Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dalai Lamapalooza

My beloved niña snagged tickets for the grand event last Sunday, an appearance by his holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Sunday morning we made our way to Millennium Park, which, I might add, was my first trip there since it was unveiled, rather late considering its title.

We lined up with the rest of the eager Lamaheads, a predictable hodge podge of (paraphrasing mi niña) post-menopausal tantric hippies, Gucci Buddhists looking to get their Zen on, and a few actual Tibetans. The Dalai Lama did agree to meet the Tibetans after the talk— good move, Tenzin—though I suspect any number of the attendees would have sacrificed gobs of karma just to sit at his feet and soak up the energy. I personally thought it was good of him to meet with the displaced Tibetans (he is one himself, after all) but that leads to my interest in the event.

I went largely because I like spending time with my beloved and I admit my inclination is to view the Lama as a political figure, not a religious one. This is my old liberal gene kicking in, telling me to separate church and state—an allegedly American quality that I wholeheartedly endorse, though often it feels as though such a belief exists more on paper than in practice. (Don’t get me started.) But as a political figure I find the Lama interesting. What he might have to offer spiritually is less important to me, I will admit. I am not proud of my religious/spiritual skepticism, but I can talk about it at length having spent considerable time pondering exactly why Christianity in particular is such bullshit.

[This marks where my original draft got deleted due to some sloppy actions by yours truly, mainly my inability to click the save icon periodically, thus ensuring that I lose chunks of eloquently constructed prose. I even lost a page of an essay for school the other day. Damn, I really ought to train myself to fucking click save. I mean, how hard is that for Christ’s sake?]

What was the message? Something along the lines of be good to each other, love each other, don’t engage in violence, reflect often… that sort of thing. All of this is good but I was struck by its simplicity. It did seem relatively simple at first, but further consideration of the simplicity of these teachings struck me as complex in a very depressing way. Let me attempt to untangle: the fact that the message of the Dalai Lama strikes one (me, to be specific) as simple is sad in contrast with a world that needs this sort of advice. Were we universally more in harmony with and less inclined to bomb/stab/shoot/smack the shit out of each other we would laugh at the Lama and say, “and birds go tweet.” Kind of sad when you think about it.

[I just saved. My lesson has been learned.]

The scores of Lamaphiles falling into that before mentioned post-menopausal description still hungrily devoured this message. Alas I had to walk past these aging hippie women bouncing tantric-sex style along to the beat of Tibetan percussionists. I may never recover. Though I did not see the gleam in their eyes as they absorbed the Lama’s energy, I can imagine it. And it ain’t pretty. And it might have been nice for the Lama to spend a wee bit more time discussing the political situation of Tibet, but that’s me being greedy. The guy clearly has other things to say and I ought to try and see that as opposed to wanting to hear nothing but stories of the Chinese invasion. It’s similar to the way the Northern Irish poets I recently saw seemed disinclined toward discussing The Troubles at length. Anyway, I can always rent Kundun for that, which I probably will soon.

Prior to the speech and the performance, a good three-hour event in all, I did as many were doing on the lawn: I took a little outdoor nap. When in Rome, as they say. Blanket spread on the grass, I dozed under the relatively tame Chicago sun. Or so I thought. As of today, my forehead is still peeling. Considering my disinclination toward summer and my time normally spent studying or drinking in bars, it is rare for me to get any sun. The peeling skin really compliments the unruly hair. I’m something to behold, let me tell you. Oh, and I promptly got sick after the event. I blame my roommate who was sick all last week (clear logic, I’d say) but he thinks it was the result of being in close proximity to hippies. Subsequently, I have missed two days of work and am only now feeling able to focus long enough to read/write. This is worth mentioning because (A.) I still managed to get my homework done under the fog of illness, and, (B.) it’s my fucking blog and I’ll mention whatever I want. Anyway, I have spent the last few days eating spicy food (Pad Thai with added red pepper, Indian food con mi bella, eggs with hot sauce) and drinking every kind of tea imaginable. The body gets sick to remind us of something… not sure what. That we are transient beings? Well, either way it’s curbed my smoking. To aid with this I watched The Insider yesterday while collapsed on the couch. It made me not want to smoke for numerous reasons, one of which is to stop making tobacco companies rich. Check with me in a month and see how I’m doing with all that.