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Dalai Lama in Memphis: Fist Bump is the New Namaste

posted by Ethan Nichtern

dalai-lama_memphis_fist_bump.jpgby Ethan Nichtern

According to the Associated Press, the interim Mayor of Memphis, Myron Lowery concocted a new way to greet His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Fist Bump! Yes, that’s right. He also said “Hello, Dalai.” Apparently his Holiness was a bit confused, but chuckled when Lowery showed him how to properly executed the bump. I wonder if Fox News will accuse His Holiness of giving a Terrorist Fist Bump. Given that The Dalai Lama told CNN last year that he is actually a Marxist philosophically, the cable news media might find a way to link this meeting to Sarah Palin’s Death Panels (If it tries hard enough). But a more pressing question to people who meditate and Buddhist practitioners: Is a fist bump the new namaste

Update: Here is raw video via Huffington Post. The AP seems to report confusion where there was none. All in all, a beautiful moment. 



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Comments read comments(27)
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Jeff

posted September 23, 2009 at 12:27 pm


Of course the mayor was being culturally insensitive. Do you honestly think he would have done any thing like that with Pope? Of course, not.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted September 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm


Did you watch the video Jeff?



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Damaris

posted September 23, 2009 at 12:32 pm


oh… that brings a smile to my face.
lol I’m still trying to understand why they call it a “fist bump”. I wish a reporter would ask someone what its called.



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Dharmakara

posted September 23, 2009 at 1:37 pm


Damaris: That’s what they call it… it is what it is, a fist bump. There’s actually a Wikipedia entry on the practice:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fist_bump



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Damaris

posted September 23, 2009 at 3:31 pm


ummm sorry Dharmakara. That is not it’s original name. So far from it.
Wiki – is a triki dicki. :-0



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Dharmakara

posted September 23, 2009 at 5:37 pm


Don’t know all the various times it has been referred to in the past, but “fist bump” has been accepted by all mainstream media and news agencies, as well as a preferred greeting by germophobiacs, such as Howie Mandel. It may have roots in some ancient tradition (several have been cited through the years), but it is what it is, a fist bump, and if this particular Wikipedia article is to be considered “tricki-dicki”, then so must Time Magazine and many respected publications, not to mention PBS and the BBC.



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Nancy

posted September 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm


according to urbandictionary.com, “fist bump” is “a white person’s term for dap.” dap is when two people bump fists.



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DMC

posted September 23, 2009 at 6:53 pm


I’ve always heard it called a ‘dap’. I’ve never heard anyone call it a ‘fist bump’ until these ridiculous newscasters got on the case after the Obamas did it last year. for a while, they were actually calling it ‘fisting’. seriously.
I thought the moment was very cute. The Dalai Lama didn’t seem offended, so I don’t see why we should feel be offended on his behalf.



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Dharmakara

posted September 23, 2009 at 7:10 pm


Come on now, it was been referred to as that before the Obamas. While It really depends on whether one is in the inner city or not. I’ve heard “dap” before, as well as “bumping”. Also, there were a few sociologists who have commnented on it in urban studies long before the mainstream media grabbed a hold of it.



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bobby lee

posted September 24, 2009 at 2:00 am


While this may be a “beautiful moment”, it is the most disrespectful thing I have seen in a long time. Even as a good natured gesture, how do you greet a peaceful religious leader with a “fist” bump? Disgusting! And I won’t even address the “hello dalai” remark.



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tina

posted September 24, 2009 at 10:46 am


“Hello Dalai” was the silly rambling of a nervous man. I’ll bet he will regret that attempt at wit at some point.
I’m sure sharing a little “dap” certainly wasn’t meant to be disrespectful. It was meant to be an extension of friendship and …in a weird way…sort of an invitation to explore a different culture.
I bet HH doesn’t take himself as seriously as The Pope does…he is far too humble. I wouldn’t compare him to The Pope…totally different kind of guy. HH is a lighthearted, joy-loving kind of monk despite his position and the responsibilities that come with it(perhaps even because of it). He doesn’t grasp to any sense of ego or identity and therefore wouldn’t feel the same angst over disrespect as others might.
I say “no harm no foul” simply by virtue of the principles he embodies and who we strive to be as practitioners of these principles.
Simply said…lighten up!



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barry

posted September 24, 2009 at 10:54 am


wonderful! i see no disrespect at all, just acceptance and love!



