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Lions Roar : July 2019
name for the book. But he did indeed wish to stress the princi- ples and qualities that lie beyond the claims of any one tradition. We all know how easy it is to lecture about the golden rule, but how can we live it? His Holiness tells a large audience to try saying hello to their neighbors and to smile at strangers in the street. A few weeks later, I meet a young drifter who tells me that he now does that all the time, because it’s such a direct and everyday lesson. The Dalai Lama admits he doesn’t know the answer to many a question—especially about marriage and raising children— and sometimes, unable to offer a solution, simply invites a questioner up to the stage so he can hold her. As we hear how the leader of the Tibetans begins his prayers each morning thinking about his “Chinese brothers and sisters,” every one of us, in Kashmir and Jerusalem and Nicaragua, can think about how we might deal with the people we too reflexively think of as enemies. His Holiness, I often recall, has been espousing the doc- trine of globalism since before the rest of us had heard the term. Buddhism has given him a vision of Indra’s Net, an infinite web of interconnection, which has helped him see how a small act here can have large consequences there, long before the internet (and the global marketplace) offered con- firmation of the principle. Put another way, His Holiness is so deeply rooted in his own tradition that he can be fully open to every other—and has cherished the opportunity to be stu- dent as well as teacher, the first Dalai Lama to circle the planet and learn about technology and globalism and international affairs first-hand. Over the years I’ve watched as the Dalai Lama, always radi- cally pragmatic, has adjusted his message to his audience. He will discuss the most rarefied epistemology when he’s speaking to philosophers and, visiting a junior high that same afternoon, speak for the child he once was, who tried to win the affections of a parrot in the Potable Palace through bribes, even as the parrot remained loyal to the humble servant who truly loved him. I see the Tibetan’s eyes mist up as he remembers the saddest moment in his life—when the bodyguards who had protected him on his journey into exile in 1959 turned back and rode toward their deaths. I hear him talk, with no embarrassment, about how, when his senior tutor died, he felt bereft—until he realized that the best way to honor that beloved man was by carrying his teachings into a new generation. THE BRIGHT-EYED, EARNEST PHILOSOPHER I met when he was in his thirties is eighty-four this summer. He is, as he always stresses, prey to the same afflictions—and sorrows— as the rest of us. He doesn’t travel as much as he once did, even I MADE THE DALAI LAMA SMILE MY HEART FILLS WITH JOY, WELLS UP WITH warmth, and tears spring to my eyes when I think of His Holiness. When I am down, I meditate on his teachings and remind myself how he has endured many difficulties in his life. When I fall, I remember what he told me, “You are an artist who creates beautiful art,” and I rise again. I don’t adore him blindly just because he is “The Dalai Lama.” I admire him because he walks his talk. He says that we humans are all the same and he sees each person as his brother or sister. I have wit- nessed many times how he treats everyone equally— rich or poor, famous or unknown, adults or children, healthy or sick, Tibetan or non-Tibetan. He doesn’t dwell on any emotion. One morning I had a private audience in New York, and I was his first visitor that day. His secretaries finished a meet- ing and came out from the audience room, and His Holiness greeted me with a big smile and said, “Oh, it is you!” He held my hand warmly, but he seemed downhearted. There was a tense energy lingering in the room. I became nervous as I did not know what was going on. After exchanging the traditional white scarves, I offered him a portrait of his late dog that I had painted. His face lit up with joy, and he became very cheerful. We had a wonderful conversation. Later that day, I heard that right before my visit His Holiness was informed that President Obama had cancelled their meeting. He must have felt so disappointed, since his meeting with Obama was the main agenda for his U.S . visit. I am happy to have had that opportunity to make him smile. He inspires millions of people every day, and I pray for his long and healthy life, and for an easier and happier next life. RIMA FUJITA is an artist and the illustrator of the board book The Day the Buddha Woke Up. Meaningful Moments with the Dalai Lama LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 43