Dalai Lama spoke mainly to the elite | AspenTimes.com

Dalai Lama spoke mainly to the elite

Dear Editor:

The Dalai Lama graced Aspen with his presence this weekend. Unfortunately, the cost to see His Holiness speak, along with incredibly tight security, prohibited many from attending firsthand. I find it interesting that the celebration of Buddhist thought and reason is available mainly to the elite. Perhaps it’s to be expected in Aspen, but just as any message is shaped by its medium, some of the Dalai Llama’s message is changed in its presentation to Aspen’s aristocracy.

Our neighbor, who is a longtime resident of Aspen and dedicated concertgoer at the Benedict Music Tent, also has a sense that the Institute’s mission to communicate positive and influential messages with its public is thwarted by the embellishment of wealth and politics of modern-day Aspen. As we tried to gain entry to the lawn, where there were many places to listen, we were turned away unless we wanted to pay $80 for will-call tickets.

The Dalai Lama gave many words of wisdom to his listeners, including an answer to Aspen’s own problem: that its future depends entirely on its citizens. I hope residents understand that His Holiness is trying to convey the wisdom that the power to change a community starts with individuals’ spirits, not just their expression of self-interest. “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” If only people allow themselves to accept that kindness is not weakness, and acceptance is not defeat, perhaps Aspen’s more cantankerous population may come to appreciate Aspen for what already makes it most beautiful, not only for what will make it better.

Ben Marker


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