Monday, November 1, 2010

Dalai Lama: Example of Compassion

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
Dalai Lama

Exiled from his country at 14 years old, and assuming leadership of a persecuted and exiled people at 15, the Dalai Lama, now in his seventies, totally embodies his teachings of compassion. love and kindness. He is revered by the Tibetans as their spiritual and political leader, but the rest of the world has fallen in love with this gentle, humble man who always has a twinkle in his eyes.

I have had the honor of seeing the Dalai Lama in person three times. Each time I was deeply moved by his warmth and light-heartedness. Most recently I saw him at
the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. As he was walking up to the stage to speak, I felt tears welling up inside. They were emotional tears from being in the presence of such an inspiring person, knowing his history, and how he continues to exemplify the best potential inside each of us.

On stage the glaring lights made it difficult for the Dalai Lama to see his audience, so he dug a visor out of his bag and placed it on his head telling us he needed to see human faces to really feel he was communicating with human beings rather than looking out into darkness. This act exemplifies his passionate desire to connect with people and not to be just a figurehead. His empathy is so great that he gave the $25,000 prize he was awarded with the International Freedom Conductor Award back to the Freedom Center.

Listening to the Dalai Lama speak very seriously about issues such as human freedom and the Tibetans' right to preserve their own culture, he was always able to interject some levity with his characteristic chuckle. He never expressed anger in his voice, only wisdom, compassion and respect for his fellow human beings. His main commitment is always the promotion of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline.

The Dalai Lama is not blind to the injustices and torture that the Chinese government has perpetrated upon the Tibetans, and I am sure he feels their pain and suffering. But he does not let himself become entangled in hatred. Instead he continuously works to keep the lines of communication open with the Chinese government. He continues to lead with compassion and forgiveness. He continues to smile in the face of adversity and has become rich not in material wealth, but in the highest form of spiritual wealth that continues to inspire millions.

As you practice yoga, think of bringing the quality of compassion into your practice. Compassion requires strength and gentleness. It requires patience and love. Compassion embodies the muscular energy of hugging in and the organic energy of expanding out. Be mindful in your poses but don't force them. If you are not breathing, it is a sign to rest for a moment and bring more awareness into your practice. Let others inspire you without feeling inadequate or less than they are. Find your inner smile and let it express itself on the outside.

When asked if he was a free man after being in exile for over 50 years, the Dalai Lama replied, "Mentally, yes". We can choose our own freedom by being honest within ourselves and expressing that honesty openly with others. Compassion gives you freedom to feel good about yourself and others instead of being a prisoner of anger and negativity. The Dalai Lama can inspire us all to inject some humor into difficult situations and shower compassion on ourselves and others.

Link to watch the Dalai Lama in Cincinnatti

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