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Dalai Lama

The next morning I woke before the sunrise, turned off my watch alarm, and took a quick shower. Without waking a soul, and I collected an umbrella from the front door bin that was filled to the brim with umbrellas (I didn't take the nice blue one Shelly insisted I take last night, but a transparent plastic one that was on its last leg... see, unlike Shelly's family, I didn't expect anything nice to last on my travels). It was raining outside as I boarded my train back to Nagano, but inside I felt like sunshine. Joe and I parted on good terms, and I didn't have to say goodbye as I left the house. I just said good night, and see you around, then spent the next 6 hours in the same room, silent, and peacefully asleep.

When I reached Nagano I shoved my backpack in a locker, and I already knew which bus to catch to get to Big Hat, so I avoided any further confusion or delay, and I made my way to the stadium. There, I had a very interesting time trying to talk to the people in the parking lot booth, and they eventually called over someone who spoke english. Well, at least he thought he did. He used a plethora of large vocabulary, however inappropriate the word may have been to convey his meaning, and I almost preferred giving my Japanese another go... eventually I did. So between my poor Japanese, and his poor english, we finally understood each other, and I got a ticket with a number on it, which when called in an hour, I could purchase my real ticket to get inside. It was only 1500 yen, so about 15 bucks, not bad.

Waiting for the tickets to be handed out:

Now I wanted to get cash and some breakfast. I got some poor directions on where to find an ATM, and eventually I just followed the throngs of people heading away from the Big Hat stadium. This, fortunately, led me to a mall where I was able to pick up some breakfast and snacks from a mini grocery store, get some cash from the ATM, and buy some coffee. Then I headed back to the stadium, and waited in a pile of people all crowding around the ticket booth. I was number 126, so I hung back a bit until they hit hiyaku. Then I bought my ticket, and they sent me along a long rope linked fence around the outside of the building and into the building under the dome.

Last photo before they confiscated my video camera:

Here they collected all camera's and personal belongings, put a tag on them like your checking your coat at a theater, and then sent you back outside to enter the main doors. At the main gate I was stopped by the police b/c I still had food and drink. Here, like a good bum, I drank and entire 1.5 liter of V8 juice, ate 2 bananas, and a thing of yogurt. I kept offering my food and drink to the officers, but the just laughed and said that they couldn't. Oh man, after that, I promptly found the ladies room.

Back in the oval that encompasses the stadium we all waited for them to open the doors to let us into the main auditorium. There were people selling food, prayer beads, and Dalai Lamma books for us to browse through, and then, 10 minutes before the lecture was to start, they let us in. Almost all of the ground floor already had people seated in fold outs, and I would say only about half of the bleachers were full. However, we paid for the last minute standing room only tickets, so we were not allowed to go anywhere near the seats. I even got yelled at for moving down along the railing to get closer to the stage. Apparently #126 was to be positioned near gate D as it said on my ticket, which wasn't a bad place, seeing as it was directly in front of the stage... but it was also the furthest position away from the stage. Oh well.

They started off with a video on the big screen above the stage of all the monks making a sand painting, and there was commentary over the video, but it was all in Japanese. You figured they could make the subtitles in English, but I guess since we were in Japan, why bother? There was a couple a few people down from me who were also white, but we were about it. Then the Dalai Lama came out. He spoke "a broken Xining language which was (a dialect of) the Chinese language" and then after about 5 minutes, he would stop, and allow this woman who was furiously writing down everything he said, translate. She usually took about twice the time as the Dalai Lama took, to say exactly the same thing, and at a faster pace still! About an hour into this, he had gone a little crazy, and the audience with him. But what could you do? They needed to give everyone headphones with the translation speaking into their ears in real time as they did in the Kyoto Gesha show, but it was a little late for that. While she translated into Japanese he sat there at first, calmly, respectfully, but as time progressed, he became more and more comical. At some points he even burst out into laughter because he would think it was time for him to start talking again, and then it would turn out she was just taking a breath before another long, fast paced speech in Japanese. Occasionally you could tell he made a joke about 10 minutes earlier when the translator would finally catch up, and then the whole audience would burst into laughter. The Dalai Lama found the delayed reaction amusing as well (a very light hearted man from the looks of him). T

A video to let you know what he was like (no, this is not from my same lecture, but of a lecture he gave to a group of Buddhist monks):

And yes, during my lecture, he also wore his matching red cap.

