so fucking profound that any more than 25% comprehension would have blown my mind – xenu style.  Here is a video from earlier this year.  Fast Forward to about 56 minutes in to hear him speak.

Side note to that – how frustrating would it be if you got to finally see the Dalai Lama speak.  Know he will speak for about 90 minutes.  At this symposium in the video, he doesn’t get to speak until an hour in.  the first hour is just people spouting platitudes.  We lucked out, there was none of that.  He showed up on stage early, and with no announcement.  We were still looking at merch when we heard the crowd erupt.  It was scheduled to begin at 1:30 pm, and he was already taking Q&A from the audience by then.

The venue was not sold out, as far as seating went.  Meaning, I am sure it was sold out on paper… but by the time were in it, there was probably several hundred empty seats.

At one point in time he pointed to a guy in the audience and asked him to stand up.  He said that he recognized him from a former life, and asked if he would come back and chat with him after the teaching.

The peace and joy he radiates just blows my mind.  By all accounts, he has had a very brutal life.  His family and community and entire religion have been killed off by the Chinese… who still won’t recognize him as anything but a rabble rouser.  He has had to live in exile for 60 years.  Yet, he does not live in fear.

He spoke quite good English.  His accent was really tough, but his command of the language was very impressive.  He travels with a translator who helps him if he gets stuck.  In that video I referenced above, translator guy is on the left.

He was big on self accountability, of course.  However, he demonstrated it in small but very impressive ways.  The lecture and Q&A needed to stay on a tight schedule.  You can imagine a man such as he has every minute of the day accounted for… probably years in advance.  This means someone has to be the heavy.  Someone has to say ‘no more questions please’, ‘please no questions about _____’, or ‘I am sorry but that has to be the end of today’s questions’.  His Holiness didn’t have anyone do that for him.  He gave all the bad news, even though it was small things.  I may have been the only one to notice that detail, but it meant a lot to me.

in closing, please remember this isn’t about what he taught us.  What he taught us was beautiful and useful. It would be reductive of me to even try and explain.  Instead, this is to save me a million conversations of ‘what was it like’.  Also, so that I may remember years from now.

One last thing, about the picture above.  During the Q&A at the end, a gentleman who was deaf asked a question via ASL (sign language).  His Holiness was amused, and said it was the first time ever anyone had asked him a question via sign language.  Pretty Cool.  Once the gentleman question-asker person was told his via sign language… he took the opportunity to teach His Holiness how to say just one thing – I Love You.  His Holiness was super tickled with this, and jumped up and started using his new sign language to tell everyone he loved them.  I was hopeful someone would pick this up and carry it on the news.

Here is a pic of the whole stage, from the wifey’s cell phone.  The venue was the basketball arena on the CU campus in Boulder.  It was pretty perfect.  Plenty of seats, and all with a great site-line.  Educated guess tells me the place holds a several thousand.

lama panel

On this day, I was not Correct.  I was humbled.  I was grateful.

*** Suggested reading – if you are looking for a place to start regarding Buddhism, or the Dalai Lama… start with his autobiography.  Freedom in Exile is Dalai Lama’s amazing life story, told by the man himself.  If you are looking for an easier way to get in, without sifting through thousands of pages of Sutras and such… try Herman Hesse’s Siddartha.  It is amazing.  Almost all of Hesse’s work is.




What was ruined for everybody by one person?

Democracy, by GW Bush.  The first election, I don’t fault America for voting for that assclown.  I get that people didn’t love Gore.  He has absolutely zero charisma.  The re-election, though… we knew.  We knew he fucking sucked as a president.  We watched him fail at everything.  We watched the worst attack in American history happen under his watch. By then, we knew he was incompetent.  We knew he was a liar.  We knew he was a half wit.  We knew he could have defeated the Taliban for good, and was SO goddamn close… when  he pulled everyone out right in the middle to attack Iraq.  We knew he lied about Iraq having ‘weapons o mass destruction’.

In fact, let’s talk about that criminal endeavor so sick that he and Cheney should be hung for war crimes.  GWB sends a known and trusted ambassador to Africa to see if they had the materials necessary to build a nuke.  Specifically, we were looking for ‘yellow cake’, which is enriched uranium.  We knew who to send.  We sent Joseph Wilson.  I don’t even think his mission was to find if they had uranium enriched.  I think it was more like “we know they have it.  We just need you to go there and rubber stamp our suspicions”.  He did not find any.  Didn’t just not find them, but felt without question they did not have any.  So, dude reports back and tells the White House that Iraq was clean.

