Editor’s Note: Sarah Gordon, a UCSD research safety specialist, was among the crowd of people who packed RIMAC to listen to the Dalai Lama. Here she recounts the experience of putting a question to the spiritual leader:
After he took the stage he stood for a minute to watch the opening musicians as he tapped his fingers on his knees to the rhythm. One of my most touching memories from the day was witnessing him truly embrace the moment with joy and awe as he watched the percussionists. When he later inspired us to laugh, we began to feel the energy he radiates: joyful, calm and humorous, full of child-like laughter mixed with the wisdom of an old man.
Although the distinguished professors that shared the stage first looked tense, with intellectually-dignified body language, as the discussion proceeded I could see them melting into the moment, feeding off of the energy in the room. The expressions on their faces relaxed, at one point appearing as if they were having a hard time NOT smiling. Sometimes the Dalai Lama would pause to speak with his translator who appears to be able to finish his sentences. It was palpable how strong their relationship appears to be.
As I recognized an audience question being read aloud by the translator, I was stunned. He had selected mine to ask.
It read “How does he suggest we maintain patience and calm when we engage in an argument with those who disbelieve in the realities of climate change?”
Nobody around me knew it was my question. I bit my lip in excitement. I knew that his answer would be guidance for all of humanity, but I felt like he was speaking directly to me. As he spoke, my chin trembled with the emotional impact of the moment.
“We have to listen with respect…if necessary some pleasant argument (with) no negative feeling…also…there might be times where you cannot do really much at all, in such situations, remember the advice of 8th century Buddhist master who said, with respect to a problem: if there is a solution, there’s no need to be overwhelmed or worried about it. And if there is no solution, then there is no point in worrying about it.”
It took two days to come down from the emotional high, and I’ve felt passionately invigorated by his wisdom ever since.