An MPR special: A Simple Buddhist Monk. The special is about buddhism and the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
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(00:00:00) Support for this program is provided by a grant from the George Family Foundation funding innovative ideas and integrated medicine education and spirituality in everyday life. I'm Krista Tippett with a special program a simple Buddhist monk. The Dalai Lama of Tibet is visiting America in the next hour. We will explore Tibetan Buddhism and who this man is the Dalai Lama is not only a leader. He is like a god but it's more than that for us to know him one has to work very hard. You don't just sit in a cave. You take the (00:00:48) Buddhism and you work with it and you (00:00:51) bring it into your classroom or on the subway or when you're standing in line at an airport Tibet is in many ways more than a country. It is more than a culture. It's an entire civilization. We look inside the ancient tradition with which Tibet was infused a living tradition, which the Dalai Lama and bodies you'll hear practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism who live in this country and experience the ritual sound and music of Tibet. The Dalai Lama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and yet he is currently exiled from his country an autobiography which he wrote in 1990 begins with these words Dalai Lama means different things to different people to some it means that I am the living Buddha to others. It means that I am a god-king during the late 1950s. It meant that I was a Vice president of the steering committee of the People's Republic of China then when I escaped into Exile, I was called a counterrevolutionary and a parasite but none of these are my ideas to me Dalai Lama is a title that signifies the office. I hold I myself am just a human being and incidentally a Tibetan who chooses to be a Buddhist monk. It is as a simple Buddhist monk that I offer the Story of My Life. His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet. (00:02:18) I want to make clear. We are same human being. I'm nothing special. (00:02:26) I'm Krista Tippett stay with us. For many Americans Tibetan Buddhism and the land from which it comes our Mysteries, but here are a few facts Tibet is a million square miles of Mountain Desert and Barren Plateau lying along the northern borders of India and Nepal the Dalai Lama was born to a farm family in 1935 near what was then tibet's border with China Tibetans believe him to be The Reincarnation of the previous 13 Dalai Lama's a lineage stretching back to the mid 14th century unlike other world religious leaders who are elected the boy named La moton deep was discovered at the age of three and at for he was proclaimed Dalai Lama in September 1951 China took over Tibet in 1959 shortly after a Chinese mortar attack on his holy Potala Palace the Dalai Lama slipped out of Tibet and established a government in Exile in India. He has never since returned to his homeland. In 1964 Robert Thurman became the first Westerner to be ordained it Tibetan Buddhist monk by the Dalai Lama. (00:03:46) I had courses in in Western philosophy and I had courses in religion and I didn't like them enough and I was looking for something else. That was somehow still spiritual but not irrational and when I discovered Buddhism through the good offices of Hermann Hesse, Henry Miller and Nietzsche, then I just loved it minute. I discovered it at around 20 1920. I just adored it it was it for me. I learned a bit in 10 weeks enough to start reading those texts and and it's you know, it's to continuing Feast for me the Buddhist thought it's so (00:04:25) interesting after returning to the u.s. From India. Thurman resigned his monastic vows married and had five children. He became co-founder and president of the Tibet House in New York and professor of endo Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University Buddhism is a 25 hundred year old religion which contains a vast spectrum of ritual and belief and with in Tibetan Buddhism alone. There are four major schools. Robert Thurman is the preeminent scholar and interpreter of this tradition (00:04:57) Tibet is the only country outside of India that received that full form of Indian Buddhism, which is sort of like saying the whole closetful, you know, all the different possible methodologies and then the Tibetans themselves who were at the time they first got a very Rough and Ready people sort of like Americans or Mongolians or something beating people up and conquering them and what have you they really got into this and they took the challenge up you could say of the Buddhist education and they really applied it to themselves and sort of as a nation within a thousand years. They basically demilitarized they basically put the Buddhist education at the center of their civilization and they became a extremely cheerful and quite a creative place. (00:05:41) Is there more of an emphasis in Tibetan Buddhism on compassion as the purpose of learning and meditation as opposed to just personal (00:05:49) Enlightenment the forms of Buddhism that have come to America that have been practiced by euro-americans that is to say don't emphasize compassion as much as the forms of Tibetan Buddhism that has come that's quite true the idea that you know, you should save all beings yourself. You don't sit and wait for Jesus to do it or for Buddha to do it. You are going to become a Buddha and you're going to do it (00:06:10) and there's this statement of The Dalai Lama that the purpose of meditation is to imagine all sentient beings as your mother or (00:06:16) your oh, that's the way you generate compassion. Exactly. And that's based on the Buddhist idea that we've all had infinite previous