Image by Perfecto Insecto
thursday, may 20, 2010
HHDL at radio city music hall!
today i got up early (6:30) and went to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama at radio city music hall! i had tickets to 2 sessions that i got off CL – the 9:30 and the 1:30. i knew when i got off at rock center that i was in the right place bc there were all these monks getting off the subway; so funny.
so my dear friend linda bennett met me for the 9:30 session, which was incredible to see the start of. when HHDL came out, all the monks that were seated on the stage rose (well, everybody in the place stood up) and they bowed to him so incredibly deeply. you could hear a pin drop. HHDL walked over to see and greet monks and most of them got on their hands and knees and kissed his feet, which snapped me back to a place of "oh yeah, this is a religion." i am not the biggest fan of any organized religion but so far of the ones i’ve been exposed to buddhism seems to be the least personally offensive. anyway, they were bowing and feet kissing and praying and stuff and it was just an incredible site to see. it made me cry a bit, to see people so incredibly devote. i am sure it was as close to a monk bum rush as it gets. it was kinda like when i practiced with pattabhi jois in SF in like 2000 and people were kissing his feet. i didn’t like that so much then either.
anyway so then he walked around and patted richard gere on the shoulders and walked to the front of the stage, saluted the crowd (which bought on loads of laughter) and walked around the front of the stage with his hand covering his eyes bc of the house lights. he waived to people and then as he turned around gave the crowd a little "forget about you" dismissal/arm wave/arm throw thingy since he couldn’t see. again, laughter. then he prostrated himself on the floor and bowed three times on a special rug (which got picked up IMMEDIATELY after he was done and carried off). then he transitioned to the raised stage and sat down (rather hard i might add) and started talking and saying hello.
then there were introductory prayers and chantings welcoming everyone and i am sure part of that was welcoming HHDL.
then he talked for the next few hours about the Big Bang theory and how every religion deserves respect and how you can learn from everything and if you take bits and pieces from things that resound to you it can’t hurt. he talked about a woman who was a hindu but when the christian missionaries came and helped her and her children from devastation she told HHDL that as a sign of thankfulness, in this life she would be a christian but in the next a hindu. i think that he was either saying that it was good to stick to one thing for ALL lives or he thought it funny that someone would change religion. i don’t know. then he talked about a guy who was a devote something-or-other and how he sat with HHDL naked. and HHDL said "i saw alllllllllll his devotion." comedy!
it took me a while to figure out that there was a translator on stage who would pepper HHDL’s talking with what he was trying to say. at first it sounded like this angelic (for lack of a better word) layering of words/sound that was like a whisper. when HHDL got stuck on a word the translator would help. in the 2nd session i figured out that HHDL would ask in tibetan something i am sure was akin to "how do i say it?" which the translator would then reply "thirteen" or "heat" or "energy" or something. anyway the translator was invaluable during the 2nd session when HHDL would read verses from nagarjuna’s commentary on bodhicitta in tibetan and then would have them translated in english. for as stressful a job as that translator had – basically translating the 14th reincarnation of a spiritual leader who has chosen to be reborn in order to enlighten others – he handled it quite well. but even i was cringing a bit when HHDL would cut him off and shake his finger at him and say something that i know was simply emphatic and not chastising. but still, HHDL cut you off, whoa.
then there was a few lighter moments (esp when HHDL said, "what do you think? some sense?" to the audience after a LOT of verse reading and talk about nothingness and emptiness and nirvana – both with and without residue). i was a little lost but still for some reason had a big grin plastered on my face. i think it was because he put on a sun visor to deflect the house lights (funny!) and he also reminded me of my dad.
it was interesting that there was headphones available for translation into mandarin and cantonese. i wonder if that was more of a statement than not.