Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Audience With The Delai Lama

The first thing I noticed was that in person his ineffable aura looked a lot smaller than it does in photographs.

We were introduced, and when he found out I was from the States he immediately asked me if I happened to know Richard Gere. I said, no, but that I had a friend who used to be a film editor on The X Files. He seemed really impressed by that.

Then he asked me who I liked for the World Series. I said that I was a Phillies fan, and he said, 'Now there's a meaningless attachment. You should stick with the Yankees. With their payroll, they'll never lose'.

I don't know if I was feeling defensive about the Phillies, but I blurted out, 'Okay, then, Mr Lama, then what's the secret of existence?'

All of a sudden he got real serious. 'Life,' he said, 'Is like a wheelbarrow.'

'What? Life is like a wheelbarrow? That joke is over forty years old!'

He got even more serious. 'No, no, you don't understand,' he said. 'It really is.'

I rolled my eyes. 'Okay, how is life like a wheelbarrow?'

All he did was make a motion like he was toking on a roach. All the other monks around him cracked up. Then he turned back to me and said, 'Hey, what's the difference between a Buddhist and a nudist?'

I rolled my eyes again. 'All right. What's the difference?'

He said, 'Do you want me to show you?' And all the monks cracked up again.

I didn't like where this was going, so I went to get up. 'Whoa,' he said, 'Where's your tantric sense of humor? After all, I'm not the one who came halfway around the world to see YOU! What makes you think you can judge comedy?'

So I explained to him that in fact I make a living from selling comic t-shirts, so that I indeed am a good judge. At which point they rolled out this weird Tibetan scroll computer and he asked me the name of my website. When he got there, amazingly enough he really cracked up. In particular he liked the 'Global Warming' one.

In fact, now his attitude changed completely, and I was invited to join him down in his Jungle Room, where there were 37 thankas hanging simultaneously. As we were sitting around another monk mentioned as to how the Delai had been totally stoned one night and had shot out three of them with this pearl handled Colt revolver that he had been given by, of all people, Richard Nixon.

After a while I went with him to the Temple restaurant where we had some tsampa beer and water buffalo wings. When it came time for some karaoke, he got up and said, 'People think the bodhisattva is nice and sattvic. But we Tibetan Buddhists don't do anything nice and sattvic. Then he belted out:

Left a good job as a siddhi working for the Manu every night and day
But I never lost a minute of sleep focusing my chakras on the middle way
Prayer wheels keep on turnin', karma it keeps on burnin'
Rollin', rollin', rollin' down the the yugas.

As the night wore on he started rambling a bit, and kept saying how him and me and Steve Fossett should go ballooning some time. I didn't have the heart to tell him.
But, all in all, it was a great end to a day that had started out poorly


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