This week we went to see the Dalai Lama talk at the San Jose Convention Center. It was an amazing experience and rare opportunity that I will never forget. His website features images from the event that you can see here. He talked about the 8 Verses for Training the Mind, but didn’t really elaborate on the verses’ text much, instead choosing to talk about religious tolerance and compassion in general quite a bit before going over the verses and their relevance. It was all related though, as everything ultimately is. He spoke mostly in English, but had an interpreter there for when he had trouble explaining his thoughts, and also to translate his teachings about the verses. I was really impressed with how much English he actually did speak….and also at his sense of humor. He cracked jokes frequently and laughed quite heartily at them too. Saying things like, ‘normally, we should now chant and meditate, but there’s no time, so today, it’s not necessary’, then picking up a sun visor and pointing at the spot lights on the stage, says ‘this hat….necessary’. The way he said it was very cute and everyone chuckled 🙂
We arrived at the convention center at around 10am to line up for the event and were lucky enough to be the first to be seated in our designated section. We were about 30 rows from the stage, behind the reserved area for Buddhist groups, who had preferential seating. So we ended up getting great seats, with a huge gang-way between us and the rows in front. The Dalai Lama made his way to the stage at around 2pm to address the room of approx. 12,000 people. I’ve never heard 12,000 people make so little noise. It was a deafening silence in respect of his presence. At this moment I was over-whelmed and welled up with tears of awe and respect. I’ve never felt that before in this way. It was really something.
The entire room rose for his entrance. He walked up to the fr0nt of the stage passing several monks and acknowledging them as he went. Then he turned to his bowing audience, placed his hands in prayer and bowed right back at us. We all stooped a little lower in our bows, while trying to look up to see him at the same time. He smiled generously at us all. Even with the powerful energy of his presence, his humble demeanor still shone through. He really does embody the lessons that he teaches.
It was something to see the diversity of the 12,000 people there to see him too. I saw many robed religious figures to include Christian Priests, Hindus, Sikhs and Jewish practitioners. All there, proud of their own religions, but open and respectful to the words and teachings of The Dalai Lama. How refreshing and wonderful is that! I wish this was more the norm and less of an anomaly.
At the end of his teachings, we all got to recite in unison the 8 verses along with him. I’m copying them here for you in case you don’t know them. Their message is about compassion, living with out anxiety and anger, but instead acceptance of others and love for others even if those others show you less in return. Taking negative emotions and using them as positive lessons to clear your mind of unproductive thoughts and feelings:
- With a determination to achieve the highest aim, For the benefit of all sentient beings, Which surpasses even the wish-fulfilling gem, May I hold them dear at all times.
- Whenever I interact with someone, May I view myself as the lowest amongst all, And, from the very depths of my heart, Respectfully hold others as superior.
- In all my deeds may I probe into my mind, And as soon as mental and emotional afflictions arise – As they endanger myself or others – May I strongly confront and avert them.
- When I see beings of unpleasant character, Oppressed by strong negativity and suffering, May I hold them dear – for they are rare to find – As if I have discovered a jewel treasure!
- When others, out of jealousy, Treat me wrongly with abuse, slander, and scorn, May I take upon myself the defeat And offer to others the victory.
- When someone whom I have helped, Or in whom I have placed great hopes, Mistreats me in extremely hurtful ways, May I regard him still as my precious teacher.
- In brief, may I offer benefit and joy t all my mothers, both directly and indirectly, May I quietly take upon myself All hurts and pains of my mothers.
- May all this remain undefiled By the stains of the eight mundane concerns; And may I, recognizing all things as illusion, Devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.