The Dalai Lama is speaking at Tulane’s graduation this weekend, as well as at a conference on resilience.
Every time I’ve seen him interviewed or heard him speak, he’s exuded this sense of serenity and he has a great, joyous laugh. The few friends of mine who have had a private audience with him in Dharamsala felt it was a transcendent moment and they felt they were in the presence of true holiness. One friend brought me back a wonderful gift: a red wrist tie blessed by the Dalai Lama. I think you’re supposed to wear it until it falls off. This may sound crazy, but I’ve saved mine for some time when I feel I really need it.
Among those in the audience at one of his three speeches over the weekend will be 19 people who were at the Mother’s Day Parade shooting last Sunday in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, according to www.nola.com. That seems fitting. What also seems fitting, in a strange way, is that he will be given an honorary degree at Tulane alongside Allen Toussaint and Dr. John. Wouldn’t you like to sit in on any conversation the three of them have? It will be musical, for sure.
I don’t agree with everything the Dalai Lama says: for example, he’s against same-sex relationships. Even though I wish he didn’t oppose them I have no doubt that he treats anyone in one that he meets with respect and compassion.
My two favorite sayings of his are: “My religion is vey simple. My religion is kindness,” and “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
The older I get, I’ve really come to believe that kindness is what matters most in this world. Sometimes when friends are thinking about setting me up and ask me what I’m looking for in a man, I’ve found now that “kindness” is the first word out of my mouth and I really mean it. It’s what I look for in all my connections. I have very few friends who say mean things, but kindness goes so far beyond that... it’s a general understanding of the suffering of others and that we are here to help make other people’s lives better. We are here to lift up others, not put them down. That means all sentient beings. As I’m writing this, I’m wondering where I put some notes I made last year when I heard a Buddhist monk speak. He talked about four basic precepts of Buddhism and compassion was at the very top of the list. If I can find it, I’ll write about it at some other time.
The second saying really goes to the heart of this blog and my daily giving. There are days when I’m embarrassed that I’m only giving $10 to a cause and think that it can’t possibly be making a difference and then I think back to when I ran a half-marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society a few years ago and I asked people to donate. I remember one person sent me a check for $5 and I was so pleased. In some ways, it meant more to me than the checks that had zeros in the amount (not that I didn’t appreciate those as well).
Most days, I realize that giving money is about so much more than the amount. With each donation I make, I am sending the charity a good intention, a wish that it succeed in its mission, that it make a difference in the world. I’m expressing a belief that by making the world a little better for people that I will never cross paths with who are fighting battles, in many cases, completely different than mine, the world will be a little better for all of us.
I hope the Dalai Lama would approve.
Today’s $10 goes to The Dalai Lama Trust. The New York-based charity, founded by the Dalai Lama in 2009, promotes educational opportunities, supports institutions working for the welfare of the Tibetian people, fosters dialog between science and religion, and encourages non-violence, among its missions, according to the website.
May 17: The Dalai Lama Trust
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137 down, 228 to go!
137 down, 228 to go!