My One Word for 2014 is Compassion. Jesus is the ultimate example of compassion. Through his followers I see examples of compassion daily. None of that surprises me.
But I’ve learned about compassion in unexpected places too. Such as from 79-year-old Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.
In my research on compassion, the Dalai Lama’s name has come up over and over. So I read a few of his books on compassion, I read his spiritual autobiography, and I watched 7 Years in Tibet (well, that was a little iffy in the name of research, but it was a good movie and it did star Brad Pitt.)
So when I heard the Dalai Lama was coming to Birmingham in October, only a couple hours from my house, I bought 2 tickets right away. (Here stated, Jeff is an awesome companion to play along in my adventures. Here is his selfie with the DL.)
5 THINGS I LEARNED:
Here’s what I learned from hearing and watching the Dalai Lama that Sunday afternoon a couple weeks ago.
1. LAUGH MORE
The man chuckles. A lot. And because he laughed frequently and genuinely, we did, too. Even though he spoke broken English and had a thick Tibetan accent and the audio at Regions Field wasn’t the greatest, it didn’t matter. When he got tickled, it was contagious.
In the middle of his talk, the Dalai Lama pulled out a white cloth and did what he does in the heat of India: he put it on top of his head, snickered about his “special hat,” then kept on talking. He finished out his speech with this rag on his head.
Yes, keep the serious conversations going—he sure did—but don’t take yourself too seriously. When you can bring joy into a situation, do. Smile and laugh often to brighten the day for everyone.
2. HOLD HANDS
“Since our human life begins with affection, affection is important all our life.” That’s what he said.
But I noticed more what he did.
When he was talking on the stage with Birmingham’s Mayor William Bell, he’d often reach for his hand. He’d hold on to it for quite awhile.
It was a great visual to see this white Buddhist monk from Tibet holding hands with the black mayor of Alabama.
Make friends with whoever is near you, no matter how different you happen to be.
But the mayor was several feet away. After a few minutes, the Dalai Lama noticed, stopped his talk, and told the mayor, “Come closer. It can cover both.”
So the two sat squeezed side by side under the shadow of one umbrella until someone else brought a canopy tent on stage that was large enough to shade them all.
If your comfort can cover you and somebody else too, make it happen.
4. DON’T LET HATERS STEAL YOUR JOY
“Stop Dalai Lama!” Outside Regions Field before and after the event, a crowd of Buddhist monks and nuns handed out fliers, sang songs, and demonstrated against the Dalai Lama.
We asked a nun about it who had traveled here all the way from Canada just to protest. She explained to us that the International Shugden Community shows up wherever the Dalai Lama does to protest his disapproval of their Buddhist deity Doria Shugden.
But it didn’t shake the Dalai Lama. Even amidst their disapproval, he kept his calm and stuck to his message of peace, the oneness of humanity, and promotion of harmony among all.
“Real source of happiness is not outside, but inside,” he said.
5. LET COMPASSION WIN
The Dalai Lama wanted us to understand how each of us depends on the rest of humanity. Even for his morning tea, he said, he depends on others. We all come from the same creator and we all want to be happy.
He asked those below 30 years old to raise their hands, then those below 20. He told them that real hope in overcoming violence and hatred will be in their hands. “It is your responsibility to make a peaceful world,” to spread freedom as citizens in the leading nation of the free world.
Respect each other. Keep dialogue central. Resolve disagreements peacefully. Act morally out of self-discipline, not just because of legislation.
“You seven billion human beings must work together.”
I agree, Dalai Lama.
Yes, there were things I disagreed with as well. But overall, I discovered I had more in common with the Dalai Lama than I would have imagined.
Who could have known? A beautiful lesson in compassion.
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Who have you surprisingly learned from lately? What did they teach you? Please share with us in the comments.
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