This week, I was fortunate enough to attend an event with the Dalai Lama. That’s not something that happens every day!
The capacity crowd was there to see His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. His talk in Edinburgh, Scotland, which celebrated the 20thanniversary of the Edinburgh Lectures series, was on ‘Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World.’ It was more a series of observations interspersed with his characteristically infectious laugh than a formal speech, and rambled around the themes of compassion, positivity, humanity, respect and good intention. Following the formal part, he took (incredibly challenging and well-considered) questions from local school pupils on a range of issues related to ethics and morals.
The Dalai Lama is such a charming figure. It is hard to imagine that he and his people have been through incredible hardship and even harder to comprehend his tireless campaign for global peace, his enduring respect for fellow humans and his commitment to non-violent means. At the age of 77, he is spritely, good-humoured and incredibly vibrant. He even cheekily asked the school kids to guess his age, suggesting that he could pass for a man in his 60s. (He probably could).
The attraction of his message is in its simplicity. We would all like to hope that a life without conflict could be achieved. And he can make us believe it could. He spoke of how humans have more in common than that divides them – on a human to human level, we could all get along. No-one wants bother or conflict in their lives – isn’t it easier just to respect one another? He touched on the importance of genuine affection early in life and the vital role of mothers in providing that stabilising force to their babies. The Dalai Lama is believed by Tibetan Buddhists to be the latest reincarnation of a series of spiritual leaders who have chosen to be reborn in order to enlighten others. He didn’t stick to Buddhist philosophy or religious tenets, however: he even expounded on the theme of secularism, indicating that the secular approach – of respecting all religions as well as those who have none – was a cornerstone to avoiding conflict in the world.
The respect and admiration in the audience and on the stage for this inspirational figure in red and saffron robes created quite an emotional atmosphere and everyone was on their feet applauding loudly as His Holiness left the stage.
Who inspires you? Who would you like to hear speak if you had the chance?
This is a version of an post which first appeared on my Edinburgh blog.
(c) Lynn Sheppard