(his holinesss) The Dalai Lama is in Oregon, live webcasts...and rocking
May 10, 2013 12:36 AM   Subscribe

The Dalai Lama is hanging out in Oregon, catching a Red Hot Chili Peppers show, describing his environmental awakening, and making his lectures available both live and on demand. I was worried for a bit that it was the 'His Holiness the Dalai Lama brought to you by Nike', but I was wrong, he's just trying to be nice.
posted by jdaura (36 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not to worry. The Dalai Lama is simply wearing a University of Portland visor because he spoke at the Chiles Center on the UofP campus.
posted by Cranberry at 12:56 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


“I was in Tibet until my age was 24. I think Tibet, some people call it the roof of the world, It was very clean, a small population, everything simple,” the Nobel Peace laureate said. “Only after I came to India (did) I first hear, ‘This water, you cannot drink.’ I was very surprised. ... In Tibet, passing through waters, by a stream, we always enjoy. No problem. Then I began to learn.”

He began to learn that waste flows downstream. Imagine his surprise.
posted by three blind mice at 2:17 AM on May 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is it the done thing here to use the honorific “His Holiness” when referring to the Dalai Lama but not, say, the Pope or the Ayatollah of Iran? If so, why?
posted by acb at 3:28 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I swung by Gonzo food cart for lunch today, and Tal, the owner was super amped to be making lunch for him tomorrow.

Small world.
posted by sourbrew at 3:50 AM on May 10, 2013


Is it the done thing here to use the honorific “His Holiness” when referring to the Dalai Lama but not, say, the Pope or the Ayatollah of Iran?

No, it is certainly not the done thing.
Regards,
(his holiness)
posted by Optamystic at 4:31 AM on May 10, 2013


The Dalai Lama is coming to visit the WI legislature next week and every time he's mentioned I can't help thinking "You can be the Dalai Lama, Imma still put it on ya!".
posted by Jpfed at 4:38 AM on May 10, 2013


but not, say, the Pope or the Ayatollah of Iran

Well, in all fairness, the Pope and the Ayatollah don't claim to be re-incarnated. You gotta be really f-n holy to pull off re-incarnation and that's what makes this religious fraud different from all the others.

He's one hell of a showman I'll grant you - as most of these "religious leaders" are - and I imagine he could teach Nike a few things about self-promotion and PR.
posted by three blind mice at 5:00 AM on May 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some of my Buddhist friends sometimes call him "his holiness," which I find pretty over-the-top even though I think the guy is awesome. Some of them sometimes refer to him as "HHDL," which I think is cool enough that I sometimes use it too, despite my resolute non-religiousness.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:08 AM on May 10, 2013


Well, in all fairness, the Pope and the Ayatollah don't claim to be re-incarnated. You gotta be really f-n holy to pull off re-incarnation and that's what makes this religious fraud different from all the others.

See also: His Holiness Kim Jong-Un, God-Emperor of North Korea.
posted by acb at 5:41 AM on May 10, 2013


To be fair, he believes that you are reincarnated* as well.

*well, that's not really the right word, but whatever
posted by Quonab at 6:16 AM on May 10, 2013


'HHDL' makes him sound like some kind of dietary lipid.

which i have to confess is why i continue to use it.
posted by lodurr at 6:44 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Dalai Lama is simply wearing a University of Portland visor because he spoke at the Chiles Center on the UofP campus.

He's an elderly man and bright stage lights bother his eyes, so he usually wears a visor. It seems like it's sort of become a thing when he speaks at a university for them to supply a branded visor (google "dalai lama visor" for examples from many schools, though it takes a while to get past the most recent three of Oregon, Maryland, and Syracuse). Last time I saw him speak (several years ago) he was sporting an unbranded maroon visor (same color as his outer robes).
posted by aught at 6:52 AM on May 10, 2013


Is it the done thing here to use the honorific “His Holiness” when referring to the Dalai Lama but not, say, the Pope or the Ayatollah of Iran?

Only by people who feel a need to ackowledge their respect publicly with an honorific. I suspect there are more people on MeFi who feel this way about the Dalai Lama than the Pope or one of the Grand Ayatollahs, honestly.

