Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Dalai Lama and Open-mindedness

Have you ever read anything by the Dalai Lama? Listen, if you have not, you need to. The tiger has not yet been disappointed by anything by, or about the Dalai Lama. The man can converse with anyone about anything from an amoeba to quantum physics. He can talk to theoretical physicists and he can talk to a simple tiger. He has read and digested volumes of all kinds of books with all kinds of focuses. He is simply amazing.

Thich Nhat Hanh in Being Peace presents fourteen principles he calls “Mindfulness Training” which may explain why the Dalai Lama is such a scholar. Here is the Second Mindfulness Training principle.

Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We shall learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to others' insights and experiences. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives. (Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace page 92)

Just how open-minded is “open-minded?” The Jew In the Lotus by Rodger Kamenetz, is a moving non-fiction book that provides a great insight into the mind of the Dalai Lama: The setting of the book is in Dharamsala in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India in the fall of 1990 where the Dalai Lama had organized a dialog with Jewish leaders. The purpose of the dialog was to understand how Jews have survived persecution after persecution over the last two-thousand years or more. While the book is more about Mr. Kamenetz's spiritual journey of returning to his Jewish roots after watching the Dalai Lama and the proceedings, Mr. Kamenetz describes in detail the person of the Dalai Lama.

Imagine that! A religious leader being open-minded enough to seek guidance from the leaders of another religion!

Now, if you get the chance, read a book by Dr. Daniel Goleman called Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome them? This book details a conference with leaders of Western psychologists, neuro-scientists and philosophers and the Dalai Lama. The Dalai and some of his associates demonstrated to these scientists his breadth of knowledge, for one, but more interestingly, he demonstrated a life style that has proven to be effective in mitigating destructive emotions. It is a fascinating book.

Can you think of a leader of a Western religion that could function as a peer on a committee of psychologists and neuro-scientists?

This tiger is impressed and will adopt at least the first two principles of mindfulness training.

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