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Review of "Dalai Lama Renaissance" - Kyoto Journal

The "Tibet Within" – DALAI LAMA RENAISSANCE – at Global Peace Film Festival Japan Oct 5-7

by Jean Miyake Downey, Kyoto Journal

DALAI LAMA RENAISSANCE will be one of the films screened at the Global Peace Film Festival Japan Oct 5-7 in Koshinomiyako. The trailer is wonderful to view, if you can't get to one of the festivals showing this film.

This is a revelatory documentary about the "Everyman" journey from egocentric consciousness to something more sublime. The film follows forty global experts in their fields who traveled to Dharamsala to advise the Dalai Lama. The first scenes reveal a hilariously clashing hootenanny of mild-mannered Engaged Buddhists, solemn Catholics, gabby physicists intent on demonstrating the convergence of quantum physics with ultimate reality, New Agers dressed in purple, social change visionaries, and progressive economists, all engaged in "synthesizing" and "witnessing" brain-storming to collect all their brilliant ideas to present to the fourteenth Dalai Lama. This well-educated and well-mannered group then revolted against their endlessly patient facilitators, in a gray-haired inverse variation of the "Lord of the Flies." Throughout the chaos that ensued, each player was shown as confronting her or his own ego, as much as they confronted the facilitators and fellow participants. Their conflicts with each other, and most of all, with their own egos were actually uplifting, as they struggled to be truthful and respectful while their "bubbling over" clashed with the facilitators' attempts to create some order out of the unwieldy explosion of dialogue.

Then something broke open.

Tenzin Gyatso, who kept referred to himself as nothing but a "simple monk," spoke." And, what he said, and the way he said it sounded like a clear, clear bell that shattered all the clashing mental abstractions, and brought attention back to the human level... I thought I was viewing a shaktipat moment as I saw the transformations of the participants simply becoming more of who they really are, as whatever was obscuring their inner radiance fell away. i actually felt as if I was feeling some of that myself, as if these wonderful shaktipat energies were emanating from the small movie screen I was watching, to me, my friend who was watching with me, and all the people around us.

Compassion. Joy. Happiness. Even while suffering in participation and/or witness with and struggling to address the world's problems.

This is a beautiful and fresh window on the Dalai Lama, and what we in the world who care can do for Tibet and Tibetans. Before the film started, I was apprehensive I would hear all the same-old records about the plight of Tibetan Buddhists, and although I support the Dalai Lama's and all Tibetans cause, from the bottom of my heart, I can't help but partly tune out when I hear the worn-out views. However, this film was startlingly original. I know so many of Tenzin Gyatso's words by heart by now, but in this documentary, it all sounded so new to me, as if hearing his wisdom for the first time.

To share with my media friends, I wrote what the Dalai Lama said media people ought to aim for in their writing: "to promote clearly basic human values." He spoke about supporting and loving Chinese people, at the same time supporters of Tibet encourage the Chinese government to open to rapprochement towards a win-win solution for Tibetans and Chinese. It's not either-or, except at the level of egocentricity, in his view. As Einstein said, we can't solve problems at the same level of consciousness that created them.

Some of the participants talked about the importance of our getting in touch with our "Inner Tibets." I disagreed with the view that we have a choice of addressing either an 'inner" or "outer" Tibet. I have always believed that profound personal journeys go in both directions, and I see many "Tibets" throughout the world, as well as within every person.

My friend Morley Robertson also talks about the 'Tibet Within" in an original, fresh, and beautiful way at his start-up experimental multiple media (video, music, and diary) blog on travels through Tibet, TIBETRONICA:

"This web site "Tibetronica" will also be a journey along the time axis. Various ideas will evolve from scratch and become embodied through experimentation and research, finally into a complete (or incomplete) piece. I aim to make the entire process as transparent as I can. Trying to break away from clichés and my own preconceptions about Tibet, I will carry on with my experiments.

"The early phase of this project will be an attempt to travel to the 'Tibet within'. If there is indeed a secret land inside, I would like to look for it, before I leave home for the Tibet that is far away."

The journey and film also reminded me of Rodger Kamenetz' The Jew in the Lotus, his allegorical account of the 1990 pilgrimage that a group of American Jewish leaders made to Dharamsala to advise the Dalai Lama on how to support the survival of Tibetans and Tibetan culture in indefinite exile. Their archetypal journey led to much more than the ostensible goals they were seeking, as well, for both the Tibetans and the Jewish teachers involved, and for so many who were touched by the ripple effects of their experience. Kamenetz himself has morphed from a nervous on-the-sidelines chronicler of the Tibetan-Jewish pilgrimage to a guide of the inner pilgrimage, in his new book released this fall, The History of Last Night's Dream, a luminous book infused with Tibetan, kabbalistic, and Jungian wisdom, also with fascinating reader input gleaned from Rodger's wonderful blog, Talking Dream.

Om mani padme hum.


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