lives innumerable ones and in those previous slides. We've been related to each other in Conceivable way therefore I've been your mother you were my mother many times. For example, when I was a monk and visualizing all beings as my mother when I would go occasionally and travel to the city and see my actual mother. I would have constant Deja Vu experiences because you'd walk down a street and people would look sort of familiar because of course, I was meditating familiarity. You see likes everyone was my family and it really does work, you know and Tibetan culture is suffused with that (00:06:59) even though even when you say that to me sitting across the table that that you've been my mother and some Lifetime and I've been yours, it creates a certain (00:07:07) Bond it definitely absolutely looking at you differently. Yeah. We were a pain to each other that me (00:07:15) right? (00:07:16) Okay, although of course, we you know, do you and you're the mother you love that baby. Yes completely, you know, totally the most beautiful baby that ever lived then when you grow up and you get to be a personality and you're a mom don't say this in the it's hard to remember that, you know, (00:07:30) Let me just tell you some other things that strike me travelers to Tibet as well as spiritual pilgrims for hundreds of years always talk about how overpowering nature is in Tibet. And I wonder how much you think just the geography the physical geography of Tibet has to do with the strength of the religious (00:07:48) tradition. It is a land of drastic contrast of the or the newest and highest mountains on the planet this vast Plateau a million square miles. It's incredible. Although we know there are Tibetans who live in that nature and managed to not be that spiritual and before the Buddhism went there that depends were violent conquerors. They went out and they smashed people around them Chinese paid them tribute during the Tang Dynasty only 1400 years ago paid tribute to the depends not to come and beat them up and loot and pillage and so forth. So it is a very Stark and magnificently or inspiring environment and also Tibetans are semi-nomadic and some of them are totally nomadic, but those elements could all be turned towards A big conqueror, you know like chinggis Khan or something which they were or when they got involved with Buddhism. They took up the challenge of conquering themselves of battling the inner landscape and they you know, they showed quite a great prowess and doing that, you know, the interior Gladiator sort of speak the inner Russell Crowe and they did that some are extraordinary individuals emerge there over the many centuries. They had an education system geared to producing those individuals and they produce amazing works of art works of philosophy and and even governments and institutions. Look at that Potala building, you know, that is in the center of Tibet that was built by the great fifth Dalai Lama in the same time period that Louis XIV build Versailles around the time of the building of the Taj Mahal in India. And so they were a fantastic Nation with fantastic people. They use that fantastic energy in a different way than most of the other cultures did in the 17th century. (00:09:26) I think that phrase you just used a battling the inner And scape. There you go. Yeah, it's a good definition of of Buddhism as you (00:09:34) understand think so. Well. Well, I mean, it's a sure - I think so. You can try to conquer everybody else and make the whole world conform to your temperament or you can conquer your temperament where you can kind of fit in more harmoniously with the world and obviously the whole Indian and Tibetan move is the key to a good life is to have be in charge of the mind and it might be nice to control this River flow and have a dam or have an air conditioner or a warm furnace. But mainly mainly it's what your mind is like that is going to keep you warm it with happiness, you know, you can be in the best infrastructure and be miserable. You can be a murderer. You can be a wife-beater. You can be a lonely and unhappy in the nicest buildings and in the nicest place, but if you're in a semi rebbe place, but you are happy you that because of your mind is filled with good things. That's the key. So that's the definition of Buddhism really it's this that the inner world is the more important. Although the outer one is not to be neglected. You can be practical about it. (00:10:48) Robert Thurman shares a 35-year friendship with the Dalai Lama among his many books. Robert Thurman has translated the esoteric Tibetan Book of the Dead adding this striking sentence of commentary a great measure of the unique beauty of Tibetan civilization comes from their vivid awareness of the immediacy of death and the freedom that awareness (00:11:10) brings. Isn't that true? Although we scary perhaps when we first hear that because we come out of a long period about a half a century of what they called nowadays the American way of death, which means hide it live in denial of it pretend it isn't there or it's or like Woody Allen is I think made the ultimate formulation of that. He said, oh, I don't know what the fuss is all about. I don't mind death just so long as I'm not there when it happens. I think which of course is charming and but that is the thing you're going to be there when it happens. I'm very And so but then the surprise is that people who don't live in denial of it and who's kind of deal with it. It becomes a marvelous Liberation from getting caught up in insignificant things about life. My favorite thing. There is a Tisha the great Bengali teacher who went to Tibet in the 11th century was asked by his host who was a king not a Layman all the time. I couldn't you give us some marriage counseling your