When Tibetan Words Touch La Mesa

UCSD -- The good people at the University of California, San Diego invited me to hear the Dalai Lama on Tuesday.

On a sun drenched morning I joined a very long line of students, faculty and local residents filing in to the Rimac Arena and, frankly, I didn't know what to expect.

I was surprised, as I sat listening to this humble man in his robe and visor, to see my mind wandering back to the people of La Mesa.

There were several points the Dalai Lama made that I thought might be worth circulating through the civic-minded, but not always civil residents of the Jewel of the Hills.

I won't name names or directly connect any of these thoughts to specific individuals, but realize most of these apply to many of us engaged in public discourse in town, including myself:

  •  When asked how he handles arguments with those who seem completely intransigent, he offered this advice. "Always respect the opinion of the other person. . .They are part of humanity. Listen fully and with an open mind and look for gains that are possible in presenting your view.'' 
  • He then reminded all that if there is a solution to this difference, there is no reason to be angry. If there is no solution possible, then there was no reason to be angry. "Maintain your peace of mind.''
  •  The Dalai Lama seemed to almost universally reject arguments rooted solely in personalities, dogmatic politics or religion, the great sources of intransigence and anger in public life. "Analysis, skepticism, more analysis, what scientists do. That is the best way," he offered in a show of support for facts and science.

And another of his repeated points made me think of the teachers, principals and superintendents struggling in our La Mesa schools to maintain quality amid budget struggles not of their own making.

Global warming? War? Famine? Political unrest? One by one as world problems were brought up in questions from the audience, the Dalai Lama's answer was, at base, the same.

“Education,’’ he repeated over and over.

“Educating whole person – ethics,’’ he said. “Material value of education and internal value go together.’’

Perhaps, he hoped aloud, the next generation would have this “complete’’ education and would develop an holistic worldview that will help fashion more effective answers to famine, inequality and injustice.

“Big house, big car, big salary?’’ he questioned. “That is the meaning of life? No!’’

And his education points made me wonder a bit if the greatest dramas unfolding in La Mesa these days are less in the very public civic issues in City Hall and more in the ability of our schools to meet the Dalai Lama's hopes for us all.

Chris Lavin, editor of LaMesaToday.com, writes the On La Mesa column occasionally. Submissions for consideration are welcomed from LaMesaToday.com members and can be e-mailed to ourtown@LaMesaToday.com.

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Comment by David B. Givens on April 23, 2012 at 9:19am

Very nice article on the new art gallery, Chris.  Great photos, too!  La Mesa is way more interesting now than when I lived there years ago (on University Place, near the new fire station).

Comment by Michael Cargill on April 21, 2012 at 6:30pm

Oh Chris you are so lucky to have seen the Dalai Lama in person. I so much wanted to go but I had to work that day. But I could feel his presence all this week.

Comment by DEXTER LEVY on April 19, 2012 at 3:11pm


Again, Fantastic insight, as usual, Let's Hope His Holiness is correct! There is yet a chance!


Comment by steve sund on April 19, 2012 at 1:54pm
Well done Chris. That must have been a wonderful experience!
Comment by Lisa Moore on April 19, 2012 at 1:49pm

Chris.....a great article!  You hit it right on the head as far a La Mesa and the situations going on here and those civic minded people who are not always civil when dealing with such.

I hope you found the Dalai Lama's event thought provoking, interesting and worth while as I'm sure you did!

Comment by chris shea on April 19, 2012 at 1:02pm

What a splendid thing to get to do!!  Thank you for sharing, Chris.

That was a once in a lifetime blessing!

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