"My message is the practice of compassion, love and kindness. Compassion can be put into practice if one recognizes the fact that every human being is a member of humanity and the human family regardless of differences in religion, culture, color and creed. Deep down there is no difference."-- Dalai Lama
Recently I had the rare privilege of meeting His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and listening to his public address on “Compassionate Ethics in Difficult Times.” The significance and meaning of such an honor is still settling in, but I would like to express a few thoughts on my experience in the meantime. Obviously, I was incredibly moved and left with many a concept to ponder, but as I listened to him speak, I saw a man who not only has a remarkable understanding of the human condition and capacity for compassion, but who embraces every atom of this experience we call being human. His humbleness and his ability to express a genuine love for all human beings is awe-inspiring.
Despite my uncanny ability to feel undeniably average in every way, I still find it a challenge to relate to those I perceive as not like me. And yet here is a person who has experienced the most horrific of hardships, who has had the responsibility of running a nation under attack since the age of sixteen, who was forced to flee his country and live in exile since the age of twenty four, and here he sits, joyful as can be, empathizing with the woes of our daily lives and teaching values of kindness and compassion. If anyone should have the right to judge our superficial struggles and first world “suffering,” surely he has the authority to do so. But no, he seems to understand the true essence of human existence, seeing beyond the content of our individual confusions with reality, and to the essential nature of what unites us all. After all, we are all doing the best we can within the context within which we were born; and within the reality we continue to co-create. So as I continue to digest the complexity in his heart-felt words, I take comfort in the simplicity of his so-called “religion of kindness.” For it is easy to talk in new age idioms about being present, unattached or non-violent, but to truly connect with our deepest selves and see all others as expressions of our shared humanity, now that is something to strive for.