Film: ‘Dalai Lama Renaissance’

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I saw this documentary film a couple of days ago, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the problems that confront the world — looking at the world as a global community, where what one part does affects the other parts, whether intentionally or not.

You might not be a big fan of documentaries (are you thinking: “Boring”?), and I think the Web site for this one doesn’t do much to make it sound very exciting, but let’s see whether I can pique your interest a bit.

What we see is a big group of very well-educated Western people, mostly white, starting out on a pretty difficult journey to Dharamsala, India, in September 1999. They’ve got this idea to sit together talking in a room and see whether all their big I.Q.’s will yield solutions to the world’s problems. This is presented in a relatively unvarnished way, so the filmmaker (Khashyar Darvich) is not cheerleading for this group, and he (mostly) refrains from making fun of them too. He gradually spins out a story where we see the well-meaning organizers trying to stop this thing from totally falling apart, and we see big egos banging against each other in small discussion circles, and we hear whiny New Age types saying they really wanted a personal audience with the Dalai Lama. When they finally get their chance to stand up and tell the Dalai Lama what they want to do, some idiot says we should have a boycott of China so that Tibet can be liberated. Doh!

But that Dalai Lama — man, he is awesome. He doesn’t laugh at them. He mildly comments that Tibet is a tiny little country, and maybe the world has bigger problems, and hey, there are a lot of people suffering in China, so why should we add to their suffering by trying to wreck their economy? He tells a hilarious anecdote about mosquitoes (the whole audience was laughing loudly). And then he says we must not think my nation, my religion, my race. First and foremost, we must think of human beings. All human beings.

Breathe.

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