Tuesday, May 22, 2012

India 8~The Conversation with The Dalai Lama~ インドへの旅8〜ダライ・ラマ法王との会話〜

photo:©Yukine Yoneta 2012

When I was granted a private audience with the Dalai Lama at his residency in India I was told that I could ask him a few questions. Usually I get very nervous around him, my head goes blank, get so emotional and start crying, but this time I tried to stay put. Here I was, sitting in front of a man whom I respect to much and being overwhelmed with joy and sorrow... because he should be sitting in the Potala Palace in Tibet, not in Dharamsala!

I asked him about "identity" that had been the topic in my mind for a long time. What happens to the Tibetan nomads who are forced into the city life and they are no longer nomads? What keeps them "Tibetan"? What keeps the Japanese people Japanese...?


Then, I told him about a couple of the Muslim Tibetans in my neighbourhood. He seemed a bit surprised to hear that there are Muslim Tibetans in San Diego. 

"You built a mosque for the Muslim Tibetans in Lhasa, Your Holiness," I said to him. 

"No, that was the 5th Dalai Lama!," he said. 

"Yes, but it is YOU!" I replied, and we laughed so much. 

(In the Tibetan culture they believe that the Dalai Lamas reincarnate, therefore, the 14th Dalai Lama was the 5th Dalai Lama theoretically.) 

His Holiness told me, "Identity is nothing to do with religion. It is in your heart." 

As a Japanese who grew up in New York I feel more "Japanese" than the Japanese in Japan. Being a Japanese is a daily reminder here in America, but if you live in Japan you probably don't even think about it. I hate wearing a kimono, and I cannot stand some of the traditional rituals in Japan. Yet, I have a tremendous sense of pride of being Japanese, and I don't quite know why. All I know is that it is my life-time asset, and having integrity keeps me strong and centered. 

His Holiness and I talked about these kind of things, and I noticed that I was not nervous at all any more. Thank God, really!


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