7 Responses to The Dalai Lama vs. The New World Disorder

  1. Dot Walsh says:

    Dear Stefan, So beautifully worded and a message so timely and necessary. Yes wisdom and compassion and the laughter of the Dalai Lama floating over the mountains. I have hope that there will be so many positive reactions to meet the challenges the world faces that eventually the tide will change. In the meantime my heart reaches out to the many people who are suffering in this world as a result of the choices and decisions made by people we call leaders.

  2. Here’s a postscript to my article, drawing one of its lessons more explicitly:

    The contemporary American political situation is so divisive that outrage permeates the cultural landscape. Outrage has its rightful place in the spectrum of human emotions; but how such anger is expressed can often be self-defeating. I suggest that Martin Luther King and the Dalai Lama exhibit how to channel broken-hearted outrage into a mature, enlightened, compassionate passion for social reform.

  3. It’s been suggested that I share some quotes to illustrate Buddhism’s universal pedagogy for personal equanimity, social harmony, and world peace — perhaps more relevant today than ever before. Accordingly, here they are; some with edifying comments; and with a reminder that Martin Luther King nominated Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh for The Nobel Peace Prize.

    1) “I don’t know how Tibetans in exile can be so cheerful, but I do know this: I’m going to study Buddhism for the rest of my life.” (Thomas Merton)

    2) “A Buddha arises for the welfare of all.” (A frequent saying in Buddhist sutras, i.e., sacred texts.)

    3) “Buddhism is all about recollecting the sanity we were born with.” (Chogyam Trungpa; Tibetan sage, instrumental in bringing Buddhist insights to the West in the latter half of the 20th century; co-founder of Naropa Institute in Colorado. His assertion rightfully implies that, in many ways, Buddhism is all about de-conditioning; thus reminding us of the Paul Simon song-line: “When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.”)

    4) “Is it the fault of the sun and the moon that the blind cannot see them?” (Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha; also called Shakyamuni, “Sage of the Shakya Clan”; born a Hindu prince around 550 BCE. Siddhartha tried to do for Hinduism what Jesus later tried to do for Judaism: eliminate the dross of dogmatism and return devotees to an ethic of kindness, compassion, empathy, generosity, humility, simplicity, and universal brother-sisterhood. Buddha and Jesus both met with so much resistance that a new religion was founded in their names.)

    5) “Enlightenment is as close as an unselfish act.” (Robert Thurman; longtime friend of the Dalai Lama; first Westerner to be ordained a Tibetan lama; and America’s foremost interpreter of the Buddhist tradition and its relevance to the postmodern world.)

    6) “What the world needs now is a common religion of kindness. Indeed, the only true religion is a kind heart.” (Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama; exiled spiritual leader of Tibet.)

    7) “Of all the major religions, Buddhism offers the best hope for world peace.” (Albert Einstein)

    8) “When future historians look back, they will say the most important event of the 20th century was the introduction of Buddhism to the West.” (Arnold Toynbee, British historian)

    • LB says:

      Thanks, Stefan. Engaged Buddhism (a term Thich Nhat Hanh came up with and *lived*) has much to offer. Among other Buddhist writings, two of my favorite books are “Living Buddha, Living Christ” by Thich Nhat Hanh and, in a slightly different vein, “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times” by Pema Chodron.

      Free of dogma and legalism, at their heart all great spiritual teachings have the capacity to change the way we view ourselves and the world, and to shape our responses. Unfortunately we humans can sometimes be fixed in our ways and blind to ourselves, capable of distorting, ignoring and misusing even the most profound and beautiful ideas for our own selfish purposes.

      Ironically, it was a Jungian Buddhist author (David Richo, a psychotherapist and former Catholic priest) whose writings got me interested in reading other Jungian authors. It was then my awareness began to change dramatically, as my understanding of both Jesus’ and Buddha’s teachings was enhanced and deepened.

      • Many thanks for your lucid and astute commentary, LB. It takes a lot of talent to express so much wisdom in so brief a space! You are right to call attention to Engaged Buddhism, which, thankfully, is gaining momentum around the globe. Thich Nhat Han’s “Living Buddha, Living Christ” is one of my all-time favorite books, and (in my not-so-humble opinion) one of the most important publications in the latter part of the 20th century. For 40 years I used it very successfully in both my Ethics and Asian Philosophy courses, and many students told me that it changed their lives. And I too was greatly influenced by Jung and Jungian authors, who are some of the most farsighted thinkers and holistic practitioners on the planet. Clearly we are kindred souls; and I thank Engaging Peace for making possible such timely and fruitful connections. … PS: I had the honor of co-writing, with Justice Lewis Randa, the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Awards for the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, which they gratefully and humbly received in very moving ceremonies. If you’re not familiar with The Peace Abbey (Foundation), I’m sure you would find its website fascinating and inspirational. Again, many thanks for your very perceptive comments.

        • LB says:

          Stefan ~ Nice to meet someone influenced by so many of the same amazing teachers. Whether lovely, harsh or painful, I believe every interaction comes in service to teach me something important about myself, the world and what it is I value. It’s an ongoing process, sometimes a struggle, as I learn to walk and speak in ways that plant seeds while moving respectfully through the shared spaces I briefly inhabit. It can be tempting to withhold truth so as not to offend, or, conversely, to sometimes say too much by attempting to forcefully point out contradictions ~ in a past life I must’ve been a student of Plato or Socrates. It’s a delicate balance, difficult to maintain without being misunderstood. Maybe you know what I mean. I’m grateful for our latest exchange as well as your encouragement, which help to remind me.

          What a humbling experience it must have been for you to have actively participated in both the ceremony and creation of awards honoring the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh. I’ve been reading a lot of political philosophy lately, mostly Hannah Arendt. Maybe it’s time for me to return to the writings of our beloved Thay.

          Take care, Stefan. And thanks again for your encouragement and validation.

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