Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hello Dalai!

Photo by Mike Siegel/Seattle Times

Photos by Alan Berner/Seattle Times

The Dalai Lama is in Seattle for a jam-packed 5-days to promote a series of panels and events focused on compassion. Ken and I saw him yesterday at the Key Arena session, focusing on raising children compassionately and calling attention to organizations that work with foster families, orphanages and parents to concentrate on this goal.

What is impressive about the Dalai Lama is that he truly embodies the humble, compassionate ideal that you hear and read about. Though the Dalai Lama may not say anything earth-shattering or conceptually new, the fact that he exists to say it and live it seems to be where the magic is for me. Just seeing his earnestness as he bows to all his fellow panelists & the audience and his exuberance as he navigates the questions and dialogue is cleansing to the soul. Watching and listening to him is like looking at the world through the eyes of a child, only this guy is 72. Can you imagine looking at the world with such optimism and non-jadedness? Even in my 30's, so much already colors my perception of people and situations before they even have a chance to play out.

He spoke in short sections during the panel, giving his opinion where needed and punctuated the beginning and the end of the panel with thoughts about how to live with compassion. From former speeches I'd seen, I would have thought his English skills were slightly better. But as it was, he seemed to understand a fair amount and did speak the majority of his own answers but had a very skilled interpreter (pictured above) to assist him. There was one panelist who I thought was rather inconsiderate of His Holiness because while he was rolling out a question in his methodical, thoughtful manner, she kept saying "yes..." every few words. It was to signal that she understood what he was saying but it effectively interrupted him each time and after the 3rd or 4th time, I wanted to throw something at her.

My last observation about the Dalai Lama is that he is well accessorized. As you can see in the pictures above, he wore his traditional saffron-colored robe with a matching bag and visor. I love the visor and I am so glad someone at the Seattle Times got a picture of that. I feel fortunate that we were able to get time mid-day on a Friday to attend and come away with inspiration to think beyond our own trappings and realize that just by approaching a person or situation with openness and compassion, it is so simple yet so powerful in paving the way for a positive outcome.

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