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Larry

posted September 24, 2009 at 12:15 pm


Can anyone refer me to a script or clip of the Dalai Lama stating he is a Marxist? I thought he was a Buddhist, philosophically speaking.



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Dharmakara

posted September 24, 2009 at 12:28 pm

DMC

posted September 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm


Dharmakara: I only mean that I find many of these newscasters to be incredibly lazy and out of touch. Rather than find out what the actual term is, they make up their own, and often with hilarious results. ‘Terrorist Fist Jab’, ‘Fisting’, ‘Tea Bagging’. Its just silly to me. They have google, they have a research department, they have the resources to check up on these things, and yet they don’t.



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Earthbound1959

posted September 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm


Although some might find this “cute”, with our world being in such “disarray” when it comes to respect for another human beings’ beliefs and culture, I do not believe that it is amusing. In alot of cultures the fist bump is considered a violent gesture, and even though it was done in humor, I believe the last thing that should have been present in that first meeting was humor. With Memphis in such turmoil and being one of the cities topping at the charts of worst crime, I think a little RESPECT and solemness should have been excecuted with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. How would Myron would have liked it if one of the citizens in Mexico would greet him with this gesture which is often just tilting the chin up or tilting the chin up with palms upturned and a shrug. It means “What’s happening?” but you will also see it used as a general greeting. I have found even the youngest kids know this gesture and use it in replace of a verbal greeting. In other cultures it could be taken as offensive.
One should be guarded and desist from behavior that would be seen as questionable or offensive and remember to use a little class and respect especially at the first encounter. But goes to show …….



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Dharmakara

posted September 24, 2009 at 12:47 pm


DMC: “lazy” would be an understatement (LOL)
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of this in the media, especially CNN and Fox, but in all honesty it’s not much better in Asia. In most cases it’s usually an issue of journalistic integrity, a ship which seems to have sailed off on the horizon quite a few years ago.



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Your Name

posted September 24, 2009 at 12:59 pm


Culturally insensitive or not on the part of the interim mayor, I thought His Holiness’s reaction and willingness to learn something new on the spot was wonderful. Humor is just another thing that brings us all together, along with learning new ways to communicate and being receptive to each other’s cultures. The mayor received the Dalai Lama’s scarf, so the mayor taught him the fist bump, no big deal.



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Larry

posted September 24, 2009 at 1:38 pm


Thank you, Dharmakara. Has there been any follow-up on this remark since January 2008?



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Ethan Nichtern

posted September 24, 2009 at 2:02 pm


@Larry: here is a link to his CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria earlier this year via our blog: http://bit.ly/4mLAEI
Strange that your comment seems to suggest Marxism and Buddhism are somehow at odds. Or am I misreading you?
Best
Ethan



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Kevin

posted September 24, 2009 at 2:05 pm


This all goes to show how most politicians are even more clueless than thier electorate…Simple human respect and even the appearance of propriety, will go a long way in relating to each other…Why we continue to elect and stomach the antics of these politicans is puzzling in the least.



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Greg

posted September 24, 2009 at 2:11 pm


So 50 years later the Dalai Lama is Marxist and the PRC isn’t. There’s an irony.



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Dharmakara

posted September 24, 2009 at 2:31 pm


Larry: I believe it has come up several times in interviews, most recently in regard to economics. It’s also important to understand that there’s a difference between identifying oneself as a Marxist, as opposed to identifying oneself as a communist. Sometimes to the two get confused.



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Barbara

posted September 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm


I think it was a beautiful moment and the Dalai Lama quite obviously enjoyed it, turning and repeating it to those around him. The mayor also showed great respect in bowing to the Dalai Lama. Why make such a political stink about something that was so delightful? Just like Pope John Paul, the Dalai Lama has a great sense of humor, as we all should, instead of being ruled by emotions that turn into frustration as he says in the Fox interview.
Namaste, Ya’ll



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Glenn

posted September 24, 2009 at 2:54 pm


Just demonstrates HH’s compassion, wisdom and humor. I wouldn’t recommend trying it with the Pope;)



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Anan E. Maus

posted September 25, 2009 at 10:25 am


it is good to share light-hearted fun. Nothing wrong with that.
As long as it doesn’t get taken to absurdity and people start thinking that light-hearted fun is the entire content of the path.
gassho



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Christopher Mohr

posted September 26, 2009 at 5:18 am


The Army’s first Buddhist Chaplain, (YES, Buddhism is a religion) Thomas Dyer was supposed to give the invocation for this, in his ACU’s. Don’t know if it actually happened, but there it is.



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