HIS HOLINESS, the DALAI LAMA IS 75 TODAY. I feel like one of the most fortunate people alive to have had the opportunity to have studied with him, to call him teacher, and to have taken my vows with him. No, I did not have my head shaved or don Buddhist robes, not THOSE vows, I took what are called the Bodhichitta vows, or often called, in simplicity, the vow to do no harm.
Generating the Awakening Mind
With a wish to free all beings
I shall always go for refuge
To the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
Until I reach full enlightenment.
Enthused by wisdom and compassion,
Today in the Buddha’s presence
I generate the Awakening Mind
For the benefit of all sentient beings.
As long as space remains,
As long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
And dispel the miseries of the world.
On a daily basis, I repeat those vows and struggle to live with the 5 Precepts -
- Abstain from killing any living beings.
- Abstain from taking what is not given.
- Abstain from sexual misconduct.
- Abstain from lying and false speech.
- Abstain from the consumption of intoxicants and drugs.
The hardest of these is Number 1, as it includes mosquitoes, ticks, flies, etc. The other 4 are a piece of cake!
The Dalai Lama is, without a doubt, the holiest living man I know of. No, we do not worship him… but he is greatly revered. To have the opportunity to study under him, if only for 6 days, well, it still blows my mind that I was so fortunate. I know, I said that before and I still feel it is totally understated. I also have several other teachers, but by taking those vows with him, he is considered my primary teacher.
He exudes happiness, a sense of Peace, an understanding that just cannot be put into words. He has an amazing sense of humor. I remember one time he was telling a joke in Tibetan. None of us knew Tibetan, but he had us laughing right along with him before his translator told it in English. Then we got to laugh all over again!
Let me also remind those of you who don’t know or don’t remember from your college philosophy classes, Buddhism is a philosophy more so than a religion. Can you be a Christian and a Buddhist? Yes, it is possible. A Muslim and a Buddhist? Yes… But one great difference is, Buddhism does not tell you that you HAVE to BELIEVE anything if it does not make sense. It begs you to think for yourself, not just accept things on blind faith or because someone told you that you would go to hell if you did not believe. However, the concepts of Heaven and Hell become much clearer, and surely by living in such a way as to do NO harm to ANY living being has got to improve your chances of “getting into Heaven” than not.
But my point is not to explain Buddhism here. There are many wonderful sites if you just google Buddhism and check out the many links. My point here is to honor the Dalai Lama on his 75th birthday, and share my gratitude for having had the opportunity to not only have been in his presence, but to have “bumped” heads with him in honor as he “blessed” my khata, and placed it around my neck. Yep, just like that. Sigh.
If you want to read about my class with His Holiness, you can find it at
Happy Birthday, Tenzin Gyatso. May you stay until Samsara’s end.