My wife and I were at a dinner party the other night when someone, for some reason, mentioned the Dalai Lama. This was followed by a woman ( a very gracious and spiritual woman) I know saying in a quiet voice. “I know the Dali Lama, he goes to the place I go to in India to mediate.” No one followed up on this rather startling statement.
All of us name drop from time to time. I had a blog recently about meeting 90 year old Bob Feller. I happened to admit in the blog that I had paid $10 for that privilege and so I take it that few who read the blog were very impressed. But dropping the Lama’s name is different. It is mystical, it is other worldly, spiritualism clings to his name, even if you really don’t know anything about him. It was a bit like saying that “Mother Theresa and I shop at the same Safeway, I talk to her all the time at the meat counter.” It just strikes me as a big deal.
Perhaps no one said anything because no one knew what to say (something that has never stopped me before). People who we have talked to about this since have given us lines which should have been used. Rev. Frazier thought that one of us should have looked at her and said “gunga gulunga” or , even better, “so you got that going for you.” Quoting Bill Murray’s Carl Spackler character in “Caddyshack”. My partner Allensworth felt that I should have immediately taken the Lloyd Bentsen tact, “I know the Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama is a friend of mine, you madam are no Dalai Lama.” Any of those would have been wonderful. I guess that I was just too shocked to respond. I was certainly not clever enough to have thought of those lines.
But there we all sat, missing an opportunity to learn from a highly intelligent woman whom we all loved, about one of the revered men of our age. Perhaps we had immediately filtered the statement and for certain reasons had stayed away from it. Perhaps some thought thoughtthat maybe she met him in a receiving line.” That was followed by “Place I mediate in India,hmmm how often does she go ? does Southwest fly there ?”
But why didn't we check ? What if this woman did know the Dalai Lama ? What if she knew him so well that they were, even now, text message buddies ? What if he had already given her the key to full understanding for eternal peace of mind ? What if she could just repeat a few anecdotes he had told her ? Wasn’t it worth the one simple statement to her, “Oh, tell us about that.” I mean, what were we possibly talking about that would have been more interesting or fruitful to our lives than to hear almost directly from the Lama ? (like the old song, “I danced with a man, who danced with a girl, who danced with the Prince of Wales.”) Yet no one spoke and she never elaborated.
Maybe it was pure envy. It would be impossible for me to top something like that. I will never mediate in India. I will never go to India. I am not that glamorous. Anything I said would have sounded like that guy in the James Joyce short story whose friend chides him for never traveling out of Ireland. “Well I’ve been to the Isle of Man” he says, knowing as he says it that that is a silly rejoinder. I have never even been to the Isle of Man, although now that I think about it, that is exactly how I could have responded to her. Then perhaps someone there would recall that that the line came from a Joyce short story and he/she and I could have shared a smug “inside joke” type chortle over our literacy, while the others looked mystified. That would have been great !
Envy has always been a problem for me.
On the other hand, I’m actually pretty good at humble. The prophet Micah said to “Seek Justice, Love mercy and walk humbly with thy God”, I have always gravitated to humbleness. I know that’s only one out of three, but humbleness is a good virtue to have. So I got that going for me.