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Lions Roar : May 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2010 56 the Kita Kyushu Dome on his usual themes of compassion and responsibility. The previous weekend, in Tokyo, he’d spent a whole day speaking to Chinese individuals living in Japan—looking for common ground, as always—and then had devoted one and a half days to talking to the international media. But now he’s giving himself to the schoolgirls as attentively and enthusiastically as if he were visiting the White house or the vatican. Japan is the strongest Buddhist nation in the world, of course—until China comes around. More to the point, it’s also one of the only ones that opens its doors to the Dalai Lama. not the least of the ironies of his life is that the most visible and probably most respected Buddhist in the world is not invited to Buddhist sri Lanka or Burma or Thailand or vietnam, because they fear the consequences from China. Japan, however, is pow- erful enough to risk his presence, and the Dalai Lama, in turn, has long turned to Japan for instruction in mixing modern in- novation with ancient tradition, and in blending efficiency with humility, hard work with a wish to do better. The previous spring I spent two days with him in santa Barbara, and did an event with him at new york’s Town hall, but I see him most engaged in the Buddhist part of his public life as he travels around Japan and thinks about how to make strong and deep the future of Mahayana Buddhism. now, as the girls sit silently before him in the school audito- rium, he offers something of a lesson in “skillful means.” With fellow monks and philosophers, I’ve seen, on this trip as on ev- ery other, he will quickly dive into texts and exchange ideas and explanations with the excitement of a lifelong scholar; but with As a girl from Bangladesh speaks about coming from her very poor home country to affluent Japan, where it’s so easy to take everything for granted, the Dalai Lama watches her intently, never taking his eyes off her, as if he were listening to a teacher of his expound a lesson about the Buddha. The Dalai Lama with student speakers during a visit to a high school in Fukuoka, Japan. PhoToByTaIKanusuI