So, I got to see the Dalai Lama while I was in Seattle. Aunt Heidi volunteers for Seeds of Compassion http://www.seedsofcompassion.org/ and she scored us some tickets.
We walked 45 minutes from Capitol Hill down to Qwest Stadium, since we knew parking would be horrid. We got a little side-tracked, what with talking about soap making, herbal medicine, and stopping to smell the heavenly scent of spring Gardenias in a lovely garden along the way. So we were a tiny bit late getting there.
We heard the cheers while we were still 200 feet from the entrance. We saw the Lama on the big screen, walking out, onto the stage. He looked older than I was anticipating. He's in his 70's. He was much younger in that Brad Pitt movie "7 Days in Tibet."
We got frisked by nice, professional ladies on our way in, to make sure we didn't have weapons or cameras. I must admit, I felt a certain sense of doom after that. Not for being frisked, but at the idea that a terrorist might consider coming in and blowing up the Dalai Lama. Very sad and creepy and scary all at the same time.
We made it up to our seats after the Native dancers from different cultures had performed for him. We saw them walking back up to their seats. They had wonderful flower and feather head dresses and beautiful robes.
I have to tell you that the only time I got a little misty eyed that day was when the Chief of the Indian tribe native to Puget Sound spoke. He was an old man, in full ceremonial dress, with wonderful feathers near his ears. The close-up of his wrinkled face and piercing eyes was full- blown on the big screen. I wish I could find reference to his actual quote, but I can't even find reference to his name or his tribe's name in any of the news articles I found online, which makes me sad all over again.
So the chief got up and welcomed the Dalai Lama, as a great spirtual leader, to Seattle. And then the chief said thank you to the great people of this land, of this country, for inviting him to speak at this special event. He meant it in a heartfelt way, but the subtext floored me.
Clearly, this Indian Chief is still an outsider, in the middle of his ancesteral home, and yet was honored to be invited to speak to another holy man, who was living in exile too. But this humble, Native American Chief that most of us had never heard of, thanking Americans for inviting him, saying welcome to the Dalai Lama, who everyone outside of China reveres and worships...it just got to me.
Maybe Brad Pitt should make a movie about this Indian chief? Do you think the world would rally around this Chief, and help him help his people, the native tribe who live in near exile, outside of Seattle, forgotten on the desolate reservation?
Okay, sorry, I digress.
The rest of the event was nicely done, but predicatble, as these things are. Many local dignataries and politicians gave speeches and thanks and told about the good things they are doing. And it is all good, very, very good, and an appropriate place to tell the world how to honor children and live a life of compassion.
But man, it was hot, and most of us just wanted to hear the Lama. Can't help it, we're used to things moving faster, like in the movies.
So finally, the Dalai Lama had his turn to speak. He is charming and funny and truly able to speak from the heart, which is so very refreshing, of course. There's no way our politicians can speak they way he does. He can say politically incorrect things, and we laugh with him and nod and accept him as a man of spirit and a man of peace. We wish we could be more like him.
In our hearts we wish it were so easy to have an open dialogue where we all lay down our weapons and walk into the light of peace, but we know it is trickier than that. We know it's not so easy. And here's the great thing about the Dalai Lama: he knows that too. He doesn't talk without knowledge. He admits he is a spirtual man working for freedom and peace and compassion, not a politician, and that he doesn't know all the answers.
He is a practical man, the Lama, the living Buddha. He spoke in great length about his mother. He explained how he learned compassion from his mother, and that he was born of his mother's womb, and that she was a real person, not a lotus leaf.
He laughed with the audience, then. This was my favorite line of all, I think. So funny, and able to remind us he's a real person, and he knows it.
The Dalai Lama thinks if more women were in power, there would be less war.
He said women have more compassion naturally than men, because they bear the children and they have an innate need to protect, and men have more of an innate agression, to fight the foe who threatens him and his family and we can't change that, which is why more women need to lead (can you imagine Obama or Hilary saying this?)
I didn't necessarily feel a wave of enlightenment while watching him or being in a statium with him and 60,000 other people on a warm day in Seattle. But I truly appreciated him, and the tribal chief, in the way you appreciate all people who live their lives passionately and for the greater good.
I appreciated him as a real person, a wise person, an old person, and a frail person who must get exahusted traveling around the world at a hectic pace, spreading seeds of compassion as quickly as he can before his time to ascend to Nirvana arrives.
It was good to see the Dalai Lama in Seattle. It was good to see 60,000 people gathering together to hear words of wisdom.
And it was good that we are reminded that the seeds of compassion are planted in our hearts by our actions, and we have the power to change the world.
And I still remember how lovely the gardenias smelled on Capitol Hill.