Thursday, November 1, 2012

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Formality separates us from reality.
Perhaps this is the key to His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama's charming and inspiring personality.

His spirit is contagious. Now having heard him speak on two occasions, I claim that the HHDL is the jolliest and kindest public figure. The Woodstock audience was stiff with silent anticipation of his arrival on a September afternoon. We had been waiting quietly for nearly an hour in the gymnasium after going through the formalities of security scans, guest lists, and assigned seating. Within his first 10 steps into the gymnasium, the HHDL had broken the stillness with a deep chuckle. He stopped to tease his grandnephew (a student in Grade 10) for growing so tall. The formalities were broken and the crowd relaxed.

On the topic of formality versus reality, the HHDL mentioned how his exile in India has helped him to let go of the formalities of his monastic life in Lhasa and to be more relaxed and in tune with reality. (Something to which many foreigners in India will relate!) Both times I've heard him speak, his serious messages have been punctuated by laughter, grins, and jokes. It's difficult not to feel relaxed in his presence. 

Watch at least the first few minutes,
longer if you want to hear him speak about

His visit consisted of his speech, which more or less rambled through a variety of great advice and reflections, including: you attain personal happiness through positive attitude; you do not have to be a religious person to be a good person; and the health of body and mind are interconnected. He spoke quite a bit about education and the need to train your mind. Then he received questions from pre-selected students. Afterwards, he opened it up to the audience to ask questions, including an adorable one from a Grade 4 student - "Do you have any goals before you die?" And one from a staff member - "What is your secret to staying young at heart?" To which he responded, "Top secret! Ha Ha Ha!"

Waiting in line to get through security.

Wearing traditional Tibetan dress -

Buddhist students eagerly await the HHDL with khata
(white scarves).

HHDL enters the room.

Giving his speech.

Question and answer session.

A fantastic photo taken by one of
my photography students, Fuse.
From the HHDL's official photographer.

A bright and colorful walk back to dorms.

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