I am Theo Seemore, editor of "Oculus" a magazine devoted to enlightenment. Recently I traveled to Poona in India to meet with The Dalai Lama. I was interested in the clinic he had established there and which he runs with his monks. Called "Transience" it deals with an unusual type of invalid, one which we in the West do not consider an invalid at all.
I met Tibet's great spiritual leader in his office at the top of the building. He greeted me warmly as if we had known each other for years. As I sat in front of his desk I noticed not a hint of Buddhism or Tibetan culture to be seen anywhere in the spacious room. It was spartan, containing mostly shelves of books and one or two typical Western landscapes. The view from the large window however was stunning. There was an air of peace and tranquillity about the place that was palpable.
DL (laughing): I know what you are thinking. No Buddhism.
Me: Yes, I figured...
DL: Yes, of course. But this is a healing centre, not really a monastery. Here we administer to the afflicted in spirit. A very special type of malady that we would call an addiction to power.
DL: Yes, political power. Monetary power. Personal power in all its forms. Greed being one manifestation of it. Power and greed are mankind's two great enemies. Here we try to do something about those who are afflicted with them.
Me: Sort of like the Betty Ford clinic on steroids. A boot camp for the powerful?
DL (laughing): Yes! Yes! That is very good.
Me: And what sort of people come here?
DL: Politicians, magnates, tycoons, rich people and powerful people in the media and from various organizations such as Freemasonry and Scientology. Power addicts, quite simply. Politicians mostly. All males. From China, Indonesia, India of course. We will be doing one for females soon. They are referred to us by concerned relatives or they come here when their fortunes turn against them.
Me: And what exactly do you do?
DL: Our first goal is to teach them that they are no better than anybody else. That is often difficult. We put them to work tending the sick or cleaning floors in orphanages or in the kitchens of hospitals for the terminally ill; that sort of thing. They must be aroused you see, out of the delusion that they are going to live forever and take all their wealth and power with them.
Me: What did you mean by difficult?
DL: Many commit suicide. But that is always the risk they take when coming here. Deprived of their luxuries and their other addictions like sex and drugs many simply cannot cope, especially if they are old and set in their ways. Discipline here is very strict. No special privileges. We all eat and drink the same things. We go to bed early and get up early. We take exercise; but, above all, we SERVE others. That is the part that many of our patients find difficult. They have been used all their lives to ordering other people about, to having hundreds applaud them and having their every need met by others. Here, they are on their own, often for the first time in their lives.
Me: Do you have a procedure?
DL: Yes! Of course. We tackle the competitive urge first and foremost, most important, most important. We have a boxing tournament. All must join in, young and old. There they taste defeat or victory. The ones who experience defeat learn something. But as there can be only one winner at the end of the tournament all will learn defeat sooner or later.
Me: But the champion?
DL: He too will taste defeat. After putting the crown on his head we match him with our own champion, Tampa Rinpoche. Nobody can defeat Tampa. He is a very efficient and tough monk is Tampa. His job is to give the champion a thrashing he will never forget. He never fails. We have a 'Tampa' for every weight division and every age group. It often awakens many to the meaning of violence which they never dream could happen to them. The champ learns that 'king for a day' at the expense of others is not a path any sane man should pursue. Any sport should be engaged in for the love of it and for no other reason. Also, for those who think they are smarter than anybody else we run a public debate that is televised throughout India. The debate can last many weeks. Both teams argue their points on stage. They love this because they are addicted to praise and applause; many who are politicians glory in it as they have, once again, an audience to hang onto their every word; and of course they think what they have to say is very important and enlightening which it never is, of course. At the end of the debate we introduce our learned monks who, unbeknownst to the speakers, have been recording and analysing what each has said. It is very funny. The monks are world experts of course in whatever subject the debate may be about. In turn, each of the speakers is shown to be a misinformed, lying, self-deluded fool. Each in turn is thus turned to dust and blown away. Their humiliation can be very profound... but it is often curative. Of course, there are some who cannot endure that sort of thing and do not see the reason for it.
Me: That raises the question of those who resist all treatment. What happens to them?
DL: If they do not kill themselves we send them to the insane asylum in Delhi. Medicated and locked up they cease to be a danger to their fellow man.
When I left the clinic I had a feeling that there was hope again for mankind. I recalled the inmates walking the lawns all wearing their white linen clothes. Each seemed to dwell in his own little world and spoke little. Sadly, so few white faces among them. They could not be said to happy but maybe there were a few there who would make the desperate transition from delusion to reality, from narcissism to humanity, from greed and violence to compassion and sharing. There might even have been one or two in the throng who would eventually be of some benefit to the human race. On the other hand, I wondered how long such a boot camp for the powerful would last in the West before it was shut down - by the greedy and powerful, of course.