Lunch with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

On April 26 I had the unique opportunity to be one of eighty guests who enjoyed lunch with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Loyola University after he spoke to a crowd of 4,000 people about the importance of non-violence and human compassion.

Sitting in the second row, I had a clear view of the sacred chants, musical performances, and three high school students who read their award-winning essays in response to the Dalai Lama’s question:

“How can an attitude of non-violence counteract the prevalence of violence in our families, in our communities, and in international relations; and how can we as individuals cultivate and promote such an attitude?”

A humble man with a contagious smile, the Dalai Lama describes himself as, “A simple Buddhist monk.” Currently 76, he was proclaimed the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of 4 and became Tibet’s leader at 15. In 1959 he made a harrowing escape from Tibet over the treacherous Himalayans as the Chinese made a violent grab for power. He now resides in Dharmsala, India.

Never once using notes, the Dalai Lama spoke from his heart, calling on young people to lead the world toward peace. He said, “Concern should not be rooted in religion, rather, the focus should be on understanding.” And while his message was serious, he also shared stories that made the audience laugh:

His eyes sparkled with mischief as a recounted being a toddler riding on his mothers shoulders and using her pigtails to “steer” her in the direction he wanted to go in the event she wasn’t listening to him.

When he was ten or so, he and his older brother were not interested in studying—they liked to “goof off.” His spiritual teacher came to the conclusion that two “whips” were needed: a regular one for his brother, and a “holy” one for him (his was painted yellow). With a grin, he assured the audience that a “holy” spanking hurts just as much as a regular one.

In his message of hope the Dalai Lama shared:
“Change must start within one individual.”
“The future depends on the present.”
“The difference between violence and non-violence resides in the heart.”
“When we exercise a compassionate view, we let go of anger.”

In my perspective, the Dalai Lama is the embodiment of goodness. If we all emulated his compassionate attitude—one that is positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing—the world would be a very different place.

What’s one change that you can make for the better?


86 thoughts on “Lunch with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

  1. Laurie,

    Good Morning, Happy May Day!

    What a wonderful opportunity for you and the other 79 persons who had the honor to be in his Holiness’s presences.
    Some great quotes that you shared, and each one a practice that must come from the heart if change is to truly come about for the healing of planet.

  2. His Holiness is an embodiment of simplicity and authenticity.It is marvellous you had the chance to listen in person up-close.
    Most of the time we are waiting for things outside of us to change.

  3. Hi,
    That would of been fantastic to be able to listen to him speak, an incredible experience, one that of course will never be forgotten, how very lucky you were. 🙂

    I have only heard the Dalai Lama speak on TV but he has always come across as so knowledgeable, and he always seems to be able to make people feel at ease around him.

    • Magsx2 – I think it’s his easy presence that puts everyone around him at ease (except, of course the secret service that were in evidence everywhere – they were clearly on alert).

  4. I saw the documentary “Bully” yesterday. Certainly one–person-at-a-time compassion could work wonders in schools, school buses and families.

  5. A lovely review of a memorable experience, Laurie … a spiritual path is always intriguing. And the teachings that flow from it. May his voice be heard for many years to come. And may everyone eventually find “that” voice within. Thanks for sharing this. With heart, Daisy

  6. “A humble man with a contagious smile… His eyes sparkled with mischief…” – things I love dearly about this compassionate and wise man. Laurie, thanks so much for sharing the highlights of your lunch with the Dalai Lama – what a blessing you received!

  7. What a wonderful review of such an amazing event. I am always amazed at the way we (including myself here) make things so very complicated, when in reality peace and happiness are truly very simple. I am so grateful that you of all people got to share this once in a lifetime experience. I cannot think of another person who deserved this blessing more. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  8. Good morning Laurie, I’m so happy that you were able to participate in such a wonderful opportunity! I can never see him without having good feelings come to me.