GWB and Cheney ignore his report, and go all in on the war.  We were told, verbatim, that the case was a ‘slam dunk’.  Wilson is not amused that the White House was heading straight to war against the known fact they were innocent of this.  SO.. Wilson writes a NY Times article that said “What I did not find in Africa”.  This wasn’t politics.  This is a guy risking his career and state department job by publically calling out the president and urging America not to go to war on bunk intel.

Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

Btw, this isn’t the scandal, yet.  This part above is not why I think these men (Cheney and Bush et all) should be tried and hung for war crimes.  It gets WAY worse.  How does the White House handle this?  Stop the war?  Double the efforts on intel?  No.  they discredit him.  How?  Oh, in the most fucked up way.  Cheney has Robert Novak leak a story to discredit Wilson and his findings.  That isn’t even the scandal.  Cheney & Novak leak that Wilson was just a patsy and a butt boy for his wife.  His wife the very active spy.

A week after Wilson’s op-ed was published, Novak published a column which mentioned claims from “two senior administration officials” that Plame had been the one to suggest sending her husband. Novak had learned of Plame’s employment, which was classified information.

In order to make their point, the threw Wilson and his wife WHO WAS AN ACTIVE SPY IN DEEP COVER under the bus.  This puts her, a patriot, and employee of GW Bush and crew, at risk.  Even better?  To make sure people knew this wasn’t just hyperbole, Novak and Cheney, he names her cover.  Like any spy, she had a cover.  She was a legal person for a fictitious law firm:  Brewster, Jennings, & Associates.  It was not just Plame’s cover, but several deep cover CIA agents.  By Novak naming that law firm as a fake CIA front.

This meant EVERYONE who was using that cover was now compromised.  You know that part in the movies where the spies realize their cover is blown, and have to flee stat?  That happened.  Our own govt outed our own spies, just to make a point.  Now, not only does Plame have to GTFO, so does every other NOC.  That, my friends, on every level… is a war crime.  That is James Bond type villainy.

where there consequences this?  Not really.  Cheney’s chief of staff took the hit, and then was instantly pardoned.

I will never, EVER forgive them for that. 

My point being, you assholes knew all of this and still re-elected him.  For that, I will never forgive you, either!  I know I got a little off course, there, but every American needs to know this about their government.

When is bigger NOT better?

 As an American, I think we all know that bigger is better.  You some kinda commie,   bro?

What never gets old?

Boobies.  Looking at ‘em, playing with them, playing in them.  Talking about them, guessing about them, and violating them in a sexy and terrible way.  As I grow older, my libido has become less urgent.  Unlike when I was 20, I do not having to think about sex 20 hours a day.  Boobies, though, that love has never waned.  Nature and evolution went WAY overboard on that one.  When god was planning this out, he thought “hmm.  In order that people procreate, I think I will make breasts rather desirable to the male species.”  That… that would be reasonable.  Instead, we got this “hey, pretty much every waking moment of being a man, you are going to think about titties.  Wanna work?  Wanna fight?  Wanna sleep?  Wanna show your love for me in church?  Too bad; you ain’t doing any of that.  Instead, I designed it so that all you will ever think about is titties!”

I am not complaining, I am just a little puzzled.  It’s not necessarily a great thing.  It leads us men to objectify women, rape women, and beat them.

What Do You Do That Other People Don’t Do?

Think about boobies all day long?  Oh.  Everyone else does, too?  Ok, cool.  Um… lesse.  I can play guitar well, but so can millions of others  My mind goes to ‘stupid human tricks’ here.  I can play the intro to ‘Piano Man’ on harmonica.  But… so can Billy Joel.  Lemme think on that and get back to you.  Ask my wifey.  We have been together 20 years… half our lives.  Odds are, she knows me better than I know myself.

What life experiences should be on everybody’s bucket list?

Tell you a little about mine.  Skydiving, seeing the Dalai Lama, and seeing the northern lights.  These are just the ones that come to mind of late.  Ideally, I will have settled and experiences half of those things by the end of summer.

For you?  Well, I highly and deeply recommend seeing a show at Red Rocks.  I recommend traveling to Europe.  Oooh, and another couple extraordinaire venues; the Gorge in Washington, and the ‘Mish’… the Mishawaka amphitheater in Northern Colorado (about 2 hours North of Denver).  The ‘Mish’ is a small concert venue that is in the woods, and on a river.  See here, and here.