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December 31, 2009 - The Dalai Lama Visits A Shrink

A hypothetical doctor's office conversation between the Dalai Lama and a clueless therapist...

Therapist: Good morning Sir, shall we get started...?

Dalai Lama: Yes, let us.

T: State your last name.

DL: Lama.

T: Excuse me...?

DL: Ha ha. I am kidding. My official title is 'His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.' My original name was Tenzin Gyatso. However for simplicity, you may call me 'H.H'.

T: Mmmm, O-Kayyyy!... Scribbles "H.H." and "...Possible follow-up questioning along the lines of 'delusions of grandeur". Underlines.

T: What is your line of work then...Um, H.H.?

DL: I am the religious and temporal leader of the Tibetan peoples, as well as other Buddhist followers from many nations.

T: Un - hunh... Checks box next to: 'clergy.' Underlines 'delusions of grandeur' again.

DL: However, I prefer to think of myself as a simple monk.

T: I see... Circles 'delusions of grandeur', scribbles 'bipolar...?' in the margin.

T: So um, H.H., What brings you here today...? Are you having a stressful time in your life...?

DL: No, not more particularly stressful than any other. I often think of the events of my life that led me to being exiled from my country by a foreign government and of those that destroyed many of the religious icons and sacred statutes of my peoples that were thousands of years old, and the difficulties of being the spiritual leader of many thousands of followers from outside their borders in a country that is not their own. However, my reason for being here today is really not to analyze my thoughts and ideas, but more because I am interested in how a person in your position is known to help people by simply speaking with them.

T: Hack! Clears throat loudly. Sorry. Well... It's just that I'm used to being the interviewer in a clinical situation instead of the one who is being interviewed. Hmmm. I'm not exactly sure what I can offer through discussing my methods that would really help you. We psychologists tend not to analyze our methods with the patients, lest they get conflicting 'ideas.'

T: Changing subject... How about I go through my normal routine of questioning, and that way perhaps we can learn a little about one another... Scribbles 'personality questioning avoidance.'

DL: That sounds appropriate.

T: So... Tell me about your childhood.

DL: I was born 1935, to a family in a small farming village located in northeastern Tibet.  At the age of two, I was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous and 13th Dalai Lama, taken from my family, and sent to attend monastic education in preparation for my being the religious and temporal leader of the Tibetan peoples.

T: What! (choking) Are you crazy?! (Pulls himself together) Excuse me, bad bedside manner. The government took you from your family when you were two years old...?! How did your parents react....?!

DL: They were very pleased and supportive. There was much celebration and rejoicing after I answered several questions and performed some tests correctly. I had anticipated the event as long as my earliest memories can attest.

T: Gah, buh, a two year old...?! Then what did they do to you...?!

DL: I began my official monastic education at the age of six.  The curriculum consisted of five major and five minor subjects.  The major subjects were logic, Tibetan art and culture, Sanskrit, medicine, and Buddhist philosophy, which was further divided into five categories: Prajnaparimita, the perfection of wisdom; Madhyamika, the philosophy of the middle Way; Vinaya, the canon of monastic discipline; Abidharma, metaphysics; and Pramana, logic and epistemology.
The five minor subjects were poetry, music and drama, astrology, motre and phrasing, and synonyms.
After studying and meditating with my tutors for 17 years I sat for my final examination in the Jokhang Temple, in Lhasa.
I completed my education and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, a degree equivalent to a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy.

T: Sounds like a strict authoritarian upbringing. Scribbles 'rough childhood'. Underlines. What did you do next, take a break and hitchhike around Europe...?

DL: No, in 1950 I was called upon to assume full political power after China's invasion of Tibet in 1949.  In 1954, I went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping and Chou Enlai.
Then in 1959, after a rather brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops, I was forced to escape into exile and live in Dharamsala, in northern India, the seat of the Tibetan political administration. For this I feel I owe my people everything, and have worked as much as possible through my non-violent dialogs to free them.
I first proposed the Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet as a step towards a peaceful solution to our country's worsening situation.  I envisaged that Tibet would become a sanctuary; a zone of peace at the heart of Asia, where all sentient beings can exist in harmony and the delicate environment can be preserved.
The government of China has so far failed to respond positively to any of the various peace proposals that I have put forward.

T: Beginning to write 'whack job'... Wow, Yes, that's quite a story... Do you often feel depressed...? Say more than 2 days a month...? Do you enjoy doing fun things...? Do you often think about death...?

DL: I am normally neither distressed nor ecstatic. My own daily practices, that is my prayers, take about four hours.
In my case, my practices include much visualization of death and rebirth.  In my daily practice, the deity mandala, the deity yoga, and the visualization of death, rebirth, and intermediate state is done eight times.  So, eight times death and eight times rebirth. I am supposed to be preparing for my death as I do so, and yes I think about it quite often. I do this about four hours every day.

T: Scribbling... Uh - huh... Notes: possible death obsession. Recommend MMRI II as baseline phobic, psychological, and pathological analysis/verification of symptomatic possible PTSD, clinical depression, delusional dysfunction and or fabrication of complete personal situation in an attempt to mask anxiety or total grandiose illusions...

T: Well...! It certainly is a nice day outside, H.H., glances at watch... and I see our time is almost up. If you'll talk to our medication manager on your way to the front desk, I'm sure they will get you started on a program that could lead to some real progress for you.
I would like you to come back at least once every two weeks to do some simple testing - please call to my assistant to set up a schedule. Do you have insurance...? Be sure to present your card to the people behind the glass at the front desk. Oop, there's my secretary with my eleven o'clock. We can discuss your questions further on our next visit. The lobby is right that way. Thanks for dropping by Mr. H.H., have a nice day now...!

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