Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Dalai Lama

Buddhism has always been close to my heart. Even as a young boy I cherished the Buddhist values of living simply, reducing suffering in other beings and looking inward to find peace and harmony. On my mission in Japan I had a problem with asking devout Buddhists to reject their faith when so much of what they believed was good and true. Friends of mine have even called me the first Buddhist Mormon they’ve ever met. I take that as a compliment. I’ve always felt that the truth was completely independent of theology. Or to quote the bumper sticker, “God is too big to fit into just one religion”. Now there are a few times when I think that one religion or another may be a little off base, but rather than criticize those aspects I’ve found it more satisfying to celebrate when they get it right.
A few years ago while reading the Dalai Lama’s book, The Wisdom of Forgiveness, about halfway through they mentioned a meeting between His Holiness and Paul Ekman. Ekman is considered the world’s foremost expert on emotions and the human face. He's like a body language expert who focuses solely on the muscles of the face. He recently made the news for interpreting some of the Al Qaeda videos. Ekman commented that when the Dalai Lama felt any emotion that he felt it 100% and that based on his expressions he was the most honest and genuine person he had ever met. I have felt this same sense of humility and honesty in all of his books and when I read his lectures.
Friends and family members have quizzed me on whether or not I believe that he is really the reincarnation of Buddha and other such detailed questions. Personally I find those of secondary importance. Here is a man who has learned to love his fellow man. And I believe is doing everything in his power to foster and promote that love. I would be doing myself and those around me a disservice if I chose to ignore his teachings simply because they didn't come from Salt Lake.
Last week I mentioned that he was going to be in town and my oldest son asked if we could go see him. I was a little taken aback. I hadn’t realized that he had been paying so much attention when I shared my views with Victoria. Aaron’s wisdom and maturity on ethical an moral issues greatly out paces his years. I shouldn't have been surprised.
Monday I will be taking a day off to go downtown with Aaron to hear the Dalai Lama speak. He has been in town for a few days and I tried to get tickets to see some of his other, less festival-like, appearances. Sue actually got a few tickets for me only to find out that they were only valid with an Emory university ID. Thanks for the attempt. I really appreciate it. I realize that the pop culture aspect of the Dalai Lama will bring out large groups who don’t fully appreciate the lessons that this man can teach. Ideally, I would like this experience to turn out very similar to attending General Conference on the lawn at Temple Square. Realistically though, I’m expecting the atmosphere to be somewhere between that and a “Dead” show.

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

-The Dalai Lama-

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