Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Law, Religion, and Correspondent Pinocchio

It’s 7:54am right now, and I’m already on campus, already coffeed, already internetted, already in my seat, and whathaveyou, which means I’ve been here for about a half hour. Why? Because of the conference shown above. Because I deal in the law, I respect Buddhism, and I seek social change. Oh, and it’s a class requirement to be here this morning.

Unfortunately, I was unable to score a seat in the same room as these distinguished speakers. As upset as I am at that, Buddha tells us to remain dispassionate (a task you’d think my apathetic generation is up to), so I’m pleasantly contented to settle into a seat in an adjoining room. They simulcast it all over the campus, and in here I can use my computer to capture a few thoughts as they hit me, so all the better. See? I’m already feeling enlightened.

8:07 – they just turned on the webcam. The actual conference is in the law library, and I’m about 40 feet away in O’Brian 104. From my seat, it looks like it’s being hosted by Stan Lee. No, wait, that’s a UB prof. Sorry Spidey fans. The Dalai Lama isn’t there yet. I’m guessing he’ll make some spectacular entrance, with fog machines, C&C Music Factory, and a laser light show.

8:19 – One of my class’s professors was just introduced as the organizer of the event. I owe her a paper. The one I wrote last week was all about Lisa Simpson, so I really need to step it up this week. Oops, the sound isn’t in sync with the visual. Some monk fell asleep at the switch, I think.

8:24 – sound’s askew again. If there were a Law, Buddhism, and Social Change: The Drinking Game, taking a shot whenever the sound messes up would be the rule that pushed you over the edge.

8:38 – everyone just stood up, so I think he’s about to come in. Evidently, he opted for the Willy Wonka entrance. Luckily, he didn’t try for the fake trip that turns into a summersault. My prof is now introducing him to everyone in the circle. What would she say about me if I were there? “This is Michael Garvey, a second year law student. He can make a killer guacamole, and has probably played more Dragon Warrior than anyone else in this room.”

8:45 – wow, they started quick with the heavy artillery. First question was “do you feel contradictory being both a religious and a political leader?” His answer? Essentially, “monks aren’t in politics.” Well, okay, he was much more eloquent than that, but, hey, ask a pat question, get a pat answer.

8:52 – he just asked his translator what “penal system” meant. I wonder what he thought it meant.

8:59 – I think his views on religious politicians are quite valid. America is suffering from a lot of problems right now because of that intersection, and subsequently, there are a lot of people (myself included, sometimes) who think they should be 100% separate. His point is that you can’t, really. Religion, a personal philosophy, makes the person, and the person is elected into office. He’s acted as a politician before, but only in the capacity that his compassion could act in concert with his reason and logic. It is the man, influenced by his personal beliefs, making political decisions that are best for the people. Direct quote: “Religion affects the person. Democracy affects the society.”

Alternatively, I think there are still a lot of politicians who make decisions today simply because “the Bible says so” and that bugs the hell out of me. Is it too slippery a slope? I don’t think so, but I have yet to meet the politician who can prove that.

9:10 – questions I would ask if I were allowed in the room: How far does non-violence reach? Can I protect my daughter with force if I have to? In other words, is it sometimes preferable to hurt my karmic balance in order to attain some more immediate goal? Have you ever seen this show, Avatar: the Las Airbender? Isn’t it awesome?

9:21 – the man loves to laugh.

9:22 – his overall point is that compassion makes for smarter, more productive people, and that doesn’t have to be a religious task. Even, evidently, law schools can teach compassion. He’s only able to say that because he gets his own parking spot.

9:37 – ah-ha, interesting question. If the lawyer knows his client is guilty, should he remain loyal to representing the client, or act on the knowledge that the guy’s incarceration would best benefit society? How about the lawyer’s karma? The answer? No idea – the translator’s mic malfunctioned. Everyone do a shot.

9:51 – paraphrased response to question about making money: “Two goals: First is Nirvana, second is a happy life. In the intersection of these two goals, you need internal values, yes, but you need also to be prosperous. You should make money if that allows you a happy life. Remember though that being compassionate is not just something to benefit someone else. It also makes your life better. You have to think of the welfare of others, help society, and therefore your compassion for others will ultimately help you.”

9:57 – he is against censorship of any kind. He is skeptical as to whether it really works. The media should be able to say whatever they want, but “a lot of media should have a long and growing nose...”


Garvey said...

Wow, that's a long post.

Scott said...

Gunga La Gunga.

Jess is a mess said...

I am so jealous. (Even of the webcam viewage.) I had wanted to go and see him since I heard he was coming. Damn you Oklahoma. Hope life is swell.

Michael said...

I pictured the Dalai Lama doing the Running Man to "Everybody Dance Now"...

Thanks for the visual. :)