Last Saturday, I had the chance to fly to Portland for a couple days to hear the Dalai Lama speak.
I cannot express how blessed I was that the Dalai Lama event fell on some of my days off from working on a Hotshot crew here in Idaho—I was lucky to even get tickets. And the things that His Holiness said were applicable to my life on a number of levels.
However, I think that everything he said applies to us more generally and more importantly as the people of the world—as global citizens. He spoke as a man of Tibetan Buddhism, of love, of ecology and of good intentions.
And his sense of humor isn’t half bad either; he made countless jokes and puns throughout his address and left the audience in both giggles and tears on a myriad of occasions.
I am in love with the Dalai Lama and it is clear that he is in love with the entire world—a true Buddhist.
Here are some of the most beautiful statements I gleaned from the event:
[On climate change]…”In early part of my life, not knowing enormity of the issue, then gradually as I had my own experience and meeting with specialists on the environment…it’s a very serious matter.” [On impermanence and taking care of the earth]…”Taking care of the world simply means taking care of your own home. After all, the whole universe, the Milky Way, the galaxy itself is moving. The direction our galaxy is moving is the same direction another galaxy is moving. So after many years, CRASH! No moving. Impermanence. I don’t think any danger. So anyway, things are moving and changing different position. There’s no other place to escape. Moon? I think not for centuries. Dance in its light, but if we go up there [to the moon], that will be impossible.” [On his political views and creativity]…”Perhaps I am a socialist. As far as social economy is concerned, I am Marxist. Without freedom, no human creativity properly functions.”
[On friendship and love]…”Human friendship, human affection–these are most important. Ultimately the source of joyful life is within ourselves…not money.”[On population growth] …”Ultimately there is too much precious life. I think smaller precious life.” [On stewardship]…”Buddha was born under a tree. He was enlightened under a tree. He died under a tree. Monastic precepts require monks to cultivate trees and the next monks take care of them.” [On codependent arising]…”Ultimately interconnectedness comes from Buddhism…you call ‘mothercentric’ thinking. The future of seven billion people is interconnected—we must increase the concept of ‘we’ to seven billion people…not thinking about this life, heaven, or nirvana, just building a happy society. We have to act according to reality, even in religious belief.” [On research]…”Analytical recitation is based on critical thinking…that develops conviction. Realistically, your mind should be open and not biased.”
[On compassion]…”Loving kindness is the wish for others to be happy. Karma means affection, action and research.”[How can we keep ourselves from sinking into sadness or despair?]…”Be realistic. Realistically, now global warming and the position of the world is changing. When we face problems, tragedy, you must analyze it. If that tragedy you don’t overcome, don’t worry, make some effort. If you can’t overcome it, don’t worry too much. Just accept the situation. Trying to do some other things is better.” [On attachment]…”For the moment, you feel this is the reality, so detach. Then you are becoming objective.”
The cornucopia of events surrounding the issue of climate change today is vast—the biggest cornucopia of problems we have experienced as a human race.
The global average temperature has risen by an entire degree and the sea has risen half a foot. Drought is more prevalent. Food is harder to come by. Water is even harder to come by. Birds are literally flying away from the changes in habitat that they are forced to confront. Some are less lucky…they have to stay in their homes because they have nowhere to go.
While it is a known fact that the world goes through cycles of climate change, it is also a known fact that we, as humans, are anthropogenic forcers of global climate change; as politically charged of an issue as it is, humans are acting as catalysts in the process of climate change.
This issue is hard for animal species (and cultures) with no way to defend themselves or no voice with which to speak up for themselves in order to advocate change. I think the issue is hard, too, for politicians to talk about because they fear the accusation (or condemnation) of being either overly leftist or of not confronting the issue at all.
But the Dalai Lama said that we should first detach ourselves from the situation in order to become objective. Forget about politics. Forget about money. Forget about territory, borders, or ego. Become objective and look at the world from the standpoint of a steward—a steward who regards his or her immediate surroundings with an insurmountable level of love and care.
He used a different approach—a more holistic, an all-encompassing [a Buddhist!] one, which advocates for action, non-attachment and good intention. His plan advocates for love of all sentient beings. Love for each other. Love for friends. Love for our own home—the world.
Do not despair and do not try to control the things you cannot change. Start by taking care of yourself and your own home, he said. All our individual futures as people are interconnected—the Buddhist concept of codependent arising, which also relates to deep ecology in effect.
The Dalai Lama directly advocated for a secular effort to combat climate change and to embrace its effects; this effort should occur in unison and with love, cooperation and only good intentions in mind.
The things the Dalai Lama said about attachment, the earth, love and friendship were so resonant in my mind. I was awestruck at the opportunity I had to be so close to such an important figure in the world…he is so gentle, funny and well-demeanored…truly a humble individual.
I felt grateful for my own life, my family, my true friends, the landscape I live in and the opportunity I have to experience so many amazing things in this world.
His words touched my heart deeply and made me think about the things I am doing and the goals I have…everything fit seamlessly with all the research I’ve been doing and all the things I’ve been writing as of late. More importantly, the Dalai Lama made me think about the places I’ve been putting my heart lately…the wrong places. He made me realize that love and friendship should start within yourself and spread to those who deserve it…who need it—to yourself, the world, and people in need.
The things you can’t change…don’t focus on them. Leave them alone. Focus on other things. That’s a better use of time, and time, as all of us know, isn’t infinite.
The surprise Red Hot Chili Peppers show at the end of the event wasn’t too bad either!
Jenna Penielle Lyons was born in Portales, New Mexico among sage and sand. Raised in Pocatello, Idaho among the black rock and juniper, she grew up wandering in cowboy boots, running, riding bikes, skiing, climbing, painting, and studying classical ballet. She is a scholar of English Literature, a poet, painter, photographer, musician, and outdoorswoman. She winters in Missoula and spends the summer working for Snake River Hotshots. She is a lover of mountain bluebirds & elephants, tea & good coffee, Carl Jung, Salvador Dali, skiing, climbing in the desert, yoga, harp music, and sagebrush. Her favorite foods are borscht and any combination of chocolate and cayenne pepper. Follow her adventures at http://www.thelyonsroarliterature.wordpress.com.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise