The Dalai Lama
Finally, the Dalai Lama was formally invited to visit a President in the White House. This week the Dalai Lama visited the White House prior to receiving the Congressional Gold Medal at the U.S Capitol. Finally, the leaders of the most powerful democracy in the world have stopped being bullied by China and have recognized one of the great spiritual leaders in the world, who is also a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
All the issues about lack of leadership in Washington D.C. that have been addressed here on this blog aside, hearty congratulations to the U.S. Congress and to President Bush for honoring one of the greatest living human beings on the planet. This is the first time a President has ever stood with the Dalai Lama in a public ceremony. Every U.S. President over the past four decades has been bullied by China to not give any public recognition to the spiritual leader of Tibet. This week, while President Bush compromised and met the His Holiness in the private part of the White House and not the Oval Office, and did not allow pictures, he did have his picture taken with him at the ceremony at the Capitol.
I have long admired the current Dalai Lama. I have casually studied Tibetan Buddhism and find it one of the more enlightened and open of all religions. I will never forget a day, when, as a young man, I first encountered the spiritual high of Tibetan Buddhists. I was in Nepal in the early 1970s and went to visit the Tibetan cultural center outside Kathmandu. I walked into a large room where some 50 Tibetans were chanting and making items for the tourist trade to support their community. Within a minute I was aware of my changed state as the high, happy vibrations in the room permeated my being. I also will never forget the one time I met the Dalai Lama at a small event. He shook and held my hand, looked into my eyes and smiled. I had a sense of peace that lasted for several days.
I have always been outraged at China for the take over and then systematic destruction of Tibet. If a country regards the Dalai Lama as a bad guy, it makes one question the moral and political character of that country. The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. To me that says it all. I have also had a â€œFree Tibetâ€ bumper sticker. So that is my disclaimer.
The Dalai Lama is the personification of peace. When the Nobel Prize committee awarded him the Peace Prize in 1989, it said, in part:
“The Dalai Lama has developed his philosophy of peace from a great reverence for all things living and upon the concept of universal responsibility embracing all mankind as well as nature. In the opinion of the Committee the Dalai Lama has come forward with constructive and forward-looking proposals for the solution of international conflicts, human rights issues, and global environmental problems.”
That is the leadership and vision the world needs right now and in the future. When asked to present his basic philosophy, the Dalai Lama once said: â€œ Be happy. Act with kindness and treat everyone you meet as a friendâ€. As humanity moves into a new age and is worried about the future, there could be few better guidelines to follow than that one.