Holiness, please tell us something. What can we do in marriages when we have difficulties and we'd like to really what is your advice for Lay people in family life and all that. He kept saying no, I don't give that I'm a monk and I don't know anything about it and blah blah blah. Finally they pester him so much he said, okay. I'll tell you something. Now you ready? And they said yes, he said husband and wife each of them will soon be dead. Therefore in the remaining moments of Life. They should be nice to each other. Although it is more complicated than that. No one thing that's true Carlos Castaneda as imaginary Don Juan. He always used to say that death. Is it a is the best advisor you have death at your shoulder always and therefore you in living your life in an alert way in a mindful way, which he called Like a Warrior you're always aware that you could die at any time there for you. Don't waste your time. You don't waste the precious moments of your life. I think that's very valuable advice but one Buddhist caveat to that would be that we should be careful that that isn't going to be that could lead to being depressed and morbid a little bit. If before that prior to that we didn't have a great sense of the value of our life because of course, the other point is furthermore for a Buddha's death is not the end right another misunderstanding about people who believe in reincarnation. In is that you'll be lazy about this life. If you think you'll have another (00:13:43) one, right and and I think reincarnation is one of the very intriguing aspects of Tibetan Buddhism and of The Dalai Lama's person. (00:13:50) So carbon is karmic evolution is the first karmic evolution is my friend because it is like the evolution Theory accept your present to all of it. You know it, you know, you were there in Precambrian slime as a germ, you know, you were a Krista germ, you know, I was a bob German a we germs around and finally became a more complicated animal and then we were monkeys and then this net finally we're humans now, but we personally did it and then we personally will go on to do more things. But now for the person who believes that or who and they do believe it in a way that is not like a big mystical thing. They believe it like you and I believe that the downtown is out the window there, you know, you know, which we don't think of as a mystical thing. We just think it's there, you know, so for that kind of person who believes out Death means this life where I have Consciousness where I'm not too uncomfortable. Where have the freedom to think I have access to the teachings of freedom and Liberation is really valuable the minute. I die. If I haven't gained control of my unconscious. If I don't know my unconscious, then it could drag me any old place and I might have Million Lives before I get back to such a great place as I am. Now, you see (00:14:57) all the time you spent in Tibet and all the people you've known have you had the experience of meeting someone in a new Incarnation and having them remember you having that friendship (00:15:06) rekindled? Yes, I have had that with the teacher of the Dalai Lama the senior tutor of the of his Holiness called Ling rinpoche was his name. He was very dear teacher of mine and he passed away around 83 and his reincarnation was there and I saw him first but he was about three and a half. I think I went up to where he lived where his previous life had lived and went to visit him and he kind of went for a little walk with me and he actually wrote on my shoulders. Little bike and he didn't really recognize me to know but I came by surprise to his place there because you don't call ahead so easily and India in that little town and the Chamberlain didn't have time to give him a long life history in there anything of the kind and then we were kind of looking for some toy in a some bamboo or something it over the side of his little Garden area. They're open this mountain. He suddenly Whirled on me and he gave me this big scold about how I was a big Sinner and how I had been a monk and so happy there with the row of monks and then suddenly I jumped up and left order and didn't know whether I gone mad or what now, I was so taken aback and shocked and he was like very sort of fierce like his former life sometime could be quite Stern. And in fact that his former life had ordained me as among then I after about a year and a half. I resigned my vow and return to lay life when I was far away in America and so for a period of about three years, he was annoyed with me quite annoyed because he was Took things very seriously. And eventually I did come back and met him again as a father of a two children and my wife finishing my PhD and he actually like my son so much. He thought my son was so extraordinary and my daughter that he forgave me. So that was only for three year period that he had this imprint in his mind of being quite annoyed with me. Like I'm a no-good. I had like a come to be a monk and then I had an insincere and had left being a monk, you know, and so that must have surfaced in the mind of that young boy by three. It is really scolded me about having left among quit. So I was so shocked and I felt very embarrassed and whatever, you know, but then I finally gained my wits and I said well well look for mache. Okay, I'm a sinner but you know, there's always something you can do about compensating for your sin. So what should I do? And then his face totally changes it o foresight a hundred thousand Tara mantras. He said they're like say that it's a $100,000 a whole marriage, you know, and you'll be fine and then he suddenly turned back into the little child and we went off playing again. (00:17:35) In recent years Hollywood has become an unlikely interpreter and publicist of Tibetan Buddhism