Went to the Dalai Lama dinner speech today. I'm on the supporters board for his visit to Tokyo. This is the second time. I think the first time was more important because he was having difficulty getting into Japan, but this year it was much easier. He's not yet as popular in Japan as he is in the US, but he is gaining greater and greater support in Japan. The dinner guests were quite an interesting cross-section of Japanese business, political, religious, academic and entertainment related society. Just like las time he was very playful and inspiring.
Today he told us that he will be visiting Ise Jingu, one of the oldest and most famous Shinto shrines. He will do the sanpai, a Shinto ceremonial visit there. He talked a lot about "Human Values" and "Religious Harmony" and "Emotional Religious Relationship." His visit to and honor of a Shinto shrine is part of this push for religious harmony. He talked about the importance of "Global Responsibility" and the necessity for everyone to realize that we are all physically and mentally the same. "Alright, maybe a BIT different physically," he conceded. But he stressed the importance of understanding the huge similarities rather than on focusing on the differences.
At the end, he took questions and answers. A young Japanese man talked about how he was trying to change the world one person at a time and how he hoped Japan would plan in important role in bringing religion and science, East and West together. He asked whether it was OK to make a movie about how the Dalai Lama was reborn in Japan to help lead this movement.
The Dalai Lama smiled and said that the Dalai Lama Institution existed only as long as the people of Tibet felt it was necessary. He has a prayer that as long as his soul was active, he would dedicate himself to helping human-kind everywhere. He said that if for some reason the people of Tibet decided that they didn't need a Dalai Lama any longer and he could find suitable parents in Japan, it was quite possible that he would be reborn in Japan to carry on his mission to help human-kind.
It was obvious that the security team and the hotel hated that he walked through the crowd instead of leaving from the back exit that they were trying to usher him to, but he worked the crowd. Better than any politician I've ever seen. His hand-shakes were obviously much more sincere than most politicians (I should compare, but the image was similar) and everyone who had shaken his hand was left kind of stunned.
One other interesting note was that he talked in Tibetan and there was a translator to Japanese... but when he got excited, he spoke in English. ;-)
Monk Matsunaga of Koyasan was at my table so it was fun to talk about how excited I from my visit to Koyasan. Matsunaga-san told me that the Dalai Lama had visited his temple in Koyasan.