It's a rare and stellar 75-degree day in Seattle, and I'm one in a sea of 50,000 or so heading into Qwest Field for an afternoon of entertainment and celebration with the Dalai Lama. Called "Heartbeat of Humanity," the event features live music, 200 drummers (though it looks more like 50), and a parade of people representing different cultures in our state.
Things finally got political today, day two of the Seeds of Compassion event - but you didn't hear it from the Dalai Lama. Instead, his right-hand man, Lama Tenzin Dhonden, brought Tibet and His Holiness' exile in India into the picture. "His road is more difficult, and the problems he faces are more severe than his predecessors," Dhonden said. "In India, we had to begin all over again...build schools, hospitals, monasteries...he had to create everything to keep his people alive, and he has succeeded.
"Autonomy for Tibet would be good for Tibet and also good for China," he said.
The entire time, an airplane circled overhead, pulling a banner: "Dalai Lama: plz stop supporting violence."
I loved it when the Dalai Lama, far below that airplane, said to great applause, "The concept of war is outdated!"
The concept of war is outdated.
His point: the concept of "we" and "they" is no longer valid.
He went on to talk about two types of disarmament that the world sorely needs. The first, "external disarmament," involves getting rid of our most dangerous weapons. "We should take seriously the elimination of all nuclear weapons," His Holiness said. The crowd roared.
The second type of disarmament: "inner disarmament," and here's where the compassion comes in. The Dalai Lama repeated his call for a program of compassion education in schools. And he explained that compassion can be selfish: "Care more for others, ultimately, you get more happy," he said. "Better to be wise selfish than foolish selfish."
Other speakers included William Bell from the Casey Family Foundation, with a moving appeal to each adult in the audience: commit to making sure that one child will no longer need foster care. "There's power in compassion," Bell said. "I ask you simply: What will you do with your compassion? Will you release its power?"
Governor Christine Gregoire echoed that question: "As governor, I want our government to be compassionate. But it is thousands of daily actions by millions of people that ensure that each child has a happier life.
"His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been talking to the world about compassion for a very long time. He lives his beliefs."
The Dalai Lama started his remarks in typical humble style, saying that he knew that many of the thousands gathered today had "great expectations. That's a mistake! I have nothing to offer...just a few empty words." He then went on to talk for a half an hour, winning applause and laughter throughout, especially when comparing men and women.
"Many of our problems are essentially man-made problems. I think 'man' here really means 'man' - women may be less troublemaker!
"Many of our problems are essentially of our own creation; therefore, logically, we must have the ability to eliminate problems."
For the tens of thousands in the stands this sparkling spring day, that may have seemed more possible than ever before.