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Monthly wrap-up.

It's been a while since I've taken to time to write a proper entry, so we'll have to make due with something like an executive summary of the month. The month began with a trip back to Montreal to visit Dove and to take her on a surprise visit to the Dalai Lama's lecture-appearance at Molson Stadium. Roughly half the stadium was open, and nearly every seat was filled -- I'd have to strain to even remember an empty spot anywhere below the most inaccessible bleachers. The evening began with a pair of performances; a traditional Tibetan number, and one solo-performance by a local Québecois artist whom I'm not familiar with. The talk itself was faced by a few technical difficulties involving the wireless mics; the local monk tasked with translating the Dalai Lama's talk into French couldn't get a working microphone to save is life. At one point, he was surrounded by six or seven different microphones, none of them working properly, and was quite literally becoming entangled in the cords. It was around that point that His Holiness joked that the poor fellow was being haunted by evil spirits... about two minutes before his own wireless mic stopped working! This, we may assume, is definite, empirical proof that evil spirits are indeed living in the Molson Stadium.

With the entire cast switching over to good-ole'fashioned wired mics, the rest of the talk went relatively smoothly. On a few occasions, His Holiness forgot himself a bit and spoke for nine or ten minutes before realizing that he hadn't given his fellow monk the chance to translate anything that he'd said. During those lengthy interludes, he took the time to do such things as wiggle the feeling back into his toes (he took off his shoes at the very beginning of the talk, and was sitting in a half-lotus position in his chair), to re-arrange his robe, and to dig through his bag full of earthly possessions for his sun-visor (the spotlights were rather bright). The audience, perhaps understandably, was almost a bit more fixated on the sight of a major religious leader on stage, wiggling his toes and wearing a bright-yellow sun-visor than they were on the translator's voice.

In any event, the talk, though not aiming at any deep esotericism, had a few revealing moments for those who were paying attention. One was the open profession that only two existing practices had, in a satisfactory way, addressed the fundamental necessity of the practice of compassion for existential fulfillment (obliquely referring to religious, social, economic, and political practice) -- the Theistic and Hindu-Buddhist, with the former vision finding its grounds for compassion in devotion to a God of love and reason, and the latter in the realization of the laws of causation (in the sense of karma) and their existential implications. He then put forth that it was the necessary task of human beings -- for the sake of evading the bloodiest deprivations of the 20th century -- to add to these two ways an essentially secular third-way, one which would justify compassionate practice to those of a secular bent. One senses the presence of a certain amount of upaya at play in this sort of speech, a sort of skillful pragmatism being exercised to persuade a skeptical audience, which was unlikely to leave the Stadium and immediately take up either the Faith or the dharma, but which might be convinced to think about things a bit, and maybe to adjust their own practice in day-to-day life...

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