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Wednesday
Feb252015

Some info on the Dalai Lama

In his memoir Seven Years in Tibet Heinrich Harrer records his time as the tutor of the 14th Dalai Lama- who at the time was only 14 years old. Fascinated by the outside world the Dalai Lama has had translated from English into Tibetan a recent seven volume history of WW2. He is mechanically inclined and very adept. Despite not being able to read the endglish instructions the Dalai Lama has taken apart and put back together again the film projector he enjoys using. It seems appropriate that Hollywood should have embraced so wholehearted in later years the cause of the Dalai Lama. He was himself fascinated by film and even shot some early movies himself- along with Heinrich Harrer. HH throws himself wholeheartedly into teaching the Dalai Lama everything he can. A discussion of the atom bomb leads to talk about elements and metals- for which there is no separate word in Tibetan. 

The Dalai Lama recognised all manner of different aeroplanes from his books about the war. Anything mechanical he finds fascinating, though the bulk of his training has been in philosophy and history. He gives Harrer his own lessons in the latter, for which HH seems most grateful. In a moment of modest pride the Dalai Lama shyly shows Harrer an exercise book where he has been attempting to transcribe roman letters. Harrer agrees to teach him English.

In his spare time the Dalai Lama wore a red jacket he had designed himself. He was very proud of it. Copying designs he had seen in books he had incorporated pockets – which are not to be found in any traditional Tibetan garb. Harrer writes: “Now like every other boy of his age he was able to carry about with him a knife, a screwdriver, sweets etc.” He also now kept his coloured pencils and fountain pens in his pockets. He loved clocks and timepieces and had bought, with his own money, an omega calendar clock. Before he attained his majority the only money he had was that which was left at the foot of his throne by well wishers.

Attracted to magic the Dalai Lama explained to Harrer that he was making a study of all the methods by which his conciousness could be in one place but his body would be in another. This is a common magical technique- you find similar spells and references in most magical traditions. Almost certainly it is connected to the much reported Near Death Experience of being able to travel anywhere you please while your body stays in one place. Harrer is rather sceptical and claims he will convert to Buddhism if the Dalai Lama can be in two places at once. And yet, in later life, we see him as such an inveterate traveller, and so spoken about, that it seems by western technology he has achieved the ability to be in many places at once.

 

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