Zorba Paster: Dalai Lama human embodiment of compassion

2013-06-16T04:30:00Z Zorba Paster: Dalai Lama human embodiment of compassionZORBA PASTER | Madison physician madison.com
June 16, 2013 4:30 am  • 

Rick Bogle is right when he says that meditation does not make you more compassionate — acts of kindness and forgiveness are more likely to do that. Meditation without action is meaningless. But he is wrong to suggest that the Dalai Lama’s visits to Madison have not made a difference in people’s lives. Just look at how many came out to see him. From 1976, when my wife Penny and I first met His Holiness in India, to now, our life has changed — for the good. With that in mind I’d like to comment on some of Bogle's outrageous accusations.

First, because the Dalai Lama supports Dr. Richard Davidson's primate experiments, Bogle suggests he is not respecting life. Then he accuses him of not being compassionate because he eats meat.

The University of Wisconsin has been actively involved in primate experiments since Harry Harlow opened the Primate Center back in the '60s. The reason that many are disturbed by primate research is that we are so close to monkeys on the evolutionary chain. They look just like us. Yet that research has been invaluable in improving maternal and child care and investigating the root sources of anxiety. Primate trials were critical to Drs. Salk and Sabin’s developing the polio vaccine, which saves millions of lives every year. Is this bad stuff? Most people would agree with me that ethically done, primate research engineered to help mankind is important to do. The key word here is ethical.

Bogle suggests that eating animals is inherently bad. But in fact, even the most strict vegetarian cannot avoid eating animals, i.e., insects. The proof comes from vitamin B12 studies. There is absolutely no source of vitamin B12 in the plant kingdom; it comes from animals. Research of South Indian lifetime vegetarians shows that their B12 comes from insect parts found in grains, flour, legumes and beans. Even a vegan isn’t be immune from animal destruction.

Now on to Bogle’s most outrageous implication — that Tibetan Lamas subjugated the Tibetan people for 800 years. I wonder if Bogle has ever been to Tibet, as I have numerous times. If he had, he would have seen how Tibetans are subjugated by their Chinese overlords, who claim that they “liberated” them. This is classic communist propaganda. Tibetans are quickly becoming a minority in their own country. You need only see the human immolations that are going on in Tibet to see how desperate Tibetans are.

Why is the Dalai Lama so revered? Because he is, in fact, the human embodiment of compassion. And we need that badly. In this fast-paced, hurly burly world of electronic distraction, political gridlock, shootings, bombings, al-Qaida, not to mention the me-first mentality, we thirst for a mentor that we can count on. He’s just that. The Dalai Lama says forgive your enemies (as he does the Chinese) and do acts of kindness as often as you can. He is, as my mom used to say, “the real McCoy.”

Zorba Paster is a Wisconsin Public Radio personality, News3 TV commentator, columnist, doctor, omnivore and amateur Buddhist. He and his wife has been friends of the Dalai Lama since 1976.

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(10) Comments

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    ARTEMISSIERRA - June 20, 2013 4:14 pm
    I attended a special lecture several years ago by a nun from Tibet. She was looking for volunteer teachers for her convents. The only place that girl's can get education in Tibet at that time was the convent, it seems to me that the Dalai Llama when asked when women would be liberated was reported to have said he will wait until the people ask him to do so.

    Many countries struggle together their kids to school. They consider it liberation and empowerment. My schools taught me to respect animals at a very early age. I cannot understand why societies must suppress so much of what is natural and beautiful. All beings have dignity and emotions. B12 is available from vegan sources.

    The first mindfulness training says, "I undertake to cultivate compassion for people, animals, plants and minerals and the earth". We cannot be perfect. If we do so we cause great harm to ourselves and others, if you get really obsessive you will refuse to boil water or walk on the sidewalk because you destroy tiny insects. How about we learn how to be compassionate enough to come up with solutions to cruelty and oppression in all it's

    I heard a talk by a famous researcher at UW about elephants. He obviously got some serious money for his study. I don't care how high his IQ was,he was the ultimate dumb guy by spending our hard earned money to show that primates get mad when they are cheated out of a good treat and that elephants can see their reelection in the mirror and become distressed by a mark on their forehead. Go ask the lady down the street or any young child and stop spending our money undoing our complex system of denial.
  2. ancillary
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    ancillary - June 19, 2013 10:44 pm
    I believe that he has appealed to monks not to self-immolate, but to condemn them for this non-violent (others are not hurt) act of protest would be heartless, to say the least. By that token the people who took to the streets during the Arab Spring should have condemned the street vendor who self-immolated and, thru the attention it garnered, ignited the mass protests in Tunisia.
  3. ancillary
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    ancillary - June 19, 2013 10:32 pm
    Zorba pastor can't even trot out a decent argument. Don't you need to be logical to get through medical school? Apparently not very. By what moral reasoning does the commission of one unavoidable harm toward another absolve you any obligation to avoid or reduce harm when you are able? Even if it was true that vegans only survived because of accidently killed insects that remain in their food, why should we then not care about torturing and killing mammals and other near relatives of humans, especially when it is clearly NOT necessary for our survival? Besides, his statements about B12 are half-truths at best. He says that B12 is not produced by plants. From what I read that is indeed true. But it is also not produced by animals. It is made by bacteria. While animal protein may have been the main conduit of this nutrient from the bacteria to human bodies, B12 can now be obtained straight from the source and consumed in the form of nutritional yeast, for instance. From Wikipedia (and forgive me for leaving it to the reader to scrutinize the primary sources):

