When mentioning the name of HH Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet and winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, one is most often greeted by broad smiles, laughter and acknowledgments of wisdom and compassion.
Although I hold certain sympathies with the writing of Richard Dawkins, 14th June 2007 was a particular highlight in my life – sat before a gentle, warm, wise, wholly affable and inspirationally holy individual who has witnessed much in his 72 years. I have long believed in the Buddhist philosophies of compassion, or loving kindness, of self-enlightenment and pursuit of spiritual stability, and additionally embrace the scientific evidence showing that meditation is not only good for the soul, but also good for the body. One need only look up 'mindfulness meditation' on Pubmed.
Plus, being a vegetarian is an ecologically responsible thing to do! (ok, so I have a tofu addiction…)
Accompanied by his translator, His Holiness spoke of the centrality of community – that we develop strong bonds with those around us (that's what I'm doing on MySpace and Facebook, yeh?). HH spoke of the unquestioning love of a mother for her child – that much of the world's pain comes from familial neglect. HH also said that we can have peace in our time, that there is no need for aggression and use of force – we should overcome all with dialogue and never need to resort to weapons, despite their shiny appeal.
On that note, HH Dalai Lama said that it's important to separate the agent/actor from their actions. One may vehemently disagree with a policy, but one should accept the perpetrator as a fellow human. This is the way that we can continue to love (or, well, not to hate) George W. Bush. We have a duty to disagree with actions which diminish our values, but we have an equal duty to treat others with respect. Animals are included in this list too, as seen today in HH's launch of Kindness Week at Australia Zoo. That juxtaposition is unintentional.
When facing challenges, one should visualise the ocean: there are naturally waves which come and go across the surface, but the deep reaches remain undisturbed. Allow yourself to move on from the emotion of a situation, and to engage intellectually with it, to find a solution. Worrying (and the aggression which accompanies it) will achieve nothing.
When asked about the highlights in his own life, HH Dalai Lama spoke of the day when he passed his Lharampa degree, which is the Buddhist equivalent of a doctorate. At this point, I nodded, and understood – deeply. It was 1959 and HH was in Lhasa, Tibet. Soon afterwards, on 15th May 1959, HH fled to Dharamsala, India, to live in exile from the Chinese authorities who still struggle to accept his presence on the global stage. In essence, HH expressed that he has had little option but to be realistic about China's occupation of Tibet. When HH realised that he had escaped from their regime, he was again happy/relieved – but naturally this would be tempered with the ongoing sadness of the tragedy in play. Reflecting, HH stated that this has prevented him from becoming complacent: that he has a real reason to preach his philosophies; they are grounded in such a truth.
So, as we continue our daily lives, it is important to embrace one another as whole beings – showing the love that a mother has for her child. I do hope that the Howard Government has listened to these lessons at some point in the visit. They are needed in this age of distinctly unenlightened policies.
"May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be separated from that sacred joy that is beyond suffering.
May they rest in equanimity free of grasping, hatred, and ignorance.
And may they be aware of the equality of all that lives."