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Posts Tagged ‘Dalai Lama’

You can join this week’s Friday Five over HERE.

This week, the question is – Name five favorite books and why they are your favorite.

Five?  Just five!?  With so many good books out in the world?  ok,  I will just throw some out there.

1.  Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card.

Probably my favorite fiction book.  The second book in Card’s four-book Ender’s Game series.  It blew my mind when I read it.  Here is what I wrote in my review:

Amazing concept. Complex characters. It says something about the preconceived notions of humans. It speaks about our prejudices. It’s an anthropological mystery. It’s science fiction. It is human drama.

The idea of a real, live Speaker for the Dead has popped up all over the world. Following Orson Scott’s Card’s concept of speaking a person’s life after death – in sometimes harsh and truthful terms – has caught on with many people and people have written to Card to tell him how they served as someone’s Speaker during a funeral, or memorial. Pretty powerful concept. And none better to perform such a task than Ender Wiggen. The things he discovers on the planet where he goes to speak is beyond mind-blowing. Not in sci-fi technology- but in the ways and whys different species treat each other.

2. Gentle Bridges: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind, Edited by Jeremy W. Hayward and  Francisco J. Varela.

The book that introduced me to the Mind and Life Institute and all the great books that come out of these meetings between scientists and the Dalai Lama.  Good stuff.  I was so happy to hear there were a whole series of books on a range of topics – from destructive emotions, to constructive emotions, to sleeping and dreaming.  Good information from the scientific experts.  And great insight from the Dalai Lama.

3.  Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss
Because a person’s a person, no matter how small.

4.  Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Can I count a whole comic book series as a book?  Y’all know how much I love Neil Gaiman.  I’ve read a lot of his books.  But nothing compares to the characters and storylines in the comic book that introduced me to Gaiman.  Sandman and his siblings (Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium) are richly written personifications of their respective realms.  The interweaving of historic and mythical figures into their stories has generated a ton of additional reading for me.  Pretty awesome.
5.  Ashes in the Wind, by Kathleen Woodiwiss

Because sometimes I just need to sit back with some chocolate and a good bodice buster.
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Oh, this week is going to be fun at Friday Five. The topic today is as follows:

…the idea is about “filling in” or substituting” …seems appropriate today doesn’t it? Ok…now let me make sure I word this correctly…If your phone rang today and you were given the opportunity to “fill in” for someone would you do it? Would you jump at the chance to “be the star”…” the person in charge” ..maybe even write the last chapter of a book that turns into a best seller..or an Oscar winning script! Remember ..this is your golden opportunity to shine….so what sort of offers would you take in a minute…LIST FIVE…they don’t have to be serious…the skies the limit! As always…we all want to know what you came up with..so be sure to put your link here so we can take a peek! Have fun and happy fiving! Love, Queenie (your substitute hostess for July!)

I like it! This is what I came up with on the spur of the moment:

1. *ring* *ring!*

Excuse me, Ms. Stone Girl?

Yes?

Hi, this is wolf biologist Dean Cluff. I was just up at Ellesmere Island with renowned wolf biologist David Mech. But I’ve been called away to observe sloths in South America and we need someone to take over my research work here on the island with Dr. Mech.

Oh yes. I am THERE!

2. *ring!ring!*

Hello, this is pro poker player Phil Ivey. We are about to start Day 3 of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas. I am currently sitting on a very comfortable stack of 376,000 in chips but I have been called away to film a commercial for Full Tilt Poker. Can you please come and take over my game for me?

3. *rriiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnggggg*

Hello, this is one of the organizers of the next Mind and Life Conference series. We are setting up our topic, agendas, and invitees for the next conference with the Dalai Lama and several of our participants have dropped out. We would like to invite you to come to Dharamsala, India to meet with our invited scientists and the Dalai Lama and share your insights on the next topic. No, it doesn’t matter what the scientific focus of the next conference will be. We are sure you will have some valuable input and questions for the Dalai Lama as you sit around the table with him.

4. *ringring* *ringring*

Hello, this is National Forest Service. We have a vacancy position in one of our remote cabins in the Tahoe National Forest and we need someone to live in the cabin and conduct some periodic surveys for us. This position will require some solitude time and a bit of hiking in the back country wilderness.

