My Day with the Dalai Lama: elephant Meets His Holiness.

Via Tara Lemieux
on May 8, 2013
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“I am just a simple Buddhist monk, no more, no less.” ~ His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

It was a moment I had dreamed of all my life, I reflected, as I was whisked through our first security gate and through to a side corridor leading onto the main floor of the Comcast Arena. Our group was small, less than 20 members of the press, in total—and representing news agencies from all around this world. To my right, I caught the flashing glimpse of a CNN media badge—and quickly passing to the left of me, another team from the Voice of America.

And as we hurried off to yet another security checkpoint, doubt slipped past without notice to ask,  “So, just what do you think you’re doing here?”

Exactly the thought I had rolling around in my head these past few days. To be one of the so few media selected to participate in such a historic event—I tear up, just thinking of it, and as I reflect on the path I’ve traveled over this last most challenging year.

As our group broke through the main central door leading into the arena, and just past our final security checkpoint—I finally had a chance to breathe deeply…to take in the fullness of “just this moment, now.”

To be standing here, I am grateful.

But, to be simply standing, I am overwhelmed.

I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, as I stood looking outward and into this sea of faces staring back to me—15,000 ‘human brothers and sisters’ waiting patiently with the same sense of anticipation and wonderment currently flooding my own heart. In just a short while, His Holiness, the spiritual leader of Tibet and 14th Dalai Lama, would be joining us to share with us his own personal thoughts on compassion.

As the crowd grew still in hushed anticipation, I remember thinking, “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a silence quite this loud.”

A moment following, we were escorted, just three of us this time, to a small side door—the one through which the Dalai Lama would eventually emerge.

“This is it,” I heard another cameraman call out. And as I waited, hands fumbling over my camera lens—that traitor, doubt, came back to bug me once more. How did I get here? Maybe, I don’t belong.

As my head lowered downward under the weight of ‘not feeling quite so good enough’—I felt the sharp elbow nudge of a new reporter friend, shouting, “Hey, wake up!”

And just like that, there he was— just right there, in front of me—looking back as if I were one of his oldest, and most cherished friends. His dark eyes twinkled with the most brilliant of smiles, as he clasped his hands forward and lowered his head to bow.

“Sit down,” he said, as we all stood reverently to honor this most amazing man. “No formality! We are [the] same…The way we are born, the way we die—no formality.”

I had once heard a most magnificent story of a man whose heart was so great that it could completely transform the spirits of all those around—and just by way of sharing in his very presence.

And now, that man was standing right there in front of me—smiling back to remind me that we are one.

He was here today to share hope for this, our generation.

“That group of individuals of the 20th century are ready to say bye-bye. You have the responsibility to create a new world based on the concept of one humanity.”

He spoke continuously for 45 minutes, never once breaking passion’s stride. There were no note cards during this lecture—as these words were coming directly from his heart.

He asked us to find the means, each day, to deepen our interconnectedness. To view this world through the eyes of compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance—to extend happiness and peace even in this, a most hostile world. He offered that tragedy should serve as humanity’s reminder that change…real change…requires a constant effort.

“We spend too much emphasis on differences between us,” he said, “that we forget the oneness of humanity. If we could think more about that oneness, [our] secondary differences will be easier to resolve.”

We are all very much the same. Even in all of these, our greatest ‘differences’—we all want peace and happiness…and that, my dears, is the thread connecting each one of our human spirits.

Whether Buddhist, Muslim, Christian…or even a non-believer…at the core of every human spirit, is a most basic human need to be fulfilled—to love and be loved in return.

“You have the opportunity and the responsibility to create a new world, a happier world…on the basis of the oneness of humanity.”

Indeed, it is our role to ensure that this most precious message of tolerance, understanding, and peace be preserved—and that each of us, in some small way, may become a change agent for humanity’s greater good.

We are all very much one. Even on those days when it is that we may feel just a bit like we don’t belong.

At least, that’s what a very wise man once said to me—as he stood there with the most beautiful smile in his eyes.

Namaste, my most beautiful friends–and thank you for the gift of your light. May we all move through our days with peace in our heart and compassion in each of our steps.

Bonus: Photo Gallery Images

Photos: Tara Lemieux

Bonus Video: Dalai Lama, “Peace Through Compassion: Connecting in a Multi-Faith World.”

DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG

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Ed: Kate Bartolotta


About Tara Lemieux

Tara Lemieux is a mindful wanderer, and faithful stargazer. She is an ardent explorer and lover of finding things previously undiscovered (or, at the very least, mostly not-uncovered.) When she’s not writing, you can find her walking in the woods and sometimes changing the way we look at things, one simple moment at a time. You can contact her at via her website Mindfully Musing or, take one second to "LIKE" her on Facebook at Tara's Facebook Page. Or email her directly at [email protected]. All roads will lead to one home, and rest assured she (and Nudnick, the wonder dog) would LOVE to hear from you.


12 Responses to “My Day with the Dalai Lama: elephant Meets His Holiness.”

  1. ellen levin says:

    please take care of yourself.

  2. Tara Lemieux says:

    Thank you, Ellen… I hope to have some rest today. Much love ~ Tara

  3. Padma Kadag says:

    How nice…natural writing… just as it happened…you are so fortunate…we are fortunate…thanks

  4. Tara Lemieux says:

    Thank you, Padma ~ I hope my simple words may serve as a suitable backdrop the beautiful spirit of His Holiness…

  5. Carolyn Riker says:

    "We are all one…" such powerful words. What an amazing experience and thank you for letting us see it through your eyes.

  6. Hannah Won says:

    It feels like re-living the moment when I saw the HH Dalai Lama yesterday. Beautifully, lively written, Tara. Thank you!

  7. Tara Lemieux says:

    It was a life-changing moment for me…and was something I have had on my bucket list, "to be in the same room as His Holiness…and hopefully hear him giggle."

  8. Tara Lemieux says:

    Hannah ~ I'm so glad you were able to share that space with all of us yesterday. Thank you for the gift of your light!

  9. Allison says:

    This moved me. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing

  10. Tara Lemieux says:

    You're most welcome, Allison. Tara

  11. sociosound says:

    This made me smile so widely! I was at his teachings in Dharamsala, India over this past fall. The week before the teachings began, his 'stage crew' (all his personal and regional media, etc) get set up in his temple, and as they prepare the kalachakra temple for his arrival, offerings arrive and rooms are cleansed (physically and spiritually)… one of the things I SO enjoyed seeing was all of the media crew setting up the night before.. getting cameras ready and prepping for "the perfect shot" at different angle locations in the room… and I wondered what that must feel like to them, to be able to capture such a warm and famous smile, to know that every shot is worthy of an historical archive – to capture such important moments in [many of] his audience's lives… And now I've read your story and I know how it must feel… thank you. 🙂

  12. Tara Lemieux says:

    Awww, your comment made my day! Thank you so very much ~ it was something I shall cherish for the remainder of my life. And it seems, all those with whom I share this story…are in some way touched. I think His Holiness has a way of connecting us all ~ namaste, and much love today.