Among the many phone calls Rutherford made, one was to me. He asked me to act as the Dalai Lama’s press secretary. I explained to Rutherford that he had the wrong person, that I had no experience in that line, and that it would surely be a disaster. Rutherford said that he didn’t have time to argue. The Dalai Lama, he explained, was a person who would stop and talk to anyone who asked him a question. He treated all people the same, from the president of the United States to a bum on the street, giving every person his full time and attention. Someone had to manage the press and keep the Dalai Lama from being buttonholed. And that person was going to be me.
I desperately needed the money, and so I agreed. As Rutherford was about to ring off, I asked how much I’d be paid. He was incredulous and told me he was saddened by my avarice. How could I even think about being paid for the privilege of spending a week with His Holiness? On the contrary, the volunteers were expected to give, not get. He had the pledge sheet right in front of him; how much could he put me down for?
I pledged $50.
Not a single person I've told has believed this story, but I must share it here:
About two years ago the Dalai Lama visited the NYC area to give lectures and various other events, and so did his troop of monks/followers/im ignorant sorry. This was mid-summer, sometime in July, and I was on my way back from a preppy, pretentious business leadership conference in D.C. (college resume, whatever. The bus from DC to NYC was your average charter bus, about half-full with sweaty businessmen and the like..
A good couple hours into the trip, the bus makes a stop at a service center/mall-type-thing, with the McDonalds and so forth, and after a proper 30-minute wait, the hydraulics hiss from the front of the bus and it leans down slightly, opening the doors. And, as you may have guessed, in trots a dozen robed monks and the big D himself. How do I know it was him? because I went up to him, bowed, he insisted that I sit next to him, and I held up a picture of him from Google Images to his face to make sure it was the same dude. He was cracking up and was laughing heartily the entire time I was with him-- his laugh is warmth in its purest form, I swear-- and then said goodbye and I went back to my seat. Smiled at him on the way out, he took a moment to say goodbye to everyone else who approached him, glided out like a sentient golden-red cloud. Did i take a picture? No, I didn't ask out of respect, and no I dont regret it, the guy is an embodiment of happiness and it felt superficial and insulting to do so. Wicked experience, I get every descrption youre talking about