‘Wise Selfish’ much better than ‘Foolish Selfish’

April 20th, 2008 § 0 comments

Today I went to see the Dalai Lama at our local basketball arena. This is one of the things I like about Ann Arbor. When the Pope comes to America, he sets up shop in Washington and New York. The Dalai Lama spends a few days in my home town…

(By the way, I think I saw his motorcade coming into town out on Geddes Road on Friday afternoon. There were about six police cars with lights and sirens on, and perhaps three black SUVs with guys in suits and shades. It looked like Homeland Security on steroids. Regarding security, there was a big demonstration this afternoon during the Dalai Lama’s second “show”, mainly I think by Chinese students lamenting the perceived politicization of this year’s Olympics.)

I had put off getting Dalai Lama tickets (which were free, by the way, unless you wanted to pay $1,000 to be right up front on the floor) for a number of reasons. Though I am intrigued by Tibetan Buddhism, I am not a committed devotee. It would not be unthinkable for me to miss the Dalai Lama, if my opportunity to see him was to be from afar in a basketball arena.

Also, I am not overfond of Crisler Arena as a venue. Over the years I’ve seen and heard a number of musical groups and Big 10 basketball games and gymnastics competitions there, and the arena definitely feels and sounds like the 1960s basketball arena it is. Before today, my most notable Crisler Arena moments were during Bob Dylan and the Band’s 1974 rendition of Like A Rolling Stone, when they brought the lights up on the audience, and then hearing the Police on April 7th, 1982. (I remember April 7th because it snowed 7 inches that April day).

So, though I had intended to to get tickets, I procrastinated, and then they were all gone. Today Karen had an open house at the Observatory, so I had the girls. I had a work bid at 2:25 this afternoon. If I took the girls, Thea would probably be bored…

However, when it came down to it this morning I looked online and realized there were two “shows” today, at 10 and 2. I found that, basketball arena or no, I really wanted to be a part of this wavefront. Someone would probably have an extra ticket.

I drove over to Crisler half an hour late. I parked and walked up to the arena, and sure enough, the first person I saw approached me and asked if I needed a ticket. Yes, indeed. He said it was his good karma moment. I went through a door into the arena and pulled out my keys for the metal detector shakedown. The person manning the machine said I could not bring my little blue key chain pocket knife into the arena. Well, my “knife” is barely a knife – I think the blade is about one and a quarter inches long – but no problem, I’ll just take it outside and bury it somewhere. After all, a Dalai Lama concert in Ann Arbor is pretty secure. Not a lot of knife thieves on the premises.

Across the sidewalk just outside the arena was a railing and just beyond the railing on the ground were some flat flagstones. A couple of them looked loose. I’ll just stash my knife under those stones… When I looked under the first stone, I saw there were already two or three other much larger knives stashed there. Oh well. I put my little blue knife on top of a stone near the end of the railing and headed back into the arena.

By the way, I got my little blue knife back when I left.

Inside it was just like every Dalai Lama event you’ve ever seen on video. They had a real nice stage with beautiful red and gold decorations. Monks sat around the stage on cushions. The Dalai Lama read and commented upon verses, sometimes in Tibetan (I think), every once in a while in English. His English was articulate enough but accented, and his translator’s clear, patient, and lucid explanations were easy to apprehend, even in the arena’s boomy auditory space.

At one point a verse concerned with compassion and altruism was being considered. In the course of stressing how we served our own interests most effectively by seeing to the well-being of all other sentient beings, the Dalai Lama, in English, made the piquant observation “‘Wise Selfish’ much better than ‘Foolish Selfish'”.

I intend to live by that one.

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