07. The Pyramid at the End of the World (A Kind Monk)

The villainous “monks” arrive in style in the real world (or is it?), parking their pyramid in the middle of a military base. Where are they from? Why do they want to take over the planet? How did they give the Doctor his eyesight back? I haven’t the slightest. The one thing I do know about the monks is that their use and understanding of the term “consent” is quite disturbing. All of this talk of monks inspired me to learn a bit more about one truly amazing and kind monk: the Dalai Lama.

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(image source)

A Kind Monk

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” –Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama XIV describes himself as a “simple Buddhist monk.” However I found his story to be quite incredible. He was enthroned in 1940 as a 5 year old boy and assumed the role of head of state at 15. My very limited understanding is that around this time, China sought (and succeeded) control over Tibet which was met with resistance among the Tibetan people. The Dalai Lama strived to protect the interests of his people, yet tensions continued to escalate. In 1959 he fled on horseback, disguised as a soldier, across the Himalayas. Pursued by Chinese troops he made it to India where he was granted asylum. In exile, he began traveling the world to raise awareness of Tibet’s plight and spread the central messages of Buddhism, including a commitment to nonviolence.

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The Dalai Lama XIV (image source)

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” –Dalai Lama

What I’ve learned about Buddhism that I love is that it teaches about finding peace within ourselves and showing love to all. One of the teachings is called “Universal Loving Kindness,” which is also the name of a Sutta (meditative discourse). Reciting the Sutta is supposed to help us find a tranquil state of mind and feel compassion in times of stress and toward all, including our enemies. Here’s an excerpt:

 

Radiating with a full heart loving thoughts of kindness towards all the world,

free from anger, malice or anxiety – above, below and in all directions.

Hate is never overcome by hate

By love alone it is quelled.

This is a truth of ancient date.

Today still unexcelled.

 

Last year, the Dalai Lama gave the keynote speech at the U.S. Conference for Mayors, along with Lady Gaga and entrepreneur Philip Anschutz. I’m not familiar with Anschutz (apparently he invests largely in entertainment companies and is one of the wealthiest people in the U.S.), but thinking about the pair of the Dalai Lama and Gaga just makes me smile. If that’s you too, check out this video of them talking about kindness and how showing compassion and caring for others can help us feel less alone.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” –Dalai Lama

At the Conference for Mayors, the Dalai Lama reflected on human nature, and how people are naturally kind and compassionate. He used the example of a mother and child, describing how even so-called terrorists have received and given love to their mother and friends. He says the “seed of compassion” is there, even among enemies. He went to describe how the 20th century was one of violence, with hope that “now (the) 21st century should be (the) century of talk.” Something tells me the Doctor would approve or this sentiment.

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(image source)

In 2015, the Dalai Lama celebrated his 80th birthday in the city of Anaheim. Known as the home of Disneyland and sports teams, Anaheim is also officially a “City of Kindness.” How cool!  This city-wide initiative began in 2011 with the election of Mayor Tom Tait. In 2015, local elementary schools completed one million acts of kindness. I like these words from Mayor Tait, “Kindness is an action word. It’s a word that can change a family, a neighborhood, a school, a city, a nation and, ultimately, our world… Kindness often requires courage and overcoming fear. Bravery and kindness are closely linked on a deep level.”

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(image source)
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