Saturday, May 05, 2007

His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Yesterday I had the incredible honor to join thousands of others at a teaching given by His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. Seeing His Holiness has been on The List of things I'd like to do in my life, along with seeing the Great Barrier Reef and Alaska. We joined people from all walks of life to crowd into a sold out hockey stadium to hear this incredible individual. When we arrived, I had to practice my open heart and compassion as we walked past people carrying "Trust Jesus" signs, shouting at us from behind big placards with bible verses, and handing out "Heaven or Hell?" flyers. Good practice.

As we joined the massive crowd waiting to enter, we found ourselves next to a group of individuals I believe to have been Tibetan. I felt a surge of emotion as I was torn between happiness and sorrow from the old woman, who perhaps remembered leaving Tibet, to the young girl, who perhaps never would, and also the joy in them being able to see the great spritual leader from their native country.

Amazingly, arriving 45 minutes late because of the crowding, we were seated (far, far in the back but with a decent view) and only minutes later His Holiness entered the arena. I knew I would be overwhelmed by the emotion, and I was. Tears started running down my face as I saw this "humble Buddhist monk" who radiates peace and calm. He waved to everyone, even comically peering up into the highest reaches of seating and getting laughs right off the bat. As he was introduced, he removed his shoes, exposing his maroon socks and then tucking his feet up under him as he settled comfortably into a seat that was part throne, part victorian setee. I have read hundreds of pages of text in the words of HH, studied his teachings and learnings over the years, most recently about neuroscience, and to hear him speak still ignited a spark in my heart. He spoke at first in Tibetan, with a translator, but mostly in English. As I've heard, he will sometimes be so into a thought as he teaches that he switches to rapid Tibetan and his translator explains the end of the thought. He also checked words occasionally with his translator. Their relationship was so smooth and easy that you didn't miss a beat, and the nature of it was charming. His Holiness has a very strong accent, but is easily understood when you pay attention to him--easy to do when he is mixing comedy and lightheartedness with his teachings.

The nature of his teaching was Compassion as the Source of Happiness. He spoke about how humans by nature have a biological need for compassion and affection from the time we are born. He described how in consciously choosing to be truly compassionate towards another individual, we gain self-confidence and strength, dispel our fear, and are able to be more peaceful and calm. Later he described how having this underlying calm and compassion can help us not only to have a higher level of happiness day-to-day, but gives us the serenity to handle more difficult situations and even tragedies when they arise.

When his lecture was over, His Holiness spoke about his optimism for Our World--peace and sustainability. He drew wave after wave of applause when he said firmly that prayer and meditation was not enough, that we must work for change, and then we can see the next century as one that is known for it's peace, and our environment can survive. He also spoke about parenting compassionately, with affection, joking that it was easy for him to advise because he was a monk. He said that if he had to be with children he would be very kind--maybe 3, 4 hours. Then, maybe not so kind. He also spoke about being a vegetarian. He said that because many monastaries are strict vegetarian, they do promote a vegetarian diet. However, he said that he eats mostly vegetarian, but then, once maybe one or two weeks, a little not-vegetarian. He spoke about how monks are supposed to fast from solid foods after the noon meal, but that if he is very hungry, he'll have a biscuit or two. You see, His Holiness teaches us that greatness doesn't come in some abnormally Divine individual, it comes through people just like you and me. We all have the ability to be compassionate, and to actively develop that compassionate to be happier and to make a difference in the world. We are all Divine. We all have the ability to pray, meditate and move our feet as we do.

Biography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama Teaching Webcasts
Books by His Holiness (I highly recommend "The Art of Happiness".)
Picture from the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama


Ashley Nicole said...

That sounds like such an amazing experience.
May I suggest a book? Judging from what I've read on your blog, you might enjoy reading Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda. It's very easy to find, and a wonderful read. I hope you enjoy it.

womynrev said...

Namaste, my friend.

what a beautiful day. I have a wish to see him, too.

Tree Lover said...

It sounds like an amazing day. I'm going to have to add "see the Dali Lama" to my list of things I must do in this lifetime.

That's crazy about the Christian protestors. Do they know anything about Jesus? I just know that Jesus would love the Dali Lama. They have so much in common!


maggie said...


Mia said...

I will check out that book, Ashley. I know I've seen excerpts.

Yes, HSN! I told Beo I wanted to go and get them all copies of "The Good Heart".

Thanks for your comments, all!