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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Opinion: Stephen Schettini - The Dalai Lama - a man of integrity

November 16, 2007

The Suburban, Quebec's largest English weekly magazine

To meet the Dalai Lama is to experience the vivid sensation of being 
deeply and personally liked.

The Dalai Lama's in the news recently, with the aid of Angela Merkel, 
George Bush and Stephen Harper, irritating the heck out of China, as 
if their Himalayan apple cart could actually be upset.

The thought of the Tibetan leader just down the road in Ottawa 
brought back fond memories of my times with him in Dharamsala, back 
in the late '70s. He's a particularly likable man - playful, funny, 
self-deprecating, even whacky. If you saw his acceptance speech to 
the US Congress you'd have seen him bumble along eccentrically 
without losing his dignity or his audience for a moment.

There isn't a shred of self-consciousness in the man, nor a cynical 
bone in his body. He's no typical political leader.

The Red Army swarmed Tibet's capital in 1959, and has never looked 
back. The ensuing brutality and cultural genocide has been a 
resounding success, and there's no way Europe, North America, nor 
even China for that matter, could ever restore Tibet to the Tibetans.

Massive immigration and control over schooling has made the Dalai 
Lama's people a minority within their own country, and their language 
a historical artifact.

The time when a courageous stand by the US, Canada or Europe could 
have made a difference is long past, and their shame is hardly erased 
by these largely symbolic snubs to modern China.

The Tibetan leader, however, is characteristically gracious. In the 
long run, he's seeking 'meaningful autonomy' rather than independence 
for his country. His simple demand for dialogue makes the Chinese 
look absurd and paranoid in their panic to shut him up.

He's even credited the Chinese invasion for liberating him from the 
onerous persona of a living Buddha that he was raised to inhabit.

He's been free to be himself, travel the world and explore the 
interest in the science and technology that inspired suspicion in the 
tutors and guardians of his pre-exile days.

We can only hope that some of his integrity rubs off on the men and 
women in high office to whom his access has lately become public.

He's described George Bush as a 'likable' man whose intentions in 
Iraq were 'good,' while criticizing the tragic outcome of his policy 
as the inevitable fruit of violence.

His most common theme in public teaching is the practice of love and 
compassion, and to meet him is to experience the vivid sensation of 
being deeply and personally liked.

You may suggest that he plays his role very well, and while it's true 
that he's a very playful person, don't imagine for a moment that he's 
putting on a role. If it were that easy, every other political and 
business leader would be just as profitably warm and fuzzy.

His openness comes from a meditative approach to integrity that can't 
be produced by pre-ordained rules of conduct. His warmth is 
spontaneous and uncontrived.

The impression he makes on people, and his ability to share the joy 
of being with us, is both simple and uncommon. We're generally taught 
to think of behavior as something that's put on like an overcoat, not 
something that's brought out intuitively through the practice of 
inner reflection.

You don't have to go and sit at his feet to improve yourself. Just 
follow his example - spend a little time each day exploring your own 
integrity before you turn outwards to make the world a better place.

Stephen Schettini's meditation workshops are in session until Dec. 
17, and will begin again in early 2008. See, or 
call 450-853-0616.

2007-11-14 09:57:26 

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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