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Monday, April 16, 2012

Went to See the Lama...

...and the Lama said nothing really, that my Druidish-mother-in-law never said. "Be kind, be fearless (within reason), there's always more than one side to an issue, be realistic." Of course my mother-in-law never had 18,000 people pay $30 to $90 for a ticket to hear her speak, even though her English was much better and she had equally interesting tales to tell of her abdominal surgeries and growing up in turbulent times.

Still, one doesn't want to miss an opportunity to hear and see a celebrity and icon that been around in the news and my imagination for as long as I can remember. I think I became fascinated with Tibet when, at 10, I read Edmund Hillary's tale of climbing Everest...well, that was Nepal, but the mountain doesn't make a distinction. At the stadium, there were crowds of people, snaking in lines into the university sports stadium, like people circumambulating that mountain you're not allowed to climb, or wandering around the Potala Palace. A preponderance of old hippie types with grey ponytails, females wearing drapey Indian-style clothes, new surfer types with tattoos, and ordinary local people flocked to the event like ants to honey. With the exception of a John the Baptist-type hanging around proclaiming that Jesus is the ONLY way, it was a choir prepared to be preached a message they already knew.

We finally found our $30 seats in the stadium way up, but not bad---there were plenty of huge video monitors which gave the same view as if we had just stayed home and watched the program live streaming on line. I ate a container of saimin noodles while the no-longer prematurely grey (like myself) Michael McDonald (of the Doobie Brothers) was singing, or possibly suffering. He was joined by Henry Kapono, one of our more well known local entertainers, to sing "What the world needs now, is love"...or was it "All you need is love" was a veritable spiritual Woodstock ...after some greeting of dignitaries, HH made his appearance, then watched a video presentation of Jake Shimabukuro, our ambassador of peace via ukelele -- and he is indeed charming, a highlight of the day, even if it was just like watching a big TV. Here it is:

HH then gave his talk, occasionally taking on a role more like an emcee making other people comfortable, in slightly tortured English with a vague Indian accent. (Why did this surprise me; he's been in India for half a century.) Part of a program that has been established by Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay and lover of Hawaii, HH's appearance was to kick off an initiative to show how Aloha can be a model for peace. (I expect this to be as successful as a different Hillary using Hawaii's Prepaid Health Care Act as a model for her failed health care initiative way back when she was First Lady.)

Still, lest you think I'm being cynical (which I am) the ordinary Buddhist monk's message was simple; not complicated Buddhist technicalities or tantra (he saves that stuff, which would probably scare away 90 percent of his general audience, for more private talks), he said we are all connected, man has a special place in the universe because of his cognitive skills, and that we should smile at everyone. Except mad dogs; it is okay, wise even,  to fear mad dogs. That's just being realistic. I think the contingent who posed a touchy question about how indigenous populations (presumably Tibetan, but I suspect in this venue, Native Hawaiian) should respond to their oppressors were not happy with his answer: be realistic and change. Keep your language and culture, but move forward. He should know. Even HH is not saying "Free Tibet" any longer. I don't think it's that he's given up. I think he is a proponent of realpolitik.

The show ended well enough and efficiently so I could have a nice dinner with my companion before catching a flight to Kona on the Big Island, destined for Waikoloa, one of Hawaii's more elaborate and prestigious resorts, and site of a Western Region Conference of a professional organization I belong to. As I went through airport security, just behind me was a Tibetan monk who was on his way home to Maui. He wasn't quite as smiley faced as HH, so I simply said "Aloha" and bid him well.

My traveling colleague, not my companion at the HH event, not only had his bag lost by TSA, whose screening device was down, but was initially disappointed at his room. I registered early and got a nice fifth floor suite with a balcony that overlooks pools and palms and an ocean inlet, the very constructed vision of Hawaii perpetrated like the romantic vision of Tibet. (I woke to find that the roar I heard all night and thought was an airconditioner was actually a small constructed waterfall.) My companion's room, a kamaaina (local resident) special was on a first floor, tucked away behind the laundry rooms. But here's the funny part: it actually does have a feel of real Hawaii. The patio doors of the room, exactly like mine, open directly to the ocean, across a grassy area with a huge Buddha staring into the sea. (There are an unusual number of Buddhas all over the place, not very Hawaiian, but more peaceful than warrior tikis.) His kamaaina room essentially has its back turned to the elaborate resort complex. I wish I'd thought to request kamaaina rate. Compared to the kamaaina room, I feel imprisoned on the fifth floor, balcony rails holding me back.


baroness radon said...

I apologize for the sloppiness of this post, and lack of paragraphing...working on a 3G iPad is not as easy for editing as my usual laptop.

sybil law said...

Typos - no biggie!

Sounds like a decent time, though, to have seen the Lama, even if the message was basic and not mind-blowing. (Not sure, actually, that I've ever heard him say anything mind-blowing, but then again, I grew up with a wise, wise mother.)

baroness radon said...

Now that I'm home again, I ran a spell check and did a little readability editing. Makes me feel better.

Brandon said...

Am I right to assume HH is the Dalai Lama? Pretty cool you got to see him. I hate to even speak of it, but it's going to be weird when he's dead (ok, reborn into some other child). The world will lose an outspoken, likable peace proponent. It's good you got to see him speak.

baroness radon said...

Yes, Brandon, HH="His Holiness", a title. Kind of like "Your Honor" (the Judge)" or "Her Majesty" (the Queen). Personally, I worry more about our Senior Senator from Hawaii.

HH does not go into much Buddhist stuff, if at all, in his general public messages...just nice, but genuine and sensible, sound bites. He reserves his serious spiritual teaching for more private venues. Still worthwhile, but I would go to see the Pope too if he came to Hawaii. (Well, maybe not THIS pope.) I am wondering who will follow up in this Peace through Aloha Forum.

Pico Iyer's book was interesting and discussed the "political" aspects of the Tibetan struggle. You might want to check it out.

tao1776 said...

For the lack of a more appropriate word, I think that it's "neat" to be able to say that you went to see the HHDL. Trumps me anyway...:) - Sheltered life I live. I did see "The Who" from nine rows back and once stood in line next to James Taylor and ran into Carly Simon at a Artisan's Fair. What an interesting life you live Jie Jie!