to Lavish movies have reached millions of Americans Seven Years in Tibet with the actor Brad Pitt and kundan directed by Martin Scorsese with the music of Philip Glass. Robert Thurman co-founded the Tibet House in New York with the actor Richard Gere and is himself the father of the actress Uma Thurman whom he and his wife named after the Indian mother goddess. Uma. I asked how he makes sense of the Affinity between Hollywood Glamour and the intense disciplined spirituality of The Dalai Lama. (00:18:22) Well, I love Richard Gere and I'm the proud father of my daughter. Yes, but and I don't see such a big dichotomy as some people do but who my turns down a role. I tell him I'm ready, but they haven't taken me yet. But I think that when you become this kind of archetype person for hundreds of millions of people by being, you know, Tom Hanks or a Richard Gere or whoever you become a kind of focus. It's like the American version of kingship in the good sense of kingship a kind of way of being that everyone could aspire to and could As a kind of example of how to be gracious and the Hollywood people they get into kind of a royal rule queenly or kingly role once they become well known and they become a focus a Charisma Focus. You could call it for other people and once they do they realize that that's a spiritual obligation and a duty the people I know in Hollywood so far are mostly people who are aware of that responsibility right artists true and when art aspires to a greater openness of heart a greater sensitivity to others than I think it is massively (00:19:32) creative, you know, and as you're speaking, I'm also thinking that there are parallels in the Tibetan universe that art is that Vivid and dramatic arms. It is such an important part of that religious culture and also that this that the royal family that was part of Tibetan history that sort of also shaped Tibetan Buddhism that's true is a (00:19:52) plot. Of course. They had said something extremely unique in Tibet, which is that what the Dalai Lama is the Dalai Lama is basically the The Royal but also is a simple Monk and he really is a simple month so that it was a unique institution by making it a monk who has no children who is celibate and who has formally speaking no property. So it has no need to accumulate wealth, but who tries to bring the ethic of the Monk and just serve the people and then also the monk has a bodhisattva vow. He wants to make other people happy you have someone who is trying to live at a higher ethical level the way a monk or a nun is supposed to then taking responsibility noblesse oblige for a country. So I've created a much preferable. Not that that was perfect and not that every Lama Incarnation is a perfect, you know, sometimes they can become corrupt to write and fluids much flattery too many courtiers who pay no and then they don't study their Dharma well enough, you know, I mean, they don't meditate it. Now, it could happen this Dalai Lama for example likes to say that he has taken the teachings more seriously and if he's able to give some good teachings if he's been a good Example here and there a lot of it. He has to think his hardships and the fact that he lost the kingdom and he was able to suffer a little bit and deal see reality more directly. Do you follow me? Yeah, that's hard side of reality. Whereas if you just been in this Jewel box. He might have become more unrealistic you see Enlightenment is the state of a greater tolerance of (00:21:38) complexity and the Dalai Lama himself obviously has an incredibly complex experience of life. (00:21:44) He'll give it he'll go on a ritual. He'll be giving a teaching and conducting a ritual with great majesty and dignity personifying some sort of marvelous High being and then during a break your kind of like blow his nose crack a joke tease you poke you in the ribs. I mean, he's a little older now doesn't do that anymore as much but you know, he'll suddenly show a completely Miss cheevus and and down-to-earth side and I've seen him meet the president. Of the United States and he said of says hi, you know and then he'll say hi to The Bodyguard with just as much attention. It was a chauffeur the security guy that whoever it is, you know, the the MIT the maid who brings the tea (00:22:26) but I mean I even beyond that there is there is a tremendous hardness to his (00:22:31) life. Oh so difficult for men up against China with 1.2 billion the horrible nonsense of the Communists and the sit there and be responsible for that and yet be disempowered by having to be an exile and feeling the agony of your people suffering in prison camps and labor camps and being tortured. He's been sitting on this for 50 years, you know, he has moments I think but he's cheerful and he always finds something to be optimistic about it. He he remembers his own death six times a day and therefore commits himself to an intense life for the benefit of his people. I mean, it is remarkable. (00:23:08) So what happens to this mystical visionary? And when it takes Exile and the United States of America, (00:23:15) the Tibetans are teaching us actually and somehow when people meet him although they don't quite know maybe but I've seen him have this impact when people see that person they suddenly realized that there's something more to life. They don't know quite why or what he doesn't want them to become a Buddhist or they can't become a Tibetan perhaps it would be in terms of better understanding our Christianity and not thinking that Christianity gives us the privilege of being cruel and callous about the suffering of non-christians, for example, but rather asks us to live at a higher level of kindness even to non-Christian for example, or if we're a humanist secularist, maybe it teaches us that we could perhaps