5. *Ring!*

Hello? Yes, this is Melina Kanakaredes. I’m quitting CSI: New York. Can you fill in for me and work alongside this Gary Sinise guy for a while?

You can join this week’s Friday Five over here:

http://fridayfivegroup.multiply.com/journal/item/101

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I think that, sometimes, I become too attached to things. Things, such as ideas that I have. And things, such as physical objects. How do I know the second is true?

 

I have a house-full of “stuff” in Maui, half a room-full of “stuff” at my mom’s, and an entire rented storage container of “stuff” waiting for me (plus one couch that my future MIL (mom-in-law) is holding for me). Yeah….it’s hard for me to let go of stuff.

 

The Dalai Lama, on his own website, says the following about attachment:

 

According to Buddhist psychology, most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities. The pursuit of the objects of our desire and attachment involves the use of aggression and competitiveness as supposedly efficacious instruments.

 The Dalai Lama talks about attachment quite a bit. I should think about it more myself. I think too much attachment to stuff, including my own brain-full of notions, is sometimes detrimental.

 

Why do I think about this now? My nephews were playing in my mom’s house tonight before dinner and broke one of Mom’s Hummels. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but my mom is not one of those people that has dozens of Hummels lined up on every inch of flat surface in her house. She only has a small handful, and two of them were from her mother. It was one of those moments where I could see it happening across the room and knew there was no way I could leap across a table, two chairs, and a piano bench in time to stop it.

 

It was a sad thing. But you know, I think I was more upset about it than Mom was. Maybe because of her typical low-key reaction to things. Maybe because, as she said later, “There’s nothing you can do about it.” And maybe because Mom just doesn’t get as attached to “stuff” as I do.

 

My nephews were upset also. But what happened was truly an accident, and they weren’t really playing in a manner that is not allowable in the house. It was just an accident. And here’s where a good example came in. My Big Sis handled it like a pro. Which, hey, I think she is. She’s been a mom long enough to know when something bad is an accident versus when she needs to really get to the bottom of what her kids are doing. Despite having something hot on the stove, and having me sitting on the floor lamenting the headless Hummel, she handled the situation calmly and finished making dinner. She knew the boys understood something wrong had happened – there was nothing she could add to that feeling. And she knew nothing had happened out of ill intent. She didn’t lash out at the boys, or even at me for sitting on the floor like a lump. Our mom didn’t lash out at anybody or even ask who was responsible or how it happened. She just said “Well, let’s glue it back together.” And I think both moms were very Dalai-Lama-like tonight by their patience, calm, and compassion. The moment of stunned silence around the broken figurine probably gave my sister enough time to say a prayer to help her. A few extra moments gave me enough time to try and re-engage my oldest nephew who still looked crestfallen about the whole thing. I wish I had been able to gather myself as quickly as my Big Sis did (although she did scald herself cooking, so maybe she wasn’t as composed as she looked). But, I’m trying.

Tonight, Mom and I watched the news about a big fire up near Lake Tahoe. By 11:00 p.m., over 150 homes had been destroyed in this fire. I thought how much worse that would feel than just losing one family keepsake. But then I thought about how miserable I would feel if my own home were completely destroyed. While I don’t think I’d be too off the mark to be sad about something like that, I still need to learn more about letting go of some of my attachments. I won’t even get into the problems that come about because I’ve become too attached to an idea in my head. It’s generated more arguments (many with my patient Sweetie) than I can count. And it often comes down to, I need to let things go sometimes. Hopefully, with more study, lots more prayer, and more good examples in my life, I can improve on that. Maybe. Someday?

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No surprise, probably, but my brain is all over the place right now. This is a totally random thought, but I think my half-a**ed attempt at the South Beach diet is working. I can give up eating sugar. I can even give up fruit for two weeks (though it is very very hard). But I think it’s near impossible for me to give up rice and bread completely. Especially when we have such good Thai and Chinese food on the island. So, I cheat where those two things are concerned. But I am trying to stick to South Beach breakfasts and snacks. And I am back on an exercise routine. And I am about four pounds lighter than I was a couple weeks ago in California. Hoorah! Could all be water weight, but I’m gonna keep this wanna-be-healthy routine and make sure it sticks.

