May 24, 2010
This is a follow up to my blog on Friday.
Let me think.......
........It was great!
His Holiness continued with the Shantideva text but did not get to chapter 9 on Wisdom, although if I recall correctly he did mention something along the lines of that much of the topic was covered in the Nagarjuna text.
The discussion on forbearance stuck with me. Specifically, he spoke about refraining from taking action against those we may perceive as enemies, and that beyond just having compassion for them, that we can even be grateful to them for giving us an opportunity to work with ourselves. When the teaching was over and I stepped out into the street and saw the whole event's lone protester, a man waving the Chinese flag while aggressively spewing hate and propaganda, I thought to myself, "Thank you, sir, for giving me this opportunity."
I felt a few people squirm when Shantideva's instruction on working with lust through "visualizing the impurities of the female form" was mentioned. The fact that Shantideva's audience was virtually all monks was given as a contextual explanation and it was stated that "women can do the same but with men" but this struck me as potentially offensive towards gay and lesbian communities. Nevertheless, it was very obviously an innocent oversight and not intentional insensitivity.
I found the discussion on the meditation chapter of Shantideva's text to be very helpful. Something I had never heard before was when His Holiness mentioned Tsongkhapa's instruction to always end meditation on a positive note (or we might start fearing the cushion!). What I interpreted from this is that it is good to internally express a little bit of joy and appreciation at the end of a sit. My particular background traces back more to the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages so I am not very familiar with Tsongkhapa, and although this pointer is quite simple it was new to me and is something I have been incorporating into my practice these last few days.
There was a lot of love and appreciation at the end. Richard Gere at one point enthusiastically announced that His Holiness plans on coming to teach in America "several more times". He also mentioned that Radio City Music Hall took $200,000 off their fee in order to help with the costs. Classy move, Radio City!
At the very end there was what felt like the Buddhist equivalent of a rock 'n' roll style encore! The event seemed to be over and people were standing, but then Richard Gere ran back to the mic and said "His Holiness has agreed to teach for five more minutes!" Everybody chanted together and it was quite moving.
Image via the Huffington Post (Getty.com)