DALAI LAMA DARSHAN
A few years ago, during a visit to the States, a friend took me to hear the Dalai Lama speak in Los Angeles. After walking through a carnival, Disneyland-like arcade, we arrived at the Universal City Amphitheater, where we had to abandon our mineral water bottles in case they contained explosives. Inside there were long lines of people buying cappuccinos and snacks because they knew that the Dalai Lama might go on for at least an hour. Inside I sat next to a middle age woman who ate popcorn throughout HH’s discourse and whispered comments to me about his deep wisdom.
The Dalai Lama was superb. He warmed up the audience with a few well-told jokes (I’m pirating those, I said to myself), and then with everyone having a good time, he gave a brilliant talk on compassion.
I think the tickets cost a lot but I didn’t ask because I was a guest, and my hostess was comped. HH put on a great show, he was funny, profound, inquisitive, and little naughty – this was high quality entertainment. Thank Goddess there is a human being like him around for the betterment of the world and all who make some sort of contact with him. But, excuse me, this IS show biz. We are in a new age and it seems that without show biz there is no biz. I have no problem with that, especially if it’s in good taste.
Deepak Chopra (who I know and have great respect for) and others have found ways to extract withdrawals from the storehouse of India’s Intellectual Capital, and create properties of value, for their own personal wealth, for the profit of the media multinationals who distribute the properties, and to the public who are entertained and informed by them.
We are no longer dealing with Knowledge traditions. We have lots of information, some good, some not, yet our systems of processing all that information seem so arbitrary. I said to a young Latvian disciple recently, “You have lots of interesting software, but you’re missing an operating system.” How, then, is Authority established? These days, the electronic screen (TV + internet) is the main source of knowledge for most people. We learn what knowledge should look like, what teachers and leaders should be like, and TV has prepared us to go out there and find our knowledge, our teachers and leaders.
If you would have gone around in the 60’s saying one day yoga would be mainstream, they would have locked you up. I was away in India living in caves when all this new age thing started taking shape and then exploding. And these somewhat obscure alternatives we loved playing with in the 60’s suddenly was big business. Authority arose with the dynamic of audience building.
Authority is no longer established through the meticulous maintenance of a tradition of knowledge, but by establishing a kind of media presence and a name that translates into an audience’s mind as a brand. It represents a set of ideas and feelings. There is the advertising, the buying in to, and the consumption.
Whether we’re talking about a spiritual leader, your yoga teacher, or your lover. If you like it you buy more, if you don’t, you change brands. This is the age in which we live, and this age has its own wonders and challenges and potentials. But this has very little to do with the traditions of Knowledge and Yoga.
And indeed this is not only happening in New York; this is happening at the very core of the most ancient still surviving traditions of Knowledge that I am aware of in India. I’m seeing it in my face. Authority is being rapidly established through money, which is having an increasing connection with media presence.