I have been a long-time follower of Wayne Dyer. When I was a freshman in college, I was captivated by his book Your Erroneous Zone (Chinese version). The book made me feel good and relieved me from mild depression. In later years, I read almost all his books and attended his lectures. I tried to apply his teaching to my life, and identified very much with his spiritual philosophy where there is a universal God that is loving. However, I found my personal life did not benefit from following Wayne Dyer’s teaching. In several cases, his teaching led to wrong actions and judgment.
This led to serious doubt. Why is Dyer’s teaching not effective for me? Wayne Dyer speaks with such certainty, as if his teaching is universal truth. It gives a lot of comfort in the beginning because someone already figured out an answer to your problem. But you pay a dear price after finding out that answer is worse than what you can come up with by yourself.
On the contrary, Dalai Lama does not claim he has answer to your problems. When pressed by an audience on some specific issue, he simply said “I don’t know.” Then he laughed. His laugh was so simplistic and genuine that you feel for him. Dalai Lama understands the complexity of human problems. By not claiming that he has the answer, he empowers others to make decision for themselves.
Dalai Lama is one of the most humble and unpretentious person in the world. This is because he has an enlightened concept on his own importance. “In Buddhism”, he said, “We try to eliminate Self”. Therefore he has not a single trace of self importance. This is how he can laugh and joke with anyone he meets, be that a dignitary or a cleaning person. He lacks any pretense that most people have. Without the sense of “self”, Dalai Lama does not worry how others perceive him when he makes mistakes. Thus he can freely reach out and make deep connection with people. In this man, you perceive deep congruity and honesty. This is the healthiest state of human existence. By watching him and learning from his lack of pretense, we enable ourselves to connect with others. Thus we create more connection and more happiness in our life.
Dalai Lama has a realistic view on success or achieving goals. He views himself as simply doing small things to help others. He does not view himself as a deity but rather a “simple Buddhist monk”.
There are some similarity between Wayne Dyer and Dalai Lama. Dyer emphasizes meditation, and a generic God concept which he calls “the source”. He talks about the importance of love and compassion. He talks about dealing with suffering from inside. All of these topics are mentioned by Dalai Lama, and are part of Buddhism teaching.
Both are excellent public speakers. Wayne Dyer can speak in front of a large audience with lots of humor and stories. He can speak for 2 hours without showing tiredness. Dalai Lama can hold a 20,000 audience captive, with his humor, candor and thoughtful ideas. People are filled with joy and inspiration after his talk.
Wayne Dyer has a lot of compassion for others, and he generously gives that to others he meets. He raises funding for PBS, and donates proceeds to the public broadcasting. After one of his lectures, I approached him to chat. Before I began my story, he gave me a big warm hug. After listening to my story of immigrating to US from China, he said, “Do stay. We need you here.” Tears came to my eyes. For many years, I was asked by so many Americans on when I will go back to my home country. Dyer was the first person who expressed his welcome.
However, there is fundamental difference between Wayne Dyer and Dalai Lama. While Dalai Lama is very worldly (besides teaching Buddhism): engaging in a real political cause for Tibetan people and meeting world leaders to raise awareness, Wayne Dyer limits himself only on spreading self-help messages: his main audience is his believers who read his book or attend his seminars. While Dalai Lama promotes the idea of no “self”, a true selfless giving to others, Wayne Dyer promotes the way to personal success and personal worthiness. While Dalai Lama proclaims that he has no real answer to complex human emotional problems, Wayne Dyer indicates he has the right answers. He speaks with such definiteness that leads to simplicity of dealing with our complex life.
Dalai Lama teaches by his own example. By projecting deep compassion to people, he calms you and frees you. Much of our energy is spent on chasing love, which is deeply needed in our life. Dalai Lama gives to people the true unconditional love through his words and interaction. He provides the ultimate answer to our worldly problems—love and compassion.
If you want to learn more about Dalai Lama, check out this documentary movie 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama. It has actual interviews, and will give you a glimpse of Dalai Lama’s personality: Calm, loving, humorous, and free.