An interview with Time Magazine reporter and author Pico Iyer
From a very young age Pico Iyer has had a close personal relationship with one of the worlds great spiritual and political leaders. In 1960 his father a professor of philosophy and a student of world religions was among first westerners to seek an audience with the Dalai Lama. Traveling from his home in England Iyer’s father journeyed back to his native India to meet the Dalai Lama then around the age of 24. In their conversations the Tibetan Buddhist ruler in exile and Iyer’s father discussed ancient mystic wisdom that had been unavailable to the outside world for centuries. And with the exchange of a single simple gift, they also established a connection between the Dalai Lama and Iyer that now spans almost 50 years.
“At the end of his conversation with the Dalai Lama in 1960 he said ‘I have this little three year-old boy back in England and he was already quite interested in the story of your dramatic flight from Tibet into India’,” Iyer said. “And so the Dalai Lama, with his great gift for the perfect gesture found a photo of himself when he was 5 years old and sent it to me. And so from the time I was three I had this photo of this little boy, 5 years old, already ruling 6 million people. I didn’t understand who or what the Dalai Lama was. But I could make a contact with this little boy sitting in this place. And I could see all the responsibility he had. So in that sense I grew up with the image of the Dalai Lama and stories of the Dalai Lama from the time I was a little boy.”
From the gift of that photograph to their first meeting years later Iyer and the Dalai Lama have been become good friends. And through the course of his career as a journalist Iyer has cultivated a deep insight to the philosophy that has guided the Dalai Lama toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict between China and Tibet. In his new book The Open Road: The Global Journey of the 14th Dalai Lama Iyer shares his view of the spiritual and political path we all take to find peace in our lives and the world in which we live.
Music by Jake Shimabukru
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