Not to confuse you, I did not have a private audience with the Dalai Lama. Rather, our meeting took place in the company of 3500 others, all of us gathered to see and hear the venerable teacher. While I could plainly see him on the raised platform, huge screens were suspended so that all of us could more clearly watch him as he addressed us on the subject of compassion.
Obtaining tickets to attend this event in Connecticut was quite a feat. A lottery was held to choose those who might purchase tickets. I had not entered the lottery, but, on the night before his appearance, a friend called and invited me to attend. Of course, I was thrilled at this twist of fate. I was meant to go, after all.
The meeting led me to reflect on the role that Buddhism has played in my life. Ironically, it was Buddhism which brought me back to God. Having set aside the Christian faith in which I was raised and having parted with a belief in God, a time came when I wanted a greater understanding of faith and spiritual thought. I found Buddhism to be my answer mainly because it did not include that confusing word, God. It was within Buddhism that I learned to meditate, to look inward in a different way than pychotherapy addressed and to begin to explore spiritual writings. It was Buddhism that brought me to the auspicious and ancient teachings of yoga, and to the multi-disciplinary spiritual path I follow today — one that embraces a profound, steadfast belief in God and honors all religious and spiritual beliefs with respect and honor.
Now, here I was, in the company of one of the most revered of all contemporary Buddhist teachers. When the Dalai Lama walked on stage, I did not experience a dynamic shift in energy as I have in the presence of some spiritual masters. I was not brought to tears nor was I astonished at the brilliance of his words. It took me days to come to terms with his unique power. It was in his very human simplicity, in his humility and gentle kindness that his strength was revealed to me. That we are all one and, in that oneness, we all deserve to experience compassion, both in the giving and receiving. As one of my yoga teacher friends wrote to me about the Dalai Lama, “He was such a perfect blend of caring, sincerity, and humour. I love the way he cracks himself up.” He did! He laughed with abandon at his own words.
That, for me, was the essence: sometimes the greatest lessons emerge, not from a place of mind blowing verbal proclamations or from earth shaking energy, but from gentleness and humor and acceptance. So human and perfect. And what I heard him say was this: Be kind. Be humble. Be gentle. Be human. Be love. All lessons worth remembering and cherishing.