Wednesday, October 17, 2007

HH Comes to DC

What was I thinking? That I would be meditating with thousands of other people at the foot of the Dalai Lama, as he appeared at the Capitol today? I was rubbing shoulders with throngs of people, but I would definitely not characterize it as a meditative state!

On a positive note, I was impressed that the U.S. Government didn’t buckle under to threats from the Chinese, who are livid over all the attention being paid to this guy who is clearly a thorn in their side.

But honestly, the heat and the fact that I couldn’t even see the Dalai Lama didn’t provide the atmosphere that I had expected. In fact, for all I know the image on the screen and the accompanying voice could have been pre-recorded.

There was a lot of confusion about when he would speak. Initially it was scheduled for 1:00. Then it was changed to 2:30 to accommodate the Gold Medal ceremony. But he was already speaking when we showed up at 2:20. His 15-minute speech was all about compassion and tolerance, the mainstays of Buddhism. He didn’t cast aspersions on oppressive governments or dwell on other unfortunate situations for Buddhists around the world. Instead he preached the traditional nonviolence. It seemed a little like the Beatitudes of the New Testament.

We were obviously not the only people who were confused about the time. As we were leaving, people were still arriving from long distances away and standing in lines to pass through security. It was actually interesting to see the variety of people who showed up – ranging from native Tibetans to suits to teens in short skirts to toddlers. And even dogs were in attendance.

I’m glad I went, but honestly I enjoyed sipping iced tea with my friend and cooling off just as much as listening to HH.

UPDATE: This evening at meditation I came to realize that what I heard was the Dalai Lama's acceptance speech INSIDE the Capitol Building. His address OUTSIDE started an hour later and was much less formal. This just emphasizes the lack of information. It wasn't like there was a program or anything that indicated what was going on on the screen. So I guess all those people who were coming in when we were leaving knew a little more than we did and the joke is on us! However, the heat would have been equally oppressive at 3:30!


Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Wandering around in the crowd was quite meditative for me, a walking meditation Bhikram style.

The iced tea was good, too.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I would love to see a transcript of what the Dalai Lama said in the talk that we missed. I'm sure it was better than his prepared remarks in English, which he read. I'm imagining that he spoke in his native language with a translator.

I just felt this incredible vortex of energy spinning around and the heat that left me feeling like I had just done 90 minutes of Bhikram yoga!

9:35 AM  
Blogger hollly said...

I wanted to go to this so badly but I couldn't get out of work! Argh. Thanks for sharing your experience though!

10:12 AM  
Blogger steve said...

I think its VERY cool that they are considering a new method of selecting future Dali's. We need more of this type of thinking in this ol' world...

1:57 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Hollly -- I would have been upset if I had to take leave from work to attend only to find out the schedule had changed. There was a lot of confusion, but it was really amazing how many people turned out to hear him speak.

Steve -- It's nice to know there's room for new ideas, I agree.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

What an interesting experience!

4:51 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I would have loved to have heard him, he is such a fascinating man to me. He epitomizes peace and true acceptance as well as joy and laughter.

1:44 PM  

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