Below is an Akido Sense's summarization of the lecture I went to, in better words than I could say because I did not take notes, hoping I could find his lecture online fully translated (I have not found this yet, so if anyone has any ideas, let me know).

Joseph Pielech
Kokikai Aikido
Nagoya, Japan

Several weeks ago I was fortunate to attend a lecture delivered by His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama in Nagano City, site of the 1998 Winter Olympics. The lecture began with a recitation of Hannya Shingyo, a core surta in Mahayana Buddhism and Zen in particular. Following the recitation by the crowd of some 5,000 people the Dalai Lama spoke regarding various elements of Buddhist thought and philosophy. Although Tibetean and Japanese buddhist traditions are different, the Dalai Lama addressed several issues related to modern life and the challenges that we all face in our daily lives. Throughout the lecture, His Holiness continually refered to 3 of our Kokikai Principles: relax progressively, keep one point and developing our positive mind. I would like to offer a summary of what he said and how it relates to Sensei’s teachings.

The Dali Lama spoke at length about the need for all people to learn to relax. He maintained that one of the major contributing factors to personal turmoil, international disputes, terrorism and war was that people in modern society are too tense, too rigid and too stubborn. According to the Dalai Lama, when we learn to relax, we can see our problems more clearly and work positively not only to correct our existing problems but to also not allow them to be problems in the future. Essentially, what I believe he was saying was that only when we are relaxed we can be natural and it is only then that we can achieve our best, strongest state and reach our full potential.

Another element of the Dalai Lama’s lecture regarded developing our positive mind. According to the Dalai Lama, because the cause of our problems resides in the mind, the best way to help others and bring them peace is to help their minds. A human body and a mind full of potential give human beings incredible opportunities. This mind has the potential to attain any happiness we want, and by developing our positive mind, we can cause the temporary and ultimate happiness of others. It appeared to me that for the Dalai Lama learning to relax and developing a positive mind are inexorably linked and growing each of them in tandem, we can achieve some degree of inner peace. We can learn to be calm by discarding the impurities that exist in our minds.

A final element of His Holiness’ lecture dealt with keeping one point. The Dalai Lama spoke of ‘one point’ as the focal point for internal meditative and breathing techniques. By concentrating on this one point (hara, in Japanese) we can calm our breathing and focus more clearly on the task at hand. In addition to being relaxed and focus we not only benefit ourselves and our condition, but we can also benefit those around us by not reacting in a negative or disharmonious way...

In the middle of this lecture the Dalai Lama switched to English, and I got to hear the parts of his lecture on the Universe, and how it works with god, our minds, bodies, spirits, and all things. He also said that he believes that science does not disprove the existence of a god, but provides examples of god through different means than we are classically used to. Now, this is a translation of what his lecture meant through my understanding: Science is god; biology is god, chemistry is god, mathematics is god, life is god, emotions are god, material things are god, everything is god, even disbelief in god is god! So rather than thinking that the discovery: "god doesn't move the Sun around the Earth," disproves the existence of god; you now have another piece in the puzzle to learning how god works through he universe, because god still does! We were simply wrong about god spinning the Sun around the Earth, but that is not to say god doesn't exist, only that we didn't understand how god works. So science only helps understand god better, not prove that he doesn't have anything to do with us simply because we guessed how the universe works wrong.

Through all of that, he threw out some very large physics and philosophic terminology, and still apologized for his poor english. Sure, his english was slow at some points, and he puts his sentences together occasionally in a not entirely correct manner, but shit, so do I. I thought his english was amazing! Best I've heard in about 5 months now! (Well, other than Adam, but he doesn't count, he's Canadian. Oh yeah, and all the Europeans too, except for the Italian, I can't remember his name, but the Dalai Lama spoke better english. Okay, and the Brits back in Shinjin. Ok, hell, he spoke better english than most of the people I've met the past few months, native speakers notwithstanding.)

