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Lions Roar : March 2008
He talked about “warm-heartedness” repeatedly, about his mother, about all our mothers, about how we must teach young people not just to be smart but to be compassionate, that Amer- ica is a great country but an arrogant one, and it should vastly expand its Peace Corps. He switched between Tibetan, with the words coming out of his translator flowing and erudite, and Eng- lish, with words that were basic and homespun. He would stop and tap his head and say he forgot what he was going to say, and the crowd laughed and loved him more for being so ordinary. He spoke of the new century as a time for dialogue and “mutual victory,” rather than mutual destruction. Above all, he called for “inner disarmament” that will lead to “external disarmament.” As I wandered from the park, I thought about that disarmament, because “Mr. Disarming” had become my label for the Dalai Lama. I thought about the high bar he’d set for himself as a world spiritual leader, and the desperate facts of the nation he leads, and I realized that the Dalai Lama really is just like you and me, as he so often says. He faces many deep disappointments. Things in the world often do not go the way he would like. But when that happens, he renounces the struggle to make things other than what they are. He lets the way things are become his path. That’s what a monk learns to do. And that’s why the Dalai Lama is a man of peace. ♦ 49 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2008 PHOTOBYJENNYWARBURG “I Love Him So Much”: the Voice of Peace Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park was built as the “town square” for the 1996 Summer Olympics. When you arrive in its envi- rons, you feel you’ve at last found some peace from the sprawl- ing, traffic-congested megalopolis that surrounds it. The Dalai Lama’s public talk on the final day of his visit drew thousands of people from all over the South. Welcoming him, Emory board chair Ben Johnson said the park was a celebration of what was possible for human beings, since Atlanta had partly been chosen for the games because “a city that had once been a hallmark of ethnic division had come to symbolize the degree to which racial harmony can unite a city.” It also represented, he said, the perva- sive impact of violence on our world, because it was here that a bombing by an anti-abortionist killed two, wounded more than a hundred, and ruined the atmosphere of the Olympics. When Congressman John Lewis took the podium, he re- ceived thunderous applause. At the height of the Civil Rights movement, he was chair of the Student Non-violent Coordi- nating Committee, and he has served continuously in Congress since 1986. In the ringing oratory of a more hopeful period, he welcomed the Dalai Lama “to the hometown of Martin Luther King, the leader of the modern-day movement for peace and non-violence in America.” When he and His Holiness hugged vigorously at the end of the talk, and when His Holiness began his remarks with a tribute to King, many people were crying. As the Dalai Lama raised his joined hands above his head— his method of embracing large groups of people—you could sense the warmth coming back. By relating directly to the place, the people, and their history, he made it homey, not generic. He held the huge crowd in his hand. The woman next to me blurted out, “God, I love him so much.” Above: the Dalai Lama’s talk at Centennial Park. Right: with Congressman John Lewis PHOTOBYBRETTWEINSTEIN/THEEMORYWHEEL MAR 42-49.indd 49 MAR 42-49.indd 49 12/19/07 2:13:14 PM 12/19/07 2:13:14 PM