Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dalai Lama In Long Beach, Part One

Sometimes, contrary to fiction, there is a series of fortunate events.

Through such a series of fortunate events -- really, a last minute thing -- I spent most of Friday listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama discourse on the Four Noble Truths, after which he graciously bestowed the Amitabha Empowerment -- which must surely stand as the first overtly inter-faith action tantra empowerment I have ever attended.

It is difficult to write about what he said, because the nature of the experience is that everyone hears something different, you know? So, I am only mentioning what I heard.

The venue was Long Beach Convention Center, filled to capacity, and His Holiness was extraordinarily humorous, gentle, and precise. The audience laughed when he said, "Sometimes, when I talk to my brothers in other faiths, we find so many things in common. However, if they show some interest in emptiness, I tell them, 'You don't have to concern yourself about emptiness, this is a Buddhist's business.'"

I wish I could bring you photographs of the event, but as those of you who have attended his events know, the "no camera" policy is becoming stricter and stricter. Neither were cell phones allowed. He looked and sounded in excellent health, was wearing his now-famous red eyeshade, and seemed a much younger man than he actually is. As mentioned elsewhere, he does 20 minutes at top speed on the treadmill every morning.

His Holiness began the morning session by having the Diamond Sutra chanted in Sanskrit, Chinese, and Vietnamese, after which he chanted the Heart Sutra in Tibetan. He then lectured for two hours, followed by a break, after which he returned and lectured for another hour, before bestowing the Amitabha empowerment.

During the empowerment, he paused proceedings to explain, "If you are not Buddhist, for example if you are Christian, you don't have to use Buddhist visualizations. You can visualize the object of your faith, and you can make a promise that you will respect them, and follow their teachings, and that you want to contribute to humanity by becoming a helpful human. If you cannot help, then at least do no harm. That is the basic message: we are all human." I am paraphrasing -- it was so much more beautifully said than this.

Amitabha Buddha himself was saying it.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

0 reader comments: