Trudy Goodman

From Trudy

Guns & Incense

Each morning this week, His Holiness the Dalai Lama walks from his residence in Dharamsala, India, across a courtyard to the temple where participants in the 33rd Mind & Life meetings stand with palms together awaiting his arrival. Two men walk in front of the entourage; a maroon-robed monk swings a big censer of smoking incense on a chain, wrapping the entourage in a cloud of fragrance. Next to the monk walks an Indian soldier wearing a beret, sweeping a machine gun back and forth between the people lined up on either side to catch a glimpse or a greeting from HHDL.

Once seated, the Dalai Lama makes an impassioned plea to us, the gathered scientists and educators, and to all 7 billion human beings to make the 21st century “a century of dialogue,” wisely acting on behalf of the long-term future of humanity and the earth. He reminds us that we have to live together side by side with wisdom and compassion, for “how our life goes depends on the love of others.” How can we overcome the isolating, narrow-minded focus on ‘me, me, me’ as more special than all the other human beings? He said, “I never think, ‘I’m the Dalai Lama.’ Wherever I go, I’m a simple monk among my sisters and brothers. I’m always laughing, teasing, and joyful to counteract the pressure of my role.”

While the ultimate solution for self-centeredness is the infinite altruism of understanding the nature of reality, we need simple warm-hearted recognition of our interdependence before we can demilitarize our world. All week we learned about education of the heart. We listened to research about the effectiveness of training the mind in compassion and emotional intelligence while guarded by soldiers wielding rifles. The most respected monk in the world said, “We need action! If prayers and blessings were enough, we’d have achieved peace and disarmament a thousand years ago!”

What action is right for you? Like the high school students who bravely protested gun violence this week, choose something that matters to you — and do it! We can inspire each other to show up for team humanity, and live in loving awareness of our shared responsibility for human flourishing.