Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

‘meet and talk and listen’ ~ His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is a funny guy. He can even find humour in his unpopularity w/ the Chinese (“I give them a little bit of trouble… People who create trouble for you… give you opportunity to practice tolerance,” he said w/ a big a grin).

He’s also a polite panelist, making sure today, in Fayetteville, that he understood and responded to his co-panelists (Sister Helen Prejean, of Dead Man Walking fame, and Dr. Vincent Harding, civil rights icon). The topic of the morning’s panel was ‘Nonviolence in the New Century.’


Each of the three discussants has seen (or been the victim of) concerted violence. But what I came away with wasn’t a sense of their past griefs, or the horrors to which they have each born witness. What I scribbled furiously in my journal was hope. These three wonderful people — who have fought against genocide, racism and death — are hopeful. And they are full of compassion.

Towards the end of this amazing conversation, His Holiness was asked to comment on ‘the efficacy of violence’ as a means of addressing conflict(s). What he said resonated, at least for me (and the many people who clapped :)).


He said ‘Violence is unpredictable.’ Instead, he urged, ‘we need to meet. And talk. And listen.’ He added that we must learn to distinguish the actor from actions. Stopping wrongdoing helps not only the victims, but also the wrongdoer. So that true compassion stops harmful actions as much for the actor as the actions. Perhaps referring to bin Laden (who was mentioned in the framing question), His Holiness said that you stop him, but then you talk to him.

‘You stop him and then you ask: What is making you so crazy?‘ the Dalai Lama said w/ a smile.

So now I’m wondering why we can’t all just sit down and talk. And listen. To what is making us all soooo crazy…Maybe over tea?

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