I went to see the Dalai Lama yesterday. It was amazing. The sound in the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum is terrible, and an astounding number of people brought their tiny little babies with them (surprisingly, the tiny little babies got restless quickly), but it was really very amazing to see His Holiness and hear him talk and be reminded that there's another way to live your life.
There was a protest outside, by the Western Shugden Society; they were protesting the Dalai Lama because he has repudiated Shugden practice, which they did by calling him a liar and a hypocrite. I think a lot of people don't realize that their are different schools in Tibetan Buddhism, schools that have been fighting for power for hundreds of years. I'm not going to pretend to have any deep knowledge of sectarian difference in Tibetan Buddhism, but Shugden practice is apparently controversial, and the Dalai Lama believes it's detrimental to the unity of the Tibetan community. [There's more information on his official website.] In any case, I find it hard to take a "Buddhist" organization seriously when they're calling the Dalai Lama a 'liar' and a 'hypocrite.' So much of the pamphlet they were handing out sounds exactly like Chinese propaganda, which I find really suspicious. The protesters were primarily Westerners, which is also suspect. The protesters were much louder as everyone was leaving the talk; the Tibetans in attendance were pissed. In any issue that involves Tibet, I'm inclined to side with Tibetans.
But that is enough of that. I don't know that much about it, and as I was standing off to the side, watching the (primarily Western) protesters yell that the Dalai Lama is a liar and the Tibetans yell that the protesters should be ashamed of themselves, I realized the protesters weren't going to stop until we left. And I did, and now I'll stop talking about them here. The important part of the day was that I was lucky to see His Holiness again, lucky that my parents bought me a ticket and lucky that I was able to hear him speak and be inspired.
Yuck, no more religion talk on the blog again, ever.