My Morning with the Dalai Lama

Last week, I was given an amazing opportunity to see the Dalai Lama speak at the National Cathedral in DC. A dear friend of mine couldn’t go at the last minute and offered her ticket to me. I’ll be honest, I was more curious than anything to hear the Dalai Lama. I’ve never read any of his books or really studied his teachings. I always associate tranquility, harmony and enlightenment with him. I was just hoping I would be inspired. Take away the political issues or the difference in religious beliefs, maybe his core message would compel me in my every day journey.

As the diminutive spiritual leader rose to the podium, he donned a baseball cap to keep the bright lights out of his eyes. A gesture reminding us that he was only human, which was also a theme in his speech. The ball cap was an interesting juxtaposition to the dark crimson and gold robe he wore, just like seeing a Buddhist Monk in a Catholic sanctuary.

His message was very basic. There would be no hate, violence, or war if we treated each other with compassion, love and forgiveness. It sounds simple enough, but centuries of war tell us differently. He said, “At a fundamental human level we all want the same thing. We all want happy life.” If you really think about it, he’s right. Who really wants to go to war or spend all their energy filled with hate? That’s a horrible way to live. The utopia he proposes sounds like a nice place to habitat.

Another nugget of wisdom was to "help individuals and you can have happiness, if you do harm to them you will harm yourself and your mind." Again, it’s such a basic idea, but one that we don’t often think about on a daily basis. It’s a nice reminder that helping others will in turn give you fulfillment.

As I sat and listened to the Dalai Lama speak about connecting with people on a human level, I stared at the neo-Gothic architecture of the Cathedral and the light glittering through the detailed stain glass windows. The simplicity of his message filled the intricately designed room. While the Dalai Lama wanted his words to be used as a map for world peace, I knew there were ways in which I could apply his theory in my daily life.  After all, change begins with you.

I am not one who has enemies or wishes people harm. I hate the idea of war and I’m innately an optimist. So I had to dig deep to think about how eliminating hate and violence would improve my life since it wasn’t a part of it to begin with. But I recognized points in my life where I'm not always compassionate or kind to others. I get easily angered by people who try to give me advice on what I should do to cure my Migraines. I lash out at others when I’m in pain. They don’t deserve this. People genuinely want to help. They have no idea that the green smoothie recipe they told me to try is truly ridiculous. Their heart is in the right place. I can either learn to say thank you for their desire to improve my health or educate them on what it really means to have Migraines. Instead of harboring resentment toward someone who makes a snide comment about Migraines not being a debilitating disease, I can feel compassion toward them and be grateful that they don’t have to go through what I do every day.

Will this way of thinking solve the world’s problems? Probably not today. Can it make my stress level better by not harboring anger and resentment? Yes. I can turn the negative energy into love and compassion and maybe educate some people along the way.

I see a lot of reader’s comments on how frustrating and difficult it is to deal with unkind comments from “Normals” or to have to respond to another person who thinks you can be cured by tying a scarf around your head. How can you turn those feelings into love and compassion for others?

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