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Thread: The One, the Only, the New Dalia Lama

  1. #1
    Registered User Jassy Melson's Avatar
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    The One, the Only, the New Dalai Lama

    He began his search for Shangri-la at age twenty-one; he assumed that was the right age to begin his quest.

    He had had a dream in his nineteenth year that he would be chosen the next Dalai Lama. So he studied Tibetan and he read and reread Hilton's Lost Horizon, thinking it would help him in his search. (Little did he know that the new Dalai Lama was chosen only from a new-born babe; it wouldn't have meant anything to him anyway, for he was on a lifelong quest. What difference to him if it took all of his life? A man who had experienced and suffered as much as he deserved to be the next Dalai Lama.)

    So he went to Tibet and asked Where is Shangri-la?

    The natives thought he was crazy, so they locked him up. But that didn't stop him. He sat cross legged for hours at a time in his cell, meditating, reflecting what he would tell the inhabitants of Shangri-la
    when he arrived there, for he had no doubt that he would arrive there someday. It might take him years or even decades to arrive, but he knew in his heart that it was his destiny to be the Dallai Lama.

    He was finally released from jail when his jailers realized they couldn't afford to keep him any more.
    So he resumed his search for Shangri-la, going from village to village and asking the way to Shangri-la.

    He became a legend in his own time as the crazed man searching for a non-existent land in Tibet. But people began to follow him thinking he was a holy man or that he could cure their maladies. Before long he had thousands of followers, tagging along behind him and swearing they had seen him work
    miracles before their very eyes. But when asked what sort of wonders he had performed they were at a loss to explain or describe.

    In a little obscure village in central Tibet a new-born babe was chosen to be the next Dalai Lama by those who deal in such matters. The man who had searched for Shangri-la for most of his life died soon afterward from a fever in a little obscure village in central Tibet.

    On his gravestone were engraved the words: Here lies a man who spent his life searching for Shangri-la, never realizing that it exists only in the heart.
    Last edited by Jassy Melson; 01-19-2013 at 04:53 PM.
    Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. - Albert Einstein

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    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Hi Jassy.

    I certainly won't attack you, but I'll offer my thoughts on how you could improve this piece.

    The first thing I'd like to point out is your research.

    It is Dalai Lama not Dalia Lama. The Dalai Lama is not chosen from a new born babe - it depends when they are found and the selection process to uncover the reincarnation requires tests - choosing the former Dalai lama's possessions etc. This can all be read in common biographies and on Wikipedia.

    You refer to Hilton's Shangri-La, but why would a person asume that the Tibetans refer to such a place? It is a recognised name in the West, but not there, and someone who was interested in going there would realise that.

    Tibet itself is a country on the Tibetan Plateau which is mostly above 6,000m. It is mountainous and snowy with little vegetation at high altitudes, hence the Tibetan's former reliance on tsampa as a staple food. The landscape is dramatic, but Tibet is now called the Autonomous Region of Tibet after it was invaded in 1959 by the Chinese army. It is now a part of China, and there seems to be no way that it will ever be independent. There wasn't any hint of the landscape or this important poitical development in your work. You would need something of it to create a convincing setting.

    In short I think you need to be more certain of your facts, particularly when you are referring to common or easily accessible knowledge. You don't need to do much research beyond what's on the web, to be honest, in order to establish a factual framework that the reader can accept.

    The second is your setting.

    Apart from the obscure little villages, virtually no reference is made to the actual landscape of Tibet, or indeed where he originatess from. The villages you refer to could be anywhere in the world. There's no convincing detail. The temptation would be to go into a long piece about the Tibetan landscape, but in a short story, you don't need to do anything like that. I think the advice on "show don't tell" is useful here. For example:

    It took him weeks of to reach the high pass into Tibet. He travelled through Kashmir, having hired a taxi to take him up the long valleys and mountain roads. When the rough tracks ran out, then he hired a guide to take him into the foothills of the Himalayas and up towards the snow capped mountains.

