Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cultural boob

So, apart from nearly going to the wrong venue (if you happen to know Wellington you will know immediately what a dick I am for trying to go to the 25,000 seat Cake Tin/Westpac stadium rather than the 4000 seat TSB Arena) and then being unable to find a car park and nearly missing the whole thing my audience with HHDL all went according to plan. At least from my side of things.

While my preparations were all cool, level headed non-attachment and included waking up too late to consider walking into town, then nearly missing a meeting I had at 11am due to not being able to find a parking space (something that was to happen for a second time just a short time later the same day), not having a watch to know how much time I had and then realising that I hadn't enough change for the Pay and Display so necessitating a brief but enjoyable mid-city jog to and from the nearest ATM then in and out of the nearest 24/7, the DL had clearly found himself in disarray that morning following our meeting at the airport on Monday night.

He took his seat calmly enough, raised as it was on a stage and gilded in Tibetan reds and golds, but I could tell from the surfeit of nonchalance in the way he casually softened up the expectant audience with one anecdote after another about what, exactly, he likes to carry in his maroon shoulder bag that he was clearly rattled. However he soon got over his nerves and pulled it together to begin his discourse: World Peace - a Human Approach.

Basically the meat of it was this - World peace depends on cultivating compassion, while at the same time realising that sometimes action is preferable to just looking on with compassion. Where is this compassion to come from? Well, apparently (and here's the Human bit), the seed of compassion is best sown in the strong emotional ties that can be fostered between baby and mother. To illustrate this the Dalai Lama recounted an old family tale from the childhood of his father.

As a boy his father had been very close to his own mother. This woman, the grandmother of the Dalai Lama (pronounced dally laama round these parts), had cultivated an very strong bond with her children, thus ensuring a supportive and solid family structure and environment. Her children would not want for the attention of their mother. A deep spring of compassion and love would flow within the family, eventually manifesting among other things in the person of the 14th Dalai Lama himself. Just how strongly the bond between mother and child had been spun could be seen from the fact that the young boy would rush home after a hard day in the fields and demand to be taken to his mother's breast, there to suckle. Even though there was no milk to be had as it had been 10 years since this birth.

It was these last two concrete details which kind of took the sheen off the moment really. True to form the Lama chuckled good naturedly at his own joke, as is the wont of the Lamas I have thus far encountered. Unfortunately, this being New Zealand, not too many other members of the audience felt inclined to share in his sprightly mirth. I felt a wave of discomfort wash back and forward around me, like a wave in a bath tub filled with 4000 people where you kind of slap the surface and watch the ripples rebound off the sides, to and fro.

This passed after a few moments luckily.

I elected to leave before the final questions but these apparently included one asking for his views on euthanasia and another asking whether or not being in a committed (or presumably any) relationship is a barrier to becoming enlightened. The answer to this last one was apparently a diplomatic 'yes'.

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