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Lions Roar : July 2019
BRAVE, HUMBLE, HONEST THE FIRST TIME I WAS IN THE PRESENCE of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was in 2009 at a public teaching in Switzerland. I had recently taken refuge vows and was very new to Buddhism. I remember being incredibly impressed when His Holiness began to take questions from members of the audience. These were not questions and answers prepared in advance; it was simply people raising their hands and asking anything they wanted of His Holiness, one of the world’s most well- known religious leaders. The courage, hon- esty, and willingness to be utterly transparent is something I will never forget. I don’t think there are many in his position who would be brave enough to do the same. What also struck me was His Holiness’ humility. During that session, a woman in the audience asked him what she should do about the difficulties she was having in rais- ing her teenage daughter. His Holiness was quiet for a long while and then simply said: “I don’t know.” Finally, at the end of the day’s teaching he opened the floor to questions once again and an individual suggested to His Holiness he should end the day by leading everyone in a round of chanting the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum.” His Holiness thought for a moment and then said, “Better if we sit in silence for a few minutes.” MICHAEL IMPERIOLI is an actor, writer, and director known for his role on The Sopranos. Monks and scholars, just as you test gold By burning, cutting and polishing it, So too well examine my speech. Do not accept it merely out of respect. It is little wonder then that in 1987, when asked by Chilean neuroscientist Francisco Varela and American businessman Adam Engle to host a week-long, open-ended private discus- sion with scientists from around the world, His Holiness “leapt at this idea,” as he says. The first meeting, in Dharamsala, marked the beginning of the biannual meetings of the Mind and Life Institute. These have continued, and many illuminating essays and scientific papers have come out of these gatherings, on physics, philoso- phy of science, neuroscience, biology, and genetics. His Holiness has continued to maintain his love of mod- ern science and to see its benefits for informing religious faith. He has stood by his earlier claim that, “If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learn- ing from science about aspects of reality where its under- standing may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.” A BODHISATTVA FOR OUR TIME His Holiness often concludes his talks with another passage from Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara, solemnly praying: And now, as long as space endures As long as there are beings to be found, May I continue likewise to remain To drive away the sorrows of the world. His words are often simple and pragmatic, and always kind and sincere. But the Dalai Lama is far more, even, than his most skillful words. He exhibits a kind of constancy that assures us that his intentions are good and true. His Holi- ness demonstrates how we should live—with kindness to all beings, taking responsibility for their well-being. In his tire- less efforts to serve all sentient beings, we see the joyful work of a true bodhisattva—which gives us a glimpse of our own innate potential. ♦ LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 53