Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Dalai Lama Was Here.

No. Not in my house.

But he was in my town.

Some of you may remember that I wrote about being distressed that the Dalai Lama was going to be five minutes from my house and I wasn’t going to be able to hear him speak. Some of you wrote to me, distressed that I’d wanted to listen to him speak at all. Some of you thought I had a lot of the same philosophies as the Dalai Lama, while some of you thought that I should be more aware of the damage I could do speaking about him with admiration.

As always, there are a lot of opinions. And I’m good with that. I’m far from being fully informed on every issue, and I’m sure I’m wrong a lot. But everything I’ve read that the Dalai Lama has written, I have appreciated and respected. And while I don’t know everything about his religion and it’s history, I do know that my own Catholic religion has a pretty intense history of violence and bloodshed. And we have enough scandal right now that we will be ashamed of long into the future. But that doesn’t change who I am as a person, so I was anxious to hear what people who heard the Dalai Lama thought of him as a person.

Lucky for me, my Aunt Kate and Uncle Don traveled here to listen to him speak. Kate discovered he was coming after reading about it on my blog, and somehow talked Donny into coming despite the fact that he had never heard of the Dalai Lama.

Which I gave him a lot of grief about. :) Seriously, I thought everyone knew about the Dalai Lama in the same way that everyone knew about the Pope. Boy, was I wrong… apparently most people in my life have never heard of him. One of my aunts actually asked WHAT a Dalai Lama is.

That seriously cracked me up.

Anyway, Don and Kate came to the afternoon session and then stopped by the condo for a visit:

I spent many a summer afternoon sitting at their kitchen table talking about anything and everything, so it was lovely to have them sitting on my couch doing the same. I told them about the flack I had received because I admired this man who wasn’t a Christian, but that I found him… as a person… to be full of joy and peace and compassion. He seemed to be a man who valued every person, believed in equality and promoted kindness.

Every book of his that I’ve read has talked about living a grateful, joyful life, while treating others with respect and value. He’s talked about being moral and ethical and kindhearted. As far as I know, Jesus is good with all of those things.

So it was great to hear first hand that they found him to be the same way. They said he had nothing prepared, but just sat on a couch and spoke to them… telling them we are all equal, no one is better or worse than another. He said he has no special powers, or abilities to heal, he was simply a man who wanted to share the importance of education and peace and kindness. He said that he respected all religions and that we could learn from each other and our beliefs. He brought no judgment and had no interest in converting anyone to anything. He simply wanted to share life.

And he laughed a lot.

I admire that. I have friends from many different religions, and friends who have no religion at all. I have learned from each of them, and found that some beliefs in other faiths actually match up with my own. I also know that learning, sharing life and listening won’t change my belief in Jesus. If anything, it strengthens my faith and broadens my acceptance.

I still wish I could have heard the Dalai Lama speak in person, but I am so glad to have had the opportunity to hear about it first hand. And I’m really thrilled that he brought me company for the afternoon so I could hear about their lives first hand as well. :)

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