The 14th Dalai Lama is in Scotland today (June 22, 2012) and I’ve been thinking about him this week.
A few weeks ago I watched a film at the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) called the Dalai Lama Renaissance. The film was not so much about the man himself as about the effect he has on others.
In 1999, 40 of the West’s leading and most creative thinkers visited the Dalai Lama’s residence in Dharamsala, in the Himalayan Mountains of Northern India. The purpose of their meetings was to discuss the problems of the world and what changes could be made.
However, things didn’t quite go to plan.
The group held meetings to discuss how they were going to approach the Dalai Lama. These meetings were often tense affairs. There were a lot of strong characters, with strong viewpoints and a quite a few egos. Discussions were heated and tempers were frayed. The film was funny at times, without perhaps meaning to be. It was entertaining to watch the dynamics and dramas unfolding.
This fracas behind the scenes emphasized even more the disparity from the group to the serenity of the Dalai Lama. When he received them he was gracious; he listened intently, emanating calmness and reason among the group. He often broke into his trademark childish giggle and sometimes hearty chuckle. His replies were simple but effective.
Often he would say “I’m just a simple monk”, as if amused by his power when he was asked to help them tackle the problems of the world head on. He reminded everyone “we are all equal here”. And the group could be impatient, keen to effect change immediately.
After the film was screened at the GFT, film-maker Khashyar Darvich gave a Q&A session. A softly spoken, thoughtful man – you almost felt like he was one of the Dalai Lama’s monks.
It transpired that as the film-maker, he was at one point thinking “what is the story here?” in among all his hours and hours of footage. But what became apparent to him, and then portrayed during the film were the lessons each person learned and the personal journeys they went on. Rather than fix the world – they had to fix themselves first. What comes from within emanates without. Be at peace to effect peace.
More than a decade has passed since filming began and some of the people involved in this project have risen in profile and used their knowledge wisely. Quantum physicists Fred Alan Wolf and Amit Goswami went on to film What The Bleep Do We Know and Dr Michael Beckwith, a leader in the New Thought Movement has also appeared as a spiritual teacher in the movie The Secret.
Brother Wayne Teasdale, monk, author and campaigner on social issues, featured heavily throughout the film, which is dedicated to him. He passed away in 2004.
The film was narrated by Harrison Ford and the sentiments of the film were summed up in a quote read by Ford from Leo Tolstoy “Everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself”.
“You, yourself must make the effort. The Buddhas are only teachers.” Buddhist Proverb
For more information on the Dalai Lama Renaissance see: Dalai Lama Film