News and Tribune

May 21, 2013

BEAM: Lama, lama, tries to teach mama

Local columnist

Having goose bumps must be a requisite for enlightenment. It’s Monday and I’m attending His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s public teachings at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. 

Due to the intense air conditioning, my fingers cramp from the cold air. Perhaps the lamas are trying to recreate the climate of Mt. Everest to further our studies. 

For the first time, someone has trusted me with press credentials. This in and of itself is an act of compassion, seeing I have a tendency to stalk celebrities. Richard Gere was rumored to be coming. I promised to not run to him and jump into his arms in an attempt to re-enact the final scene from “An Officer and a Gentleman.” Of course, I said nothing about “American Gigolo,” so there may be some trouble yet if he is spotted. 

Only maybe 40 feet away, more than 50 Buddhist monks and nuns have taken the stage in their brightly colored robes. In an insanely bottomless baritone, a man joins other lamas chanting mystical mantras. His voice is otherworldly, almost to the point of being frightening. The powerful throb of his vibrato almost quakes the arena.

When his Holiness arrives and takes his place on a throne straight out of 14th century Asia, the other lamas begin to prostrate themselves in his presence. Their palmed hands follow a ritual, quickly stopping before their foreheads, throats and hearts not unlike the sign of the cross made by Catholics. Body, speech and mind are purified in this way. 

You’d think my writing might benefit from the good karma, but as you can tell, so far this has not been the case.

Due to my covering of the events leading up to the Dalai Lama’s visit, I have begun calling the religious leader His Holiness. Go on. You may laugh. I’m used to the suffering. According to Buddhist theology, it’s constant you know. 

But truthfully, that’s what anyone who remotely has anything to do with him calls him. Like Madonna picking up a haughty British accent, I too began assimilating. People have noticed my change in speech and like to tease me about it. In their next life, they will be reincarnated as a slug. To this, I am certain. 

Being in the presence of His Holiness is a treat. Happiness permeates his being. His laugh starts deep in his belly and explodes from his lips, like a bald-headed Santa on Christmas Eve. He’s the type of guy you want to grab a beer with, which is ironic since he doesn’t drink alcohol. Enough caffeinated green tea might provide the same effect. 

For a man who was kicked out of his country by the Chinese government, the spiritual guru is pretty darn peaceful, even when drinking his tea. Most Americans can’t fathom this tranquility. A person cut me off on the bridge coming over today. In response, I shook my fist, screamed some four-letter words and threatened to throat punch them.

After this session, calmness will have entered my soul. Thoughts must cross my mind like clouds floating across a clear blue sky. Deep breaths will …  wait a second. Would someone please tell this moronic photographer to stop blocking my serene view of His Holiness before I perform a Sean Penn paparazzi karate kick on his credentialed rear? 

OK, OK. One hour in and still I haven’t found enlightenment. Heck, I’ve barely found a bathroom. But if Carl Spackler got total consciousness in “Caddyshack,” surely a small spark of awareness will find its way to me through these teachings. 

Just in case, I wonder if Richard Gere takes on any students?


— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at