Having been chosen to interview His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama by “Buddhists Today” magazine, I am overjoyed. I’ve been requesting an assignment to be able to meet with him for years now. The opportunity has finally been proffered.
Packing my bags, I’m preparing to come face to face with someone I have deeply admired for his humility, grace, wisdom and perseverance through the myriad challenges of being spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists of the world while being the most well known of Tibet’s exiles.
I am flying to Washington, DC where my visit will coincide with a sacred ritual that he will be performing over several days during “Kalachakra for World Peace” from July 6 through the 16th. He will be guiding student monks through Kalachakra Initiation and will be transmitting authority to them to practice certain spiritual teachings in tantra and other practices. This process includes bestowal of the Bodhisattva vow. The actual transference of power begins July 14th. After the ceremony, I will be granted some time to speak to him before he heads off to his next speaking engagement.
I arrive at the Georgetown Double Tree located on a quiet, nondescript street not far from the infamous Watergate Hotel and am subsequently shown to a very comfortably appointed room. I am centrally located and convenient to my appointment with His Holiness that I will be having the following day.
After a fitful, erratic night’s sleep, I prepare the next morning for my meeting–a car soon arrives to take me on the last leg of my journey that has been a dream of mine for years. Shortly, we arrive at another hotel not far from where I am staying and enter an underground parking garage and then through an entrance to where I will soon be led and find myself opposite the Dalai Lama.
My legs begin to tremble as nervousness vibrates through my body. But as soon as I am escorted into his private quarters and look into that beaming face welcoming me, my fear evaporates and I am at once calmed and at ease. He is wearing his familiar saffron and maroon-colored robes. He nods at me, still smiling broadly, and gently takes my hand and motions for me to sit in a chair positioned next to him. I place my hands together and touch my forehead with them as I give a polite and respectful bow of my head.
He listens with attentive consideration as I ask my first question of him: What can we, as individuals, do to help bring about peace between the different peoples of the world who seemingly have such vast disparities and ideals? His response: Peace can only be brought about through individuals. It is through our individual compassion and understanding for one another that we can realize that all people have the same basic requirements of life–to be acknowledged, respected and loved. It is up to each individual to make that commitment to look upon his fellow men of the world as himself. When you start to look at differences and focus on external, mundane distinctions, this is where you will lose your humanity. It is your choice–within each of your hearts.
Sir, I am familiar with a quote of yours that really personally resonates with me, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness”. Would you please expand on that? In his quiet, sincere voice he offers–I mean that you don’t need to follow strict rituals or dogma as spiritual practice; simply treating others that may cross your path with kindness and respect is all the practice one needs perform. I am a simple monk and follow this guidance in my everyday life. Also, let me just add that you Americans are a very worried society. You are unwittingly creating much more suffering in your lives by your needless worry. If there is something happening in your lives that you cannot make better or change then there is no need to worry about it. Worrying is a waste of energy and will not accomplish anything good in your lives. This is very logical thinking and can alleviate so much suffering if you will let go of worry. You should read my book, “The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living.” He followed this statement with the high-pitched giggle for which he is known.
Our meeting ended with a bow of the head and a hearty laugh by His Holiness. I leave changed–transformed just by being in his kind presence.
NOT A TRUE STORY
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