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 to the people led him to have a remarkable name in the world 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 community that is vibrant with the presence of spiritual people living in a serene environment;  in the cold breeze of mountains beneath the Himalayas.


Although the Tibetans of Mcleod Ganj have been living in an asylum for several decades, still they have made an effort to preserve their culture and continue to improve the living condition 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 truly admirable. They remain to be 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 who has been vested 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 got the energy and vigor to protect his people and to become a man of love and compassion that the world has known.

The Dalai Lama, being the head of state of the Tibetans is the most popular and respected Buddhist monk, yet His Holiness describes himself as a simple monk who was 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 the Chinese communist rule.

The main 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 I could say that his teachings are beyond religion. It is still relevant to everyone regardless of religious beliefs and merely a universal philosophy that was started by a Holy man in the conquest of enlightenment thousands of years ago.


I have read some of The Dalai Lama's books when I was in Delhi last year. One of my favorites is the book entitled "The Art of Happiness" and the book about the four noble truths. Reading his works gives some encouragement to live a better life, to find inner peace and happiness, and to 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 be giving a 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 on this event and so I decided to attend 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 around and the nearby sightseeing in Mcleod Ganj. From the place I am staying at Snow Crest hotel in Naddi Village, it took me one and a half hour trek to reach the 4 km distance going to Mcleod Ganj. On the way, I was delighted to see the natural wonder of Dal Lake and passing 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 is quite busy in preparation for tomorrow's event and a lot of pilgrims started to arrive, so I went ahead and take some 'Kangra tea' at the famous tea house--moonpeak espresso cafe as recommended. I did not wait for the sunset and came back to the hotel so I could reserve my energy for the next day's event.

On this day, the 25th of February, I woke up early to prepare and go to The Dalai Lama's temple. The cab driver upon request pick 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 and no cameras and 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 is finished.


Now that I am 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 which is reserved for English-speaking people. At the time I found the right place overlooking the Holy man without barriers, the monks started to gather and pilgrims from around the world are in excitement 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 to have his processional ceremony. The monks and pilgrims including myself were rushing to get to the nearest place where the Holy man will 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.

For about an hour and a half, The Dalai Lama together with other monks performed an early morning ritual of sacred chants and mantras. At 8 a.m., His Holiness along with his entourage went down and proceeded to his lecture place which is an elevated rectangular platform with Tibetan decorations in it. Another 20-minute chant and mantra have been observed before The Dalai Lama started to give his lecture 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 in the English and Chinese language in a specific radiofrequency. I did not have one so I just listen to the original message in the Tibetan language. The Dalai Lama's voice was clear and calm and he even cracked a joke to the crowd.


The Namgyal Monastery

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

My experience with meeting The Dalai Lama is one of the most unforgettable moments. His simplicity and compassion to the people led him to have a remarkable name in the world 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.


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


I am grateful for another day full of learning and energy. I am hoping to see His Holiness The Dalai Lama at some other 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