In October of last year, I went to Emory University to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I had procured tickets to one of the lectures in the series called The Creative Journey long in advance and was looking forward to such a humbling experience. I’m not too sure how, but I somehow ended up with tickets to another lecture called The Professor’s Hours which was to occur earlier in the day. Are you kidding me? I was seriously going to be in a fairly intimate setting with His Holiness all day?
I am not a religious person. I was raised as a Catholic but I can say with 100% clarity that I am not a Christian. However, that’s not to say that I am not a believer in something. I call myself an Agnostic Buddhist. Agnostics do not deny an existence of a “god.” They merely accept that it’s clearly impossible to determine if there is such a being or a concept. Buddhism is a practice of seeking enlightenment through conduct, wisdom and meditation. Though many view Buddhism as a religion, I view it in a more macro and holistic capacity. To me, Buddhism is a philosophical way to lead your life. When I add agnosticism to that, I see myself as leading a spiritual life in which I seek enlightenment through the positive choices I make, through the mistakes I learn from, through the wisdom I gain and through meditation while not accepting or denying an existence of “god.”
I used to consider myself an atheist until something miraculous happened in my life. Serendipitous events led me to a person who held my hand in hell, who spoke to me in a heavenly language that I understood and who saved my life while I saved his. Trust me when I say it’s one hell of a tale. I have to believe that there was something magic going on that brought us to each other. I have to believe that we saved each other for a cosmic purpose.
I sat in the seventh row and directly in front of His Holiness during The Professor’s Hours. How can one describe being in a room with His Holiness? I was so close that I could see all of his mannerisms and I was able to make out most of what he was saying. His accent is tough to understand. This might be the strangest adjective to use in describing The Dalai Lama but I will use it just the same: cute. His laugh and his facial expressions brought a child-like innocence to his immense wisdom and, yes, he was cute. During the second lecture, Richard Gere and Alice Walker joined His Holiness for a discussion on spirituality and creativity. I was truly taken aback by Gere’s intellect. What I enjoyed most about this lecture was watching the true friendship between a Hollywood actor and a man who took control of Tibet at age 15 and who is considered one of the most impactful spiritual leaders of our time. It’s evident that these men have a deep regard for one another.
I am adding both videos to this blog. Thank you to Emory University for posting them. Please, if you have the time, watch them…or even parts of them.