A music-appreciation lesson from the Dalai Lama

Watch a very sweet video-clip from the Dalai Lama’s birthday celebrations earlier this month.

Rod Meade Sperry
28 July 2015

Via Friends of the Dalai Lama comes a very sweet video-clip from the Dalai Lama’s birthday celebrations earlier this month. In it His Holiness shares the stage with Michael Franti, the mastermind behind the musical group Spearhead. Give these two a chat show — they have a playful, fun, rapport, with even some respectful ribbing.

The Dalai Lama opens things up by acknowledging Franti’s tattoos and hair as being perhaps out of the ordinary — “his physical looks are quite heavy… But when he plays [music]… Oh!

His Holiness may say that he doesn’t have “all that much interest in music,” but he truly appreciates Franti’s talents, and gives us a lesson in how to do the same. “Most importantly,” he says, actually dancing in his seat, is “the audience… simply watching, and hearing, but really, you see, bringing some kind of new energy. So I appreciate your profession,” he tells Franti, because it brings “at least for a short moment, some kind of excitement and joyfulness. …In the lyrics of your songs we see love, and affection.”

The His Holiness addresses the audience through his translator, Thupten Jinpa: “So when you listen to the kind of music he performed, we shouldn’t confine our enjoyment of that musical experience just to the actual sound and the melodies, but should also reflect on the content and the message that the lyrics carry.” Then the Dalai Lama begins to speak directly again, noting that such a message is related to our mental activity, and that we can sustain it. “So my first impression of this strange person,” His Holiness jokes, “is now much changed.”

Then, Franti speaks up, and the laughter continues as the two talk Buddhist robes, celibacy, and more.

And here, watch as Franti performs on stage with the Dalai Lama as his on-stage audience:

Rod Meade Sperry. Photo by Megumi Yoshida, 2024

Rod Meade Sperry

Rod Meade Sperry is the editor of Buddhadharma, Lion’s Roar’s online source for committed Buddhists, and the book A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation: Practical Advice and Inspiration from Contemporary Buddhist Teachers. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his partner and their tiny pup, Sid.