borrow some Psychology from the spiritual traditions and improve the quality of our inner (00:24:00) life. Robert. Thurman is Professor of endo Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University and president of the Tibet House, New York. His most recent book is inner Revolution the politics of enlightenment In 1998 on his fifth journey to Tibet in five years the American Explorer can storm made a celebrated discovery of a lost waterfall in that song Poe gourd of Tibet the world's deepest Gorge that region known as Pema Co has since been closed to the outside world by Chinese authorities. I never my first experience. I had gone to to (00:24:52) ladakh which is a region of Northern India on the Tibetan plateau. And I was absolutely (00:24:59) stunned Crossing from the green lush world (00:25:03) to suddenly cross that range of mountains in enter literally a moonscape a landscape. Absolutely and utterly Barren and freshly weeks. I was kind of lost it with this kind of sense of being somehow naked and exposed to Nature to the (00:25:20) Whole (00:25:20) realm of nature from the wind and the Sun and never a cloud in the sky the sun would come up blazing and an arc across that blue Tibetan sky and then descend in the west Nary a cloud to Merit and and even more extraordinary at that altitude up in the plateau your between 13 to 15 thousand feet. The air is thin you you fight for your for breath. It creates a kind of natural Euphoria or high just just from the the limitation of the oxygen at that level. And so your I was walking in this this this strange new environment where you could see mountains weeks (00:25:58) ahead (00:26:15) in an ordinary landscape. It's the luminescence of the sky and the Darkness of the Earth. It defines your world, but the opposite is just true in the Tibetan Plateau there The Sky Had takes this deep almost space blue as you'd find on the margins of outer space being at that altitude and the land itself is full of light and vibrancy. You have the great colors of the strata that have been Unearthed from that Old tethys Ocean reaching up into the sky and improbable angles broken rock and seemed gullies and all of this kind of shining with this luminescent (00:26:48) quality. (00:26:52) Jane you (00:26:53) scared you. (00:27:01) And when I went there the friends that I've traveled with came equipped with these guidebooks that monks had prepared for travelers to the region and there are three types of guidebook. (00:27:13) The first is simply an (00:27:14) outer guide book that which describes the the mountains the rivers the trails were you need to to follow and how do you need to travel there? The second are the inner guide books. This is a guidebook that you need to transform yourself or begin a transformation to begin to learn to see that beyond the physical (00:27:37) there's an inner or a spiritual (00:27:39) world to be experienced and then far beyond this accessible really to only the very few are what are called the secret guidebooks guidebooks that actually Plumb to the very essence of of mountainous and Landscape in being These guide books came out of the monastic tantric tradition and we're given two pilgrims who would prepare themselves and go on these Journeys. And I think at the essence of pilgrimage in Tibet is this sense of putting yourself on the edge Crossing these thresholds? Transcending the bounds of your everyday and probing your own depths of your (00:28:25) spirit. (00:28:30) Would you (00:28:32) Explorer can storm after a short break the ritual instruments of Tibetan Buddhism and life in this faith in America? I'm Krista Tippett stay with (00:28:52) us. (00:29:23) The sights and sounds of Tibetan ritual are dramatic sometimes shocking to the Western Eye and Ear such ritual infused the nation of Tibet before the Dalai Lama was forced into Exile by Chinese occupation in 1959 in that semi-nomadic world monasteries flourished as the focal point of religious and social life. There were more than 7,000 monasteries and 1/4 of male Tibetans were monks. This is some of the ritual sound of Tibetan life. Tipton dodik was born in Tibet his family decided at Birth that he would be a monk and Tipton was ordained at the gyuto monastery in India. He now makes his home in America and though he is no longer a monk. He still plays the instruments both sacred and secular of his early life the Tibetan Bells. This is a very common Tibetan ritual instruments. Even the lay people in the early morning. They are offerings did play this instrument the monks and the nuns that you are Retreat for many many months and after the finishing Retreat there goes to the river. In front of the river what they do is they offering though. They're made of the dough but like a brat and bring many many of those and then they give it to the fish on the animals in the river or water or ocean and belies to feeding all the Lives who are suffering about the hunger and during that time this instrument play. It has a combination of the seven different metals and it batu's some energy and therefore when we you play sometime you are here is growing in your body because it's a gift so much feeling and join us and also emotional just without speaking playing the instrument people just tear comes out their eyes. Singing bowls it was exist at one time in a probably many many many years ago one particular Monastery and once a year very short time. They play this thing in bold in front of thousands of monks, and now seven certain places the Tibetans a use also in a western centers like Tibetan Masters have a lot of American students and their lead the meditation and before the meditation they played the singing bowls. Any instruments you play doesn't matter what instrument is and if he has a right motivation even playing