This Tweeter follows no one

I just came across the Dalai Lama’s Twitter page.

Maybe it’s common knowledge that he has one, but I hadn’t seen it.

It’s really something — compact nuggets of Buddhist, but universal-sounding, wisdom.

4 minutes ago, we got this: “Genuine love should first be directed at oneself – if we do not love ourselves, how can we love others?”

Hmmm.

On Monday: “We need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others.”

Saturday: “Because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence.”

Friday: “An affectionate disposition not only makes the mind more peaceful and calm, but it affects our body in a positive way too.”

I assume he writes them himself.

Does he dictate them to someone? Or tap them out on his own smartphone?

Who knows?

How many followers does he have? 1,278,372 at the moment. Not quite Ashton Kutcher numbers (6 million-plus), but not bad.

How many Tweeters does the Dalai Lama follow? Zero.

Make yourself at home, Your Holiness

The Dalai Lama holds court tomorrow, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Radio City Music Hall.

The first three days, he will teach Nagarjuna’s Commentary on Bodhicitta and A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva.

The last day, he will give a talk called “Awakening the Heart of Selfishness.” Huh?

The description: “His Holiness will discuss the process of realizing true selflessness and how this realization awakens a genuine caring for others. This is how we achieve inner peace for ourselves, a feeling of responsibility for the happiness of others, and ultimately a more compassionate world for everyone.”

In the picture, he is speaking yesterday at the University of Northern Iowa.

New York magazine has a “Guide to the Tibetocracy” — those groups in NY that support the DL and and Tibetan cause.

The guide, for instance, notes that Tibet House, the “primary New York cultural outpost for all things Tibet,” had a hard time getting going in 1987. “Even the Grateful Dead wouldn’t do a benefit concert for us because they hoped to tour in China,” says Robert Thurman, its well-known boss.

I got an email yesterday with a subject line reading: “Dalai Lama Propagates Spiritual Errors on his U.S. Tour.”

I thought it was odd that some Buddhist group or other was critiquing the Dalai Lama’s teachings.

But it was only an email refuting all of Buddhism by a group called ChristianInvestigator.

It noted, for instance, “Tibetan Buddhism teaches reincarnation. However, the Bible teaches that reincarnation is not a possibility. The Bible clearly teaches that there is one life and then comes judgment.”

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Sabbath as practice for death

The writer and critic Judith Shulevitz has a new book about the meaning of the Sabbath.

bookPaintingComboThe book, “The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time,” explores not only the meaning of a day off from everyday stuff, but the difficulty of making it happen.

Slate.com has a fine, ongoing dialogue on the book and the subject that includes Shulevitz, Slate senior editor Dahlia Lithwick and the liberal Catholic nun and scholar Mary C. Boys.

Lithwick brings up a provocative storyline in her first post to the other women:

*****

Perhaps the hardest part of Sabbath is quite literally the unplugging. If we turn off the televisions and the BlackBerrys, something might happen, and we might be the only ones who didn’t know about it. I wonder what you both think about the ways technology makes us feel connected to one another in ways that Sabbath once did. One of my favorite writers, Jon Kabat-Zinn, has described meditation as a sort of practice death. You get to drop out completely for a little while and discover that life tumbles by just fine without you. I have come to think of Sabbath the same way: as a practice death. Judith, you describe the seventh day as “God turning his back on us to occupy himself with something even more important to him than we are.” I wonder if that is—forgive me the fanciful notion—a sort of practice death even for God?

*****

The Sabbath as practice for death.

Shulevitz, who writes in her book primarily from her Jewish perspective, responds in the ditigal “book club:”

*****

There’s nothing whimsical at all about the notion. The rabbis thought so, too; they called the Sabbath a foretaste of paradise. Thomas Shepard, the first great Puritan preacher on this side of the Atlantic and still one of the greatest theorists of the Sabbath, said that you prepared for the Sabbath as you prepared for heaven, and when the Sabbath came, you died for a day. This was to him a good thing, which shows you how different the Puritan vision of death was from ours. If you “died” right, you got to rest with Christ and “lie in his bosom all the day.”

*****

Shulevitz also notes: “The flip side of this amusingly morbid metaphor, however, is that to practice death, you have to remove yourself from life. The Puritans withdrew from the worldly pleasures, and we withdraw into the eerily silent world of the unplugged household.”

It’s a nice conversation to be “part of.”

Slate.com, by the way, also has a very funny piece by Emily Yoffe about taking a turn as a “motivational dancer” at a modern bar mitzvah.

If you don’t know what goes on at a modern bar mitvah or why motivational dancers might be needed, give Yoffie a shot.

She writes:

*****

I ponied across the floor and acted as if the adult couples wanted me to dance with them. A few guests commented on my efforts. “You have such spirit,” said one, which I took to mean, “You’re embarrassing yourself.” Another said, “You have so much energy,” kindly leaving off “for someone your age.”

Ode to the Dalai Lama

When the Dalai Lama was in Boston recently — you remember him wearing the Patriots hat — he stopped by Harvard to talk a little compassion.

A Harvard Divinity School PhD named Royal Rhodes has written a poem to mark the event. Rhodes is now the Donald L. Rogan Professor of Religious Studies at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.

Here’s his poem:

*****

HIS HOLINESS, THE DALAI LAMA VISITS HARVARD

Robes in somber red and crimson billow
as the “Ocean of Compassion” goes
around the Yard that Brahmins built. A pillow
rests upon a chair for him. It glows
in colored silks, as if an angel will
come down and sit a while. The civil crowd
lean their heads as one. Desires still
will blunt his point and leave the heart unbowed,
with anger towards the so-called enemy,
a feeling that the Bodhisattvas spurned.
The dignitaries plant a hybrid tree,
a birch, and watch the common earth get turned.
His silent smile regards these worldly powers,
as in the land of snows the lotus flowers.

Another Tom Brady fan?

Almost 16,000 people came to Gillette Stadium outside Boston on Saturday to see…not a Patriots mini-camp…but the Dalai Lama.

“You know what the strange thing is? You’ve been to Gillette Stadium before? It’s quiet in there,” Kim Hubert, a nurse, told The Boston Globe. “It’s surreal. Even the kids in there are quiet.”

And you have to love the picture of the Dalai Lama in a Patriots cap.

Sounds like his message was along the lines of what he usually shares in English, at least to American audiences:

“Good afternoon, dear brothers and sisters. Emotionally, mentally, physically, we are same . . . Everyone have the same right to achieve happy life.”

By the way, how scary is it that the New York Times Co. is threatening to file papers today that could lead to the closing of The Boston Globe? This can’t really happen, can it?

(AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)