This week I took my stand on the Dalai Lama crisis. In short: I do not consider that His Holiness did anything wrong. Whoever believes that should find out about what really happened.
My position is to be expected. I have been practicing Tibetan Buddhism for 15 years. Although the Dalai Lama is not my teacher, and I am not a Tibetan, I know his journey, his religion, and part of the history of the Tibetan people.
I know that ever since the Chinese invaded and annexed Tibet in 1959, the Dalai Lama has been in the crosshairs of the Chinese Communist Party. The leader of the Tibetan Government in Exile even suggested that the video of the Dalai Lama that went viral this month was possibly edited by “pro-China sources” to show a false narrative.
Everyone sees what’s inside their head
But my article is about something other than the reasons for my position. As I discussed with a friend, this event reveals that everyone perceives what’s inside their head.
Many see a “sick old man with harmful intent,” perhaps because they frequently consume content about abuse victims. Others see a Buddha of compassion because they are often exposed to the idea that the Dalai Lama is an emanation of Avalokiteshvara. Others see one more spiritual leader who turned out to be just as imperfect as the rest of the spiritual teachers because that’s how we humans are.
Regarding the child who appeared with His Holiness, some saw “an abused child whose human rights were trampled on.” Others saw “a boy fortunate enough to meet the Dalai Lama in person.” According to the boy and his mother, they undoubtedly see themselves as very lucky.
Everyone sees what’s inside their mind. The fact that everyone sees a different reality of things is enriching. But absurd conflicts arise when someone assumes that their perception of reality is the only reality.
If I considered my perspective on the Dalai Lama the only reality, I wouldn’t be able to validate or even consider the view and feelings of people who focus on victims of sexual abuse. I wouldn’t appreciate that many parents are afraid because they think of their children.
Indeed I would be enraged because I would not understand how others do not see what I see. I would think, “What the hell is wrong with people? Are they assholes or what?”
I would conclude yes. I would convince myself that everyone is stupid and that the world would be better off without idiots.
Beyond our views
Fortunately, my perspective is not the only reality. What’s more, I could be 100% wrong. But even if I wasn’t, knowing that my perception is not the only reality allows me to understand where so much anger towards the Dalai Lama comes from. It allows me to know where the pain that Tibetans feel comes from.
Before, I didn’t have that open mind. I certainly thought that my perspective was the only reality. I felt that the system was shit, that religious people were all sheep, and that only what I liked was valuable. So I was pretty annoying, just like those who think their perspective on the Dalai Lama is the only reality.
To transcend that mental illness, I received several hard blows from life, my psychologists, spiritual teachers, and Dharma.
Because that’s what the Buddha’s teaching does: it gets your head out of your ass. It makes you see that you have been asleep all your life and that your “reality” and perception of it is nothing more than an excellent projection created by your mind.
The Dharma of the Buddha not only shits on your ego, but it also destroys your world to pieces because the “world” in your head is one more concept—a sophisticated concept, sure, but a concept nonetheless.
Hopefully, this blow to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan people, Buddhism, and the Dharma itself does not alienate people from this liberating and urgent teaching.
May we all learn from this.