The Dalai Lama, Non-Violence and Gun Ads

IMG_0363_edited-1-1New Orleans is lovingly called the city that “care forgot.”  And for good reason; its love of revelry, rhythm and blues, and deep-fried everything, is legendary.

Yes, that city. The city that was nearly swallowed up and spit out in pieces by the punishing wind and waters of Hurricane Katrina.

Yes, that city, the one that inspires hope and loss in the same breath; the city that spurs the kind of violence that leaves you heart sick and slack-jawed from the shock and soulless brutality of it all. Like when two young males well-schooled in violence  casually open-fired on a Mother’s Day parade wounding 20 people, including several children.

This was the city that the Dalai Lama came to visit recently. A city badly in need of healing.

This was the Dalai Lama’s first visit to New Orleans and he came to deliver a commencement speech to Tulane graduates and speak at several other engagements in the city.

Not surprising he spoke of peace in his speeches. To the Tulane graduates he said,   “Please pay attention to securing your own inner peace. Our hopes for the future rest on your shoulders. Please think about how to make this a more peaceful, compassionate century.”  dalai

Speaking at a separate event at the New Orleans Lakefront Arena, he talked about non-violence and peace and compassion.

He said, “It is not our job to disturb the peace and then it’s God’s job to restore it. Violence isn’t created by God or Buddha; it’s created by human beings. So logically, the responsibility to eliminate it belongs to us too. Here in America there’s been a lot of discussion about gun control. But the real source of control is in our hearts.”

Wise words from a wise monk.

Violence and poverty and abuse all stem from a lack of compassion. The need for guns and the need for gun control is all the same to me. It’s all rooted in fear and violence in my book.

Look, I’m from the South. Guns are serious business here. This isn’t a subject that makes friends–unless you’re on the right side of the argument– if you get my drift.  It’s a subject that I usually stay away from because I’m a peacemaker at heart and it almost seems counterintuitive to me to argue about guns.

“…Please think about how to make this a more peaceful, compassionate century.”  I think of the Dalai Lama’s words to the graduates about securing peace, and working for a more peaceful world. I wonder what I can contribute to the cause.

I think there are a lot of us who are confused about how to walk in this world more peacefully.

I’m of the opinion that it starts with finding inner peace. Not an easy task. But I believe that meditation is a good start here. Finding compassion for ourselves, for our faults, and loving ourselves so we can better love others, is another strategy.

I think when we’re brave enough to do the inner work, to look at all of the places inside of us where we are at war with ourselves, where we focus on what’s wrong with ourselves, with our lives, is a good place to work on non-violence. Perhaps that’s the foundation of the saying, “Love others as we love ourselves.”

Maybe the idea is that we should love ourselves a little more, so we learn the capacity to be truly compassionate, truly kind to others. So that we can love others.

I think prayer is also a gateway to compassion. Praying to God, Spirit, Buddha or to your higher spirit for guidance is a good way to open up the heart. The older I get, the more I pray.

If we’re honest, we can admit that light and dark both exist in this world. But light, including inner light, can be the beacon that disperses the darkness. Within us and around us.

When we actively focus on non-violence, maybe we will lessen the violence in the outside world. Maybe we won’t have to live forever with the duality of seeing this:

His Holiness featured in an article about his visit to New Orleans in The Advocate with a gun ad on the opposite page.

His Holiness featured in an article about his visit to New Orleans in The Advocate with a gun ad on the opposite page.

a full page article in the Baton Rouge paper featuring the Dalai Lama’s visit to New Orleans with an ad for a gun shop placed on the opposite page from it. I’d like to think this was an accident. But the truth is, I’m not sure.

Which leads me to the truism that “there are no accidents.” Maybe there’s a message here about our society’s conflict. About how we all wrestle with the light and the dark.

If you’re interested in more thoughts on compassion and grace, particularly at midlife,  read my book Tao Flashes.  Or visit me at or on twitter @taoflashes.

13 thoughts on “The Dalai Lama, Non-Violence and Gun Ads

  1. Ahhhhh… All of those places inside where we are at war with ourselves. That’s a place most of us avoid intuitively and yet the most important place to look for and finally find some peace.
    Lovely thoughts Lisa. Thanks I needed that today after visiting the Vietnam Wall in my home town, and grieving the many horrible mistakes in our past.

    • Laura, you’re right…many of us hide from ourselves. While I believe peacefulness is our natural state, our divine right, it is not always easy to find within ourselves. It takes work…this I know from experience. I’m still working on it, too!

  2. Lisa, I think if I lived near you we’d absolutely be best friends. This entire post was one where I kept saying, “yes” and “she’s so right”. I love your statements about inner peace, the Dalai Lama, and “love others as we love ourselves.” I’m moving to LA to chat with you over daily morning coffees! Beautiful article, one I am going to share.

  3. Cathy, I have the same vibe, sista. Thank you for your kind words and energetic fuel–it keeps me going. And yes, I could definitely use more like-minded friends…glad we’ve connected, even if it is long distance! (And if you ever want to come to Louisiana, we’ll have coffee and beignets …or wine!)

  4. This is such a powerful post. The irony about a gun ad being next to the story about the Dali Lama talking about peace is simply…well..I can’t even think of a word to describe it. May we all live in a time of non violence and may we all be a part of the solution.

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    • Isn’t it so sad that there are people we know who wouldn’t read this because of the mention of Buddha? It’s to entirely miss the point. I love that I know people who let their light shine in the darkness by carrying lanterns made in all differently colors. Let us be known by our love. Yes. Let’s.

      • Let us be known by our love. What a beautiful statement. I’m going to reflect on it today. And yes, your comment about people maybe not reading it because it mentions Buddha is probably true. I hadn’t even thought of that. My own sister (who I love very much) hasn’t even read my book, Tao Flashes. She thinks it is something it is not, some religious philosophy that is far flung from the East. It is not. It is completely about love, and compassion (for ourselves and others), integrity and authenticity from the viewpoint of a midlife woman. I’m sure others won’t read it because of its title, but I am happy to be completely authentic in naming the book, the subject matter, and in every thing else I do. Thanks for giving me a place to share my voice Chloe. I sometimes feel my blogs aren’t the norm for the site…but it’s really all I can write that is meaningful for me.

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  7. Hey…not sure why I was drawn to read this again…but I did. Just what I needed to do. There are many things to get out of this wonderful blog…what I am extracting from it today is the need for inner work…continously. …and not just scratching the surface by reading or listening to shows on how to dig deep…but to just pick up the shovel and start digging..Thanks for helping me find my shovel again…it gets lost in the clutter of life sometimes..keep blogging…your peeps are reading!

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