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Cultivating Happiness
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Originally uploaded by Robert Scales.
Earlier today I saw the Dalai Lama speak here in Vancouver. It was an interesting event. He started by saying that he's just another person like anyone else, and by the end I think I understood. What he has to say isn't particularly revolutionary or astounding, it's just stuff that all of us have heard at one time or another. What makes it different is that it's all sorts of stuff that makes sense, being said by one person instead of scattered as good advice and thoughts from a hundred or thousand people.

It's also different because it's said by him. No, I don't really buy into the Buddhist story about who the Dalai Lama is or even reincarnation. Not that I disbelieve it necessarily either, but it's not the reason I think his words carry weight. Rather, here's this guy, and for his entire life he's been brought up to think about wisdom, how to be wise, how to make wise decisions, how to be happy, how to live the good life. He doesn't do this in his spare time, either, and he doesn't do this in his backyard by a barbeque. No, he spends all his productive time being the central repository and processor of wisdom for an entire nation, and sometimes he lends that out and then he does that for the entire world. He spends his time traveling, learning, broadening his horizons and thinking beyond his own faith and into the realm beyond individual faiths. In this particular calling, he's at his peak, too—the longer one actively deals in the matter of wisdom, the more meaningful understanding can be consolodated.

Aside from it being fairly likely that he knows what he's talking about from long experience and learning, it's also meaningful coming from him because of the extra weight invested in his words. We, as a species that takes a very long time to develop to maturity and one that passes on knowledge socially rather than genetically, need touchstones in which we can invest meaning. The Dalai Lama, being the Dalai Lama, reminds us that this stuff he's saying is important. The good advice that Uncle Joe offers on being happy might sound good at the time, but pass out of memory soon enough. It's only Joe, after all, and what does he know? But when the same thing is said by the Dalai Lama, you tend to stick a label on that piece of wisdom that says This is true and good and worth remembering. It's not that it's really worth any more coming from one than the other, but promoting one human being to the status of Wise One means that we are more likely to actually listen when we hear the wisdom spoken.

That's the kind of stuff that I do in my spare time—thinking about eternal ponderables like how to live the good life, how to be at peace, why being at peace is even a good thing, and so on and so forth. I really have to admire someone who gets the chance to do that for a lifetime. Even knowing that what he's saying is stuff we already hear all the time, in pieces or in neglected bits of wisdom from forgettable sources, it's particularly gratifying to hear him speak words I've said myself. ("If something can't be overcome, then there is no point in worrying. If it can be overcome, then there is also no point in worrying.") It's a vain thing, and, being all common pieces of wisdom it's to be expected really. But still, that's what I've been talking about—when we invest Wisdom in an icon like the Dalai Lama, we can be somewhat assured that what we think is a good idea on our own is very likely to actually be a good idea once we hear it from him.

Entirely apart from the philosophy and theology of the event, it was interesting historically. The 14th Dalai Lama is only the third person to be conferred honourary Canadian citizenship. Though this was done with a motion in Parliament a few weeks ago (rather pissing off the Chinese government), it was before his talk today that he was formally presented with the document conferring his citizenship. That was something significant to see.

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I want his job, in fact, I think I am going to run away and become a monk.

My dream is to know and study, like this man does. To pass on wisdom.

Though, in the interest of the Truth, his intetions are not without contention.

Here's to bringing back philosophy to a noble profession.

I was pleased when that he was awarded Canadian citizenship. I know it pisses off the Chinese government and they are a big trading partner of ours, but it is nice to see we don't treat them like we treat the Americans.

I had something to say but now I lost it.. Damn.

Because I was curious about the other two, so I thought others might be as well:
"On November 19, 2001, Prime Minister Jean Chretien conferred an Honourary Canadian Citizenship on Nelson Mandela in recognition of Mandela's leadership in defeating apartheid in South Africa.
The first was Raoul Wallenberg, who was posthumously awarded Honourary Canadian Citizenship in 1985, for his efforts in saving thousands of Jewish people during WWII."

Don't forget the kids rockin' out playing the traditional Tibetan music -- especially that one power-trio set with the five-year-old on vocals and the ten-year-old rockin' it out on the bass-like thing. They kicked ass! :)

He was fucking metal. \m/

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Awesome! Each little bit makes the world a nicer place to live.

Sometimes all it takes to become a little bit happier is noticing that we're being unhappy and decide not to be.

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