It is Dalai Lama week here in the Bay Area this week and I had the pleasure to have lunch with him. Ok so I got to sit in section 9 where he looked about 12 inches big from where I was…
It was a first ever experience. I really didn’t know what to expect but to be enlightened with some profound knowledge or just to feel the crowds collected vibe. I am in awe of the crowd. I’ve never been at a convention center with 11,000 people and did not witness any pushing, shoving, or even snickers or odd stares. Parking was not the nightmare I expected it to be. Going thru security was surprisingly pleasant too. Airport security should take note! While we waited for the event to start, the room was oddly quiet. I was expecting it to be loud and filled with anticipation and excitement. I guess it wasn’t exactly a ball game, eh? It was a great example of how peace is possible even with 11,000 people packed chair to chair. No commotion. No chaos. Just calm.
With a calm demeanor, His Holiness begins with the statement, “I am happy.” Not happy to be here (which he obviously is), but just “I am happy.” How about that? What if we could wake up each morning and declare, “I am happy.”
Almost an hour later, I had to summon my presence because it was difficult to understand him. At times I felt lost and couldn’t follow his train of thought. I even felt dumb when everyone started laughing and I didn’t get it because either I couldn’t make out his Yoda accent or I just didn’t get it. Then I started getting up in my head about how many times I’ve already shifted in my chair struggling to sit up straight in the not so ergomonic chair while the people around me haven’t even moved or flinched. I slid up and down my chair trying to alleviate my upper back, lower back, legs and honestly at some points was trying to stay awake. How dare I fall asleep in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama! I look up to the monitor and see his calm face and as if he read my mind, I quickly snap out of my head as he begins to talk about how we must not give in to destructive emotions. Timing couldn’t have been better 🙂
Destructive emotions propel the self-centered Self. He says a self-centered attitude is the core of an unhealthy society. When we have a self-centered attitude, we begin to become double faced which leads to inauthenticity. He tells us to know our reality. With an unrealistic view of our reality, we start to get into unrealistic responses, expectations, etc. The inquiry of what the self is was explored and how the self or soul is separate from body and mind.
Did you know that there is no beginning of the mind? Thoughts are continuous and mental movement is faster than the speed of light. So stop trying to block those thoughts in your meditation.
The heart of the talk is his teaching on the Eight Verses of Training the Mind, Awakening the Heart of Compassion.
The text teaches us to focus on developing appropriate respect for the self and others (even those who are the pain in our rears and the scums of society), embracing challenges and challenging people as opportunities for positive change, offering our services to others as a simple act of giving and receiving like breathing in and breathing out, and cultivating compassion for all beings. When we practice compassion and respect in this regard, happiness is within reach. Inner peace is available. When we are at peace in our hearts, our minds are calm. When our minds are calm, our bodies are healthy.
Here are the eight verses to start training your mind:
“Eight Verses for Training the Mind is a classic text in the genre of lojong, or mind training. Lojong focuses on purifying one’s thoughts, developing appropriate regard for self and others, turning obstacles into opportunities for positive change, and cultivating compassion. Engaging in these practices generates bodhichitta: the altruistic mind that seeks to awaken for the benefit of all beings and truly perceives reality. The Dalai Lama recites this work daily and describes it as one of his main sources of inspiration.” (Original text by Geshe Langri Tangpa).
With a determination to achieve the highest aim
For the benefit of all sentient beings,
Which surpasses even the wish-fulfilling gem,
May I hold them dear at all times.
Whenever I interact with someone,
May I view myself as the lowest among all,
And, from the very depths of my heart,
Respectfully hold others as superior.
In all my deeds may I probe into my mind,
And as soon as mental and emotional afflictions arise –
As they endanger myself or others –
May I strongly confront and avert them.
When I see beings of unpleasant character
Oppressed by strong negativity and suffering,
May I hold them dear – for they are rare to find –
As if I have discovered a jewel treasure!
When others, out of jealousy,
Treat me wrongly with abuse, slander or scorn,
May I take upon myself the defeat
And offer to others the victory.
When someone whom I have helped,
Or in whom I have placed great hopes,
Mistreats me in extremely hurtful ways,
May I regard him still as my precious teacher.
In brief, may I offer benefit and joy
to all my mothers, both directly and indirectly,
May I quietly take upon myself
All hurts and pains of my mothers.
May all this remain undefiled
By the stains of the eight mundane concerns;
And may I, recognizing all things as illusion,
Devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.