This past weekend I was lucky enough to get to see the Dalai Lama on his five-day trip to Seattle. He was here for an event called Seeds of Compassion. The event was focused around compassionately teaching and caring for children. On Tuesday they will be busing in thousands of children from around the area to see the Dalai Lama in person. All in all it’s quite an amazing effort to reach out to a world that often times forgets what compassion truly looks like and its importance in fostering a new generation of caring individuals. And who better to get the message across than the Dalai Lama, right?
While I could write pages about the amazing day, I wanted to focus on a few things the Dalai Lama said that I think have direct relevance to us and our fight for a better future for all.
First off, in his opening remarks, the Dalai Lama said that he would be dying eventually as all people do and that in this regard it was important that youth continue the good fight, as it will be our world. I think we all know this, but it was nice to hear it from the Dalai Lama himself.
Second, the Dalai Lama routinely issued a call to action of sorts. I think it easy to forget that the Dalai Lama isn’t some exalted being who meditates in isolation all day. Yes, he is one of our greatest spiritual leaders, but he is also the head of an exiled government and a spokesperson for a nation under siege. At the event, he gently criticized religion, prayer and other forms of false action, reminding us that living compassionate lives is really the absolute end game, all the rest is just talk. If I can take this a step further into eco-territory, it is important that we walk the talk as well in our daily lives, especially as it relates to teaching the next generation what will be necessary if they are to inherit a livable world.
The third and final point that I’ll recount was the Dalai Lama’s unexpected questioning of the role of fear in teaching our children. He was onstage with some of the greatest scientific leaders in the study of childcare, all of them exalting the role of compassion in educating our children, and he asked them if fear might also play a role. He told us that his teacher when he was young had kept a whip next to his desk and it had certainly helped him pay attention. Again, allow me to wander into eco-territory and remind us of the place that fear has already played in the movement; It’s called Katrina and the fear and despair it injected into the climate change community is still being played out. The Dalai Lama did make sure to stress that although fear has a place in education, it should always be eclipsed by the role of compassion and I think we could all adopt that equation in our fight to build this movement. Remind people that if they get out of line (continue to emit carbon, buy that shiny new Hummer) then there will be fearful repercussions but first, we should be focusing on solutions and care for our planet.
All told, I was impressed with how down to earth and real the Dalai Lama was and happy to be a part of such a great effort to bring a compassionate and caring new generation into this world.