Cope's Cave: The Dalai Lama, the Pope and Pat Robertson Walk Into a Bar... 

I feel bad. By the time I learned that last Monday was the Dalai Lama's birthday, it was too late to use this space to wish him a happy one. I realize chances are slim that he would have noticed any tribute I paid him herein, tucked away as it is in a corner of the online Boise Weekly, which itself is tucked away in a corner of the Boise media market, in a city tucked away in one of the minor states, itself tucked away in a relatively quiet corner of the greater North American continent, thousands and thousands of miles from his exile home in India.

Still, he happens to be one of my favorite Earthlings ever, so I feel shamefully negligent that I didn't contribute, in however small a way, to the total accumulation of good karma that his admirers the world over undoubtedly bundled his way on the actual day he turned 80.

No, I am not Buddhist, though of all the crazy religions out there, I regard Buddhism as the least crazy and most palatable. Yet it is not for his religion that I regard the lama with a respect approaching awe, nor is it his position as the highest monk in that particular Tibetan version of it. If he were a Christian muck-a-muck of an equivalent stature, or a Muslim big cheese with the same global presence that Tenzin Gyatso has sustained for decades—and he still managed to exude the same humility, the humor, the affability and the grace—I would feel the same regard for him.

But then, humility and humor, affability and grace are not virtues we associate with Christian muck-a-mucks or big Muslim cheeses, are they? (Notable exception: This new guy in the Vatican... what's his name? Francis?... is shaping up to be the best pope ever. If he keeps it up, some wag might suggest he's turning into the Dalai Lama of the Catholic Church, heh heh.)

At any rate, happy belated birthday, Tenzin, and many more. You are one of the few world figures worth listening to, and we haven't heard nearly enough. Om Mani Padme Hum to you, brother.

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