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Unspoken Teaching

Wasn’t it great to have His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama come to San Diego and receive such an excellent reception? Over 20,000 tickets were sold for his three events and they were gone the first hour they were made available.

With that happening so quickly, I wonder why they didn’t use Petco Park, which holds a little over 42,000. Wouldn’t that have been something? See what happens when nobody asks me?

I know there were people who wanted to go who couldn’t get tickets, and personally, I think they could have filled the park. Picture what that would have been like, seeing 40,000 people leave Petco with big smiles — unleased on downtown! Or just imagine if all 20,000-plus people had been in one location.

Still, it was great fun and an honor for the city. Listening to the local media and their responses it was interesting to see how they often seemed surprised just how much they enjoyed being around him and hearing his message. All the coverage I saw was very positive. I may have been the only one to complain.

If you missed it all, the good news is you have another chance. The SDSU event will be made available on the SDSU homepage and will air on KPBS-TV at 8pm May 3. The other two events at USD and UCSD will air on UCSD-TV on May 21 at 8pm, and May 28 at 8pm, respectively. See the Web schedule at

His appearances focused on different topics, but his underlying desire was, “to promote tolerance, nonviolence and concern for the environment.” Pam Cesak, board member of the International Campaign for Tibet, said that the 76-year-old spiritual leader is starting to turn his thoughts and “religion of kindness” toward all the suffering that stems from the global economic crisis, and measures to extend the viability of life on this planet.

Even more than the words, he is the obvious message—his charisma, his presence. He simply lives his truth and charms people.

Any funds left over from producing the events he gives to charity. He receives no speaking fee. Combine that with his message and what can be bad about a visit from The Dalai Lama?

Well, unless you’re the Chinese of course. While The Dalai Lama is the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, he lives in exile in India. He fled Tibet when the Chinese forcibly took it over. He’s also a constant reminder of China’s actions, and said in San Diego that his relationship with China is not improving.

I don’t mean this to take anything away from The Dalai Lama and the significance of what he had done or who he is, but don’t we really have to give the Chinese a little credit for opening the door for him? We know him as much more, but The Dalai Lama calls himself a simple monk. His message is not complicated, just difficult for most of us to apply and use in all of life’s circumstances. Then again, that’s fine. We’re human, and not expected to be perfect.

Shouldn’t the way this has all unfolded be a lesson for governments? Shouldn’t it teach them the ineffectiveness of force? The result of trying to control this “simple monk” has helped turn him into a world leader, and ought to be a constant reminder to governments everywhere that trying to change by force just doesn’t work very well.

Perhaps at this point he would be in roughly the same position without the Chinese putting the world spotlight on him, but he has used his circumstances to his benefit—and by his benefit, I mean having a worldwide stage to deliver his message.

Isn’t The Dalai Lame the perfect example that force seems to have the opposite effect of what is intended? The Dalai Lama didn’t go away. He became more well known.

Unfortunately I don’t think governments get that part of the message. Instead, they try to control—form a commission, appoint a czar, and/or go to war to force what they want. How’s that working?

Ideally, current events show us how futile it is to overreact or force things. In reaction to a handful of terrorists we warred with two small nations, with questionable success. Now, over ten years later, the actions of one out-of-control U.S. military “terrorist” has pretty much rendered ineffective what the military hoped to accomplish. Each side seems to have made the actions of so few, so important, and so costly to both.

Just as China helped The Dalai Lama, some think we may have even brought Afghanistan together—in opposition to us and the opposite of what our “forces” intended to accomplish.

I’ve always found it strange that the people who think of control and force as a solution or vehicle for change when it comes to controlling people and populations—and object to other people’s choices about how they live their life — are usually the same people who want the least amount of control when it comes to the economy and business. In other words, “hands off what’s important to us.” If it’s true then the marketplace naturally works out glitches on its own—and the less government interference the better—why a different standard when dealing with people?

I don’t mean we shouldn’t control people who won’t control themselves; I mean please don’t think we can prevent problems in advance by using force or control.

Unfortunately, whether it’s the government, the military or the police, controlling terrorists, populations or crimes in advance is not their strong suit. They are usually reacting afterward.

“Fixing” things by force ends up looking like trying to control Jell-O by squeezing it. Push over here and it comes out over there.

I know The Dalai Lama isn’t saying what I’m saying, but isn’t he a great example of the ineffectiveness of external force and control in ways he doesn’t talk about? The Dalai Lama teaches living with compassion—without fear and with hope—through changing ourselves, which then also influences others.

I hope some of that filters into today’s political rhetoric. Perhaps those who think they can quickly force their brand of change on others should come with “caution” or “danger” signs attached.

Have a great month,