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Lions Roar : March 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2008 46 I had to grope for my seat in the cool darkness to take in the mo- ment: “Did I just hear all of the buddhadharma in one verse?” The following day, he was installed as a Presidential Distin- guished Professor at Emory, to carry further the relationship started in 1998 with the Emory–Tibet partnership, an interdis- ciplinary program that fosters a dialogue between Tibetan and Western disciplines. During the ceremonial parts of the event, he was duly professorial at turns but also impish and playful, almost doing shtick. If one of the many presenters fumbled with their script, he held it for them. At the critical moment in the ceremony the university president was unable to juggle both his microphone and his text, so His Holiness held the mike. For a moment the president just burbled, disarmed. But when it came time for his lecture, the Dalai Lama propelled us into a deep Buddhist analysis of cause and effect. They depend upon each other, he said. It’s not as simple as effect follows cause. They transcend temporality. Furthermore, there is no present moment that we can locate (try it), and therefore no past and future. Just like that: There is no time. The assembled luminaries, and the ordinary folk like me, were flummoxed. It was more than a semantic trick. He meant it. I was starting to get used to the DL one-two punch: disarm and dismantle. Warm heart, cool mind. Beyond Enemies: the National Leader Joseph Stalin famously quipped, “The Pope? How many divi- sions does he have?” The Dalai Lama commands the same num- ber (zero), but the similarity ends there. The vast land of Tibet, its 2.6 million population, and the 130,000 exiles in the Tibetan diaspora are not at all like the urban enclave of the Holy See. The Dalai Lama is more than a spiritual leader. He leads a nation. His role could not be more complex. It was indeed a shining moment when he received the Congressional Gold Medal in the Capitol rotunda, in the presence of Congress, the president, and a large delegation of Tibetan luminaries. It’s a great recognition of the people he leads and represents to the world, but as I watched him during the ceremony (on video) he seemed awkward at times, maybe even more disarmed and disarming than usual. One can’t say, but perhaps part of that unsettledness comes from knowing that as great and numerous as the accolades he receives may be, the condition of the Tibetan nation is dire. While Tibet is more open than in the past and religion can be practiced more freely, its future is at best uncertain and at worst very, very bad. While His Holiness may be carefree (“If there is a solution for a problem, no point in being overwhelmed and worrying, and if there is no solution for a problem, no point in being overwhelmed and worrying about it.”), he clearly cares. He wakes up each day As amateur scientist: Discussing the treatment of depression at the fifteenth Mind & Life Institute meeting in Atlanta. PHOTOBYMIGUELROVIRA/THEEMORYWHEEL MAR 42-49.indd 46 MAR 42-49.indd 46 12/19/07 2:13:05 PM 12/19/07 2:13:05 PM