Culture & Conversation

Lessons From The Lama

Before an audience of 14,000 at the Bell Centre on Saturday, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama gave a talk entitled “Educating the Heart: The Power of Compassion”. Hungry for wisdom and inspiration, the crowds sat hushed and waiting, perhaps, for something sensational. What they got was a down-to-earth talk from a man of simple and yet vast wisdom. “I am not talking to you as a Buddhist, or a Tibetan, or a monk,” the Dalai Lama said. “I am talking to you human being to human being.”

Following the Dalai Lama’s speech, the troupe Dung-Dkar, the Tibetan Artist’s Collective of Montreal, gave a preview performance of their dance-drama Lha-Gelo: A Journey Into the Spirit of a Lost Nation. To be performed in full on November 22, the story tells the tale of Tibetan immigrants living in exile in Montreal. With brilliant rainbow-strewn costumes, and a cast ranging from young children to older adults, the performance captures the poignancy of nostalgia, loss, and separation. The theme purports to address one of the most important questions of our time – “Can compassion heal the past and be hope for the future?” – and streamlined nicely into the subject of the Dalai Lama’s talk.

The press conference in itself was a stunning experience. A hushed gasp spread through the small meeting room as the doors opened and the Dalai Lama entered. As reporters sat transfixed, the Dalai Lama settled on the platform before the fawning media. “The media people … they have elephant noses,” he gestured to his nose. “But it is very important for you to tell the truth.” He speaks of himself with great modesty. “What I want to share with you … is that I know I am just one person out of six billion.”

The discussion of compassion, and by extension the political turmoil in Tibet, are for the Dalai Lama one and the same. Winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, he has tirelessly sought peaceful resolutions to political conflicts for much of his 74-year life. The messages of the talk were not new, or groundbreaking. They were simple affirmations of what people know and seek. Happiness, peace, love – and compassion. “Force sometimes needs counterforce,” the Dalai Lama said. “But that doesn’t mean you lose compassion for someone causing trouble. People causing trouble deserve more compassion.”

It was in the true spirit of Montreal that, with tears welling up in her eyes, a presenter offered a token of gratitude to the Dalai Lama for his visit. A true testament to the soul and culture of Montreal, she unveiled a Habs jersey with a flourish and bestowed it on the aging monk. The crowd erupted in thunderous applause. The Dalai Lama wrapped the jersey around his shoulders and smiled broadly as he left the stage.

The dance-drama group Dung-Dkar will be performing Lha-Gelo in its entirety on Sunday, November 22, at 7 pm at Art Neuf, 3819 ave. Calixa Lavallee. Tickets cost $20. For reservations contact

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