    Neither plants nor animals are independently capable of constructing vitamin B12.[41] Only bacteria and archaea[42] have the enzymes required for its biosynthesis. ...
    Industrial production of B12 is through fermentation of selected microorganisms.[46] Streptomyces griseus, a bacterium once thought to be a yeast, was the commercial source of vitamin B12 for many years.[47][48] The species Pseudomonas denitrificans and Propionibacterium shermanii are more commonly used today.

    I didn't know that the Llama ate meat. I had mistakenly assumed that he was vegetarian. A better defense of his meat-eating than Zorba Pastor's lame nonsense about B12 and insects might have been that Tibet is a cold mountainous country whose people could not subsist without yak meat or something. I certainly would never fault people in that situation. But the Llama isn't living in yak country anymore.
  4. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - June 18, 2013 1:57 pm
    The illegal wildlife trade, from elephant tusks to tiger skin pelts and shark fins, is dominated by China’s demand. We are used to stories of excessive wedding parties where every table has a pot of shark fin soup on the table or miniature cityscapes carved from elephant ivory, but as Simons points out, some of the proudest Buddhists in Tibet still wear tiger skin robes as a sign of success. http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/03/28/chinas-biggest-export-may-be-environmental-ills

    Buddhism now has gone far from the idea of "do no harm" to exploit the most dangerously endangered animals to eat any animal anytime anywhere, despite the devastation....all under this incarnation of the Dalai Lama.

    I heard Zorba Pastor last night on Channel 3. He was asked to expound on a report that showed significant risk factor of meat-eating for developing type 2 diabetes ( an epidemic in this carcass-eating country). He said, "Oh this is a study of many studies, indicating that many studies coming to the same conclusion was somehow a weaker indication of its veracity and impact." Then he fumbled around with ideas for slight cuts to hamburger consumption or implied that eating OTHER carcasses would be a good alternative - as though, like him, the public cannot take the truth that moving to a plant based diet would do much to save our planet's climate, wildlife, health and billions of dollars in the medical complex and pharmaceutical company profits from the diseases of excess animal protein, fat and dairy.

    We need a truth telling doc advising us - not someone steeped in the sick system in place.
  5. hjfoley
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    hjfoley - June 16, 2013 9:51 pm
    The compassion of the Dalai Lama, how eloquent I do not think you will find to much compassion between him and the Dorje Shugden or for that matter the Chinese.
    If the Dalai Lama was sincere about love, peace and respect for life he would condemn out of hand self-immolated by his supporters. Almost nobody in the media is asking real questions of the Dalai Lama —or digging up real answers—I wonder why?
    If you follow his personal history a very different person emerges...For a good overview of information relating to DL it is worth checking out http://misebogland.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/the-myths-of-the-dalai-lama-laid-bare-the-myth-hoax-and-the-luciferian-agenda-the-santos-republic/
  6. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - June 16, 2013 9:26 pm
    I have been corrected. It is 92% of pharmaceuticals that have been approved by animal testing that are pulled from the market for doing harm to humans or doing nothing to help humans because the reaction was different in humans than in the animals they abused to get approval of the drugs - not 97%. Still a stunning figure...perhaps Dr. Pastor would like to review that research:

    My reverence for doctors and pharmaceutical companies, universities ( I am an alumna of the UW Madison) and holy figures has been totally leveled by the following examples:

    1. My veterinarian, a medical professional, who researched her options carefully, went in for a simple surgery to address acid reflux. The doctor "made a mistake" and cut the main nerve going to her stomach, KILLING HER STOMACH, which had to be removed. Now she has a tube directly into her heart to feed herself, which will certainly shorten her life. The doctor's response? " a bad day - a mistake."
    2. the drug doxycycline, which is the common treatment for lymes disease, went from $5.00 for 42 pills last year to $142.00 this year, because lymes is such a deadly disease and the pharmaceutical companies can profiteer.
    3. A University of Wisconsin which hides the primate center at the edge of campus, refuses to allow citizen access, and continues to do useless redundant research that tortures monkeys for money from the NIH...some "sifting and winnowing"- NOT.
    4. A recent documentary on the Catholic Church not just hiding the chronic sexual abuse of boys but also covering up a known murder. I doubt it is the only one.