Anyhow, since it doesn't translate to an honorific actual Tibetans would use in their own language - in prayers for his long life he is usually referred to by his Tibetan name, Tenzin Gyatso, maybe in combination with the bodhisatva he's connected to, Chenrezig - I'm not sure it matters to the Dalai Lama himself all that much.
posted by aught at 7:13 AM on May 10, 2013


I always watch/read everything that I can on the Dalai Lama.
I find it fascinating how Buddhism influenced Jesus and the early church, and was a known thing in his time (Buddhism started 500+ years prior to Jesus), although IMHO Buddhism has remained truer to it's original form, while Christianity has adopted pieces of every other world religion in the hopes of converting pagans, & bastardizing itself in the process. Out of all the world's religions-I find Buddhism to be the most nonthreatening-most sensible-most logical.
Although, when I see them in doors, it immediately forces me to think of the Catholic church (for just a moment). Still, it would be a honor to meet the Dalai Lama. May he live to a ripe old age, then live again.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 7:32 AM on May 10, 2013


He's one hell of a showman I'll grant you - as most of these "religious leaders" are - and I imagine he could teach Nike a few things about self-promotion and PR.

Yeah, I get pretty sick of the adulation this guy gets. He's an Asian L. Ron Hubbard, and seeing him as anything else is orientalism. The cause he represents is restoring the theocracy he gets to be God-King of.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:17 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, I think that Buddhism and Christianity have had a similar arc. They now have divisions with wide but superficial divisions on doctrine and style with very similar root concepts. The most fundamental difference between Judeo-Christian religions and Buddhism, IMO, comes down to the latter's methodological argument for faith (rather than, say, teleological).

Also, simplifying a person to a caricature to fit your world views is "orientalism", regardless of what that caricature looks like.
posted by selfnoise at 8:23 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


An "Asian L. Ron Hubbard"? Really? Would this be a different L. Ron Hubbard than the one most of the rest of us know about?
posted by lodurr at 8:35 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


simplifying a person to a caricature to fit your world views is "orientalism", regardless of what that caricature looks like.

yup. personally i think treating him as a public intellectual can be an antidote to orientalism. his image does tend to get tied up with hoo-ha, but as influential public intellectuals go, he does seem to try to avoid causing harm to people. that's worth something.
posted by lodurr at 8:37 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


the theocracy he gets to be God-King of.

Dalai Lama Gives Up Political Role
By JIM YARDLEY and EDWARD WONG
Published: March 10, 2011

NEW DELHI — The Dalai Lama announced Thursday that he would formally relinquish his political leadership role in the Tibetan exile government, a decision intended to strengthen the democratic structure of the Tibetan movement on the eve of elections to choose a new generation of political leaders.
posted by neroli at 8:39 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


yup. personally i think treating him as a public intellectual can be an antidote to orientalism. his image does tend to get tied up with hoo-ha, but as influential public intellectuals go, he does seem to try to avoid causing harm to people. that's worth something.

So like Prince Charles, then?
posted by acb at 8:42 AM on May 10, 2013


An "Asian L. Ron Hubbard"? Really? Would this be a different L. Ron Hubbard than the one most of the rest of us know about?

Inasmuch as they were/are incredibly charismatic religious hucksters. Whether it's Thetans or the noble eightfold path, behind every religion there's someone trying to subjugate someone else, but if it's "mystical" and "exotic" it gets a pass.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:13 AM on May 10, 2013


... behind every religion there's someone trying to subjugate someone else, but if it's "mystical" and "exotic" it gets a pass.

I don't buy this.

Sure, Buddhism has human institutions that are no doubt corrupt, like every other human institution since the dawn of time, but the tenets and texts of this religion really are very different than most others. I would suggest you read some. It gets a pass because it's largely a peaceful, tolerant, open-minded religion, with a focus on looking inside for answers, not dominating the world at large.

You're accusing others of "orientalism," but by assuming that the only things any thinking person can respect about Buddhism are how "mystical" and "exotic" it is, I think it's you who are reducing this conversation to simplified stereotypes.
posted by hamandcheese at 9:31 AM on May 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Like most religions, one of Buddhism's core tenets is "don't be a dick" which is good advice. Unlike most religions, though, Buddhism doesn't threaten you with some omniscient celestial bully thus building up a social foundation for authoritarianism, which is then easily manipulated into a strict hierarchical system of behaviour control.

I'm not here trying to sell you something; I'm a humanist at heart. But lumping Buddhism in the same basket with other religions is a mistake.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:59 AM on May 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Lumping Buddhism in with Scientology in particular is a mistake. I'd recommend a healthy investigation into both religions and see how long it takes to notice some differences.
posted by Twain Device at 10:13 AM on May 10, 2013


HHDL = L. Ron Hubbard.

Starring that guy from Saturday Night Fever. Yeah. That sounds about right. I'll strap on my E-meter now, and see if I get lit.

Ommmm ... [ ... can you hear me, Johnny?]
posted by mule98J at 10:32 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Inasmuch as they were/are incredibly charismatic religious hucksters

It sounds like you're not actually familiar with His High Density Lipoproteinness. When he starts trying to convert people to Tibetan Buddhism & signing them up for expensive religious classes, then we can talk about what a religious huckster he is.

