It is a good blogging tradition to pay attention to important dates. Today it is 50 years since His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet, because it was being occupied by Chinese forces. I’m not going to go into the whole story here. Follow the links in this post for more details.
The Place of the Dalai Lama in present day spirituality is unique. He is one of only two prominent spiritual leaders who have a political role as well (the other is the Pope). Unlike the Pope, the Dalai Lama manages to charm everyone, wherever he goes – except the Chinese government of course.
I really admire the Dalai Lama for his peaceful stand against aggression. He reminds us all that violence need not be countered with violence. How difficult this is, is shown by the lack of success for the Tibetan People. This makes his place as their political leader a controversial one, especially, so I’m told, amongst the young. While I can understand the frustration of the people still living in Tibet – I feel violence is it’s own punishment. Better to flee an oppressive government than live in a situation of constant fear and aggression.
The main teaching of the Dalai Lama in the West is the flip side of that: kindness brings happiness. He has taught this in books, on Video, DVDs and CDs. For instance this practical teaching about Love and Compassion:
- Spend 5 minutes at the beginning of each day remembering we all want the same things (to be happy and to be loved) and we are all connected to one another.
- Spend 5 minutes breathing in cherishing yourself, and breathing out cherishing others. If you think about people you have difficulty cherishing, extend your cherishing to them anyway.
- During the day extend that attitude to everyone you meet. Practice cherishing the “simplest” person (clerks, attendants, etc.) as well as the “important” people in your life, cherish the people you love and the people you dislike.
- Continue this practice no matter what happens or what anyone does to you.