    I suggest that we must question our common presumptions. When I found that our natural world and wildlife are totally in the hands of genocidal serial killers, I realized all is not what it seems.

  7. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - June 16, 2013 8:50 pm
    This mbadger also wrote" Many more people had jobs when Bush was President. Obama has done nothing on the jobs front. He thinks a record number of people on food stamps and disability is progress."

    It seems mbadger's analysis is not very deep or informed. Bush destroyed the economy with his deregulation and wars - and then this person blames Obama for the job loss. People are on food stamps and disabilities due to the economy of Republican ideology - rape out the middle class to feed the rich. Feed the oil companies, the coal companies, the fracking companies their subsidies and take over the media and schools with right wing propaganda. Gut public services and return us to a feudal have and have not state. Mission accomplished.

    So it is cruelty not only to animals but to people treated like animals.

    Read more: http://host.madison.com/users/profile/mbadger/#ixzz2WQyFTpCD
  8. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - June 16, 2013 8:35 pm
    Yes - I am always turned off by Zorba Pastor's blythe carcass-eating recipes - so "tasty" for humans - so obscenely cruel to animals. I worked very hard on Tom Clark to get him to try soy bacon ( which tastes, fries up, and crisps just like dead pigs) - but they joke all the time about Tom's meat obsessions and "distaste" for tofu - as if tofu were the alternative to meat.

    Rick Bogle, like all of us willing to look at this increasingly ignorantly cruel state and its brat fests and "pet the lamb farm" activities, followed by a lamb sandwich - all of us who look at the million animals mangled in traps annually, the hundreds of thousands of deer killed for yet another head on wall in serial killing frenzy, men who rule our public lands teaching packs of dogs to be vicious to all wildlife and run them down year-round, statewide for a bloody dog-fighting show for humans - the primates languishing in cages only to be removed for piling one useless experiment on top of another - ignoring the stress and complications of the deprivation they suffer - the useless traumas perpetrated when 97% of drugs that MUST be tested on animals are withdrawn for their DAMAGE to human beings or their uselessness or the fact that they do not react the same in a monkey or tortured cat or suffering beagle, or cancer-ridden mouse or rat as they do in human.

    Rick, like most of us who study these atrocities which are commonly accepted - must feel as I do - appalled at the breadth, depth and scope of human ability to rationalize ever new ways to abuse and torture other sentient beings on such a massive scale.

    It is interesting to look at a doctor rationalizing that the Dalai Lama - (some incarnation of compassion and wisdom?) still eats animals - and aligns himself with torture of any other living being for any reason. I attended a Dalai Lama presentation at the Kohl Center. Nice enough fellow. But the mythology that surrounds him brings to mind the book - was it "If you see the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him"? We are all born into this world to find our way to compassion. I simply do not see the wisdom in his philosophy on non-human life. Anybody who has known a dog or cat knows better.

    It is obvious that Zorba Pastor and the Dalai Lama, though status symbols in their own right, have not found that path. It is the very simplest of credos - love the other as yourself - and everything but you is OTHER. Do unto the other as you would have them do unto you.

    Strange the Dalai Lama has not gotten that in this lifetime of meditations - or Pastor in his lifetime of medical wisdom too tied into the myth of animal experimentation as a model.
  9. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - June 16, 2013 2:39 pm

    "Now on to Bogle’s most outrageous implication — that Tibetan Lamas subjugated the Tibetan people for 800 years. [But now] Tibetans are subjugated by their Chinese overlords, who claim that they 'liberated' them." I notice that Dr. Paster, who deferentially refers to Lama Tenzin Gyatso as "His Holiness" (capital letters and all) does not refute Bogle's assertion — he simply points out that the poor Tibetan people are now being oppressed by a different dictatorial autocratic regime. This is like saying that the shah of Iran and his SAVAK couldn't possibly have been brutal oppressors because the Ayatollah Khomeini and his Revolutionary Guard "liberated" Iran but turned out to be pretty nasty. OK, so it's somewhat different groups of Tibetans being most heavily oppressed now (mainly clerics instead of women), but that doesn't negate a single thing Bogle wrote about 8 centuries of theocratic rule under the lamas. Bias doesn't always have to be negative, you know. Sometimes it can be rose-colored-glasses positive. I think Dr. Paster illustrates this quite well in his change-the-subject apologia.

  10. mbadger
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    mbadger - June 16, 2013 7:48 am
    Thank you Dr Paster. I wondered if anyone would correct Mr Bogles misguided screed. Great job.
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