    What I've tried to do in that sentence is develop the story - show him travelling to Tibet, whilst at the same time set the scene. The description intermeshes with the story. There's no need to focus upon each singly. It then leaves the reader with the sense of where he is going and what it is like. (I'm not claiming the sentence is any good, but i hope it demonstrates what I'm on about).

    The third is your character.

    I don't know who this man is. Everyone has a context, unless the plot is for that to remain a mystery or to develop through the story. Who is he? Where is he from, but these are secondary and perhaps unnecessary. What is necessary is why. Where does his belief come from - visions? dreams? TV? Clearly this offers the writer a lot of scope for influencing a charater and developing his motives.

    I don't feel the character is real because you don't tell me anything about him. Why did he want to become The Dalai lama? Where is he from? Why does he want to leave? What does he feel on getting to Tibet? What does he feel on being imprisoned, getting out, having followers and being considered mad? what about when he found out about the Dalai Lama? Was he happy and fulfilled when he died,or was he full of regret? The character displays no emotional response to anything - the wish to be the Dalai lama in itself is not enough to maintain the plausibility of the character. Some physical details may help also, though you would drop these in incidentally rather than do a big description. The reader needs to be able to place or associate with the character.

    The fourth is plot.

    His aim is to become the Dalai lama, but apart from being imprisoned, and having followers, nothing happens to him, or it is not clear that anything does. Certain points would need highlighting. You implied that being imprisoned made him stronger in his quest, so what would be a set back is actually something that helps him. Here you can surprise the reader with this unexpected twist. The reader reads on wondering how he is going to get out, and he actually benefits from it. (An actual prison in Tibet would be Chinese state run, and this has implications for how he would get out - whether he wouldn't just be deported etc. You'd have to consider this and what happens).

    The fifth is the idea of a short story itself.

    Your piece is far too short to do justice to a story that spans a life. A way around this might be to focus upon one aspect of his life - perhaps the end as he reflects upon certain points. I can't tell you how long a story would be, but you've given yourself no space to tell the story properly. With a complex story about the wishes of a man who then devotes his life to it, how could you expect to tell it in a few short paragraphs?

    With any complex story I would advise anyone to plan it - or at least have an idea about what and where the story is about. (The details would come in the writing process).

    The revise and edit it.

    Then proof read it for mistakes such as the Dalia Lama. It takes time, but anything worthwhile does as you know.

    I've just typed this off, Jassey, so I hope you find it constructive and helpful.

  3. #3
    Registered User Jassy Melson's Avatar
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    First of all, I wasn't trying to write a short story; secondly, I went by the spelling of Dalia Lama in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English language--the same with the spelling of Shangrila (it doesn't contain a dash).

    Your comments would have been all well and good if I had been attempting to write a short story or a novel, but I wasn't; I was actually writing a prose poem (if you go back over the prose poem you will see that most of the lines can be divided into "chunks" of thirteen syllables).

    Although I disagree with most of your critique, I want to thank you for taking the time to think it out and posting it. It certainly gave me food for thought.
    Last edited by Jassy Melson; 01-18-2013 at 11:04 AM.
    Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. - Albert Einstein

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    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Ok mate. I hope it was useful.

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    The Wolf of Larsen WolfLarsen's Avatar
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    A nice little story.
    "...the ramblings of a narcissistic, self-obsessed, deranged mind."
    My poetry & other stuff on Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr...or=Wolf Larsen

  6. #6
    It makes sense that he searched for Shangri-la, or a never-never land even if he didn't give it a name. But why did he have to connect it with being the Dalai Lama? And why was it necessary to learn Tibetan and undertake a physical search?

    Let's call his search a spiritual search. And let's suppose that he wanted to give this search a name, so he called it the search for Shangri-la. He can then spend a lifetime on this search, through whatever channels it may take him. There would be no restrictions because it's a spiritual search. He must follow it wherever it may lead internally and knowledge-wise.

    But then comes this Dalai Lama business. Now it becomes a search for an office, with all its trappings of language, culture, physical location. It doesn't connect with a spiritual search. It would be different if he was born a Tibetan, or born a Buddhist. It's as strange as if he'd decided he was going to be the next Mahdi and travelled to West Africa, spending his life in a futile search and dying somewhere in the Sahara Desert.

