Haven't apparently posted a blog since August. That's interesting, given all that has happened since. There was the epic cross-Canada journey with heater blazing amid reddened dachshund nipples (which ended in a rather now-living-in-Montreal sort of state). A Concordianism ensued amidst fevered sweating runs through Jarry Park. That of course culminated in the bus-ride of ought-seven and included a 30th Anniversary Chicago Marathon with all the dead and hospitalized persons such an event demands.
This weekend brought more, some of it in Ottawa. On Saturday, Ash, myself and some of her friends from Concordia drove there and on Saturday, shopping and drinking happened. I shopped for poets at the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair and found quite a few. The girls did other kinds of shopping and later the many of us drank - some with poets who continued to be shopped well into the evening. A boyfriend named Geoff joined us and on Sunday morning we ate breakfasts (after, of course, we got out of the prison which had housed us until that time).
Then we went to see his holiness the Dalai Lama at the Ottawa Civic Centre. Here's a synopsis of the event and what was said (please remember that this is a recollection based on hastily written notes):
An introduction by Mark Tewkesbury, following a video highlight reel of his gold medal victory in the Olympics. A winning essay read aloud by a high school student, who states that if we remove bias and corruption, we can all be members of one world-country. I don't at this moment miss my naivete.
A Tibetan opera singer/musician performs. Ethereal, beautiful music swallowed by the 18, 000 people in the audience. After his song he tells us that he loves his Tibetan music. And to tell us that if we also like his Tibetan music - he pauses slightly as he contemplates the crowd - to come visit him at his table. Mark takes a moment later to tell us that the musician's few hundred spectators who watched the rehearsal and sound check were the largest audience he had ever had.
Members of the Tibetan Cultural Association of Montreal come out next to dance in front of a mural of the Potala Palace. They represent different regions of Tibet in their clothes and dance, though they dance together to a single song, they sing together a single song as they circle and weave around a solitary flag-bearer.
With a Starbucks coffee (proudly served) and some stale nachos in my hands I join the crowd in greeting the Dalai Lama. Interestingly, the crowd does not applaud the announcement that the Dalai Lama is a Nobel Laureate but gives a standing ovation at the news that he was awarded an American Congressional Gold Medal of Honour. Or Honor, if you spell it south of the border.
He welcomes us to the hockey arena as an honourary member of our country - having received honourary Canadian citizenship in June during his last (unofficial) visit. The Canadian government can ignore Chinese trade threats now, since they're just welcoming (officially) another Canadian citizen. He chuckles gleefully as a cheer rises up - once more, the home team wins.
In the seats to my right, the Regional Dancers of the Tibetan Cultural Association of Montreal quietly take their seats and their babies; the seats become a pot of brightly coloured flowers cuddling little fuzzy bees as the Lama takes off his shoes, grins, wiggles into a comfortable lotus position on his regal chair and dons a cap with visor that he may better see the audience. He hopes (grinning still) that we are warmer than the frosty breeze that welcomed him off the plane this morning. He introduces his chat with a request that we seek to understand with care his meaning, rather than his words, as he grapples with (his not so very) broken English.
His message: he has nothing to offer us. He is no healer, only a simple monk. He himself strongly doubts the powers of healers. When his neck developed a terrible dry itch, he asked for a healer to prove such powers and heal it. None appeared - but a doctor gave him an ointment for it which worked quite nicely.
He likes comfort and says the silver lining to being a refugee is the reduced standing on formality. Once, in Mexico, he saw a Japanese minister stiffly attending upon his role as a leader, working his way through a rosary. The string for the rosary broke, scattering beads everywhere but the Japanese minister maintained his appearance of formal duty. The Dalai Lama claims that had his own string done such a thing he would have giggled for certain.
He says of George Bush (Jr.) that he loves the US President. That George is a lovely man, a very nice person who shares the Lama's dislike of unnecessary formality. But the Lama does have some reservations about Bush's policies. Regarding Iraq: the invasion and subsequent activity was not necessarily led with bad intent but the policy method was very unrealistic and has now worsened the problems there.
Everything is interconnected throughout the world - including the Tibet problem. One must know the causes of the past to find proper methods to solve problems in the present. Right now, problem solving methods among nations are still based on negative emotions such as hatred, anger, desire for revenge. These are the modern theology. To reduce man-made problems, more holistic views are required.
18th and 19th century nations were more self sufficient than nations today and their populations were much lower than now. The idea of national ideology was more relevant then than it is today. It is no longer applicable, resources are limited in many regions, the quality of life in many, perhaps most, places has dropped in recent years. Where a community in India of three thousand Tibetans had three thousand acres ten years ago, they are now ten thousand on the same three thousand acres. That is not sustainable. We ask for more land and resources for the people but the Indian people suffer the same problem. The many communities of nations should work together as one entity. Our approach to problems must become more realistic - our perceptions still remain limited to "old thinking" and we continue to exploit one another.
