We had the incredible good fortune of hearing the Dalai Lama speak! He opened a conference in Lower Dharamsala called “In the Path of Buddha and Gandhi: A Convention for World Peace” that we just happened upon. We arrived plenty early to the Government College, and were told that the event was just for conference attendees, but if we waited around and if there was room, they’d let us in. We waited and waited, and then all hurriedly registered as conference attendees at the last minute, which included writing our names on name tags and passing through a metal detector.
Then into the college auditorium we went! The first row was reserved for His Holiness’s staff, and we sat right behind them in rows 2-4. About a hundred people filled the auditorium. At about 9:45 am, in walked the Dalai Lama through a door not 10 feet or more to our right. He immediately saw our small group of Americans standing out among the Indians and Tibetans, and he stopped to shake hands with one student and ask where we were from. His whole face was filled with his infamous smile.
He lit the candle of dignity and peace (pictured above), and the conference began.
The Dalai Lama spoke about caring for our inner hygiene — the hygiene of our emotions. He talked about bringing back knowledge itself as a subject in education. We have science, art, literature, math, and all our modern knowledge to offer us our physical comforts. But he said, we must include our ancient knowledge of our mind to improve our mental comfort.
He said that all educators in particular should revive knowledge as a subject. That it is the responsibility of all educators to inspire agents of peace in the world. That whatever the subject — be it science, art, etc — the main objective of all educators must be to inspire agents of peace. And to embody that peaceful will in the world.
The Dalai Lama was wise and inspiring, and he was also funny and joked and laughed his beautiful famous chuckle. I found myself in awe of every moment and humbled to be in his presence. He reminded each of us of the profound responsibility we carry. We as people of the world have created the world’s problems, and it is up to us to fix things. Prayer is nice, he reminded us, but do not use prayer as a way to pass off our responsibility to some other entity beyond ourselves. Rather, solutions to world problems must come from within ourselves, not without.
Today is Monday afternoon in Dharamsala, and we saw the Dalai Lama on Saturday morning. For the past two days, I’ve been ruminating on how I might best be an agent of peace, as he called it. And in the classroom, how I might inspire others towards peace. I do not yet know how to practically implement this, but I’m thinking on it. How to teach my typography and digital imaging classes and writing workshops while keeping a mantra in my mind to inspire agents of peace… More on this to come, I’m sure…
Here’s the full recording of the Dalai Lama’s speech. Sorry, it’s a little shaky in spots…