    An internal, spiritual search can cross boundaries, as long as they're mental and not physical. Take this as a sympathetic criticism from one who's done a lot of internal searching.

  7. #7
    Registered User billl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karim Jessa View Post
    An internal, spiritual search can cross boundaries, as long as they're mental and not physical. Take this as a sympathetic criticism from one who's done a lot of internal searching.
    You mean, you personally are of the opinion that it is OK, as long as it's mental only? Regardless of the opinion of those who exist across the boundary? Or are you just talking about boundaries within/surrounding aspects of the individual or something?
    Last edited by billl; 01-23-2013 at 02:22 AM.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by billl View Post
    You mean, you personally are of the opinion that it is OK, as long as it's mental only? Regardless of the opinion of those who exist across the boundary? Or are you just talking about boundaries within/surrounding aspects of the individual or something?
    I'm not sure that I quite understand your question.

    I say that it's allright to cross boundaries as long as they're mental, yes. What does the opinion of others have to do with it? I mean, in your search you'll of course be examining the views of those whose boundaries you're crossing, if that's what you mean. But even that will be an internal examination and an internal argument.

    If this is what you mean, and judging by your final question, "...boundaries within/surrounding aspects of the individual..." it probably is what you mean, then the answer is yes.

    If I've misunderstood your question, please enlighten me. I'm just confused about the "opinion of those who exist across the boundary" part of your question.

  9. #9
    Registered User billl's Avatar
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    I think you addressed my concern--"crossing boundaries" and "boundary dissolution" can be part of "teaching" or indoctrination sometimes when people are exploring meditation and paths to enlightenment. And the Dalai Llama (for example) is said to have a consciousness/protector or whatever penetrating his consciousness, and so I just wanted to check on what you might be speaking of.

    Personally, I think that some people exploring and journeying spiritually sometimes get caught up in "how well they're doing" and might tend to discount the process of evaluating what they're actually doing, or what they're allowing to be done to them. And so I was looking for clarification on what the difference between crossing physical and mental boundaries might be, morally, in your opinion. The word "can" is maybe the confusing part. It can refer to ability, but it can also refer to permission. In the physical world, there's a great difference between what boundaries we are "able" to cross, and which boundaries we might "have permission" to cross from those on the other side of the boundary. This makes sense, and I think it continues to make sense in the mental realm.

  10. #10
    Registered User Jassy Melson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WolfLarsen View Post
    A nice little story.
    Thank you. I put no date on the story. I think it would be understood by the reading of the prose poem that it occured before China annexed Tibet.
    Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. - Albert Einstein

  11. #11
    Registered User Jassy Melson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karim Jessa View Post
    It makes sense that he searched for Shangri-la, or a never-never land even if he didn't give it a name. But why did he have to connect it with being the Dalai Lama? And why was it necessary to learn Tibetan and undertake a physical search?

    Let's call his search a spiritual search. And let's suppose that he wanted to give this search a name, so he called it the search for Shangri-la. He can then spend a lifetime on this search, through whatever channels it may take him. There would be no restrictions because it's a spiritual search. He must follow it wherever it may lead internally and knowledge-wise.

    But then comes this Dalai Lama business. Now it becomes a search for an office, with all its trappings of language, culture, physical location. It doesn't connect with a spiritual search. It would be different if he was born a Tibetan, or born a Buddhist. It's as strange as if he'd decided he was going to be the next Mahdi and travelled to West Africa, spending his life in a futile search and dying somewhere in the Sahara Desert.

    An internal, spiritual search can cross boundaries, as long as they're mental and not physical. Take this as a sympathetic criticism from one who's done a lot of internal searching.
    I connected the Dalai Lama with Shangri-la which supposedly was in Tibet because that's where he resided. The man learned Tibetian because he thought that would help him when he arrived in Tibet. It was a physical journey the man made because Shangri-la was a physical place, and the Dalai Lama was a physical being. But it was also a spiritual quest on the man's part.
    Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. - Albert Einstein

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