10 Questions For the Dalai Lama

10 Questions for the Dalai Lama

***1/2

 

In a world where it seems like all rulers are close-minded fools, megalomaniacal liars, and self-aggrandizing thieves, is there anyone we can turn to for selfless leadership and enlightened truth?

Documentary filmmaker Rick Ray says yes.

Ray has traveled the world searching for answers to the great riddles of life. He found his answers in a small village in Northern India where the Tibetan government has been living in exile for half a century.

In “10 Questions for the Dalai Lama,” Ray tells the sad history of Tibet during the 20th Century and gives us an intimate portrait of the spiritual leader who has kept his nation together during its darkest hour.

The film works because the Dalai Lama himself is so impressive. He is infinitely warm and likable. And he has remarkable charisma for a bald elderly monk wearing shabby robes and 1980s style eyeglasses.

The religious leader radiates piety and humble spirituality. But it is his keen, open mind that really makes him stand out. I thought that since the Lama is the reincarnation of Buddha and the keeper of ancient traditions, he would be a conservative force – preaching steadfastness and respect for traditional values.

But the Dalai Lama is a modern man, who unapologetically embraces the 21st century. Though he tolerates them as part of his job, he dislikes Tibetan festivals and finds traditional ceremonies boring and silly. When old-fashioned values – like the caste system and subjugation of women – are in conflict with contemporary trends, the Lama is in favor of tossing aside old beliefs and embracing the new.

I sound like I am jumping on the Dalai Lama bandwagon, right? Why don’t I just get it over with and take a seat next to Richard Gere and watch the Beastie Boys perform at the next Free Tibet rally while I’m at it?

I can’t help it. The Lama completely won me over. He is irrepressibly positive, in spite of all the hardship that he has faced. His raspy voice and questionable English grammar make him sound uncannily like Yoda.

And, most of all: he is truly a wise man. In his interview with Rick Ray, the Dalai Lama makes some very astute observations. He concludes that Westerners are not happier than people in the Third World because our materialistic creed makes it so we are always in a state of wanting more and therefore are never content.

Though the Peoples Republic of China has conquered and virtually annihilated his homeland, the Lama remains serenely confident – even cocky – about the long-term picture. He is certain that his cause will ultimately triumph because the Chinese merely have the power of violence and the Tibetans have the force of truth.

For their part, the Red Chinese recognize that any attack on a man as great and beloved as the 14th Dalai Lama can only backfire, and they have focused their attention on ensuring that the NEXT Lama is easier to control.

The Dalai Lama is a remarkable, fascinating individual who is worth learning about. I enjoyed “10 Questions for the Dalai Lama” and I think it is an important film to see.

 

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