The Dalai Lama and the Pueblo Revolt
by Jesse White
Last night my new housemate Kaiguang Zhao said he noticed the photograph of the Dalai Lama on my wall. Zhao is from a small village in China with a thousand year history. His family still uses cows and carts for transportation. Zhao is the first person in his village to ever attend college. He just completed his PhD with a long list of honors, including "Who's Who Among Students in American Universities" in the field of ecosystem science and management.
Our conversation about the Dalai Lama was amazing. What makes Kai different from other 30-year-old Chinese men is his desire to learn not only academically, but his hunger to embrace personal development. Without my own skills in personal development, I would have failed at navigating gracefully through a conversation about what he referred to as "China's number one enemy."
I began by listening carefully to what Zhao was saying, empathizing with his perspective. Writing a personal development article about discrepancies in history books could explain why most of us have a skewed perspective on the nature of conflict. Zhao's history books in China told him the Dalai Lama was responsible for the deaths of many people, and wanting to be a good citizen, his loyalty was a natural response. I watched as he described his understanding of the history of Tibet and China.
Without my own personal development history intact, I would have felt threatened by Zhao's initial comments. I could write a book in one long article on why we fear living with the Chinese government's perspective. The Dalai Lama is one of my most revered spiritual teachers, who has appeared to me in several dreams and helped me in countless ways since I saw him in Santa Fe, New Mexico years ago. Just the introduction for him, which went on for 45 minutes, left me in awe and tears by his magnificence.
Recently when considering a new housemate here at the School for Wonder, I turned many people away, until Zhao applied to live with me. I chose him for his sweet nature, but also because I recognized my own very subtle mistrust of the Chinese people, as a consequence of how the Dalai Lama has been treated. I am already being rewarded by his kindness in my home, and dissolving the fear only a few days after meeting him. Writing a personal development article each day based on our experience together will come easily.
I listened carefully to his point of view on how "understandable" the Chinese position is toward the Dalai Lama. I realized why he would have the perspective he has, from having read the history books in China. Then I asked his permission to share my own experience, from the School for Wonder perspective.
Drawing on my own understanding of how American history books are grossly inaccurate in many instances, I was able to engage his interest and win his trust in the conversation. He opened to me warmly, excited by learning and recognizing how his thinking had been programmed by inaccurate Chinese interpretations of history.
To open the door of understanding, I used an example of the Pueblo revolt, and how it was grossly misrepresented in American history books, depicting Columbus discovering America. I used a personal example of how I obtained the accurate information about the Pueblo revolt, which I'll explain here:
My friend Diane Reyna from Taos Pueblo created a documentary film called "Surviving Columbus." The film was outstanding and won awards for revealing the truth of what actually happened to Native American people. It changed my perspective forever. The tone of the conversation with Zhao after sharing this went from somber and austere to open curiosity and free sharing of personal experience. The results were an immediate bonding in our friendship.
Zhao then shared his observation that the Dalai Lama is also a great spiritual leader. He softened in his body, began to smile and thank me for helping him see that perhaps he did not know what had actually transpired, and exactly why Tibet wants to be free of Chinese rule. He said that he chose to live in my home, instead of with a Chinese family, so he can stretch his ways of thinking and be challenged to develop personally.
He is excited about telling his foreign friends about each personal development article and what he learns. Such a great gift, to feel the momentum of this kind of inner growth for both of us. I felt compelled to write a personal development article, and share our experiences in living together in the School for Wonder.
This conversation happened on the eve of President Obama's first meeting with the Dalai Lama. Zhao and I agreed to see the photograph on my wall of the Dalai Lama as a reminder, to smile at each other and love each other more deeply every day. I feel very blessed to have a Chinese roommate, to sandpaper my own soul and show me the heart of compassion.