Looking Back: What Did The Dalai Lama Leave Us?


The 15th Dalai Lama recently visited New Zealand and held teachings on love, compassion, kindness and universal responsibility. The Dalai Lama managed to find time to share his innermost thoughts about the internet, emails, celebrities, climate change and religion - Michelle King reports…


The Dalai Lama is the manifestation of Buddha. He is considered a spiritual teacher, a man of peace and spokesman for humanity. We met at in a small hotel room along with several body guards and a translator.

The first thing you notice about the Dalai is his bold smile. It is infectious. He is very welcoming and immediately tells me how he is in a good mood as he has had his nine hours of sleep. Although, at home he must go to bed at 7pm because he rises at 4 am to meditate? Regardless, the Dalai believes his nine hours of sleep is the key to a happy, healthy life.

When he first spoke I was a bit taken back. The Dalai is a small, fragile man, yet has a loud, booming voice. He loves to laugh and make jokes, that are really only funny because of the way he tells them. The highlight of meeting the Dalai Lama is that he has the ability to laugh at himself, which is refreshing for someone so renowned.

The Dalai resides in a small cottage, in Tibet. While he lives a relatively simple life, he is familiar with the developments of modern technology. The Dalai believes that technology is very useful, but he is blissfully unaware of the evils of email.

The Dalai says that like any other person he can easily reach New Zealand, even the sheep (he laughs – one of his jokes). “The internet can reach far away. Therefore physical distance is no longer of importance, due to technology. I love technology. I have great respect for modern technology and science. Very useful. ”

While technology may influence his work on a day-to-day basis it has its limits as he laughs when I ask him if he emails and makes a joke that his fingers are not quite right for typing. “Email – not that! My fingers are not ready to do that! My fingers are only good for a screw driver and old equipment.”

I laugh as he shows me how his fingers are too big to type. I stop the questions on technology at emails and PA systems; figuring that his Holiness’s appreciation for technology may not translate into blogging or iPod use. But at least he can laugh about it and wouldn’t life be great without emails or cell phones?

I ask the Dalai about our obsession with Paris Hilton. He looks to the translator, who then looks at me. I then have to translate that she is an American celebrity. Imagine, no emails, no cell phones and now no Paris. And nine hours of sleep. I am starting to think the Dalai may know a little bit more about happiness than the rest of us.

He says the obsession with celebrities is really an attraction on a physical level without much meaning. He likens it to music and art which appeals to our senses but has a limited capacity for making us happy.

So who would be a good modern role model? The Dalai believes it is you. “Of course for people a model and example is good but ultimately it is your own thinking that is important. Each individual has potential to become greater than the model. Therefore, of first importance is to think of one’s own potential. Then you can take some aspects from different people to model.”

The Dalia is quite passionate about climate change. He believes it is a real issue and something we should try to prevent. He says, human actions are making changes to our environment and that humanity should pay attention to what is happening around us.

He was very knowledgeable about the issue and outlined examples of actions people have taken to preserve water life and rivers. “I am not an expert. But, according scientists we should pay more attention and serious attention to climate change. And big companies should act accordingly.” He says we have a real opportunity to contribute to our environment, and there are clear examples of where we can do something.

The Dalai Lama is focused on developing a better tomorrow, not only by reducing climate change but by developing young people. “Youth and humanity are very important. All our hope of a better future is dependant on them.”

He says the most important thing a young person can learn is the value of warm-heartedness or kindness. “We need to properly develop intelligence and individual responsibility which I call global responsibility. That is the way to cultivate, in a students mind, the importance of warm-heartedness.”

The Dalai believes that if we had more emotion and affection towards one another the world would be a better place. “Many man made problems we are facing today are ultimately due to a lack of this sort of human value (emotion). Ultimately emotion is very essential. Warm-heartedness is the ultimate remedy of all these negative things.”