So the Dalai Lama decided to swing by and I thought it might be nice to pop in and see him. Find out how he is, ask him if he's read any good books recently, seen any good films.
In all seriousness, the Dalai Lama was visiting Sydney and I didn't want to pass up the opportunity of seeing him in the flesh. So Chris and I set off in search of His Pyjamad Holiness after hearing his free concert was being held in The Botanical Gardens.
Actually, concert is not the right word is it? We weren't expecting him to do a few numbers from Evita, or balance a unicycle on his bonce. No, talk. He was giving a talk.
As it happens it wasn't a talk. Rather a fractured, echoing, rambling monologue.
OK. So I am sure he is a lovely man; kind to trees, mends kitten's paws and hands out free Twixes to orphans. And I am sure he is as wise and sagacious and his words are loaded with import, meaning and insight.
But in all these cases, the message is only as good as the medium, and if the delivery and/or method of communication is lacking then even the most potent of oratories will be lost in the noise.
I couldn't hear the Dalai Lama. And when I could hear him I couldn't tell what he said. It felt like that scene in Life Of Brian when Jesus' sermon is interrupted by Terry Jones's shrill cry of "Speak up!"
He mumbled and rambled and rambled and mumbled. His English was poor, he had no script at all and occasionally turned to a similarly jim-jammed fellah to his left when searching for the correct word.
The cumulative effect was something like this:
"...mumble.....ramble...... too much hatred in world.....mumble.....ramble...... erm.....for example Iraq.....mumble.....ramble.....need for compassion...mumble.....ramble.....how you say? materialism?.....mumble.....ramble.....happiness can be achieved....something about Buddah. ...mumble.....ramble.....What's that word? (turns to the man to his left)...Aaaah yes, illusion of contentment....mumble.....ramble.....something about science not having all the answers otherwise a scientist wouldn't have an argument with his wife........erm......erm......erm.....erm.....(huge silence)......erm......(turns to the man to his left......man on his left offers no help)......mumble.....ramble.....Sankyou veddy mach (polite applause).
I could have improved the whole thing with two easy changes:
1. I know he's speaking from the heart/off the cuff - but get that man a script. He sounded like a wino slurring his way through the Little Book of Calm.
2. If he followed a script, you could put subtitles on the big video walls that flanked him. And turn his bloody mike up as well. And hand out some leaflets for Buddha's sake.
If the message is so important then make sure that every one is given the opportunity to hear it. In theory his words could have potentially been life changing. And because I only heard every fifth word, I would never have known.
Poor show, Mr Lama, poor show.