Monday, February 24, 2014

Practice Kindness, Choose Happiness

I have this exact image and quote on my cupboard...staring at me everyday...
reminding me...prodding me...challenging me.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever get to see this man in person, 
but today I did.

I had the joy of witnessing the Dalai Lama's effusive, kind, tender-hearted presence at Santa Clara University.


My first take away from him was his ability to transcend time.
He had all the time in the world for every person.
No rushing.
Nothing but complete care and acceptance of the moment.
Every person was someone sacred.
Every moment mattered.

I know this man is called His Holiness by all sorts of people and I wonder:
is it a chicken or the egg kind of thing?
If you call someone holy do they rise to the occasion?

What would happen if we started thinking of ourselves as holy?
Would we pursue mindfulness and meditation and compassion so zealously that it would become real?
I wanna try that experiment on myself.
I'll keep you posted. :)

My second take away was the way he spoke about his mother.
He is the youngest child in his family. He felt his mom gave him nothing but affection.
He talked about how she would put him up on her shoulders and work in the fields and just enjoy his presence.  
He mentioned that there are seven billion people in the world and that all of them need this level of a mother's affection. 
His quote: "We need a special effort to build the feeling of affection for people who do not have it so therefore warm-heartedness or affection is very very important and an obligation."
 He wondered what our world would look like if everyone was given this affection.
It's a good question.
And also a good reminder.  
We all need affection and compassion, every day, all the time.  
No one earns it.

His biggest message was that compassion and kindness must be taught.
We must start with the littlest children and very carefully and intentionally teach this and then gradually move to the older children and keep at it...demonstrating kindess and compassion daily.

He maintains that the more compassionate mind = the more calm mind -- which creates more self-confidence, inner strength and less stress.
He reminded us of something that we intuitively know but never consciously think about:
self-centered = more stress
"Compassion brings inner peace and mental comfort."

Finally, he spent the last few minutes almost talking to himself.
He told each of us that we needed to go inward and know our conviction for ourselves.
We need our faith to be part of our life and part of our decision making.  It is only with this inner conviction that we can withstand the changing forces of our life and the confusing moral ambiguities of our time. He pounded his heart several times very forcefully, making his point...go inward and know yourself, your convictions, your priorities. 
In a nutshell: live an authentic life.

His giggle is what will linger in my mind the most.
All of the adversity he has faced...all of his own life lessons and at 78 he has a lot...have led him to be full of joy and ready to giggle.
His energy is contagious.

The event had a group of young children singing...their angelic voices filled the arena.
Their school's mission statement:
practice kindness, choose happiness

That's enough.
Let's do it.

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