Today was a good day. I will blog and talk about seeing the Dalai Lama today. I watched yesterday’s public talk on our local cable channel and I, hopefully, recorded today’s talk. He is amazing, He is jolly. He is very wise.

On Saturday, when I was sitting at the main intersection closest to the War Memorial Stadium (where his talks were held), I saw the butterfly and thought of my father. The butterfly was fluttering across the street, in the direction of the stadium. And Saturday was a good day. Yesterday was not so great, and it ended with me trying to cry quietly at the end of the day. But my “I’m ok” was no match for my Sweetie, and I ended up in a small crying heap wailing about how I wanted to talk to my dad. He said “Why don’t you talk to him?” And I told him “I do.” All the time. What I’ve been learning the last few weeks is that I need to be better at listening. There are all sorts of things I think I can learn from better listening

Today, I was in line at the stadium by 9:30 a.m. (the Dalai Lama’s lecture started at 2:00 p.m.) I was in the stadium by 10:20, and I walked straight to a booth to buy water, knowing I would be sitting out in the sun for a long time. I walked under the stadium seats to the grass field and walked to the unreserved seats, as far forward and center as I could find. I sat down in between one woman sitting by herself and another woman saving about seven seats. I put my book down on the seat beside me (for my guy). And then I, one of the least social people I know (outside of my own gang of pals*), surprised myself today. I started talking to the woman next to me. She had a book also, but once we started talking, we couldn’t seem to stop. All sorts of things – talked about the Dalai Lama, the state of the world, kids, the environment, medicine, her family, my family, and on and on. She was well educated, married to a man who knew he loved her at first sight, had traveled to see the Pope in Rome (both John Paul and Benedict), and lived in Iowa and Connecticut.

And she told me “You will see your father again.” And she was pretty sure. As she was sure about many things. As she was sure in her desire to see the Dalai Lama. Even though her doctor had told her she could not go. Could not travel to Maui to see him (her platelets were way too low). Bu there she was. I don’t know how much time this lovely woman has left (she said not long), but she said she has made her peace and is not afraid to die. So, why would she be worried to travel and spend hours in the hot sun, though she cannot sweat? Why would she be worried to talk about all manner of things to a strange woman sitting beside her? She was not. And I am glad. For I did a lot of listening today. I listened to her. I listened to the Dalai Lama. Both of these people brought me a sense of peace today, in their own way. That is a big advantage of listening, I suppose.

And now, I must eat. More on His Holiness later.

* I didn’t mean that my pals are less social than me. I meant that I am very social with my pals, but tend to be more reserved (dare I say misanthropic?) with strangers.

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It’s almost here!

H.H., the 14th Dalai Lama will hold two teachings on the island of Maui, starting tomorrow! For this post I say “our” date, my friends, because the teachings will be webcast live on both days. How cool is that?

If you want to try and see his teachings, try this website:

http://www.tibetfund.org/dalai-lama-maui.html

According to the website, your browser has to be able to show Java rich media. Then, all you have to do is tune in when the teachings start, and you should be able to watch. His teachings are scheduled to start tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. Maui time. That’s 5:00 p.m. for you folks on the west coast, and 8:00 p.m. for east coast folks. Tuesday’s teaching is “The Human Approach to World Peace” and Wednesday’s is “Eight Verses of Training the Mind.” The Maui Dharma Center explains the second teaching like this:

“Eight Verses for Training the Mind” is an eleventh century teaching By Geshe Langri Thangpa which is especially relevant today. It promotes the deeper human values of compassion and kindness, qualities which are embraced by all religious traditions and a topic that the Dalai Lama strongly advocates during his many travels around the world.

There is also more info on the two days’ happenings on that Maui Dharma Center link. Should be good!

 

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My Date with the Dalai Lama

I am soooo excited! For the first time ever, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama is coming to Maui. He has visited Hawai’i before, but never Maui. In April, he is coming for two days of public teachings here on the island. And I now have in hand (or at least at will call) my tickets to go see him.

Oh happiness! Oh joy!

I adore the Dalai Lama. For so many reasons. He truly is the embodiment of compassion, and his teachings and his own life have been steady influences for peace in the world. This may be a multiple posting (or maybe a really long one) because there is so much I can say about the Dalai Lama.

