So I went with friends Daniel and Suzie down to the brand-new Vector Arena Sunday to see none other than his holiness The Dalai Lama give a talk on compassion to a whopping huge crowd of 10,000 people. Although I was seated in row 6,392 I could still vaguely make out the little man in orange robes on stage below (and they had those big TV screens that help you see the details). It made for a fascinating spectacle, and the Lama had a nice, folksy tone that struck me as very different from how many of the major religious leaders of the world tend to present themselves, as all fire-and-brimstone. And he was wearing a jaunty visor – how can you not love that?
The talk itself was good, not particularly deep – the language barrier precluded some of that - but had a simple message anyone could get behind. He's clearly pretty fluent in English but still had to use a translator at his side fairly often to help smooth out the bumps, and it took a little while for his accent to be easily understood to me. But it's the general "vibe" the man puts off that's so appealing – he seems utterly relaxed in his own skin, like a friendly uncle figure, and his laugh is completely infectious. He had fascinating stories to relate to his message of peace; at one point he was talking about his relationship with Chairman Mao, and that really struck me how this man has interacted with most of the major figures of our time. They talk about "charisma" and it's a telling thing when you're one of 10,000 people in a room and still leave feeling a bit like you had your own personal audience with the Dalai Lama.