a small ball can affect so many lives. This is a rain stick. These sudden plays into bed. I'll grow big trees and some of the trees also, they have a bamboo trees comes out and they have a big Monsoon Like Us in The Parlor India, and I was one time at in the region and raining and I can hearing about the drops of the water in the going during the day the bamboo, you know dry bamboo and the making a noise like exactly the ring stickers. It did give me such a joy that I'm in there right now. I can see the trees and I can see this blue sky and the beautiful mountains and all of it. I remember even I was six years old when I was just ready to escape from Tibet and Our Shepherd The Who taking care of the animals there go high up towards the mountains and play the Bamboo Flute self touched to make the joy the ships and Tibetan Yaks and the cows and people who are listening. They are flew to make them. Enjoy. as a former Monk Also mastered a unique form of Tibetan Buddhist chant throat singing began in the late 15th century monks who take it up practice 12 to 15 hours a day for years to acquire the exact technique of producing this otherworldly sound. The monks believe these centuries old texts invoking the Buddhist deities must be protected. So this type of singing is actually meant in part to disguise the words lay people are not meant to grasp these holy verses This form of ritual singing is rare even in Tibet. But Americans are becoming captivated by it American David hikes has taken Buddhist throat singing and haunting and beautiful new directions. This is David singing all alone with no other instruments or electronic enhancement. throat singer David hikes The Dalai Lama has been steeped since the age of three and mystical ritual and hundreds of Tibetan monastic rules and yet he writes and speaks with a disarming Humanity. Even when he is describing the most otherworldly practices of his faith in his autobiography. She writes poignantly of his boredom and loneliness and occasional naughtiness as a toddler growing up in the Thousand chambered Potala Palace in lhasa at the same time. He writes matter-of-factly of his important government advisor the nature along Oracle a monk who occasionally enters into trances and speaks in tongues foretelling the future and divining the pronouncements of a protector deity in person the Dalai Lama radiates his legendary cheerfulness as Robert Thurman referred to it and yet he is also Frank about the discipline with which he maintains his Equanimity every day. He observes a minimum of five and a half hours of prayer prostrations meditation and study And while he keeps to a grueling travel schedule. I sought out Tibetan Buddhist in this country both American and Tibetan to understand something of how this religion looks in their lives in our society. I'm on my way to a soccer game. There's always a soccer game Krista Penny Pastor is a teacher and mother of four who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She went to India and began to study with the Dalai Lama over 30 years ago. Now she volunteers part-time at the Deer Park monastery near Madison, which is one of the oldest and most venerable Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in America today. I went to a Buddhist Monastery and I arranged a driving lesson for one of our monks and the way out I answered some mail and dropped off some cookies that somebody had given to them. As a practicing Buddhist, it's very easy to to sit and meditate all of the time but as a person in the United States you have to do work and I think Buddhism taught me more than 30 years ago that it's the it's what you do when you're not sitting that's my particular practice. So it's the effort in the dedication and the teaching that you do want to kind of an every day basis in all your interactions. And that was very very clear to me. When I came back the first time in return to teaching I I wasn't the same person any longer. Well, you know, that's that's very intriguing. You're right. We on the outside out here about meditation but not about really the practice and the every day everyone that I meet all over the world and I've traveled for over three decades sets out there day to do the best they can. Buddhism for me on a personal level provided some very common sense answers in a way to lead my life, but I think I learned in India that you don't just sit in a cave you take the Buddhism and you work with it and you bring it into your classroom or on the subway or when you're standing in line at an airport and you talked about coming back to the States and being a teacher. I mean, could you give me some examples if you think back to those days about how you began to bring these answers and these practices into that profession? Well Buddhism talks about joy and and trying to to be a kind person with all of your actions it emphasizes positive actions over negative actions it emphasizes helping others and being altruistic and thinking of (00:42:27) others (00:42:29) before you think of yourself and that's perfect for anything you can do about Driver a teacher at Radio commentator, but for me, it was great for teacher and I tend to multitask a lot of things. So I didn't find it even restricting to teaching. It's I mean, I used to raise dogs. I raised, you know couple kids along the way it it's what you do, you know, it's very easy to sit at a teaching and receive some kind of knowledge, but then that ends and you have to get in your car and if there's a lot of traffic you have to not get angry that there's too much traffic. That's the practice for me, right? You know, the Dalai Lama is fond of saying when he's asked who he is that he is and he's a simple Buddhist monk. He said that when he received his Nobel Peace Prize, so when you hear those