The Dalai Lama just waved at me with his piece of bread!
I excitedly pick up my own piece and wave it back at him, showing that we’ve already received the traditional chapati in our seating section.
He chuckles and gives another little wave, acknowledging that he has understood me.
After completing my ten day trek through Zanskar, I was told that the Dalai Lama was about to arrive in the area for three days of teaching.
I’d been staying in a monastery built into a cliff for the past three days. It was located in a quaint village a few hours away. As if that experience wasn’t cool enough, I then watched as His Holiness arrived this morning in a helicopter and was greeted by hundreds of his own people, the Tibetans.
There were villagers of all ages, many of whom had walked great distances to arrive, and the assortment of traditional clothing was impressive to see.
Though I was lucky enough to see him speak in my hometown in Oregon several years ago, seeing him speak at this small outdoor venue amongst his own people was definitely more impressive.
Once we watched him arrive, everyone crowded into their sections around the stage. Hundreds of monks sat in lines upfront, and the traditionally dressed villagers crowded behind them.
The half dozen foreigners in attendance got to sit up front right next to the stage the Dalai Lama was presenting on, simply because we needed an English translation (lucky us!).
Occasionally, His Holiness would look over to our section, say something in English, and wave. I couldn’t have been luckier to be so close.
He also talked about the fact that in today’s world, we need to become “21st century Buddhists” (or whatever religion you are) which, he explained, means forgetting the ritualistic acts that no longer hold meaning in order to focus instead on truly understanding and practicing what you have been taught.
He then went on to address his own people, and though I couldn’t understand the Tibetan literature, sitting so close to the Dalai Lama surrounded by chanting villagers in colorful headdresses and robes seemed the perfect combination for happiness.
After hearing the Dalai Lama speak, it is no wonder these people live devout, peaceful, and spiritual lives as it is obviously the way to happiness.
Shirine Taylor is a 20-year old female traveler currently cycling around the world, and a regular contributor to The Happy Passport. Follow her journey at awanderingphoto.wordpress.com.
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Highlights from His Holiness the Dalai Lama's recent talk in Zanskar:
1. "Everyone, not just Buddhists, needs to understand religious tolerance, compassion, and love in order for our world to function."
2. "In today's world, we all need to become 21st century Buddhists" - in other words, scarp meaningless rituals and focus instead on deeper spiritual understanding and practice.
Want to dig deeper? Go for it!