Monday, February 25, 2013

Meeting His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala

"My experience with meeting The Dalai Lama is one of the most unforgettable moments. His simplicity and compassion for the people made him a great name in the history of Spirituality. His message of enlightenment  is significant in today's time and truly a timeless piece of wisdom dedicated to mankind and the future of the world."

For a few days since I arrived in Dharamsala, I have been accustomed to the unique culture and tradition of the people, most especially the Tibetans-in-exile living in Mcleod Ganj. It is a vibrant community with spiritual people living serenely in the cold breeze of mountains beneath the Himalayas.

Although the Tibetans of Mcleod Ganj have been living in an asylum for several decades, they have still tried to preserve their culture and improve the living conditions of the thousands of refugees. They may be far away from their motherland, but they are fortunate for the achievement of freedom in exile. I have found peacefulness and spirituality in this sacred place in The Land of the Tibetans in Dharamsala: Closer to Heaven

The simple way of living of the Tibetans is genuinely admirable. They remain content with the blessings they receive and make the best effort to develop their lives utilizing the valuable teachings and philosophies of their Spiritual teacher and leader, His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama, vested with the authority to rule his people, has shown the capacity to lead and transform the lives of the Tibetans in exile. At his age, The Holy Man still has the energy and vigor to protect his people and become a man of love and compassion that the world has known.

The Dalai Lama, the head of state of the Tibetans, is the most popular and respected Buddhist monk, yet His Holiness describes himself as a simple monk chosen to lead by the Tibetan people. He is not secluded in the hill station of Dharamsala since He is a well-traveled man. He has met a lot of foreign dignitaries for spiritual and peace talks and received numerous awards and recognition from all over the world, including the Nobel Price Award for his peaceful means of fighting for the sovereignty of Tibet against Chinese communist rule.

The central teachings of His Holiness are for humanity to live in simplicity and contentment while cultivating a loving and compassionate nature. I am not a Buddhist, yet his instructions are beyond religion. It is still relevant to everyone regardless of religious beliefs. It is merely a universal philosophy that was started by a Holy man in the conquest of enlightenment thousands of years ago.

I read some of The Dalai Lama's books in Delhi last year. One of my favorites is the book "The Art of Happiness," about the four noble truths. Reading his works encourages people to live a better life, find inner peace and happiness, and seek enlightenment in a troubled world.

Since visiting The Dalai Lama's temple on my first day of the visit, I have known that he will lecture on the 25th of the month about the teachings from the "Jataka Tales." It is a story based on the life and rebirth of Buddha. There was no registration for this event, so I attended for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet The Holy Man.

The Tsuglagkhang Complex

A day before his scheduled lecture in Tsuglagkhang temple, I had the chance to visit some places and the nearby sightseeing in Mcleod Ganj. From the place I am staying at, Snow Crest Hotel in Naddi Village, it took me a half-hour trek to reach the 4 km distance to Mcleod Ganj. On the way, I was delighted to see the natural wonder of Dal Lake and pass by the Tibetan Children's village, just a few-minute walk from the lake. For the second time, I visited The Dalai Lama's temple to pass around the prayer wheels and to observe the monks in their afternoon rituals. The temple was busy preparing for tomorrow's event, and many pilgrims started to arrive, so I took some 'Kangra tea' at the famous tea house--moonpeak espresso cafe, as recommended. I did not wait for the sunset and returned to the hotel to reserve my energy for the next day's event.

On the 25th of February, I woke up early to prepare and go to The Dalai Lama's temple. The cab driver, upon request, picked me up at 5:30 a.m. and reached the temple before 6 am, just a few minutes before sunrise. The guard at the entrance was strict; no cameras or cellular phones were allowed inside. I left my things in the nearby coffee shop and carried a handbag with a notebook and a pen for taking notes. The man in the shop was so kind, and I told him to get it as soon as the lecture was finished.

Now that I was free from restricted gadgets, I passed by the two security checks before heading to the Namgyal monastery just above the checkpoint. I went to the right section to find my seating place reserved for English-speaking people. When I found the right place overlooking the Holy Man without barriers, the monks gathered, and pilgrims worldwide were excited to see The Dalai Lama.

The residence of The Dalai Lama 

At around 6:20 a.m., The Dalai Lama is set to leave his residence for his processional ceremony. The monks and pilgrims, including myself, were rushing to the nearest place where the Holy Man would pass by going up to the Namgyal Monastery, which is adjacent to his residence. As the procession started, he was guided by the Namgyal monks and guarded by the security men. The entourage followed the footstep of the Holy Man, who waives his hand to greet the thousands of people gathered in his temple.

The Dalai Lama and other monks performed an early morning ritual of sacred chants and mantras for about an hour and a half. At 8 a.m., His Holiness and his entourage went down and proceeded to his lecture place, an elevated rectangular platform with Tibetan decorations. Another 20-minute chant and mantra were observed before The Dalai Lama lectured in the Tibetan language at 8:20 a.m.

The whole complex is filled with an audience, mostly Tibetans, who understood the message very well. Some have brought an FM radio since the lecture is also translated into the English and Chinese languages in a specific radio frequency. I did not have one, so I just listened to the original message in the Tibetan language. The Dalai Lama's voice was clear and calm, and he even cracked a joke with the crowd.

The Namgyal Monastery

The lecture ended at 10 a.m., followed by a recessional returning to his residence just a few meters away. The audience witnessed the Holy Man's last walk before he was gone out of sight. The people along the aisles were lucky to have shaken hands with The Dalai Lama while others started walking down the temple to return to their respective places or destinations.

My experience with meeting The Dalai Lama is one of the most unforgettable moments. His simplicity and compassion for the people made him a great name in the history of Spirituality. His message of enlightenment is significant today and truly a timeless piece of wisdom dedicated to mankind and the world's future.

The Dalai Lama is committed to serving humanity, not just the Buddhist Community. The world has constantly been changing, and there is no such thing as permanence. The Dalai Lama is a Holy man, but ordinary people can achieve enlightenment given that There is Certain Holiness in You.

I am grateful for another day full of learning and energy. I hope to see His Holiness The Dalai Lama at another time if given another opportunity. From now on, what is important is to live with the message of love, compassion, and inner peace--The Dalai Lama's way.

© 2013 Del Cusay