The Buddhist magazine Tricycle (a 2009 Utne Independent Press Award nominee) has unearthed something quite precious from their archives: a 1991 interview with the Dalai Lama conducted by the late writer and monologue master Spalding Gray. The conversation is colored by the kind of blunt truths Gray was famous for. It’s a great exploration of the fundamental tenets of Tibeten Buddhism, and it’s also hilarious:
Spalding Gray: We’ve both been traveling these last weeks and the most difficult thing that I find on the road is adjusting to each location, each different hotel. And I don’t have the centering habits you do. I have a tendency to want to drink the alcohol, which, as you said in an earlier interview, is the other way of coping with despair and confusion. I have a feeling that you have other methods for adjusting. Just what are some of your centering rituals and your habits when you come into a new hotel?
The Dalai Lama: I always first inquire to see “what is there.” Curiosity. What I can discover that is interesting or new. Then, I take a bath. And then I usually sit on the bed, crosslegged, and meditate. And sometimes sleep, lie down. One thing I myself noticed is the time-zone change. Although you change your clock time, your biological time still has to follow a certain pattern. But now I find that once I change the clock time, I’m tuned to the new time zone. When my watch says it’s eight o’clock in the evening, I feel sort of sleepy and need to retire and when it says four in the morning I wake up.
Spalding Gray: But you have to be looking at your clock all the time.
And then there is this gem:
The Dalai Lama: As a Buddhist monk, I usually have no solid meal after lunch, no dinner. So that is also a benefit.
Spalding Gray:When I passed your room last night, I saw six empty ice-cream sundae dishes outside your door.
Translator (after much laughter): It was members of the entourage.