Thursday, November 1, 2007

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama - Roger's Centre, Toronto, October 31

Yesterday afternoon I had the most honourable priveledge of being surrounded by beautiful Tibetan women wearing their best Chupas and aprons. Miniature tibetan flags were abundant and age-old mudras (sacred hand gestures used to express wisdom) reminded me of the sacred traditions held in the space.

I sat, in my unassigned VIP lounge booth (!), with my dear friend Trixie, and soaked up the wisdom (and I mean wisdom) of one of the newest honourary Canadian Citizens.

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama started his talk at the Roger's Centre with a giggle. This endearing introduction was followed by "So...(with a rather long pause)..". And then, he exemplified self-compassion. I don't think I understood the "Self before others" mantra before seeing him embody it.

Before starting, explained that he needed to feel comfortable. He took off his slippers, crossed his legs, and settled back on his couch before speaking. Oh, and he put on a visor, too. I guess that was to keep the bright lights out of his eyes, but it made me chuckle. From the neck up he resembled a poker shark, a guy who might be driving around in a newly restored 70s Cadillac. Below the neck, he was unmistakeably the Dalai Lama, clothed in burgundy and gold monks robes and wearing his prayer beads.

When I bought the tickets online, my inner skeptic had me expecting a lecture or a sermon about how much of a sinner I am. That's the message I've been accustomed to hearing from other religious leaders.

But you know what he told that audience of 30,000 people? Not to expect anything from his talk. In fact, he made it clear from the start that what he was going to tell us was pretty straightforward stuff.

You know what? Tenzin Gyatso (the DL's real name) won me over right there and then. That's respect, folks. Those words dissolved any potential power differentials, levelling the playing field. His approach honoured our inherent inner wisdom and I felt he was relating to his audience with humility and truth.

His message was almost formulaic, which made it simple for my analytical mind to grasp. He didn't wrap his message up in fancy words or by quoting other's works. I guess he knows what I learned about in first year university English class - B.B.B. (Bullshit Baffles Brains).

Messages I took home? Simply put:

1. a calm mind + compassion + warm-heartedness = happiness

2. affection leads to inner peace; inner peace = world peace

3. inner peace --> confidence --> inner power

4. War is outdated!

5. Teaching children compassion and communication = 21st century can be "The Century of Dialogue"

He made some other points that really resonated with me.

He spoke of secularism. He declared that secularism is not a "rejection of religion", but rather, it is an acceptance of all faiths and all beliefs. I can't tell you how much sense that made to me. I can't tell you how validated I felt to hear that it was ok to be curious and open about ALL spiritual belief systems, organized or not. His proclamation reminded me that he truly does feel that we are all the same. I mean, the guy is a Buddhist, but not once did he endorse his beliefs as THE beliefs. At no point did he pull out a persuasive card to "win us over". Truly refreshing.

The DL also responded to a question with a plain "I don't know". I love that response to a question. It means that the questionee is being honest, not only with the questioner, but also with themselves. What was even more exciting for me is that "I don't know" was his response to a question about depression. I was impressed that he didn't just dismissively tell this person with depression to "snap out of it" or to "just be happy". I was thrilled when he pointed out the multitude of factors that goes into why a person might be experiencing depression. That was HUGE. HUGE. It refuted the all too pervasive "mental-health-issues-are-not-genuine-illnesses" belief.

In the end, I'm so glad I went. His Holiness proved me wrong. I did not feel judged. I only experienced peace and compassion. That's a hell of a deal for a $40 ticket, wouldn't you say?

1 comment:

  1. i say $40 was very cheap to see one of our lifetime's most influential persons. i'd love to see him before i die -- man, that would just make my day, year, life!

    i've read his books and go back and reread them again. they are filled with humble wisdom. and i like that when he did not know the answer, he admitted it! that to me is impressive....he is so admired, revered and loved and yet he has no ego or feels that he must have an answer.

    ah, but to reach his level of tranquility.....