This causes war. That is clear-cut. But we have lost our demarcation and do not realize that destruction of any member of the world is a destruction of self. We must keep in mind the interest, the right, in the human family and learn compromise. This shall take serious effort. We must learn first Inner Disarmament and erase inner hatred and jealousy. This leads directly to External Disarmament and removal of attitude of aggression and removal of weapons, nuclear arms, step by step.
This process can be aided by Unified Force. Once nations such as Germany and France share an armed force, they will no longer have a conflict. North America, the US, Canada and Mexico, should also create such a unified force. Move the EU to Poland, put NATO in Moscow. In other words, nations should give their arms to their neighbors, their enemies, to care for and effort should be made to nurture Russia's democracy.
Some force will always be necessary: there will always be mischievous people. The main point is: war is out of date, it is obsolete. It is like hitting oneself in the leg. Rather than send young people who are restless at home to other countries to wage war in order to channel their energy, it is better to create "adversity" for energetic young people by sending them abroad to learn and find a sense of purpose, that they may become educated and bring new skills and ways of living back to their country. They will also bring the languages and tools of trade with them. I (the Lama) feel very useful. So should your young people go to other countries and serve them and find purpose.
In the USSR in 1979 I felt an aggression to attack among the people and some leaders manipulated that motivation. And today, for instance, I feel that distance-attitude in Iran. We need more effort to come in closer contact to them and not just governments but from all individuals. As one of your citizens (chuckle) I feel some right to interfere in your community.
A really important matter: in order to be happy, person and community, we need to put aside money matter and political issues. In both person and government we should endeavor to find friendship rather than merely the behavior of giving gifts.
When I get a medical checkup, whatever place that I am in, some doctors ask me how I feel. Some treat me as a machine, something to have an illness. Trust will lead to healing. That's why a placebo can work. If there is compassion and warm-heartedness between patient and physician, healing will improve. The doctor must empathize with the pain of the patient. This results not from knowledge but from warm-heartedness.
When our lives start, a mother's state of mind will impact the unborn child. How does a puppy with eyes not yet open find the mother's nipples? Without that trust and affection, growth cannot happen. In medical experiments, young rats separated from their mothers had lower neuron development than other young rats. My own mother was a very compassionate,
uneducated person. A very warm person, even when we were poor, she shared what we had with all people. So today, I serve with compassion.
When I was six or seven, learning Buddhism was no fun but even then I had compassion. I learned this from my mother, not from religion. We all come from mothers wombs: we all have the same potential for compassion. That is the secret to happiness and it will strengthen our immune systems. People who spend their lives in the compassionate service of others have more active brains and bodies than other people. Many scientists consider compassionate feeling important for health whether the person is a believer or an unbeliever. You should take care of your health.
Some get the misimpression that this is a religious matter. That is a mistake. Some think that compassionate service may be good for others but not for the self. That is also a mistake. Sometimes, when I smile, people feel nervous rather than happy. They wonder why I am smiling without a cause - they are suspicious and become more uncomfortable, though I smile with warm-heartedness. Therefore, practice of compassion helps the self first before it helps others. It gives you lower stress, better circulation, better health.
Studies have shown that people who communicate mostly with words "I" and "mine" have greater risk of heart attacks. This reflects their minds. They are self-separate. When you consider others, you interact, you reduce stress and anxiety. Essentially, we should know each other. It brings peace of mind. When people have anger, that negative-ness is 90% projection and that brings disaster. When you make important decisions, remain open and you will see reality more clearly.
Use your intelligence and combine it with warm-heartedness. You will become a good citizen of the world.
During the question period...
My day starts at 3:30 am. I exercise meditate, jog, do yoga until about eight or 8:30. And of course, breakfast. My brother who sleeps in, when I tease him he teases me back by saying that I get up so early to eat extra breakfast! I do not eat dinner so breakfast is very important.
When considering any situation from a Buddhist perspective one cannot merely follow the words of another. Buddhist Science leads one to analyze reality of which, there are two branches: quantum physics, or the reality of particles and matter and inner science, the science of logic, reason and meditation upon phenomenology. Reality is understood through reason, not by listening to me, or to any Buddha. Reason is the ultimate instrument to know reality. When interpreting what a religion has to say about a circumstance, remember the scripture is not a literal lesson.
We do not seek to separate from China but to find common institutions and to be autonomous. The Chinese population in Tibet is now bigger than the Tibetan population, many of whom are no longer in
Tibet. In the long run, the Tibetan community is very small: to them I say please produce more children! (laughs) That should be our response to the family planning strategy.
Violence and non-violence are method. Most important is motivation and goal. Therefore some times violence can be useful, to stop harmful activities. The main difference is in motivation. But both are method and they will deliver your message. In Tibet, because we strictly stay non-violent, more Chinese now support us. If we became violent, that would be suicide.
The Tibetan people seek human harmony, religious harmony. I support the monks in Burma and hopefully some strong influence from China can save the monks from Tyranny.