three words, what does that say to you, you know his Holiness actually embodies loving-kindness and that to me is what any simple Buddhist monk. is Caroline alioto was born Episcopalian in California after completing a three-and-a-half-year retreat with a high Tibetan spiritual master or impish a she became Lama Paulding drolma female llamas were practically unheard of in Tibet itself Lama Paul. Dance Tibetan teacher collar impish a spent 25 years in Retreat early in his life, including 13 years alone in a cave. Now, you are one of the first Western women to become a Lama which in some sense is equivalent to a parish priest and just as we know and Christianity, there's a whole range, you know, in terms of being a priest or a minister and cholera. I'm Shay, even though he was old and very very thoroughly trained and very highly respected by his own peers was quite a radical in some ways. It was Radical to train westerners in this way and he was the first This one to authorize westerners and Western women both men and women. Uh-huh. So he was really sent as an ambassador. Right? Right. Uh-huh. I said of spiritual teacher Ambassador, right Dalai Lama has Holiness the Dalai Lama and also his Holiness karmapa, the previous karmapa had asked him to travel to the West. So he was one of the first Tibetans to travel to the west and it was kind of funny because he always said that when they asked him that he thought well, why would anyone in the west want to hear an old man talk about Dharma and he thought that sounded very incongruous with what he'd heard about the west but it turned out actually people were interested. What does it involve for you being a llama well teaching and of course in Buddhism, everything is meant to be tested. Nothing is meant to be just taken because the teacher says or because it's in the text. In fact the word Dharma which means the teachings it also means in a morgue. (00:45:45) Eric form it (00:45:45) means truth in the inner sense. It means what is the truth of your own experience? Tashi gongs a lives in Minnesota, but he was born in Tibet near the border with India sometime between 1959 and 1962 as his family followed the Dalai Lama into Exile. I actually don't know the exact date of my but my mom she's in North India now and I asked her when it's my birthday. She have no idea. Why is that part of it is for our culture dying that day is the important so maybe that is part of it, but maybe because she's little bit uneducated and the through all these tough time after the occupation. They have to come over to India. I would like to try to talk to you as one person with a particular story in a particular life, but how this religion this this spiritual sensibility looks and how it influences the choices you make in some ways. I'm asking for you to put words to something that doesn't want to have words put to it and the words will never be big enough, but I'd like to try. Oh, that's a huge question. First of all for us the Dalai Lama is not only a leader. He is like a god but not only God but he's how should I say? It's more than that for us to know him one has to work very hard. In all times even in today's we always keep these pictures with us so that it can remind us of his teachings and his instructions and in some cases we keep rosaries. Actually. I have one here. Do you always carry your Rosary? Yeah, and this is something that remind us. Of the prayers if you do prayers with Rosary, then it will make its fullest meanings. But the rosary scriptures pictures of the Masters the goddesses. There are only there to remind us of that teachings not necessarily protect you but it can only remind you of something you already have to know. Yes, because the problem is when we live our life we tend to forget the reality of life, which is you will die someday. That is the reality. So before the time Runs Out do something. So it lends an intensity then if you do keep reminding yourself of that all the time. Yeah, it is fearful to some people to I know to look at that reality. It's tough for them. But one can overcome that by understanding it not feeling it just understanding it and then can look at the beauty of passing through. Does your religion make as much sense to you living in this culture as it did living in India? Oh, yeah. Now I'm driving city bus and when you go you go through so many, you know, so many of these peoples problem on the bus. Yeah, you come in you sit in that chair first thing in the morning and you try to be nice according to what you believe but all of a sudden somebody comes up with his problem with his stress and it's a tough it sometimes it's a tough world, but with the help of the religion, it helps me so much to neutralize all these we call it illusions. Which comes but it won't last it disappears Tashi worked as a nurse's aide in a hospital laundry assistant before he became a bus driver. He's also a skilled artist in the sacred practice of Tonka painting he works with precious minerals and metals which render brilliant color Golds and reds and Vivid turquoise and they hold that color for centuries as we talked to she enrolled one of his Tonka paintings for me. It contains symbols within circles elaborate deity's places within this world and Beyond it. This is The Wheel of Life. This is the rule of life. And is the basis of Buddhist belief, what would you want to describe most importantly about what's happening there? Well in the center, there's a three negative energies which is hatred last and laziness ignorance. So these three are the main Foundation of suffering. Enlightenment is to control these three and to understand these three then you become enlightened. There is a picture of the Buddha here. He is enlightened. So he's away from the rim of samsara. And samsara is the