    A couple of changes have come into my life. My boyfriend Spiro. We help each other immensely with the focus on kindness toward each other and the others around us. We have found the Unitarian church which we feel jives with our spiritual path. And last my sister and I have decided to pitch in together to help a youngster in most likely Africa through her church. I watched a couple of movies this past weekend that were inspirational in that push for me. Oh my God and Baracka. Julie told me as she was looking at the names of the children and no one was around her at the table, she was wondering in her head how she would ever afford to do this for the child when they barely have enough money to live. Her purse was on the table and she said it lifted off the table a bit. She said she quickly looked in back of her to see who had lifted it up. No one was there. I asked her if her resident ghost Alice may have done so. But she decided that the holy spirit lifted it up and that it meant for her to move forward and she would find the money somehow. She told me about it and I suggested that she have someone share in the cost and then realized that person was me! I was thinking about it on the way home from work and wondering if I should partiticpate when a butterfly flew right over my car. Ok okay I realize that the butterfly just happened to be there at the time and Julie’s purse is unexplainable but it’s pushing us in the right direction!

    Have a wonderful week!!!!

  9. I wish everyone could hear the Dalai lama’s words of peace as you did, Laurie. I am sure the world would be a much brighter, safer place. My mother’s words come back to me so often, that we should do to others as we would like to have done to ourselves. If everyone remembered that, there would be more kind words spoken than angry ones. There would be less violence and war. If we thought of the person next to us as a friend first instead of a scary stranger, give them a smile instead of a frown, things might be a lot better. Thanks for sharing your extraordinary experience! 🙂

  10. So, so very happy you had the opportunity to have that experience. I’ve shared a link to this blog in my Living Metaphysics community on Ning, in our Non-violent Communication group.

    Namaste –

  11. Laurie what an experience and so beautifully told. I want to contemplate my one change I can make for the better. I shall back to you by no later than the end of the day with this.

      • You are most welcome Laurie and I have decided… I am going to take more time to giggle and be silly – I tend to take my life way to serious and then make things equally too serious for those around me – it is like this… Lighten UP Already 🙂 Sounds simple but it is harder than it looks to practice taking the emotionally lighter road to living. This is the most profound piece I took from your write up of your lunch Laurie… all the laughing while talking about serious things. I have decided I this the one thing I change for the better. Thank you for the tough question and the inspiring post.

  12. What an amazing opportunity. I didn’t know the story about his escape grom the Chinese. I guess he embodies Ghandi’s admonition that we should “be the change” we “want to see in the world.”
    Fabulous post!

    • Kathy – I can highly recommend, “Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of The Dalai Lama.” It provides the nitty-gritty details. Here’s a snippet of an review:

      “He calmly relates details of imprisonment, torture, rape, famine, ecological disaster, and genocide that under four decades of Chinese rule have left 1.25 million Tibetans dead and the Tibetan natural and religious landscapes decimated. Yet the Dalai Lama’s story is strangely one of hope.”

  13. How fabulous! I saw him a few years back in a huge stadium – yours was the best in terms of closeness! He is so incredible! If we all had his level of compassion what a beautiful world this would be 🙂

  14. What a wonderful experience Laurie! Like Elizabeth, if feels like a blessing that was passed on to us through your time with him.

  15. You are such a compassionate person, Laurie, that you must have resonated deeply with what the Dalai Lama shared. I am so happy you were able to be present for his speech–and to share with all of us. I recently read an essay in the Best Buddhist Writing 2011 by Pico Iyer about the heart of the Dalai Lama and how traveling with him for many years has been amazing. Thank you–I would have read this earlier today but we just got back from Barry’s four week post-surgery appointment. They said he is doing great! We’re celebrating.

  16. Well I wrote my best reply and suddenly it went away – disappeared. I had to sign in as a different word press address:
    I was sharing a story to answer your question…it was about changing my additude about rejection and my present spot in life
    but mainly I said Lucky you and lucky me because you generously shared – Thank you

  17. “Change must start within one individual” ~ to me, that is the change that everyone could collectively make for the benefit of the world, Laurie. It sounds so easy, when broken down to the individual.

    Thank you for sharing this memorable event with us here. What a wonderful opportunity is was for you! 🙂

  18. “Concern should not be rooted in religion, rather, the focus should be on understanding” – truer words were never spoken. What a blessing for you Laurie, to have been chosen to be “in the orb” of His Holiness.

