Note: no one person is the voice of Elephant. Agree with the below? Disagree with the below? Inspired to share your contemplations, experiences, take—what can be helpful, critical or otherwise? Post here.
Author’s update: After seeing the full video, the joy and enthusiasm in interviews with the son and mother, plus watching Waylon’s conversation with Chemi Lhamo, I do not feel the same concern or sadness around the Dalai Lama that I did a week ago. But I also want to honor those who have experienced trauma responses to the perceived abuse and disrespect. Kindness matters.
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday and noticed that a friend I respect and admire had made a casual, sarcastic, and off-putting comment about the Dalai Lama.
My initial reaction was, “What the f*ck?”
Anger, betrayal, and rejection of my friend, not the Dalai Lama, rose inside me. She is not somebody who typically speaks harshly of people.
So, I did what we do in 2023. I did a Google search on the Dalai Lama. The first eight were articles about him and his life. When I read the ninth, my heart sank and my spine went limp for a split second.
“The Dalai Lama asks a boy to suck his tongue.”
I resisted opening the article.
I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know. I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!
I clicked the link and read the article, sort of. I skimmed it, hoping I would miss the gross parts and only see where this was all a misunderstanding. But that part didn’t magically appear.
I am not going to defend him. I am not going to attack him. My heart, belly, and spine response was not about him. They were about me.
I am not a Buddhist, whatever that means. I have trained with amazing teachers from many traditions. I have experienced retreats honoring many traditions. My time with the Dalai Lama is high up on that list.
I had the opportunity to spend 10 days with him in 1999. It left a profound imprint on me and still does today.
One of the things I was most impressed with in his teachings was his humility and how he consistently came back to being a human being like the rest of us, and therefore capable of ignorance, arrogance, and anger.
We all do. I certainly do!
I’m sad today. I’m sad that we humans are human.
I’m sad that those I use as examples remind me that I am human and will never be anything more. The fantasy in my head needs to be shattered continuously.
I’m sad that I still have the fantasy.
I’m sad that many people enjoy tearing down beautiful but flawed humans.
I’m sad that I need to believe these people are different than me.
I’m sad about the first noble truth: “Life is suffering.”
Today, I suffer sadness, shame, and a pinch of betrayal.
I’m sad, just good old-fashioned sad.
I want my fantasy back. I want the safety and security that fantasy provided me. I want anything but the need to defend him or attack him.
I’m sad today.