Sunday, January 20, 2013

The pedophile the Dalai Lama...

This post is not what you think it might be about.  I was reading this post by Barbara about conditioning and the "struggle within," which is overall a post with which I can agree, support, etc. etc. 

In the post Barbara referred to the Dalai Lama as "His Holiness the Dalai Lama." 

And I said to myself, "Why does she refer to him as His Holiness?"  I was reminded of the parent company of, the New York Times Company, and their stylistic view (at least it was in the past) of how people are mentioned in the paper: the person's name is always introduced as it is commonly known) first, followed by "Mr." or "Ms." if it's only an ordinary person, and "Governor" or "President" or "Pope" etc. if it's someone else.  That was the policy of the NY Times; it may still be, I haven't checked lately.  So, if Meat Loaf were his real name, the 2nd reference to him would presumably be "Mr. Loaf."

I try (often fail) to maintain stylistic conventions with this blog: I try to render names in kanji/hanzi whenever I can, and I don't  refer to the Dalai Lama as "His Holiness." 

Why "His Holiness?"

In my last post I referenced Rinzai's written sayings, and how such things as robe colors, moods, etc. are "just things we put on." So "His Holiness" is a robe, an aspect, a rendering of the Dalai Lama. You could call the guy down the street as "His Holiness" too.  Might be a good practice. "His Holiness Rush Limbaugh." He probably wouldn't get the point though, at least not within 24 hours of when this post appears.   

So it is with the most socially repulsive folks in our society as well.  They're not separate from us. They're not us, but they're not not us either. 

Ultimately, I am not so concerned as to why Barbara's stylistic conventions differ from mine. It's not important except as a means to practice, and  we're fellow practitioners practicing amidst our own aggregates, and that's profound.


Barbara O'Brien said...

"Why 'His Holiness?'"

Because I like him and it pleases me to call him that. But I call anyone by whatever title is conventional within his or her tradition, out of consideration for my readers who are following Tibetan or other not-Zen schools. For example, I call the Karmapa "His Holiness," too, out of respect for the Kagyu Tibetan Tradition, because that's what he's called in that tradition. If a revered teacher in another school were to be called "Lord High Pooh-Bah and His Altitude the Forty-Seventh Arglebargle," then I call him that, too, at least on first mention. It costs me nothing, and it is respectful of other people's sensibilities and perspectives. (If a Zen teacher wanted to be called "holiness," however, I would consider it fishy.)

I understand we could quibble over the appropriateness of the word "holiness" in a Buddhist context, but that's something for the Tibetans to work out for themselves, not me.

Mumon K said...

Yeah, you have a different set of tasks than I do. :-)

I do find those style conventions in general kind of odd.