I have been trying to attend the annual teachings of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India for the past three years, but each year something got in the way. So when I discovered that His Holiness was to make a public appearance in Sydney, I scheduled my travels around Australia accordingly. Despite cold, blustery weather and intermittent spitting rain, several thousand other people also thought it important to be present this morning at the open-air amphitheater in Sydney’s Domain Park.
It is not hard to understand why the Dalai Lama commands such devotion and respect. Within seconds of taking the stage, he had everyone laughing. He began his discourse with the idea that our minds are clear in the morning, then digressed about the raucous party that was going on in the hotel where he was staying the night before. With a twinkle in his eye and a grin he conceded that the people at the party probably didn’t have very clear minds that morning.
He espouses non-violence and compassion. He touched on the Buddhist belief that desire is the root of all suffering. When asked what he believes to be the meaning of life, he quickly said, “I don’t know,” and laughed – whether it’s his high-pitched giggle or his deep belly guffaw, the Dalai Lama’s laughter is infectious and the crowd easily laughs along with him. But then he offers an opinion after all – the purpose of life, he believes, is to be happy. He warns that happiness does not come from material things – it is OK to have material things that bring comfort but not to the extent that the material things control your life. In parting he stated emphatically that the very best thing we can do in this life is to give our children all the affection in the world.
I am fascinated by this man and his simple, profound message. I aspire to his ideals. He makes me want to do something with my life that matters. Something that makes a difference in this world. Something to help others. If we could all live this way; if we could all aspire to live up to the Dalai Lama’s ideals, the world would be a wonderful place. His Holiness’ doctors have “read his pulse” and told him he will probably live to be 103. I dearly hope so – this world is in desperate need of people like him.