Dear Tell All: I sat here shaking my head as Madison went gaga - again - over the Dalai Lama's appearance last week. The Tibetan Buddhist leader is a regular visitor to our city, and every time it's the same thing. The media hang on his every word. The university fawns on him. People from my neighborhood scramble for tickets to his sold-out talks. This time, even the state Legislature and Gov. Walker sat at his feet, waiting for pearls of wisdom to drop.
No one ever states the obvious: The Dalai Lama is a bore. He gives long, rambling speeches in halting English. He always utters the same platitudes about compassion and forgiveness that are no more profound than bumper stickers. Believe me, I know - I've been to one of his deadly-dull appearances and watched him on video.
None of this would be worth remarking upon except for Madison's response. I'm amazed at how quickly we turn into suckers here in this supposedly skeptical, rational bastion of the liberal arts. All it takes is an exotic name, a robe and the vague allure of Tibet to make us believe we're about to receive wisdom from on high. It doesn't hurt that the Dalai Lama goes by the nickname of His Holiness and sits on a throne during his lectures. He must be important, right?
But come on, Tell All. How can Madison residents keep from laughing when this allegedly reincarnated holy man preaches to us from a freaking throne? Instead, we gravely bow our heads and convince ourselves that we're that much closer to enlightenment.
Dear Rodney: I see nothing wrong with Madison's attraction to the Dalai Lama. You accuse him of uttering platitudes, but he's actually a world-class scholar of Buddhist philosophy whose talks are of interest to anyone curious about that rich tradition.
Sorry, Rodney - I think you've gone way over the top here. But I forgive you, as the Dalai Lama instructs.
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