The Paper Whisperer
01 November 2008
"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."
Prior to last weekend, I knew little to nothing about the Dalai Lama. As a habitual “quote junkie,” a few of his quotes have made it into my quote journal, period, end of story. The irony is, I found his words profoundly enlightening, apparently just not enlightening enough to investigate who and what the “Dalai Lama” was. Now I am ashamed. While at the library last weekend, I spied a DVD entitled, “10 Questions for the Dalai Lama,” I picked it up, read the back cover and decided it looked interesting. I added it to my fast growing armful of items to check out, as I am always open to the impartation of free spiritual advice.
I popped the DVD in on Sunday morning and began the “journey” into the Tibetan world which was so brilliantly “guided” by travel filmmaker, Rick Ray. He did the most amazing job capturing the candor of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama. Since I did not know what to expect, given my minuscule knowledge of this man and his country, I was taken aback by his inherent charm, sense of humor and most infectious giggles. In all his greatness, he is just a simple, down to earth man whose greatest convictions seem to be peace and self-discipline, something I have long aspired to achieve.
Rick Ray begins the documentary with the perception that the happiest people, during his travels, seemed to be the poorest people and that he saw more smiles in the slums than among the rich and privileged. (Now I know why they call me Smiley). The Dalai Lama’s explanation was simple, “If you have very little in life, you have very little to worry about. On the other hand, if you have a lot, you have a lot to lose.” Wow! It puts things in a whole new perspective, doesn’t it?
Ray goes on to say that, “greed is a source of problems; a source of suffering.” And that, according to the Dalai Lama, “makes a person very poor…mentally.” At this point Ray cites an old anecdote, “A Priest was once asked if he would rather counsel the rich or the poor and he said, ‘the rich, because the rich know that having more money will not solve their problems.’” (I had to process that one for a bit).
The Dalai Lama lives in Dharamsala, India, where he was granted political asylum when Communist China invaded his country and massacred over a million of his people. His home is a very modest structure, far from the extravagant palace he once resided in. The Potala Palace, located in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, has now been forcefully turned into a museum by the Chinese. And according to Ray, the city of Lhasa has been converted into a Disney Land, of sorts, for Chinese tourists. Sad, isn’t it? Not only was the Dalai Lama forced from his home; his country, but the Chinese have even gone so far as to ban any photos of the Dalai Lama from the Tibetan culture. “Over the years, the Chinese have jailed, brutalized and tortured anyone proclaiming independence from Tibet,” according to Ray’s documentary.
Through all of this hate, the Dalai Lama has remained true to his peaceful beliefs and continues to “encourage peaceful resistance in an attempt to shame China to its senses,” documented by Ray. The Dalai Lama admitted, however, that it takes an immense amount of self-discipline to watch what China has done to his country.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, was born July 6, 1935 to a farming family. He was discovered by Monks at the age of two after being recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, which is the Tibetan tradition when searching for a successor. He was only 15 when Communist China invaded his country and forced him into exile. He has remained steadfast in his efforts to preserve his culture. In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his continued resistance to use of violence. His Holiness cites Ghandi as one his greatest inspirations.
A new Panchen Lama was chosen in 1995 at the age of 6 and within a couple of months of the announcement, he and his family were taken prisoner by the Chinese and have never been seen or heard from again. He is considered to be the youngest political prisoner in history. I thoroughly enjoyed “meeting” the Dalai Lama and learning about his beautiful culture. The documentary was heart wrenching at times and just when I felt the tears well up in my eyes, the Dalai Lama would giggle, smile or let out an enormous guffaw that would bring instant peace to my heart. He is truly an inspiration and a newfound hero in my most humble existence.
The words, "Free Tibet" will never sound the same to me again and I will forever be inspired by his wisdom. I urge you to view this documentary for yourself. It is a beautiful story and the Dalai Lama is a beautiful human being.
The Paper Whisperer
The Paper Whisperer
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