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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Dalai Lama

"The consciousnesses of human beings vary with education and experience--the more educated you are and the more experience you have, the broader your consciousness.
Knowledge and understanding develop on the basis of a consciousness that has the ability to perceive its objects. When the necessary conditions are met, the mind's ability to perceive increases, the scope of its objects of knowledge expands, and understanding deepens. In this way the mind can develop its full potential. Omniscience is the full consummation, or perfection, of the mind's ability to perceive objects."

--from Stages of Meditation by the Dalai Lama, published by Snow Lion Publications
The Buddhists are masters of metacognition. A broader consciousness, enabled by education and experience, allows an individual to perceive more clearly and more deeply. Enhanced perception increases understanding and knowledge. Omniscience, the nirvana, fulfillment of mind and soul in any faith can be best attained through greater understanding and knowledge.

The reasoning is complex, but the meaning is simple. Through education and experience humans can most closely reach their perfect state where mind and spirit operate together to their fullest capabilities.

Enhancing our ability to perceive is key. Being a writer and artist, a proponent of the value of artistic expression and appreciation, this concept to me underlines the value of art. Creating and interpreting art extends our consciousness and expands our perception. In difficult economic times, art is often viewed as a frill, an extra, a luxury. That is a sad choice, given the important role art plays in allowing each of us to reach our fullest potential. I am heartened by the thoughts of the 14th Dalai Lama.

His words, like these, often explain behaviors so basic to humanity, we cannot separate them from our existence.

I am grateful for his guidance, especially on this day . . . his 75th birthday.