Like other people commenting here, I'm what you might call a humanist. (I prefer 'atheist', but that's an argument I won't get into today.) And I usually find something worth thinking about in most of HHDL's speeches. He strikes me as a guy who knows a lot of people are listening (hard) and tries not to let that cause harm.
posted by lodurr at 10:41 AM on May 10, 2013


Actually, a really great built in mechanism is that you aren't supposed to charge for the Dharma/Dhamma. Most legit teachers operate on the basis of Metta donations(and not necessarily money, in fact it's traditionally food when you're dealing with monks). So if someone is asking you for big bucks and they're driving a Lexus, chances are you aren't talking to someone you can learn much from.
posted by selfnoise at 10:56 AM on May 10, 2013


Once, back when I worked in live sound reinforcement, I had the opportunity to work on a concert with the Dalai Lama conducting the Tibet Philharmonic. Everything was jake until they got to Holst's The Planets, and during "Jupiter", the brass section just wasn't coming through like they should. So I went up into the catwalk to adjust the mics I had flown overhead. Well, to make a long story short, I lost my grip, fell, and found myself on the horns of a dalai lama.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:56 AM on May 10, 2013


Bad Herodios! Bad! Go to your room!
posted by lodurr at 11:06 AM on May 10, 2013


Strewth! You can read all about it in the Daily Lama.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:11 AM on May 10, 2013


And when you die, on your death bed, you'll receive total consciousness. So you've got that going for you.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:56 AM on May 10, 2013




When he starts trying to convert people to Tibetan Buddhism & signing them up for expensive religious classes, then we can talk about what a religious huckster he is.

Not only does the Dalai Lama not actively try to convert anyone to Tibetan Buddhism, but he makes a big effort to encourage people who already have a spiritual tradition to find answers in the "have compassion and care for others" aspects of their own traditions. He has made a point of this every time I have heard him give a talk.

Also, many Tibetan Buddhists don't actually consider Buddhism a religion, because it lacks a "creator God," which they see as the essential element of what they see in [other] religions. (The historical Buddha was a man who achieved enlightenment, not a god.)
posted by aught at 1:47 PM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Dalai Lama announced Thursday that he would formally relinquish his political leadership role

It's worth noting that the "formal" aspect of this relinquishment is that he has had very little to do with the government in exile's operations for a long time. Giving dharma talks and advocating the plight of the Tibetan people to non-Tibetans have been his work.
posted by aught at 2:10 PM on May 10, 2013


I think it's mistake to elevate Buddhism above other religions or to even take it a step further and say it's not a religion. It's an outgrowth of Hinduism, which is most certainly a religion, and though some aspects don't have Creator Gods in them, most of the practice forms have various forms of supernatural entities that are at least venerated (or appeased, or avoided altogether).

Buddhists nations still go to war, both with each other and with nations of other religions. Buddhist governments and people still oppress those outside religious orthodoxy (case in point point). They still pressure people to subscribe to their religious beliefs. They still use beliefs as a bludgeons on others. They still extort money. They can still be used to maintain pride in ignorance or to rail against rationality and science. They do all of the things that religions do at the worst of times.

Now, that is not to say that there isn't a great good that both Buddhism and the Dali Lama, but rather to say it's not manifestly singular in the good or evil its followers give the world. There are many devout Christian, Jewish, or Muslim leaders that are just as enlightened, that dedicate their lives to the uplifting of humanity. We, of course, are more familiar with the gap between ideal and real with a religion like Christianity (where it is often the default), but fail to see the same in a religion where most of the followers are converts and it's a minority religion in a country.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:42 PM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


lord chancellor hath an excellent point: 'religion' is not the same as 'belief in a creator god'.

I would add that buddhism has provided some powerful tools of oppression in its own time. One example: the concept of 'life as pain' can be and has been used as an explanation of why it's fruitless to struggle for change. Another: warriors throughout asia drew lessons from Buddhist practice that greatly improved their ability to kill people.

It's not rock-candy mountain. It's a religion -- in its modern forms, usually a more benign one than many others, but its lack of a creator-god doesn't give it a pass.

But it's also still true that His High-Density Lipoproteinness doesn't try to convert anybody to tibetan buddhism. it's arguable that he's attempting to propagate buddhist ideas about the nature of faith and reality, but that's not really fundamentally different from what any intellectual is doing when they give a lecture on any spiritual matter.
posted by lodurr at 1:16 PM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


« Older Nuggets joins the Aqua Teen Hunger Force   |   The shadowy cursor has come at last! The prophecy... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments