Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dalai Lama Speaks at William and Mary Hall


October 10, 2012, By Rusty Carter, editor@vagazette.com

WILLIAMSBURG – Like a man dispensing advice and humor to his grandchildren, the 14th Dalai Lama took a crowd of 8,200 people on a journey Wednesday afternoon at William and Mary Hall, covering a range of topics that meandered from green eye shadow, and ugly wives, to 9/11 and the end of the world.

The spiritual leader of the Buddhist world spoke for just over 45 minutes, delivering folksy, simple wisdom.

His reaction to a standing ovation that grew louder when he donned a William & Mary visor? "So, sit down."

He greeted his audience as brothers and sisters, noting that "fundamentally, we are the same beings."

The lecture centered on compassion, cautioning that many of man's problems are self-created.

"There's too much emphasis on the secondary level of differences in religion, differences in race, in color, in nationality. If I say Buddhism is better, my attitude creates a barrier.

"Nobody wants problems. Even those able to handle problems, this person wishes for less problems. No one is thinking, 'I want more serious problems to handle.' That's foolish thinking."

The Dalai Lama suggested there is a new reality to the world, discounting the idea that history repeats itself. "We have to find a new way of thinking, new approaches to problems. We must study the reality."

To that end, he felt the United States was too quick to rely on force, noting that "unexpected consequences often happen."

He recalled meeting former President George W. Bush. "I really love him. He's a nice person ... on a human level. Some of his policies, I have reservations about."

That led into an explanation of compassion. The Dalai Lama recalled attending a conference in Delhi, India that dealt with health care. "No one asked religion or nationality. They took care of the sick as human beings.

"We're the same. We're born the same. We die the same. Our reproduction is the same."

He said that animals show compassion for their own, as mothers care for their young. Humans, however, have the ability to extend companion to enemies. "Only humans have that compassion. If we extend that compassion to our enemies, maybe one day they will become good friends."

The Dalai Lama sprinkled humor into his lecture at regular intervals. While talking about compassion, he spoke of a group of Cubans he once met. "They said they prayed to God to please bring [Fidel] Castro to heaven as soon as possible. They didn't like him as a leader, but they wanted a good ending."

Talking about young adults, the Dalai Lama noted that young ladies "spend lots of money on cosmetics. They put this green color on," waving his hand in front of his face and just above his eyes. "It looks very strange."

That served as a metaphor to talk about inner beauty and lasting relationships. With it came another story.

"In the '60s in India, one Tibetan, his wife was not ... attractive." Laughter spread throughout the hall. "I told him that his wife was not that attractive. He said 'attractive no, but inner beauty is very good.' I had no further argument."

Responding to pre-submitted questions from students, the Dalai Lama took on a few more serious topics.

Asked about how people of diverse religions can work and live together, he talked about speaking at a 9/11 commemoration a year after the terrorist attacks.

"Because of one act by one group of people, to characterize the whole Muslim religion as bad is totally wrong," he said.

He noted that Buddhists suffered greatly under Muslim rule in India. "The past is the past," he added.

To a question about the use of technology in today's world, the Dalai Lama said he went two years without "opening his television." When a young visitor asked how he passed the time, he said "Mostly, I think. I meditate about life, about the world. I analyze."

The Dalai Lama recalled a question from one person about the prediction based on a Mayan calendar that the world will end this December. The person wanted to know if he believed it was true.

"I said, 'No.' Buddha's teachings are supposed to last 5,000 years. It's only been 2,500 so there's at least another 2,500 years to go."

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