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Thread: Guess who's coming to Dharma...

  1. #1

    Guess who's coming to Dharma...

    I am really lucky! I went to Hamburg in July not to miss the chance to meet the Dalai Lama once in my lifetime – and he is back already, right at my front door!

    The setting of his lecture is rather unusual. The whole thing will take place in a open air museum of local history, kind of an amusement park – between carousels and medieval cottages! About 20 miles from Frankfurt. Restrictions on photography seem not as strict as elsewhere, so I hope to entertain you with some really unusual pictures.

    The Dalai Lama is immensely popular in Germany. According to a recent survey by the leading SPIEGEL news magazine he is regarded a "role model" by a whopping 44% of German people whereas "our" pope Benedict reaches only 42%. Buddhism is considered "the most peaceable religion" by 43%, christianity by 41%.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet his Holiness at her office on Saturday. Peking is so pissed off, they ordered the German ambassador. Surprise. No further details revealed.

    I like what His Holiness told in Hamburg about his encounters with the American president: "I like George W. Bush. Really! Very simple man."

    My own relationship to the Dalai Lama is hopelessly naive. I am helplessly in love with him, just as with almost any being that enjoys tinkering with mechanics, loves science and allows itself to be hot-tempered. He is already sort of my spiritual granddad and he brings candy on each visit.

    So tomorrow I will just stand with the crowd, grinning and probably thinking something completely stupid like: "When I grow up, I want to be like him."

    Nice weekend all,


  2. #2

    guess who's coming to Dharma

    Hello Mensch:
    Sounds like quite the event--I'll be very interested to hear from you how it goes and what the Dalai Lama has to say. i well remember the first (and so far only) time I heard him give a talk--this was almost 30 years ago at my university--(I'm tellin' you time flies, whether you're having fun or not!).


  3. #3
    Thanks Keishin, here you are (click pictures to enlarge):

    In short: it was an absolutely brilliant day, gorgeous weather, enthralling atmosphere, lots of friends, laughs, tears and mind-clouding drinks. Very different from the more formal event in Hamburg recently. The event was entirely sponsored by a support group of local entrepreneurs, local TV and the taxpayers. Admission was free.

    The Hessenpark is really just a very nice museum park of local history, showing ancient architecture, crafts and some cattle.

    Tibetan spirtuality meets German gemuetlichkeit.

    I arrived early and found a half-decent spot near the stage. A somewhat strange support act was given by a group of Swiss amateurs doing authentic Tibetan chants and dances. Well, they do share the mountains, don't they? By the time His Holiness arrived, about 13.000 people had gathered on the place. There's a hint of Summer of Love in the air.

    His Holiness arriving with minister president (= head of federal state) Roland Koch. The air is filled with flapping Khatas and occasional sobbing.

    His Holiness explaining that his supreme compassion originated from experiences with his particularly warmhearted and loving mother. (Uh oh, I probably got a bit of a problem here.)

    Someone's pet not paying attention despite its Buddha nature.

    People listening.

    To me it was an absolutely unforgettable day. Friends thanked me I had dragged them there. The Dalai Lama will be in Frankfurt for a more formal event in 2009, and of course I'll go there again.

    Well, back to the zafu then...


  4. #4

    The Dalai Lama is a very nice man, very wise in many ways, a great Buddhist scholar, gifted teacher, symbol of peaceful resistance, beautiful human being ... equally foolish, somtimes petty, flesh and blood, sneezing and farting, bozo on the bus like you, me, Dogen, my teacher Nishijima ... probably the Buddha, if we encountered the real human being.

    By coincidence, I once saw the Dalai Lama sneeze in front of hundreds of people at this conference, which happend to be on today's subject: neurological research on meditation. The Dalai did not realize that he had his microphone one and turned beet red. It was wonderful to see the embarrassed, natural response.

    I do not mean to criticize the Dalai Lama in any way, just bring him down to earth. There is an element of hero worship in the West's fascination with that one monk. Anyone interested in the Dalai Lama's teachings must balance them against criticisms such as the following ... ... m&id=11536

    Of course, none of us are exempt from such criticisms. I think.

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5
    Kat, you are right about Switzerland being a Tibetan stronghold. I should have remembered that. The announcements with a strong Swiss accent were funny though.

    Thanks, Jundo, for the links. To me there is nothing wrong in criticising the Dalai Lama or the quirks of Vajrayana practice. And of course there's reasons why I go through the difficulties of a sometimes lonely Soto Zen practice while there's a full-fledged Tibetan temple right in my neighborhood.

    I believe: Buddhism is in ones mind, in ones heart, the rest is religion. Religion is never about truth, religion is just marketing. Organized religion is business, so it's about power. It's always power. Same in Zen. (I have worked in advertising for ages and it really opened my eyes to what religion is.)

    So my attitude towards the Dalai Lama boils down to the question: Is he a convincing buddhist? And I think: Very much so! So I tend to focus on the aspects that help me in my own practise. It's hardly his books, definitely not aged hippies waving khatas, nor the occasional political or ecumenist waffle - but his mere presence, his teachings, really ring something in me. I tend to believe him when he repeats over and over he longs to be "a simple monk". (A monk though who is just gorgeous on stage.)

    If I was asked which teachings impressed me most yet, I'd probably say: the straightforwardness, even acidity, of Sawaki Kodo. As you know, he is a very controversial person, but worst of all: he's dead.



  6. #6

    My wife and I were there too. For us it was a wonderful opportunity to listen to a few words of a very wise man. Mensch: you've described it very nicely, great photos too -- thanks! In case anyone's interested, here's the (english) URL describing the event:


  7. #7
    Dear Mensch,

    A very good standard, I think.

    So my attitude towards the Dalai Lama boils down to the question: Is he a convincing buddhist? And I think: Very much so!
    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8
    Hi Jundo,

    Thank you for the link to that article. As I was reading it, I kept thinking that it could also apply to my religion of birth, Roman Catholicism. I have read similar criticisms about that institution (i.e., that Jesus wouldn't recognize the church as representing his teachings).

    I have often thought that as Buddhism was implanted in various cultures, much of their native/shamanistic beliefs were integrated, again similar to Christianity. I see this in Tibetan and Korean Buddhism.

    I imagine similar things can be said about Japanese Buddhism. What would you say are some native Japanese proclivities that have crept into that country’s Buddhism? Ancestor and emperor worship?

    It would be interesting to see how Buddhism plays out in the West in the next few centuries. I wonder what the Western proclivities that will be imbued in Western Buddhism. Scientific empiricism? Agnosticism? Well, we can see that already, right here at Treeleaf! :wink:


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