cycle of suffering suffering. Yeah, like we all live the Buddha, you know, those Masters are out of here, but they choose to come back to help us that's where the Reincarnation come to play. They come back again and again and there is a famous saying of one of the great Masters when you hear that alarm are speaking, he will definitely say these four words, which is the the most profound four sentences. As long as the suffering remains as long as the space remains, so shall I remain too? The Dalai Lama is unique among the world's great religious leaders in the way. He Embraces other faiths. He offers up his teachings freely, but urges people to plant Deep Roots within their own religious traditions. (00:52:20) We need more effort to sustain or to have religious. They utilize all the potential of the various major religious tradition to serve Humanity to save planet to like that the meantime reduce. The conflict in the name of (00:52:46) regions his Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet speaking at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1999 until the Chinese occupation began in the 1950s Tibet lived in vigorous and graceful relationship with the countries and religions that surrounded it and so this reflection will end with a Muslim voice Tibet is in many ways more than a country. It is more than a culture. It's an entire civilization Sadiq Wahid comes from ladakh in Northern India, which considers itself culturally to be Tibetan like Sadiq The Devout Muslims of Tibet and ladakh never consider the Dalai Lama to be a reincarnated being or a god yet. They revered him as a sage and as a leader and Muslims and Buddhists together travel to make tribute to the Dalai Lama annually on Horseback across thousands of miles carrying precious wool and the First crop of apricots and all of this were contained in maybe three or four Pony loads or maybe six at the most and then taken to him and formally given to him an acknowledgement of the fact that culturally speaking he was a center for us along with the tribute mission. For example, a lot of young monks would travel to the great colleges in Tibet Sarah Dabangg and gunden and often stay there for 10-15 years study and then maybe return maybe not return maybe stay on and continue their meditations and so forth. So it was like going to Oxford or Harvard for the Tibetan world what intrigues me so much about your story is that I get a sense of how Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan civilization and the Dalai Lama have always had an interaction with other cultures and with other religions to bet it's also In a sense so antithetical to everything modern that it has a tendency to wake you up and say well maybe there are alternative ways to be happy and I think that that is the gift for so much of its history Tibet was extremely remote and isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. And one thing that has happened with the Chinese occupation and the Exile of The Dalai Lama and all the other Tibetans have left is that Tibet has now come to the rest of the world. I think that it is very important for the West to see the Dalai Lama not As a person who is very relaxed and happy go lucky and doesn't have a power-crazed so to speak. Yes, of course. I mean, these are things that he is but it's also very important to understand what he represents. It almost transcends the Dalai Lama himself as it were and what he represents is a tradition with a capital T, which encompasses all religions and that is there is something Beyond and that needs to be approached with humility and with a thirst for understanding. Siddiq Wahid is a scholar author and businessman who lives in New Delhi India earlier in this hour. You heard Robert Thurman of Columbia University Explorer can storm musician Tipton da doc Penny pastor of Wisconsin. Llama Paulding drama of the sukkah city foundation in San Francisco and Tashi gong zi of, Minnesota. When you visit us on the web, you'll find photographs a reading list and links to news coverage of the Dalai Lama's visit to America. Go to Minnesota Public Radio Dot o-- r-- g-- and click on a commonplace. This program was produced by marja sturckow and Brian Newhouse. Our technical director is Alan Strickland with help from Scott lieber's and Michael DeMark special. Thanks go to a narrow Nicole Nelson the Minneapolis Institute of Arts love saying rob gay at UCLA and George Slade. I'm Krista Tippett the executive producer of this program is Bill muizenberg and this program is a creation of Marge's truce co-productions and Minnesota Public Radio support for this program is provided by a grant from the George Family Foundation funding innovative ideas and integrated medicine education and spirituality in everyday life. (00:58:55) A simple Buddhist monk on our midday program today if you missed part of this program will be re broadcasting in at nine o'clock tonight here on Minnesota Public Radio Gary eichten here. Thanks for joining us. By the way. You can expect much much more coverage of the Dalai Lama's visit to Minnesota throughout the next few days, including a special Carlson lecture coverage from noon to 2:00 on Wednesday. Hope you can join us. Activity at the Minnesota Legislature is picking up as the session enters its home stretch budget abortion taxes and sports stadiums will dominate the next few weeks follow all these shoes online with session 2001. It's at Minnesota Public Radio dot-org. You're listening to Minnesota Public Radio. We have a sunny Sky 62 degrees at Kinder wfm 91.1 Minneapolis. And st. Paul Saturday partly sunny with fairly brisk winds through the afternoon, maybe some rain as well later today high temperature in the low 60s where it is for 20% chance for rain tonight with a low around 40 degrees.