His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be in Utah on Tuesday to speak at the University of Utah and to meet with local leaders. UPR’s Aimee Cobabe speaks with one of the Dalai Lama’s U.S. doctors and host of Public Radio International’s medical program “Zorba on your Health,” Dr. Zorba Paster, about his personal experiences serving with the spiritual leader.
ZORBA PASTER: It couldn’t be a higher honor. I mean working with the Dalai Lama at least, certainly as a physician, and being chosen to be able to help him to be healthy and live a long sweet life, is kind of the biggest honor I’ve had. And it’s a team effort. I’m one of a couple of doctors. His main doctor is a Tibetan physician trained as a Western doctor and in Tibetan medicine. And then I’m really the contact person and the doctor who arranges all of his care when he’s in the U.S. And it’s – it’s wonderful. Makes me feel good.
AIMEE COBABE: How were you chosen?
PASTER: I’ve been involved in Tibetan causes for many years. In 1981, when the Dalai Lama came to Madison to deliver some teachings, he actually stayed in our house for two weeks. So that in itself kind of is where it came from.
COBABE: I imagine that must have been interesting having him stay with you. I’m sure you learned a lot.
PASTER: Oh, I learned a lot. We had three young children at the time - four, three and two. You know when I think back to it, it’s sort of an amazing – an amazing guest to have.
COBABE: So what’s your relationship with him like? I mean, he’s stayed in your house, you see him also professionally though covering his medical care. But I imagine that you’re quite close.
PASTER: Well, yes. He knows us and he calls my wife and I his old friends. So it’s really, it’s very, very nice. And then the relationship when I’m a physician and I get a chance to see him laugh. He laughs a lot. And I get a chance to hear him – to hear him as he’s – you know, as he’s teaching things.
COBABE: What has he taught you?
PASTER: Well he’s taught me to be more compassionate. That’s always what goes on. In the hurly-burly world of medicine when you’re with patients. He’s taught me even more to be there with every patient that I see and think about them in a very, very good way. And then he’s taught me to smile more. I smile any way but it’s not a puritanical rough and high road. The road to compassion and helping others is really an easy road, you just have to find your way on it.
COBABE: I’m wondering, has he ever given you advice? Or, helped you with something personal with your life. I mean, I don’t want to delve in if it’s too personal.
PASTER: Oh, yes. I remember when – when he stayed at our house and we had three young kids and I had a busy, busy medical practice and on call every third night and I’m delivering babies and I just don’t have very much time left. And I said, you know I really don’t make the time to mediate. And he said, that’s ok. When you’re with a patient, just be there. Just make yourself there. And that can be your mediation. And you’ve chosen an occupation where you can really help people and because you can help people, just do it. And make sure your motivation is pure—it’s right. And that was the best advice he ever gave me.
COBABE: Well, this has been a very interesting conversation. He’s just, it sounds like someone that really has been a good person in your life.
PASTER: Absolutely—a major influence. There is no doubt. He is right up there, you know, along with my mom, and my dad, and my wife and family as major influences in my life. No doubt about it. And he still is. You don’t want to miss a chance to see him speak if you have that opportunity. It’s very, very moving and very touching.