Let me start at my beginnings. I didn’t know much about the Dalai Lama until he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. I think it was around that time that I saw a 60 Minutes interview with His Holiness. I was immediately struck and impressed by his commitment to peace. Here was my thought: If there is ever a person on this earth who could be justified in hating a group of people, I would think it could be the Dalai Lama towards the Chinese government and military. The Chinese invaded Tibet in 1949. I won’t press too much on the politics of Tibet here. But it is true that, at the time of the Chinese invasion, there were approximately 6 million Tibetans living in Tibet. Following the National Uprising in 1959, many people were killed, monasteries were destroyed, and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee his own country and live in exile in northern India, where he still lives today. If you want information on the Tibetan Government in Exile, you can look HERE.

So, given a small slice of that information, back in 1989, I would have expected the leader of a country to raise a call to arms, to scream for retribution, and to ask for international military assistance. But the Dalai Lama is not just any leader of people. He is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. And he is the current manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. That position, along with years and years of training when he was young, did not lead this man to call for the return of his country through war and violence. He has been advocating a non-violent resolution to allow the Tibetan people to return to their own sovereign country and to rule themselves again, in peace.

Now, you may or may not believe there is such a thing as an enlightened being that can be reincarnated in each generation. You may or may not adhere to the spiritual beliefs and practices of Buddhists monks. I did not when I first learned about the Dalai Lama, and I still do not. But I admired his spirit, his perseverance, and his tireless efforts to serve as a spiritual leader and teacher. I believe that if, if, it is possible for a human being to truly embody the spirit of compassion, then this is the man.

So, in the years that followed, I spent a lot of time reading about the Dalai Lama – mostly reading things he himself has written. And I learned to also admire other qualities of his – his incredible intelligence and insatiable curiosity. He was the kind of kid that would take electronic contraptions and watches apart – just to try and learn how they work. He wants to understand everything around him. Probably out this curiosity, the Mind and Life series was created. And out of the Mind and Life series, some of my favorite books have been written. Which just made me like His Holiness even more. You can read about the Mind and Life series HERE. In a nutshell, every two or three years, based on a different topic, a group of scientists meet with the Dalai Lama in northern India to conduct a sort-of roundtable discussion about that year’s topic. In the books, each chapter usually starts with each scientist presenting a summary of work in their field – be it neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence, or physiology. After the summary, a discussion follows with all the rest of the participants, including the Dalai Lama and (usually) a couple of other Buddhist monks.

I love the way His Holiness can get to the heart of a subject right away. After listening to complex subjects in multiple fields, he starts out the discussions with very insightful questions. Then, during the discussions, he correlates what he is learning with Buddhist teachings. He explains to the other participants…..”Well, that is similar to the Buddhist idea of …..” or something like that.

For me, these books are very interesting to read. For the scientists, I think many of them have followed up with specific studies and research after their meetings with the Dalai Lama. The first book I read was “Gentle Bridges.” I loved this book and highlighted all sorts of things in my book. Then, I found out that the first meeting was just one of many, and I’ve been trying to read the rest of the books in the series.

So, I like him for his intelligence, his curiosity, and his innovation. He has been developing new democratic forms of government for the Tibetans in exile for years. I like him for his open-mindedness. He is the spiritual leader of his people, but he understands that different people all over the world find spiritual truth in different religions. He doesn’t expect people to convert to Buddhism. He doesn’t diminish the importance of other beliefs. Again, for someone as steeped in his own religion as he is, I would expect him to think that his is the only religion. But he does not.

And finally, if all that was not enough to like the man, check out his SMILE. Part of his philosophy includes greeting people with a smile. And he does so with such warmness, such jolly-ness, and such sweetness. How can you not like a man that comes at you with such a genuine smile?

And so, in a couple of months, I get to see that smile in person, again. I saw him speak once before, several years ago in Mountain View. I was far away on the grassy area, mostly staring at the big screen, while listening to his interpreter. But he was there. And I was there. And it was a very satisfying moment for me. One I look forward to repeating.

By the way, as a way of introduction to his writing, if you are interested, my favorite Dalai Lama book is “The Power of Compassion.”  It’s a short book with some short essays. A list of his books is HERE.

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