i’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with his holiness the dalai lama xiv twice in my relatively short time on this earth. the first time i was 17, in dharamsala, india — tibetan government in exile, on his 72nd birthday. it was a charged atmosphere and he was around but i never got to see him teach. instead i took part in a ceremony honoring the oldest couple in the himchal pradesh region at the time. they were a 103 year old and his 101 year old wife. it struck me how much tibetan culture values the elderly. it was amazing.
on that trip i spent a month in predominately tibetan buddhist regions. i went to a monastery’s 800th anniversary. i hiked to a peak of 16,000 feet. it was transformative and i absolutely fell in love with the people. more on that later.
while i was there i bought a bracelet that reads free tibet. a few years ago i got a tattoo of a mantra stylized in tibetan sanskrit, ཨོཾ་མ་ཎི་པདྨེ་ཧཱུྂ, om mani padme hum. today i wore them (well the tattoo i’m always wearing) with my red jasper mala beads a rainbow wrap from peru because love is love is love is love and we need more of it in the world. i finally got to see the dalai lama teach.
the teaching was at the university of colorado. it was on “the eight verses of mind training” which is a short and simple buddhist text. i’ve included it above as it was given to us.
the dalai lama started with asking who in the room was tibetan. there is actually a pretty big tibetan population in boulder due to their diaspora from tibet in the 1950s. then he asked who was from buddhist countries like thailand and sri lanka. there weren’t a ton. then he asked who practices buddhism. more but still not the majority of the room. he continued on by mentioning that while he is buddhist, he doesn’t think people need to be buddhist. we have our culture and cultural norms and it is more important to be good people no matter religion or location.
“all religions are meant in principle to help human beings to become better, more refined, and more creative people.” — the dalai lama
then he spoke on the origin of religion and then moved on to the verses. what they teach us is that nothing really exists. we see things as real but they are actually composed of parts. the whole object we see is a mental construct. material objects — even atoms are composed of parts. when you dissect in that manner you get to nothing being real. the world is not tangible but it is composed of a continuum and when you examine and analyze there is nothing that is real.
there is also constructed concept of time. past, present and future. like matter, we decide that the present the is real. however, there is always an echo of the past and anticipation of the future. this really got me. i am always living in some sort of shadowed present, especially lately. i think a lot of us are.
if you can get to a true present — nothing really stands. this is the only one time to truly live. and knowing that we can be truly compassionate, and turn anger and greed into peace. we have to become present and shed our self to get there.
after that he joked, “of course i’m not saying i’m experienced or something.”
i giggled with the whole audience and in turn the dalai lama himself. what we all need to do is just live. and respect and love. thanks for being so amazing tenzin.