Friday, February 28, 2014

Dalai Lama called liar, scolds Los Angeles

Seth Auberon, Ashley Wells, CC Liu (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; Gary Sanders
The audience and Eric Benet serenading the Dalai Lama with a love song (philflash)
The Lourdes Foundation welcomes the Dalai Lama to Los Angeles
Buddhist Richard Gere
The Forum just had a $500 million renovation, inaugurated by The Eagles. But today when the black limousines and SUVs pulled up, it was the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet and beloved worldwide Nobel Peace Laureate.

But on the northeast corner of the $25 per spot Forum parking lot, someone is calling him a "liar" and a "the worst dictator in the world." It is a Tibetan monastic.  Not one monastic but a group of anis and monks, presumably lamas. Not only this group, but many laypeople as well. They are singing, "Stop lying, Dalai Lama." This is the Dorje Shugden controversy, and most people won't see it tucked into this tiny "Free Speech Zone" on the fringes of Manchester Blvd. -- unless they saw it when they drove by.

Outside "Zen" author and former Laker's coach Phil Jackson is entering through the VIP doors. Inside, the supreme and exalted high-lama of the Yellow Hats is behaving like wise Yoda (who was patterned after him) but soft and loveable like a plush toy.
Eric Benet is singing, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love; it's the only thing that there's just too little of..." and encouraging audience participation. We're serenading the Tibetan Buddhist leader. Up in the stands there is a very vocal level of participation, out of character for this characteristically cool and jaded L.A. crowd. (Like Lorde, whenever any artist asks us to throw our hands in the air, we yawn, so there). It is a thousand Inglewood High School students brought here to see the Tibetan master and Nobel Peace Laureate inspire this city to choose compassion over violence, amity over enmity.

Eric Benet serenades the Dalai Lama, drowning out protesters outside

This is Black History Month, Inglewood's Mayor Butts reminds us in his welcome speech. Then Maria Shriver, scion of the Kennedy Family (Camelot), former First Lady of California (betrayed ex-wife of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger), and co-organizer of The Women's Conference lecture series. She once visited the Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) to invite him to address her series' participants. She inspires us, brings us to our feet, and the Dalai Lama begins his loveable silliness.

You smell good. - Than'kyew. - Don't sniff him!
See, what he will say is not on the minds of people. No one is fretting that he choose just the right word. (Except for his assistant/translator standing distractingly at his side on stage to ensure that the speaker never be left wanting for just the right word). The Dalai Lama's tastefulness and emotional intelligence is unassailable, unimpeachable. He is far more talented than most politicians, more compassionate and in touch with his people (and many more non-Tibetans) than the Vatican Corporation's CEO, the Holy Roman Empire's remnant Pope, ever has been. What people are here to hear, it becomes clear, is HOW he will say it. We are here for an emotional experience to inspire us.

America loves the 14th Dalai Lama (JB)
The message is always the same -- overflowing with love (metta), compassion (karuna), empathic-appreciation (mudita), unbiased equanimity (upekkha) in addition to calls for greater Socially Engaged Buddhism.

We love him for that because we "sense" his love, his open heart. It opens our heart. He may be called a liar, oppressor, and feudal dictator outside, but in here, he is in love, and we are in love, and y'know how it is when you're in love? It's all love. Who sees any faults?

He may sound like he's scolding Los Angeles, the seat of global communications and pro-military propaganda and psy-ops, pointing his finger like a young and impetuous Bill Clinton (who was eventually taught to bend it to soften his delivery), but we all take in stride like we're being chastised by the new and improved Pope Francis. He's not chastizing us; it's the people sitting around us he's after, and they need it, we imagine  in our pettiness.

"Jeepers Creepers Slacker Guy" (Mr. Show)
Yes, the Dalai Lama's message is always the same:
"Attention please! If you have the time,
I'd like to blow your mind! 
Always be good, except when you're bad. 
Choose to be happy, except when you're sad. 
Don't quote me on this; don't hold me to that!" 
Is there a God? 
"Don't know for a fact." 
Should we live a good life? 
"I guess it shall be." 
Are you the [Maitreya]?
"Yes I, no I, I perhaps could be..." 
Hey, man, why can't you commit? Stop walking the line! 
...Your people need some leadership!
"Cut me some slack, I can't make up my mind.
Get off of my @$$, I heard you all the first time.
I'll get to it eventually. Just leave me be!

