One Paddle, Two Paddle for the Dalai Lama

John Hook for Civil Beat

The Dalai Lama received the gift of a koa paddle not once but twice on Sunday, but in very different arenas.

The first was at an invite-only talk titled "Native Intelligence in Modern Times," held at the East-West Center. The second came at the Dalai Lama's only public talk, called "Advancing Peace Through The Power of Aloha," held at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The public talk was much like Saturday's before an audience of high school students, held at the same center, with the Dalai Lama sharing much the same message — i.e., "compassion, compassion, compassion," as he described it himself in a gently mocking fashion.

The Dalai Lama was far more animated than the day before, however, using many hand and arm gestures to emphasize his points. He even removed his visor to point to his bald head to underscore a message.

The talk also included easily the funniest moment of his Hawaii trip. Asked if there ever was a time when he didn't smile, he mentioned using the bathroom. That prompted a big laugh.

It was the Dalai Lama at his best.

By contrast, the private talk with two prominent Native Hawaiian community leaders didn't live up to its billing.

The goal of the panel was to have a dialogue, but instead the talk turned into a series of monologues that, while often moving and enlightening, did not seem to meet the bar that moderator John DeFries set out at the beginning: to help ease tension in the community but also to feel a little discomfort in order to "reframe" how we look at our island home.

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