  19. While I am still wide-eyed at the wonderous opportunity given to you by Loyola, I am still more intrigued by this fabulous person who was honored. I will definitily do some in-depth reading about his life. You were certainly blessed to hear him and thank you so much for sharing that blessing with your friends.

    • Sandi – I’m still wide-eyed with wonder, too. Not only with the opportunity, but with the person himself who’s made such a far-reaching positive impact on humanity.

  20. I am in awe and joy for you. I so enjoyed this magical experience and all of the shares. This is so cool to feel the raw emotion. Deep Bows

  21. What a great opportunity Laurie. Thank you for sharing this. It is so important that we remember to forgive ourselves and others, to let go of our own guilt and the issue you had with the other person. It is a great sense of peace within yourself when you forgive and let go. If we could encourage the return of common courtesies there would be more peace 🙂

  22. To increase my level of consciousness, my level of awareness.

    There does not appear to be any end achievable, it seems that the levels of awareness and consciousness are potentially infinite; and it is the journey, the distant star that one steers by, the search for the ever higher, ever more subtle, ever more creative, ever more accepting, ever more loving, ever more beautiful. The creative journey, bring ideas from the realm of the imagined possible into the realm of the real.

    This is the change I can make!

    • Ted – I love the word picture you’ve painted here. “…bring ideas from the realm of the imagined possible, into the realm of the real.” Wonderful! Thank you for sharing your change here.

  23. Laurie, what a memorable and heartwarming spiritual experience. I am speechless because you captured the event so beautifully that you took my words away. Thank you for sharing and added more peace and love to my heart becauser of our friendship!

  24. Amazing! From the few things I know about the Dalai Lama already, being able to attend an intimate talk of his would be an incredible honor. I’m so happy that you were given this gift and that you shared it with us in turn! 🙂

  25. This is quite the incredible experience Laurie, and one I know you’ll treasure forever. I also greatly respect and admire the Dalai Lama, and agree that a compassionate outlook will eliminate anger and retribution during the course of our lives. Like Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama is a symbol of goodness, and a mercenary of good will among all corners of the earth. Adapting just a fraction of what he represents would be a step in the right direction.

    Anyway, congratulations on this fantastic event Laurie!

  26. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful experience and opportunity! I was blessed to take part in H.H.’s Kalachakra Initiation in DC last year, and it was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

  27. I could start with showing up on time for my life . . .

    One of my advisors at Loyola gave me this advice: whenever I am in the presence of someone who provokes an angry, judgmental, etc., response in me, I am to picture that person as who they were when they were born. That person was once a baby, who was helpless and (hopefully) loved and cared for.

    • Barbara – “Showing up on time for my life” is easier said than done, isn’t it? I love the advice your Loyola advisor gave you — it totally doable, and I, for one, am going to remember it. Thank you!

  28. Laurie, I stopped by to give you the Readership Appreciation Award, and I got a treat myself! That must have been so wonderful! I enjoyed reading it so much!! The award is on my latest post, just click and enjoy! Terri

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  30. I was so bummed out that we missed him when he passed through Ottawa last month! I was quite prepared to make the 4-5 hour drive! So glad you posted this, Laura!

  31. Wow, Laurie. What a fabulous experience! So uplifting, and how wonderful for you to share his words with your readers. How impressive, at his age, that he never once relied on notes! I couldn’t do that, and I’m not yet 40 (Ok… I’m only a few days away). Speaking from the heart is the way we should also strive to live our lives: WITH heart.

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  34. Have a good day,
    I able to attend different kind of religion , when I was young my hobby is to read the Bible , of my Grandfather , whoever or whatever the religion of the people I encounter, I respect what they believe because I myself was not sure if I was in the right belief . I know no matter what our religion, kindness still depend s on human behavior…

    One of my dreams is to meet Da Lai Lama, I think of him as man without anger or any negativity. It seems like he is a very cheerful person, always at peace, and secure.

    All I know is helping others should be from the heart, true and genuine without any expectation of something in return.

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