Angels in Shipwrecks - Kaitlin Murphy-Knudsen
Angels in Shipwrecks: Place, Politic and Spirit in Modern Life

May 2011

The Dalai Lama Reveals the Secret to Enlightenment: Laugh at Your Own Jokes?

Peace Mural @NewarkPeace : Panelists onstage at the Newark Peace Education Conference, May 2011His Holiness the Dalai Lama : His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Moderator Robert Thurman, Nobel Laureate Jody Williams, Newark's Earl "The Street Doctor" @NewarkPeace, May 2011His Holiness the Dalai Lama : His Holiness the Dalai Lama @Newark Peace, May 2011His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Moderator Robert Thurman : His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Moderator Robert Thurman, @NewarkPeace May 2011

Expectations were high. This was the Dalai Lama after all. Was it too much to expect the most profound insights we'd ever heard, solutions to the problems of the world at large and our smaller worlds within it?

This past weekend theTibet House, theDrew Katz Foundation, Columbia professor and Buddhist scholarRobert Thurmanand Newark MayorCory Bookerhosted His Holiness theDalai Lamaat theNewark Peace Education Summitin New Jersey. With the heightened security, bows of deference and the craning of thousands of ears toward his every word, it was hard for me to imagine what it would be like to face such out-sized expectations when traveling--feeling their weight in the very air between you and everyone you meet, people who want something important from you that they cannot quite name but expect nonetheless.

Angels Live in Shipwrecks

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I earned my first paycheck as a writer when I won an elementary school contest for my story about a tiger's troubled friendship with an incompatible bee. It was the first time I realized I was in love with shaping words and images into story, and that if I worked hard enough at it, someone else may read it too.

Growing up in Rhode Island, whenever we had visitors my parents made my five siblings and I lead the same tour: along the terrifying but stunning cliff walks of Newport, followed by days at Second Beach where our skin crunched tight with salt and we dined in our bathing suits on picnic tables, feasting on clam cakes and watching the shadows move in until we shivered violently enough to go home.
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