Monday, November 14, 2005

As a simple Zen Buddhist, Wish the Washington Post was a Newspaper

I'm not sure what to make of the gushy reportage of the Washington Post over the Dalai Lama.

About 16,000 people filled much of MCI Center to hear his talk, "Global Peace Through Compassion." Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, introduced him and gushed over the chance "to breathe the same air, in the same room, as His Holiness, the Dalai Lama."

As for His Holiness, he showed much of the charm that has endeared him to audiences around the world, joking, relaxing into a cross-legged position on a chair, and mixing topics both sacred and worldly.

He talked of love and hate, of religion and ethics, of global peace and nuclear weapons.

He talked of malls.

"I like shopping centers," the monk, in gold and crimson robes, confessed in his stilted English, smiling as his audience roared. "Beautiful. When I go [to] these areas, I want this, I want that, I want that," he said, jabbing a finger in the air as though on a spree at Tysons Corner.

"Then, [I] ask myself, you really need that? The answer is no."

His main points, though, were more profound: the need for religious tolerance, the importance of carrying out faith in daily actions and the goal of "internal disarmament" -- combating one's own hatred and anger.

On the one hand, I think the immediacy and ever-presence of one's own greed, and its permeation into the interstices of one's personality is profound, and in fact illustrates the point.

Oh, wait..ah so, the trend of the reportage emerges. See, I had begun this post with the intent of a slight tweak at the Dalai Lama fostering pop-Buddhism....but damn, now the BS of the Washington Post is getting in my way.

"We must make every effort on the grass-roots level. Then there's hope for change," he said.

"We must make every effort on the grass-roots level. Then there's hope for change," he said.

"We must make every effort on the grass-roots level. Then there's hope for change," he said....

"He's not trying to make money. He has a good feeling and wants to share that," said Kathleen Dougherty, 32, a museum worker from Takoma Park.

The Dalai Lama's speech was his main event that was open to the public during his 10-day trip to Washington. Tickets ranged from $16 to $101...

The Dalai Lama exchanged views with brain researchers at a three-day conference on meditation. He addressed thousands of neuroscientists at the Washington Convention Center. He toured the Booker T. Washington Public Charter School for Technical Arts in Northwest Washington, donating $10,000 to the school.

It's the cartoon Buddhism of the Dalai Lama, as presented by the Washington Post. Not that I fault the Dalai Lama for it; I don't. But the Buddhism-of-the-Dalai-Lama-as-presented-by-the-Washington-Post is not the Buddhism that actually transcends suffering, and probably isn't the Dalai Lama's own Buddhism.

But here's my nudge: the Dalai Lama knows this, and no doubt in his calculus of help versus hurt comes up with the decision to ride it. Well, that's OK, but it sure ain't all of Buddhism.

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