March 26, 2013

Struggling with the Here & Now? I’ve Got an Idea.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

“Stay committed in your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach” ~ Tom Robbins

As we race through life in the opposite direction of our problems it takes real courage and self-control to turn back around and face them. And I don’t mean every once in a while, I mean every-single-time. It’s tough isn’t it? I’m really struggling with the every-single-time bit and to work through it I have been reflecting back. Searching for the pot of gold that is supposed to be found under that rainbow of taking responsibility. And the gem I found there, what I remembered, well I just had to share…

Whilst shooting footage in Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama in exile, we came up against a problem. Access to His Holiness with a camera is restricted for his safety. This means that everyone who enters his teachings is searched for electronic devices & any found are taken away. However a big part of our video needed to included His Holiness so we were stuck.

Then good friend of mine who is a choreographer and used to shooting videos encouraged me to get in touch with Namgyal monastery which is the Dalai Lama’s monastery. Namgyal archives have hundreds of hours of footage of His Holiness so I got onto them straight away. After showing them our trailer as it was then, they were impressed and happily gave us some footage to add to it based on the fact that the video is freely available for public viewing, which it is.

On the back of this venture I have now struck up a friendship with a Tibetan lama called Lobsang who is part of the Dalai Lama’s personal film crew. Keen to swap ideas, footage and music he requested that we meet in person next time I was in Dharamsala. Finally had time to meet up and as the Dalai Lama had just come back from his European tour I knew Lobsang would be in town also. After a brief chat he said he would call me back with an appointment to go down to his office that evening but instead he calls to tell me the Dalai Lama is holding prayers the next day at his temple and that I should go down.

Not many people knew this was happening, especially foreigners and I felt absolutely blessed to have another opportunity to be in the presence of His Holiness and even more so when he is holding a ceremony. Seven o’clock the next morning I am down at the temple still now quite believing I will get in. I bring along a thanka I bought for a friend, which is a sacred Tibetan painting that can be used in meditation practice. When His Holiness is in town it is sometimes possible to get items blessed by him personally. Much to my delight I get past security and head straight for the office to find that the Dalai Lama will be blessing items that day and my thanka is whisked away into his palace.

Photo by Robbert Van Der Steeg

I then found a nice seat, which allowed me to see the Dalai Lama as he was walking past and although the ceremony was short, the energy of his heart was immense. Being near him all my worries and troubles just seem to melt away as I take in his blessings from his heart to mine. When the ceremony was over as he was walking past he stopped to talk to an old Tibetan man who was sitting in front of me. He asked the man what age he was and upon receiving the reply he blew on the mans head for a few seconds. Words can’t describe what my feelings where in that moment. Afterwards I looked around at all the Tibetans and they were all gazing at the old man in awe and no doubt wishing it were them as I was!

As a Westerner who has witnessed this firsthand two thoughts came to my mind as I reflected on the experience. Firstly what is it that the Dalai Lama can possibly see that we just can’t? Is that old man near his time and did His Holiness spot that as he walked past? And secondly the act of blowing on the old man in front of all of those people demonstrated to me the deep belief His Holiness has in his own abilities as a reincarnated master to make a difference with his blessings.

As I look back and see the chain of events that got me to be in such a precious position in Dharamsala I am blown away as it all began with a seemingly annoying problem. And the really crazy thing is that afterwards when I got back to my hotel and looked in my bag I found my video camera in it, which had gone unnoticed by security and myself!

Maybe it’s worth you taking the time to reflect on how problems in your life have led you into a privileged position. The next time something doesn’t quite go to plan instead of looking at the negative side, accept it, try to create something new from that point and when it has passed don’t forget to search for that sliver lining.


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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