His holiness the Dalai Lama visited Chicago a few days ago and I was excited to see him! I bought tickets before they went on general sale via a pre-sale email I was lucky to receive. I've been planning to see His Holiness for months, maybe my whole life.
My good friend Abby Factor and I attended, waiting in the bright sun with other neat people. At the front of the line, there were protesters from China carrying signs that said, "Practice Violence Through Meditation" and, as you see above, "Dalai Liar!". When I asked why they were protested, they preferred not to answer in depth, or at all.
The protesters were college aged looking Chinese nationalists who finally offered that the reason they were protesting the Dalai Lama was because "...there is no Tibet. Tibet is part of China. The Dalai Lama can't lead Tibet because Tibet is China." English was clearly a 2nd language for this group, who were actually protesting half assed. They lamely carried a few signs over head for a few minutes and chain smoked before they were forced to move across the street, where they continued to smoke and hold just a few signs overhead. Hmmm. It's great living in a country where people are welcome to protest and speak their minds. I'm not sure they'd be able to protest like that in China...! Ah, the irony.
When His Holiness walked on stage, the first thing he did was look straight down into a tall floor lamp next to his chair to see what it was. Charming! So in the moment. His Holiness spoke for a long time. He was charming, witty, and full of joy. The kindness of his face radiated through the digital media of the jumbotron screen.
It was unfortunate how bad the audio was. We literally could not hear what he said. People left early, many people complained to the UIC Pavilion staff, and we snuck downstairs from our 2nd floor balcony seats where it was impossible to make out anything he said. We did manage to catch a joke or two sitting on the steps of the first floor balcony, though.
In the end, it didn't matter that we couldn't hear him. The protesters and the terrible audio quality were transcendental elements to the reality of His Holiness. We were in the presence of a great spiritual leader. I, and others open to receiving his prana (energy), felt his vibrations from far across the pavilion, even though we couldn't hear him.
The challenges of disappointment and frustration from the bad quality of this event are all lessons about choosing how to react to a situation. I chose to relax, roll with the punches and enjoy His Holiness' smile and laughter. I'm still excited about haven been around him, still tingling, and still choosing not to be frustrated. Thank you, sir! You're not a liar. At all.
Mia Park is a ParaYoga teacher in Chicago, IL, specializing in teaching Basic Yoga for Advanced Misfits, as well as teaching people how to cut through the junk to shine on.