Monday, April 14, 2008

"If you could ask the Dalai Lama one question..." (from Ali, Seattle student)

(By Ali Johnson, Bridges to Understanding student from Salmon Bay Middle School)

“If you could ask the Dalai Lama one question, what would it be?” I asked.

I was inside Quest Field at the Bridges to Understanding information booth. The question was hard enough already, but factor in the fact that it was dark, noisy, crowded and a giant polar bear puppet had just passed by and finding the answer seemed near impossible. Zama Vuntu struggled to find a suitable answer, "I think…I think I would ask him if he sometimes feels like he is next to God.: Zama gave me a charming smile that I guessed meant “I’ve answered your question, now can I go?”

“Okay, thanks” I replied, and watched him walk over to his friends. I’d been at the Seeds of Compassion for about half an hour now, and it was more difficult than I’d expected. Writing down people’s responses to questions that I had halfheartedly come up with was frustrating, and I didn’t even have an answer for my favorite question to ask people: “If you could ask the Dalai Lama one question, what would it be?”

I sauntered up to the Tibetan girls, hoping that they would have some answers to my tough question. Loeden was the only one to speak up, “I would ask him where will his reincarnation be born and can he be our leader forever?” I didn’t think that I knew enough about the Dalai Lama’s role to understand this answer fully - did she really mean forever? And has the Dalai Lama been the leader since the beginning of time? When did he begin?

Pondering, I wandered over to the main table, where Sese from South Africa was. We chatted a bit before I asked the big question.“I would ask, where does he get all his answers?” Sese said without hesitation.

An intriguing question, I wish someone had asked him that because the Dalai Lama seems to always have wise, insightful, and clever answers to any question thrown at him. How does he know all of this, and where does he find his answers?

Jennifer happened to hear my question, so I asked her what she would say.
“I think that I would ask, is everything going to be okay?” she said smiling.
“And if it isn’t, just lie and say that it will” I added.

We all started laughing and soon left to find our seats, but I was still troubled by that question. Could the Dalai Lama know if everything was going to be okay? And what if it wasn’t? People say ignorance is bliss, and it’s true that thinking that everything will be okay would be lovely. But what if it isn’t? Do I want to know? Would the cost of the stress and sadness be worth the truth?

I don’t know. I don’t even know what I would ask the Dalai Lama if I ever got the chance; however, I do know that the Dalai Lama believes deeply in compassion, and if we show compassion to everyone, there is a good chance that everything will be “okay."

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