Gifts from the Dalai Lama (written 2009)
Although the Buddhist tradition that is my home is not the same one that is led by the Dalai Lama, he is an inspirational figure for me. Today, an aspiration was met when I went with my sister to hear him speak at the Saddle Dome in Calgary. Some 20,000 people attended.
Unexpectedly I felt tears arising when this man, who describes himself as a simple monk, walked in. He speaks slowly, seeking words, with a translator at his side to assist as needed. His sincerity is profound. What gifts do I carry away with me?
To parents: Love your children with immense affection. Shape teachings to the needs of the child.
A universal ethics, apart from any religion, is possible and necessary.
Compassion, love and positive change begin inside each person. You cannot change the world until you have changed yourself.
This all begins with intention in each moment.
Each of us attending found a white prayer scarf draped over our seat as we arrived. An explanation was given of its symbolism, what to carry with us, leaving. White for a pure heart. The soft, silky texture for kindness in actions. The Tibetan characters for harmony woven into the scarf. We were guided to form chains, holding the ends of our neighbors' scarves, in this way reminded of the interconnectedness of all beings.
Despite his global travel, his tremendous responsibilities as a leader seeking peace, and his many appointments and duties, the Dalai Lama meditates six or more hours each day. It is humbling to be in the presence of such devotion to others, to a better world.
He spoke of determination and commitment to non-violence in our actions and thoughts. He stressed that from non-violence (calmness and kindness) inside, violence could not arise. He spoke of the next generation holding the hope of a world of peace.
In Mahayana Buddhism, the tradition the Dalai Lama represents, the ideal of the bodhisattva is central. A bodhisattva is a human being committed to the attainment of enlightenment for the sake of others. In recognition of this, he takes bodhisattva vows based on the words of Shantideva, the beloved sixth-century sage:
May I be a guard for those who need protection
A guide for those on the path
A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood
May I be a lamp in the darkness
A resting place for the weary
A healing medicine for all who are sick
A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings
May I bring sustenance and awakening
Enduring like the earth and sky
Until all beings are freed from sorrow
And all are awakened.