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Lions Roar : September 2006
“HIS HOLINESS is ready for you now,” an assistant announced. I have done thousands of interviews in thirty-five years as a journalist. This one was scaring the shit out of me. The night before, I had reviewed my questions and my strategy. I cued up the tape to the message from his nephew that I had recorded in Tibet and prac- ticed how I would suggest the Dalai Lama attach the headset to his ears. I tried to make myself pure, know- ing full well if I had one impure thought he would be able to see right through me and terminate the inter- view then and there. I nibbled simply on fruits and nuts, no alcohol. I even resisted pleasuring myself. Now, as I stood and gathered up my parapherna- lia, I went into a panic. I had not studied—or even bothered to ask anyone—the protocols involved when meeting a Tibetan lama, much less the highest ranking lama. The one rule, which seems to be appropriate upon meeting any Buddhist priest of any rank throughout Asia, is “Look but don’t touch.” I decided I would bow with palms together, but not extend my hand, as is the almost involuntary gesture Western men make with each other. Journalist PERRY GARFINKEL’s interview with the Dalai Lama was to be the culmination of his twenty-week study of Buddhism in the West. Full of preconceptions about meeting such a renowned spiritual leader, he found himself unexpectedly— and delightfully—disarmed. He Had Me at Hello PHOTOCOURTESYOFAUTHOR Perry Garfinkel 66 SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006