Reflections on our conversation
We spent the morning preparing for our interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Part way into our preparation we received a phone call informing us that the Dalai Lama was at a public prayer session and we could go to it if we wanted to. We quickly put our things away and rushed to the Kirti Jeypa Monastery. Once there, we learned that the prayers were for two Tibetans killed on April 22, 2011 by Chinese soldiers. The two men had been trying to protect Tibetan monks at the Kirti Monastery in Ngaba, Tibet. After the prayers, there were several speeches and then one hundred monks began a protest march to New Delhi. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel to finalize our interview questions and get ready.
A short time later, we returned to the Kirti Jeypa Monastery for our interview with the Dalai Lama. Sitting in the room waiting for His Holiness, I started to feel the excitement that I had been waiting for all of Senior year. When he walked in I wished I had volunteered for one of our first five questions. Once he was seated, Lily introduced our group and asked if he had any opening remarks. He spoke to us for a short time and then we asked the questions we had prepared.
When asked a question about love and compassion being essential to the survival of humanity, the Dalai Lama spoke about the necessity of being happy and having a healthy body, family, community and mind. I found myself carried away by thoughts about this and began to cry. It touched me in a way I never expected and I was startled by my reaction.
The Dalai Lama is the most compassionate and genuine person I have ever met. I was blown away by how clear his thoughts were. When he laughed it lit up the room and I could not help but smile.
When asked about how we can counteract the sense of entitlement so pervasive in American culture, he responded by speaking about ambition. He said that compassionate ambition is fine but that selfish ambition is harmful. I never thought of ambition as having different aspects and his comments made me look at it in a different way.
In his opening remarks to us the Dalai Lama spoke about how ethics are crucial to human happiness. He said that the only universally possible way to integrate ethics is through education. What struck me most was his comment that education is the reduction of the gap between appearance and reality. I thought that this was an amazing and accurate way to think about learning. The closer our perception of the world and ourselves comes to the actual truth, the greater our ability to make wise decisions and act ethically. Even with the language barrier, His Holiness was able to articulate the most truthful and accurate description of the world I have ever heard.
I had been waiting for the chance to interview the Dalai Lama since I saw him speak in San Jose last Fall. Two things he said really stood out for me. The first was when he said, “Even your enemy was created by God.” Though I am not religious, this comment struck me and left me with the understanding that both friend and enemy deserve respect. The second thing was the idea of unbiased compassion. This is probably the most enlightened idea and difficult concept he spoke about.
The beauty of our interview with His Holiness was that he brought no sense of inflated self-worth or boastful attitude, but rather the complete absence of ego. The clarity and thoughtfulness of his words was impressive. We were able to connect with Dalai Lama on a level that is very rare. The feelings behind his words allowed me to follow even the deepest of topics with curiosity. At no point did I ever feel like we were being spoken down to.
The Dalai Lama spoke about the importance of clearing the mind of too much emotion. He said too much emotion hinders your ability to see the goodness in life and that a clear mind allows you to see a wholistic view of the world. It was important for me to hear this because I think I carry too much emotion and as a result, at times I can’t think realistically. The way he spoke was precise and I felt the presence of a calm and pure mind.
Our interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama was incredible. He seems like one of those rare people that actually embody what they stand for. I felt moved and honored to be in his presence. When he blessed me and looked in my eyes I felt like we were the only people in the room.
His Holiness made a point of saying more than once that there is too much stress, anxiety and fear in the world. He said that there is too much foolish selfishness as opposed to wise selfishness. He said that selfishness is a natural human quality, but there is a difference between selfishness for self progress and selfishness that begins to negatively effect others. The answer, he asserted, lies in a compassionate attitude. This leads to an open mind and a wider perspective.