I watched Life of Buddha last night, and was in particular impressed with The Dalai Lama’s ability to meet people where they are at.
He was asked what is enlightenment, and could have answered in a precise way, or a technical way, neither of which would have been much help for people not already familiar with the territory.
What he said was (heavily paraphrased)… I don’t know, I think it is an energy of peace.
At first, I was surprised. Here is someone who is deeply immersed in the most sophisticated Buddhist philosophy and practice available, and he is using vague new-age sounding terminology…?
But then I saw the beauty of it. Had he talked in a technical or precise way, it would have sounded too abstract, too removed from most people’s experience. They would not have been able to find it in themselves, and they may even have been turned off from pursuing a Buddhist practice if there was such an interest there.
Using familiar and slightly fuzzy terms, and showing that he himself is not exactly sure what it is (which is true, it is a mystery even for those clearly awakened), he allows people to find it in themselves and also see Buddhism as more approachable.
Skillful means in action.