Today I saw the Dalai Lama speak at the “Be The Village” Heart-Mind Summit at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Seeing him and the very well accomplished panel present about education for the future of our country was moving. His Holiness is a figure of compassion and forgiveness in our world. Some even calling him the living God, but what resonated most for me, was his humanity.
The Dalai Lama is like a cuddly bear of loveable quirks and honesty. He is the most humble human being I have ever encountered. His speech was riveting and strange. His words, though filled with potent meaning and substance, come out jaunty and off tempo as he tries to formulate the English phrase to express his intentions. His words are not what captivates people however, it is his silences.
Before the discussions began His Holiness took the stage early in order to watch the Saint James Musical Academy perform their introductory choir performance. Maria Lerose, who was the host of the event, later explained that there would have been an opening announcement for his entrance had he not been so excited and insistent on seeing the children sing. We watched as this 79 year old man, The 14th Dalai Lama, respected and revered around the world, stared in anticipatory silence as the children sang.
When the song finished he bowed and congratulated them on their skills, laughing all the while. We waited for him to compose himself, shuffling around the stage shaking the hands of the panel guests as the room settled into the silence. Upon arriving at the centre podium he was given a dampened towel to wipe the sweat from his brow. Chortling his thanks, he received the towel and wiped his face in the silence of 400 people watching. He folds the towel once and places it on top of his head, “this is the traditional Buddhist hat” he chuckles. He proceeded to wear the towel atop his head for the rest of the 3 hour long talks. The room buzzes with the contended laughter of a large group sedated in the aura of a man with true lack of judgement.
After his speech Shane Koyczan is called to the stage. A riveting, thought provoking piece was punched into the room calling to the community and world at large to claim the responsibility for our “pale blue dot”. It was the analogy: “We are facing crisis” that left us breathless and spinning much like the globe we live upon today. Shane’s piece opened the dialogue beyond the scope of education for our youth and brought the breadth of the issue. Education is awareness, awareness is empowerment, and empowerment is a vehicle for social change.
The 3 hours of dialogue explored the most advanced education tactics used in BC today. Each speaker brought a viewpoint to the lens of discussion that added depth and range to the subject of our mutual futures as British Columbians. The topics found their resonance in every corner of the earth and our lives as contributing members within it. Soon the education of our children was seen as the foundation for the horizon of all our tomorrows.
“A shared vision is not an idea… it is rather, a force in people’s hearts. At its simplest level, a shared vision is the answer to the question ‘What do we want to create?'” – Peter Senge
In a glaze we clapped His Holiness all the way off the stage and began smiling our way back out into the real world. On the streets our tranquility was assaulted by the drone of a picket line protesting the Dalai Lama himself. “False Dalai Lama” and “Stop Lying” was shouted passerby and written on signs just outside the Convention Centre doors. This was countered by the Dalai Lama supporters on the other side of the courtyard pledging their devotion to his cause.
I found myself insulted and hurt by their ignorance. 3 hours of inspiration and talks of the way of the future, starkly contrasted by those who opposed it. The progressive messages voiced inside are the ones ignored by the protesters just outside the doors. How can there be such a hatred for a man so peaceful? How can there be a opposition for one of the few individuals in this world fighting for the human race as a whole?
My shock lasted through many bewildered conversations with people passing by, the invasion felt like a paragraph from another book glued into the middle of a chapter. The messages from the summit resurfaced once the chants were dulled by the traffic sounds of downtown Vancouver. The world is a strange place, filled with opposition, contradictions and craziness, the only thing you can do is find where you can help.
“Ultimately, the reason why love and compassion bring the greatest happiness is simply that our nature cherishes them above all else. The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. It results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another.” – His Holiness, The Dalai Lama.
Thanks for Listening.
Here is a link to the piece that Shane performed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An4a-_NjilY#t=330