Brush with the Dalai Lama

My younger self read a book called, “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”.  At the time, I was interested in reincarnation and death, (Whatever. Isn’t everyone curious about how we are going to exit?) so I hunted the book down and sat in my room and read it. It was a grueling slog of a read and I don’t think I understood most of it. What I did I get out of the book was an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and the mystery of the Lamas. Seed planted. 

Many years later, my friend and I scored free tickets to see the Dalai Lama at Florida International University. We jumped at the chance.  As I watched him walk onto the stage, I was so excited I think I lost my breath for a second. His presence was “light”. He was not distracted. He was singularly focused on the moment. He was delightfully happy and giggled a lot. I was inspired and in disbelief to have been in his presence for a hour (while he made fun of the American educational system in front of all the fancy, Hogwart’s robed professors who sponsored his talk at the University. Damn, the balls there.) He was like the honey badger. He did not give a “shit”. 

So, here is the crux. My friend and I were walking back to the car, chattering animately about our experience of a lifetime. We were at a crosswalk and then a limo turns left not five feet in front of us. We look and there he is…waving like mad and smiling at us. We waved back and said, ” Hi, Dalai Lama!” My friend and I were the only ones at the corner. It’s not like we were a huge crowd waiting to see a glimpse of him as he left. We were two people and he gave us more love in that moment than I’ve ever received from a stranger. He shared his love as if we were family. 

That moment has been my place setting for who I want to be in my life ever since. Happy, present, authentic and smiling. As a result of this encounter the first thing I did was to begin detaching myself from the desire for material things.

That was 21 years ago. Now, I’m the opposite of a hoarder. 

Want to take a baby step into minimalism? Go into your closet. Pull out all the things you haven’t worn in the last year. Take them to the Goodwill or a domestic violence shelter. And level up the donation by not telling anyone.


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