Sunday, March 13, 2011
Geshe Dorjee, Tibetan Monk, Razorback
This week the Dalai Lama confirmed that he was relinquishing his political role as leader of the Tibetan people. Analysts, according to the New York Times, said that "by formally giving up political power, the Dalai Lama, 75, was trying to deepen the authority of the movement’s democratic government, which is based in Dharamsala. This month, Tibetan exiles are expected to elect a new prime minister." On May 11 the Dalai Lama will be the guest of another Lama, Geshe Dorjee, at the University of Arkansas. Geshe Thupten Dorjee was in Chicago last week, speaking at Wright College and Northwestern University. I was fortunate last week to attend his lecture at Northwestern and to join a small group dining with him the following evening. Geshe Dorjee was ordained by the Dalai Lama in 1986 and currently teaches at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Teaching, as a Lama in the United States especially, means addressing all topics, spiritual to smartphones. How does one handle being treated as a sort of oracle, in large groups and small? It's a big responsibility. As someone who probably has much more to say than can ever be expressed in the time allotted, Geshe speaks very rapidly; sometimes adjacent words are conjoined as one, and occasionally syllable order is compromised ("baleebie", we figured out, meant Libya). But he was thrilling to listen to, start to finish. One simple message I took away from the lecture is that we are intended to be happy. Clearly Geshe is, living simply (all-purpose sleeveless crimson robe and sandals) and always "on" in every setting. While this takes a lot of energy, I am guessing it supplies him with an equal measure. The clarity of vision exemplified by Geshe Dorjee and the Dalai Lama, and its meaning for people worldwide, are a big part of the continuing idea of Tibet in the face of intense Chinese government pressure.