To desire Twitter is the root of suffering

Is the Dalai Lama a micro-blogger? Or was it all an illusion?

By Andrew Leonard

Published February 9, 2009 8:39PM (EST)

Seek, and ye shall not find? On Monday morning, AFP reported that the Dalai Lama had joined the micro-blogging service Twitter, "attracting nearly 20,000 followers in just two days."

And why not? Did not His Holiness once say that "The Buddha himself taught differently according to the place, the occasion, and the situation of those who were listening to him?" Surely, enlightenment can be found in 140 characters or less. Anything more strikes me as verbose, for a true Bodhisattva.

But when I went to look for (Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama), Twitter would only tell me that "That page doesn't exist!"

I wondered, is this some kind of test? A cosmic joke? Unless all is illusion, the Twitter account did once exist, at least for a short time. But the Dalai Lama has also told us that "If objects and people evoke attachment in us, we do not understand the true nature of phenomena." I wanted the Dalai Lama to be twittering, but now I realize, such desire is the root of suffering.

Further research reveals that Twitter suspended the account, on the grounds that whoever had set it up was impersonating the Dalai Lama. Ah well -- ample justification of yet another piece of good advice from the man himself: "It is wrong to expect some final satisfaction to come from money or a computer."

All quotes were found by following the Twitter feed,, which is not, and does not claim to be, the real deal. But what is reality, anyway? I went looking for the 14th Dalai Lama on Twitter, and I found him, even though he isn't there.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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