I can moan and groan, but I'm still on my throne.
My throne is this stone! Who'll throw the first stone?
...Jeepers Creepers, Slacker guy, just wants to wave without saying goodbye. Jeepers Creepers, not so great, a guy we'll never really love or hate (famously delivered by comedian Jack Black in the Mr. Show production of "Jeepers Creepers," a Slacker rendition of "Jesus Christ Superstar").

Y'know what you must do? - Yeah, uh-huh...
Above the stage on the jumbotron monitors, "Choose to be kind whenever possible." Who can disagree with that? And by the same token, its utter banality, who can agree with it? It's not saying anything. If one THINKS about it, nothing is being said. The whole speech is one long emotional-intelligence session. It's not about intellect, debate, instruction, or Buddhism in particular. It's all very general, all very pedagogical, reflecting what we think back to us. A masterstroke or a waste of time?

People love it. People can't get enough of it. We fly to India to hear more of it. The Lourdes Foundation speaker, Mr. Lourdes of the Lourdes family, at the end explains why his family and their foundation brought the Dalai Lama to Los Angeles today. He himself went to India and heard the saintly Tibetan monk speaking and thought, "People have got to hear this!"
The spectre of self-immolation
There is not much of anything to hear, and people will be disappointed if they are expecting a substantive speech. This is about feelings and talking points, skillful PR, and endearing delivery. It's masterful, all right, but not for reasons the audience might expect. It is wonderful for what it is: Choose compassion. Don't be bad. Fund education. Be kind. *Yawn* Teach the children well. Promote loving meditation (metta). Respect your elders. *What time is it?* Eat your mom's apple pie and your ani's momo (the ubiquitous Tibetan dumpling dish, which is stuffed pasta stewed in tomato paste with greens and is so yummy that Marco Polo couldn't wait to tell the Italians all about it on his return from the exotic East's Silk Road).

Whoever dares disagree only imdicts him or herself. One does not belittle the Dalai Lama for calling such pabulum "Pablum."

Brian praised for his book Wish It, Want It, Do It
Author and America's favorite dog, Brian Griffin, grew rich saying such things: "Believe in yourself. Have high self-esteem.? The Dalai Lama was really saying this. How, Ven. Nobel Peace Laureate? No one disagrees. Shall we pull ourselves by our bootstraps and simply will it by our willpower? Is this not what Brain says? "Want it? Do it!" "Just do it," Nike, Inc. explains.
Ariana, Dana, and Bill Maher grill Brian
Check your cynicism and brains at the door. This is a message to the heart. No one tells the heart to think. We tell it to love, which is what it would normally do all by itself if it were not upset. So what kind of message/reminder is it? One that will make you rich: Tell people what they want to hear, what they already know, then tell them they're already enlightened anyway. People love it. No one questions it.

Obama has heard the Dalai Lama's message of peace. Did it work? Will he listen? Will he call off the NSA, which he has the power to do by executive decree because that is all that is empowering the NSA to do what it is doing. Will he ground the CIA/JSOC's drones, which he does not really have the power to alter or affect? JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, is the president's personal army, and yet he has no real power to stop it. (That's how it is with the US presidency, which is a Big Show, a distraction, a ceremonial position, a read-the-prompter post for those who love a lot of fun and palaver of politics-as-usual without much actual power. Obama, and many before him, does not have to decide anything, just communicate what movers and shakers have already decided). Will he?

Too hot to mention (Agent_Orange2006/flickr)
It doesn't matter because the Dalai Lama did his job, and "religion" did its job. Spirituality and authentic transformation have nothing to do with it. "China threatens drama if Obama meets with Dalai Lama" reads the headline. What will China do? Will India approve? Will lovers of Dorje Shugden rise up and bring down the dalai and panchen lama systems? Our speaker never mentioned the self-immolations or anything controversial.

If you want to hear less, attend a Thich Nhat Hanh lecture (more like a Hindu darshan, a chance to see a spiritually important person). That, too, is all about the heart, all about the experience, all about connecting and has next to nothing to do with the intellect. And that's the way devotees and fans want it.
See the Dalai Lama
The Buddha, in Indian tradition, moved from being seen to being heard: Stream-enterers (sotāpannas) often entered the stream -- that is, became enlightened -- by hearing (sotā) the Dharma. Who wants to hear uncomfortable truths about Vietnam, the war, Martin Luther King's struggle, existence? We do. It would be nice. But mass spiritual gatherings are for that. In the days when Bhakti rules the land and people, there's no room and not much tolerance for talk of Nyana.

See the Dalai Lama soon. He continues his tour across the US, Europe, and India:

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