Dalai Lama Speaks in Anaheim – City of Kindness – Yoga Sol is There
Yoga Sol instructors Christine Chiu, Monica Valdez and I had the special opportunity to hear world leader, the Dalai Lama speak last month in Anaheim at the Honda Center. Powerful, moving and truly a meaningful experience!
Christine and Monica paint wonderfully descriptive pictures below – I echo – and just share a few of my takeaways:
1) Fascinating Anaheim connection – Anaheim mayor Tom Tait has focused initiatives under the banner “Anaheim – City of Kindness”. This came to the attention of the Dalai Lama, they met, developed a friendship and thus Anaheim hosted this 80th Birthday celebration.
2) The Dalai Lama at the age of 80 carried himself with such peace, joy and energy and that his charismatic presence was truly inspiring. He is dynamic and exuberant while still completely calm and peaceful – a rarity!
3) Biggest takeaway for me was the Dalai Lama’s passion for the importance of education. He talked about change coming from deeper knowledge – seeing things with a sharper perspective. He says that “education is the key factor to achieve complete physical and mental comfort”. With such a strong educational priority in North Orange , I believe his passion for education really resonated with the group. Empowering!
4) As a person who spent a lot of years in the film and television entertainment industry, I was fascinated by the day’s program itself. A variety of stars, musicians, writers, etc. presented well wishes to the Dalai Lama as the framework of the event. I didn’t necessarily need to hear all of them talk, but I think I understand the message. The Dalai Lama recognizes that Artists and positive creative work can create powerful cultural influence. Conversely, he commented that those largely driven by materialistic values often seem to only find satisfaction with “high sensory experience” entertainment. His point was that this type of entertainment numbs and distracts more than positively inspires. The Dalai Lama again pointed to education as the gateway to getting people to see a bigger more rewarding perspectives. I appreciated the group discussion (but then I always appreciated a Fox Searchlight film over the latest “blow everything up” movie).
5) The Dalai Lama emphasized his universal message that Compassion and Kindness bring inner peace. Our Yoga Sol group took note of his emphasis on the importance of a strong healthy mind and that being critical in having a healthy body.
There is no denial. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, is a pop culture icon. I am continued to be reminded of this when I see him. Growing up in the mostly Buddhist island of Taiwan, I never imagined so many in the West would be interested in Buddhism or meeting His Holiness. Perhaps many are drawn to His Holiness because of his teachings of secular and universal message to practice compassion and spreading peace. His Holiness has a magnetic energy that draws attention and awe the moment he walks into a room, yet, his is humble and humorous and makes everyone in the audience feel at ease.
His birthday celebration was a bit unusual from his other events since many in the entertainment industry, among a few Nobel Prize Winners and Climate scientists, arrived on the stage to wish His Holiness ‘Happy Birthday’. Indeed, after the 5th speaker, I had to admit the event felt long and my mind began to judge the randomness of the event. In my mind, I judged the prestige of the celebrity guests. “How did these B-List celebrity/actor/rapper get the privilege to meet His Holiness so closely”, I thought. “This event was not what I had expected, it is getting long” I quipped in my head. Yet, the lesson of the day came from observing the presence of His Holiness. Despite the randomness and the long list of speeches, His Holiness received each speaker with warmth and connection. This energy exchange of being present and loving is beyond any effort of diplomacy others would express in his situation. It was, at that moment, I witnessed what it is like to be truly present. Not just to be present for a moment, but being present.
Finally, The Dalai Lama encourages all of us to create more compassion in the world. If possible, we use our actions to serve others, and if that is not possible, then we should avoid harming others. This reflects to the concept of ‘seva yoga’ (yoga of service) and practicing ‘ahimsa’ (non-harming). To bring more compassion to this world, His Holiness reminds us to ‘make effort, take action’ and do so continuously. This reminds me beautifully of the concept of ‘abhyasa’, the concept of continuing our practice, whether in that is yoga, or to spread compassion, or to bring our minds closer to stillness.
I had the amazing opportunity to see the Dalai Lama when I won tickets through a contest that I participated in at Yoga Sol in Yorba Linda. I had always wanted to see the Dalai Lama but never had the chance.
Now my husband and I were heading off to see the world leader. I was filled with excitement; the kind like when you’re going to see your favorite rock star in person. Upon arrival, I was shocked to see people protesting the Dalai’s visit and others protesting the protesters. I thought everyone loved the Dalai Lama, but apparently not. We just walked right past all the hoopla. I was on a mission.
Once inside the arena, we patiently waited for the grand arrival. There were a few entertainers and speeches first, and finally the Dalai himself was introduced by Ann Curry, formerly of The Today Show. A standing ovation followed and I began to sense a strong energy of peace, love, and unity. I looked around and men and woman had tears flowing down their cheeks. Later, I spoke to different people who also attended and they had the same experience. I summed it up to being in a huge space with thousands of like-minded people who had the same desires. We all just want to be happy and at peace and the Dalai is the epitome of that. We’re all looking for answers to life’s problems and here was a person who has unselfishly devoted his entire life to searching for the answers for us. We sat there, wide-eyed, all 18,000 of us. Kind of like Catholics seeing the Pope in person.
There were several speeches given by the most unsuspecting celebrities – George Lopez, Wilmer Valderama, Michael Franti of Spearhead and some others, as well as Nobel Peace Prize winners and human rights leaders and activists. All encouraging positive action; Stand up for what is right, Speak up for those who can’t, Defend those in need, Give a helping hand up instead of a helping hand down, and Show gratitude for what we have and take care of it for the future generations. No specific talk of religion, but a call to action for human-kindness.
The Dalai’s 80th birthday was celebrated with a gigantic cake and the cutest children’s choir singing. When only the people on stage got cake and the 18,000 people in the audience did not, Dalai displayed his sense of humor by telling us to “visualize” eating the cake. LOL-Dalai. He is a very simple man who carries bread in his pouch for snacks, and answers hard questions very thoughtfully and with earnest. He displayed being present by acknowledging every person. There were many, including children, that went on stage; he touched them forehead to forehead and looked them in the eye as if to say, ” I validate you”. Simple, yet powerful.
Even though the Dalai’s English is hard to understand, I made it a point to take away several key points that resonate with every human being:
- Have compassion with yourself first. Then it spreads like” 1-10, 10-100, 100-1000, soon we will build a City of Kindness.”
- Kindness and compassion should be taught to children in school as well as home.
- Instead of being angry at people who are mean to you, try to first understand them and where they are coming from; then have more compassion for them. I’ll admit this is not an easy one!
- “Our real wealth is mental. At the end of your life, think about how you benefited the world, not about your efforts to make money.” That’s a good one.
- “Cultivate constructive emotions, not destructive emotions. Then the positive constructive emotions gain strength, and the destructive emotions lose strength. Science has shown peace of mind is essential for good health. “
- Take care of your health. A healthy body leads to inner peace.
- For all the above, take action, tirelessly and endlessly.
I was impressed as The Dalai vowed to not retire. Even I felt that as his age he deserves to rest, but apparently he has more energy than people much younger than him. Perhaps it’s the motivation to spread compassion and kindness that drives him.
I left touched by the fact that I was able to be inspired in person by someone who is so unselfish and giving, not so much with material things but with hope and the will to work hard to spread a very important message – so simple, so needed, and so forgotten by many.
Be kind. To each other. To the earth. To the beings that live here.
An afternoon well spent in Anaheim – City of Kindness. Thanks Dalai Lama for all your work and inspiration! Happy 80th Birthday – we wish you joyful celebration all year!