And then he asked the audience if he spoke in English, did he still need a translator? By a show of hands, he wanted to know how many people understood his english. I slowly rose my hand. The white couple down from me rose their hands too. A few teenagers raised their hands, as well as a few in their 20's or 30's, but I would say we made up for less than 10% of the audience. Now, the bad part... the Dalai Lama said that he believed that there should have been more hands. He told us that Japan is a wonderful country with so much to offer the world, yet most Japanese never leave their country! He said that Japan needs to get out more, fly to less prosperous countries and teach them what they know about being Japanese, being one of the most prosperous, innovative, and compassionate nations, they were not helping the global society the way that they could be. Namely, not enough of them know english! At this point I shriveled up a bit, and moved to the back wall to sit, allowing the Buddhist monk who sat behind me have my place. I offered it earlier, but he said that he could see over me while I sat on the ground. Now, I didn't want to be sitting on the top floor, hovering over the audience below as the white beacon of global domination even in their own country.

"Study English, and see the world to make contributions."

"Now, you should participate, wisely, (in) the outside world. But, the youth of Japan remain here, and (are having) some problems here. Go (to the) outside world! To Arabia, Africa, Latin America..."

"Japanese youth are (under) too much stress and lonely. As a result, some (commit) suicide. I heard that that rate is increasing,"

"Whether you like it or not, English is the universal language. Study English and go out. This is very important,"

He then joked that he doesn't like that english is the global language, and he would like it much better if his own version of Chinese was, but it is what it is, and we all need to adapt.

Then he held about 30 minutes of question and answer, and some of the younger people who were selected to go up to those mike pushed their question through the best english they could muster. He replied to all in english, so I got some of the ideas behind the dialogue. Mostly people asked about spirituality in their life, and specific problems that they were dealing with it seemed. I would say that about 80% of his answers began with "Thats a good question..." and then an admittance that he didn't know the answer. This was usually followed up by some chuckling (best way to describe is grandpa laugh), and then he would do his best to come up with something to say, even if it was only a path to take to find the answer, and not the answer itself.

Then one last time he made a call to learn english!!! And then reiterated, several times in different ways as he kept standing up, leaving the stage, then coming back, all the different reasons to do so! These were his closing statements (not as inspirational as they could have been, but he had been inspirational enough in his lecture, and this wasn't a speech, so he ended where his talk led him, not an outline).

After getting out of the arena I went and got my video camera back from "stuff check," and then headed back to the train station. I left my backpack in the locker because I wasn't heading to far down the line to get to the Olympic Stadium. I realized that it was probably also going to be disappointing, but I had some time to kill since it wasn't dinner time yet, and I didn't quite have time to see some other city now either today.

When I got off at the train stain in Nagano, but 3 stops down from the central district I thought the town was cute and homy. All the street lamps lining the strips of shops down their main street had stained glass sides on the left and right, and then on the front and back they had the symbol for the 1998 winter olympics! It was very cute, and they even had the street radio playing a nice set of classical songs. But once you left main street, you were back in Cleveland-esque simi abandoned industrial area with some dirty looking strip centers with take away fast food joints. I stopped for directions several times, but when the one guy told me I couldn't miss the place, he couldn't have been more true. The stadium stood out against the backdrop of mountains in a really cool way, and I knew why they picked this spot for the stadium, it was cool, except for the surrounding town. But hey, at least the Olympic stadium still has a nice park surrounding it.




Now it was nighttime, and I needed to find a place to stay. I went back to downtown Nagano, picked up my backpack, and then headed into the Toyooka Hotel (these things were at every major train station, real expensive, but they have free internet computers in the lobby). I asked how much, then asked if I could check the price with my boyfriend online, and they said sure. I told them that I had to wait for his response after I got online and checked out some hostels and see what Joe had planned for the evening, and maybe I could get in on a place with him since I had to go back through Tokyo to head up north. When I was done I told them I would come back after he meets up with me for dinner. Then I hopped on the train and headed back to Tokyo. I checked the internet at another hotel in Tokyo, but Joe didn't get back to me, so I got on a train back to the part of Tokyo we stayed at before with the cheep hostels. Luckily there was one spot left after the 3rd place I went to, and I tried to rest up because tomorrow was going to be a full day of traveling since I was going from Tokyo to the north island of Hokkaido.

Posted by - Rain 22:14

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wow, vanessa, i know so little about what happened in japan! i didn't know you were in the presence of the Dalai Lama! wow, did you feel like you were in the presence of an angel? like i did when i met Master Yang? also, wow, Hokkaido, my fav city from the movie, Contact.

by georgi r

Its not a city, its an island.

by - Rain

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