Sunday Sermons from the Dalai Lama

| 5/9/2011 9:23:20 AM

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A week after the country celebrated the death of Osama bin Laden, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and his followers quietly occupied a hockey arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to meditate on the power and possibilities of peace. It was a welcome break from the saber rattling, and a reminder that truly inspiring, lasting leadership requires love and compassion.

To begin the day’s festivities, which included two speeches and a private luncheon at the University of Minnesota, the Dalai Lama delivered a 90-minute tutorial on the central tenants of Tibetan Buddhism. Sitting on a makeshift throne and surrounded by some two dozen monks, he and his longtime interpreter, Geshe Thupten Jinpa, covered a lot of philosophical ground—in particular, an in-depth discussion of the Four Noble Truths.

The central message, however, was as simple as it is elusive: Only when we transcend the concept of self can we begin to eliminate the ignorance that breeds our sufdalai-lamafering. “The notion of ‘I am’ is the source of all problems,” His Holiness said. “It is the source of all other false views and perceptions.”

Consciousness has no beginning or end, the audience learned, since it evolves over an individual’s past lives. Proof that there is no such thing as a static, personally defined “self.” Only when a person recognizes this truth can he or she become truly compassionate toward the suffering of fellow beings. “Pain brings anger. Pleasure brings attachment,” said the 75-year-old teacher, draped in red and yellow robes. “A serious practitioner [of the Buddhist faith] meditates on impermanence—from that evolves mindfulness . . . Once you develop some awareness about overcoming adversity, then you can see that same potential in others.” 

Throughout the morning, His Holiness frequently broke into his unmistakably mischievous laugh, particularly infectious because he is usually laughing at himself. His heartiest chuckle came after he leaned into his microphone to tell the crowd, eyebrows raised for dramatic effect, that in “one of my many, many, many previous lives I was the President of Egypt.” 

steve eatenson
6/1/2011 6:11:38 PM

True wisdom for our time but I'm afraid that for most of humankind to evolve to the level of understanding the Dali Lama has achieved will take too long....we will have destroyed ourselves long before then. This is the same problem Jesus faced and look what they did to him.

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