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Lions Roar : May 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2010 95 Dalai Lama continued from page 59 And then, as the event begins to draw to a close, I notice, as listeners always do, how much of his instruction comes just in the way he walks through the world. He much appreciates the ques- tions, he says; they were very good (practical, honest, unqualified). He asks all the young ladies brave enough to stand up in front of their classmates and ask him something to come up onstage, so he can greet them personally and be photographed with them. (I remember when my daughter, seeing him as a schoolgirl in Kyoto, was most moved after another girl asked him an anguished ques- tion about her life and he said, “I don’t know the answer,” but asked her to come onstage so he could just hold her at least.) Then one of the students, a smiling girl of about sixteen from Bangladesh, the winner of a contest, I’m assuming, is asked to deliver a short essay on behalf of the school to its visitor. As she stands on the stage and reads, in fluent Japanese (translated for the Dalai Lama by an assistant), about her feelings returning to her very poor home country and then coming back 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 lis- tening to a teacher of his expound a lesson about the Buddha. He embraces her and gives her a ceremonial white silk scarf. The next day, after we fly back to Tokyo, when he addresses a large audi- ence in a sumo stadium, his biggest public event of the tour, equiva- lent to a talk in Madison Square Garden, he starts, to my surprise, speaking about the student from Bangladesh he’d just met and the story she’d shared with him. Lessons and precepts and stories and practical counsel are filling every moment of his day, as he stops to shake the hand of every waiter after lunch, or suddenly tells me, eyes moistening, how moved he is that Tibetans have brought something of Buddhism back to the country of its birth. I transcribe every mo- ment. But from this particular morning, one thing I take away is how ready he is to learn from a teenage girl and to distill everything he knows for even the smallest and least elevated of settings. When his talk is over and he’s finished going down to shake hands with students in the front rows, posing for photographs with the questioners, draping the head teachers with silk scarves, he’s asked if he’d like to take his lunch in peace, alone. Oh no, no, he says, with absolute conviction. We must all eat together. We go back out into the bright November sunshine, after lunch is over, to the next appointment, and I suspect that this small event on his schedule is as important to him as any meet- ing with a head of state or billionaire. I remember, twelve years earlier, his telling me that the press inevitably makes a big deal out of whether he meets a president or prime minister. But for him the much more important thing is just meeting a single soul, sincere, who may look on her life with a little more confidence and clarity after their talk. That is where the possibility of trans- formation is most great. “Then I really feel I’ve made some con- tribution,” he had said. Change, again, comes not all at once, but with one turning heart and then another. All that’s needed, he might be saying, is attention. ♦ DEERPARK MONASTERY • 2/16/10 Shambala Sun: 1/4 pg 3.5” (w) x 4.75” (h) • GREYSCALE Contact: Steve Child Design (323)420-6907 FINAL MECHANICAL Mindfulness retreats with the Monks & Nuns in the tradition of Zen Master thich nhat hanh CuLTIvATING ACuLTuRE OF AwAKENING people of all ages, eXperiences and backgrounds are warMly welcoMe! for more information and registration: www.tnhtour.org or e-mail: