Many people, including myself, often judge too fast. They cannot accept that certain things are just not clear, or that certain things cannot be known.
Take for example this current episode with the Dalai Lama and the Indian boy. What we westerners see is a dirty old man telling a young boy to suck his tongue – and we are disgusted. Of course! We immediately think of child abuse, pedophilia, intimidation, and we condemn the man. Of course!
But what does a Tibetan possibly see? He might see an old grandfather telling a child the old fashioned way: “I have given you everything and I can’t give you anything else.”
In that case, ‘suck my tongue’ is a funny way to say: “I have shared my love, my food and my candy with you, now there is nothing left but my tongue.”
Straight after this video of the Dalai Lama and the boy went viral, posts appeared on socal media saying that it is and old custom in North Tibet for grandparents to sometimes give candy or food to their grandchildren mouth to mouth, just like birds. The posts claimed it is a token of affection. Who knows, maybe it has become a custom because it is so cold in Tibet. I don’t know, but if this is true, there is nothing dirty, disgusting or sexual about this act.
However, I find it suspicious that I never heard of this custom before. But then again, what do I know about Tibetan and buddhist tradition? I know they have prayer flags, I have read they can astral travel and are masters in lucid dreaming and sound healing. They drill holes in the head of monks to open their third eye (see ‘The third eye’ by Lobsang Rampa) and they put butter in their tea. Disgusting! But that’s about all I know.
Maybe the explanation of this apparent custom between grandparents and their grandchildren is true. It would explain why the audience is laughing while all this takes place and why several people are filming, apparently unaware of any wrongdoing. Or … the marketing team around the Dalai Lama has made it up. Maybe they invented this so called custom in order to save face for ‘his Holiness’, who fell out of character while the cameras were running. Not good for business!
How can we know for sure? Both versions of reality are possible. I wasn’t there. And you weren’t there either.
Am I defending the Dalai Lama? Not at all! I have seen him promoting the C-jabs, and unless that was a fake video, that proved to me that the man lost his credibility years ago. But that’s another story. It doesn’t necesarilly prove that the Dalai Lama is a child abuser. Or actually, maybe it does.
Anyway, there are big cultural differences between Tibetans and westerners. For that reason alone, it might be good to postpone your judgment, or maybe not judge at all, until you are in a position where you can undoubtedly know the truth. In this case, in order to know the truth, you should actually go live in Tibet or Dharamsala for a few years and ask around about this custom.
“Is it really a custom?” you might want to ask. And maybe everybody will say: “Yes, yes, this is true.”
Also, you might want to show them the particular video and ask: “What do you think about this?”
Then they might say: “Oh, how cute. He does this with a boy he doesn’t even know. He really loves everybody.”
If that were the case, you could drop your western judgment about this dirty old man. But if none of the Tibetans would have ever heard of this custom and they would look at the video with a look of shock and disgust on their face, then you also would know the truth.
When I was in India for the first time, I didn’t know it was a custom to eat only with your right hand. Indian people don’t use cutlery when they eat and they don’t use toilet paper when they go to the toilet. They use water to clean themselves. After a toilet visit they wash their bum with water, using their left hand. Therefore, the left hand is considered not clean. Fair enough. We westerners wouldn’t eat food with our left hand either if we also used it to wash our bum after a toilet visit, would we?
So the custom in India is: everybody eats with their right hand. However, I am left handed! When I came to India I enjoyed eating with my hands. It was really a pleasurable experience. Because I was left handed, I naturally ate with my left hand. In the ashram where I stayed we always ate together in big groups. The first dinner I saw people staring at me with a disgusted look on their face, while I had no clue what I was doing wrong! Maybe they thought I was crazy, or at least extremely unhygienic and careless. Probably they just couldn’t understand why I would do something that dirty, while in fact I had been washing my bum with my right hand, to keep my left hand clean, because I do most things with my left hand.
Eventually, a friend explained to me: “Honey, this is the custom in India: you wash your bum with your left hand and you eat with your right hand.”
Immediately I understood the look on their faces and I blushed. From that moment on I didn’t eat with my left hand anymore. I am a fast learner.
I am not comparing washing your bum with the wrong hand with assaulting children. Absolutely not. If the Dalai Lama was indeed molesting that boy, he should be held accountable. But in both cases there were cultural differences and in at least one case people were jumping to conclusions. Moral of the story: don’t judge too fast. Maybe the Dalai Lama is indeed a dirty old man, a pedophile and a hypocrite, or maybe he is a kind old man, who possibly has gone a bit senile. The point is: at this point, most of us just don’t know.
Sometimes it is good to be in the not-knowing zone a bit more often. To resist the temptation to find a skapegoat to project your rage on. It is okay. You don’t need to judge everything. You don’t need to have an opinion about everything. You don’t need to know everything. Just let it be sometimes. Just be a little more Zen – also on social media.