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This is a very interesting story that I just heard recently. However I want to add this little detail.
As a disclaimer, I heard these anecdotes from a friend whom I deeply respect and who is a dedicated Buddhist practitioner, so he has no reason to embellish or exaggerate any tales. With that said however, what I am about to mention is definitely second hand information (from someone other than the subject). It struck me as being profound and I do not know what to make of this info, except to share it and see what others think.
When the Dalai Lama first came to the United States back in 1979, he visited Washington D.C. among other places. At that time, he was taken to the Jefferson Memorial. Of course, there is a statue of Thomas Jefferson there, and upon seeing it, His Holiness was heard to proclaim, “I think that was me,” as he indicated the statue.
Jeffrey Hopkins, or another Buddhist scholar was present at this encounter, and he, having knowledge on the subject, said, “But Your Holiness, the Dalai Lamas were already established at that time.” Subtext: that could not be you, because you were already in existence elsewhere.
The Dalai Lama replied, “that would not be a problem.” [Indicating that, as a highly realized spiritual being, known as a Bodhisattva, having multiple emanations is not inconceivable, and in fact, might very well be possible.]
The Dalai Lama is known to be a realized Bodhisattva. And authentic Bodhisattvas are known to be able to emanate multiple “copies” of themselves, or in this case, separate, distinct, unique individuals. And we know Jefferson was a very fascinating and intriguing individual. Coincidence? Probably.
As someone who has lived in or around Charlottesville Virginia most of my life (24 years now), I am fascinated by this exchange. This is because, as a Charlottesvillian, one can barely move around town without seeing some kind of sign or monument to Thomas Jefferson (as this was his home town). And, as a student at the University of Virginia, one is not able to attend class for a week without hearing the professors (the “s” is emphasized!) weave Jefferson and his quotes or inventions or philosophy into their lectures. Therefore, this story is most poignant to me.
I personally have been to Monticello, Jefferson’s primary residence, which is just outside of Charlottesville, and I have seen some of his inventions first hand – the man was obviously a genius and at his time, he may have known more about the world (specific temporal world knowledge) than anyone could possibly know today. It seems like he was interested in everything – from politics to gardening to machinery to running an estate to cooking and wine making and everything in between. But I had never heard the above story previously, or the stories I am about to relate.
The following story is about John F. Kennedy. He arranged to have a dinner with many of the living Nobel Peace Laureates at the White House. Apparently the President said something like this (I am paraphrasing): “This group is the most intelligent to grace this dining room, at least since Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Jefferson apparently wrote his own version of the bible – he took Jesus’ words from the gospels and made a big paste up. He omitted the miracles and was left with what he called The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. This is in print off and on – not too difficult to find (including Wikipedia).
When Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, he argued for the abolishing of slavery. This apparently did not go over well with the southern states, and as a result, he was forced to revise the Declaration into its present form. I have heard that Jefferson argued against slavery as he got older – which seems peculiar considering his being in possession of them?
Well that is all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed this little discussion and read something novel. Have a good day!