30 Apr 2018

An Audience with the Dalai Lama

By Luni Libes, Fledge.co
A few weeks ago, the Dalai Lama slapped my son.  OK, it was more of a kindly pat on the cheek, but no less surprising a gesture.  We were in Dharmashala, India, home of the Tibet in Exile government, as part of of a delegate from the State of Washington to provide an update from the ten years since the Dalai Lama visited Seattle.  Two Seattle Hubbers were part of the dozen in the delegation: Luni Libes, founder of Fledge, and taking the photographs was Tim Crosby of the Thread Fund.
While they let Tim take pictures, they did not let us record the audience.  The Dalai Lama doesn’t glow, his eyes don’t sparkle, and in no other way does he appear magical or extraordinary, but nonetheless being in his presence is distracting.  It is thus difficult to recall his exact words.  That, and the audiences are as long as he wants them to be, and ours lasted an hour.  Far more of that was us listening and him speaking.  The topics included:
  • The middle way solution for Tibet.  Equality with Han Chinese and the right to teach Tibetan culture.
  • The historic role of the U.S. as leader of the free world.
  • The fact that thousands of years of prayer has not led to a world without problems.  That solutions are up to us, not some higher power.
  • That Buddhism is more like science than religion.  That even the first Buddha implored his followers to not believe his words, to instead experiment to find the truth.
  • That we need to teach Secular Ethics to our children.  That will help them make better decisions.
  • Lastly, that he’s feeling old and no longer going to be traveling the world.  But he’s not done teaching, and would like to use technology to share his teachings.

The delegation is working to make the last topic a reality.  For recordings, this has already started (subscribe to https://www.youtube.com/user/gyalwarinpoche).

And yes, the man in person is the same as we saw at Quest Field in 2008 and on these videos.  He’s a brilliant teacher who commands the attention of the room when he speaks, and can make everyone laugh with his infectious laugh whenever he wants.  But perhaps the most important lesson of this trip is that he’s not alone in that ability.  He’s the most famous Tibetan on the planet, but every other Tibetan we met was similar.  Strong, smart, and hard-working, living with joy despite living in exile, and able to make the whole room laugh at will.

That is the lesson I took away from this trip, that if a whole community follows the teaching of the Dalai Lama, the resulting culture is warm, generous, joyful, and able to prosper.  It’s not, in fact, so much different from the culture we find inside Impact Hub Seattle, and why I so enjoy working there.
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