Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ven. Ichishima and the Dalai Lama

The man on the left in the crumpled wagesa is the great scholar-priest Ven Ichishima Shoshin. He reads, writes and speaks, beside his native Japanese, English, Sanskrit and Tibetan. What follows is one of the stories he told during my visit.                                                                                                                               Several years ago the Dalai Lama was invited to Japan. After he received a visa, the Chinese government protested and demanded that he not be allowed to visit, and so, the Japanese government rescinded the visa. Ichishima was outraged, and since the then Japanese foreign minister was one of Ichishima's former students, he put in a phone call and made the case that the visit was for very valuable Dharma dialogue and that the Japanese should not cave in to Chinese pressure. Then the decision was reversed and the Dalai Lama once again had a visa                                                                                   Next, for the scheduled talk in Tokyo, the translator was a Tibetan academic who had long resided in Japan. Prior to the event when Ichishima conversed with the translator, he could see that the translator was extremely nervous about screwing things up, making the Dalia Lama unhappy, and the various potential pitfalls. So Ichishima volunteered to take over the translating duties to the great relief of the Tibetan. And the event then proceeded smoothly.  

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