The Dalai Lama Teaching in Mcleodganj
Maroon coloured robes and everlasting smiles surround me here at the Dalai Lama temple complex. As I walk through amongst them, the monks gently move their upper body to create a path for me. One of them indicates that there is space for me to sit next to him. As put my cushion on the concrete floor to sit on, he quickly slides his jandals under it so that I have extra padding. I want to thank him but he is now chanting a mantra with his hands in prayer, completely oblivious to my acknowledgement of his kindness.
The two-storey temple is filled with monks, nuns, Tibetans, and tourists for the Dalai Lama Teaching. The resident monks sit inside the huge alter near the big Buddha and chant a mantra. Others join as they settle down. The constant low sound of the mantra is very calming. At 8:30 am, the mantra fades and is replaced by a song. I have no idea what the lyrics are, but I instantly know that the Dalai Lama is about to enter the building.
And there he is
The TV screens around the temple show him entering the property through the tall black iron gate with ten others, including an armed bodyguard in an Indian army uniform. He walks slowly, smiling at everyone. He often raises his hands to wave. I feel the strong force coming up from the ground floor, and through me, as he climbs up the stairs. I am feeling tearful in this energy. The tourists stand up to get a glimpse of him, but the monks are still sitting cross-legged with their hands in Namaste (prayer). Even though their sit bones are on the floor, their upper body leans towards the staircase to catch a sight of their master.
The Dalai Lama finally reaches the second floor, where I am sitting. The whole place is silent and everyone carefully watches his every move. He is still smiling. I see some light around his body. Then I notice that some of the monks around me are in tears. Instead of wiping down their faces, they just let the tears flow down their cheeks. I have never been to a place like this. I have never witnessed anything like this. Silent, peace, emotional, quiet happiness, unison, love and respect. Even these words fail to describe the energy that is present.
As he starts teaching in Tibetan, I quickly adjust my FM radio frequency to listen to the translated version. His teaching is witty, and there are giggles from the crowd every now and then. He then suddenly stops to have a cup of sweet chai and bread. He takes a few small bites of his bread, sips tea and for no apparent reason, he giggles. The young resident monks walk around with huge buckets of bread and pots of tea offering the visitors a snack.
Kindness without expectation
There is a group of nuns behind me. One of them suddenly pokes me on the shoulder to tell me to move. I then realise that her and her friends are telling me to sit on the edge of their mat. The space is so tiny my right knee is still on the concrete floor. I don’t mind it at all. But then one of them place her shoe under my knee for extra cushioning. And another asks me if I’m OK. I give them the Indian style nod and smile to indicate all is good. The same lady then pokes on the Israeli man sitting in front of me to tell him to zip up his jacket pocket. His wallet is about to fall out. Smiles all around.
During the 3 hours of teaching, I experience so much love and compassion from the people around me. Love and compassion have no borders. No language or religious belief is required. It is no coincidence that today’s topic is about love and compassion.
Only journalists have permission to take photos during the teaching. But I don’t need any photos to remember what I saw today. It will forever be in my memory.