On Monday, September 21, at 7:30 p.m., journalist and author Pico Iyer will appear at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) as part of the Mind & Supermind lecture series. His talk, Changing the World with the Dalai Lama, One Heart at a Time, will draw upon more than three decades of dialogue with the Tibetan leader. For event info, call 687-0812 or visit lobero.com. Read on for Iyer’s thoughts on why it’s a timely topic.
1) Beijing’s Gone Mum: A few months after the conclusion of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China’s capital, the Chinese government ceased all communication with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader. “What I’ve seen in the Dalai Lama in the 18 months since my book [The Open Road, 2008] came out is that he is more grave than ever, and more ready to express his shock and horror at what’s taking place in Tibet,” wrote Iyer in a recent email. “When I traveled with him last November, his consistent message was that his policy of cooperation and dialogue has ‘failed’ and he’s keen to hear others suggest newer and more realistic ideas.”
2) There’s a Lot We Can Do: While the Dalai Lama expresses frustration with the current situation in Tibet, he’s also able to remind us of our power to make a difference in every moment. “Blessings come from yourself,” Iyer recalled His Holiness saying in response to why he doesn’t like to give blessings to people. “This stress on how much we can do-which comes from the Dalai Lama’s own deeply Buddhist thinking-is one of the most liberating and invigorating, as well as universal, aspects of his teaching,” Iyer wrote. “He’s a wise man who’s essentially asking us to listen to the wisdom in ourselves and not to him.”
3) You Don’t Have to Be Buddhist to Practice Compassion: “Imagine that person who’s just irked you-your boss, or that stranger who’s just cut in front of you in the line for Dalai Lama tickets-was your mother in your past life, or may be your mother in your future life,” Iyer wrote. “Or, if you don’t believe in past and future lives, see that person as your teacher, who’s giving you a wonderful example to practice and work on your patience and forgiveness. To me the great contribution of the Dalai Lama-and one major reason for his global popularity-is that he offers so practical and universal a code of practice that doesn’t require religion. ‘Let’s not talk about religion,’ he told an interviewer 20 years ago. ‘Let’s talk about basic human beings, and their basic responsibilities and potential.’ Now that sounds like a conversation worth having.”