Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Dalai Days #2
The winds of change were blowing strong on the 2nd day of the Dalai Lama Experience. It began for me at 8am as I slipped into a seat in a small auditorium, just in time for a community meditation. The audience and me were introduced to the man who would "hold the space", from center stage, during the 1/2 hour meditation. That man was Lama Surya Das. I had only recently heard his name. I knew nothing about him. That didn't stop him from changing my life.
Lama Surya Das is a nice white boy from Long Island, NY, who graduated from the University of Buffalo. He is an ordained Dzogchen Lama trained in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He has studied extensively for 30 years with great teachers of the major Tibetan schools, including the 14th Dalai Lama. He even spent 8 years in secluded retreat. He has written numerous books, including Awakening the Buddha Within. His great gift is the ablility to convey the ethics of Buddhism in a manner that the Western mind can understand and apply to daily living. To put it simply, he is a bridge.
The American Lama began the meditation with a deep-throated chant. Tears immediately leaked out of my eyes. I'm pretty sure he jarred the door to my heart open a tad wider. After the meditation, Lama Surya Das gave a 1 hour lecture about simple concepts of Buddhism and the virtues of the Dalai Lama.
He told the audience that Buddhism is about harmony, tolerance and non-violence. That he proclaims "loving kindness" is his religion. That the practice of Buddhism honors beings seen and unseen. The American Lama went on to tell us to contribute to others, but don't try to convert others to our way of thinking. He said we needed "beginner's mind" throughout our lives, the mind that is fresh, open and willing to learn. He explained that transforming oneself tranforms the world. Healing oneself heals the world. Disarming one's heart, disarms the world. That life is a journey of awakening, and we need to look for the Light in everyone and everything. He said we need to root out the inner anger and become living examples of peace. Become the yeast that helps humanity to rise up. I agreed with every word he said.
Lama Surya Das told us that the 14th Dalai Lama visits 50 countries a year promoting peace. That he is a "person of peace" and a lover of science. That his highest gift is humility. He told us the Dalai Lama lives the Bodhisattva Code: to effect the greatest good for the greatest number.
Lama Surya Das spoke my language. He made me understand there is a host of people who think like I do. A host of people who strive for tolerance and the simple act of extending kindness. I felt less alone after he finished his lecture.
The stadium speech of the Dalai Lama at 3pm, was less clear, as he is not as fluent in English as the American Lama. However, his personality came across, which I would describe as funny, humble and down-right adorable. His message was concise: be warm-hearted. Be kind. Be compassionate. To everyone and everything, including animals and the environment.
What more do we need to know?