Circa. 2009 I’m sitting in my little cubicle at the University of Tasmania working on my PhD dissertation when the head of the philosophy faculty opens the door, leans in and tells me His Holiness the Dalai Lama is coming to the university and I’m invited to lunch!
It’s a surreal moment to be sure. Mainly because it was given in such a matter of fact way. This is someone that has won a Nobel prize after all. A leader of a fallen country, loved by millions, and a man of deep wisdom not to mention a wonderful sense of humour (I’ve done nothing when compared). But the head of the school simply delivers the message, and leaves. I stare off into space collecting my thoughts before I realise a colleague is staring at me. I look at her. She smiles and says, ”That’s exciting!”
I smile in agreement and we both go back to our work.
The Morning Of the Dalai Lama’s Arrival
The morning of his arrival the university was buzzing! People I’ve not seen in months are milling around the hallways waiting. Smiles on faces that normally hold anxiety. Laughter from serious philosophers. Crazy! I was still a monk at this time and people that never really spoke to me were keen to engage. Everyone was happy, quite chatty n fact, which was a little out of the norm to say the least.
Hours go by. Then we hear that he has landed in Tasmania, and left the airport. He will be arriving at the university in about 30 minutes we’re told. So we all moved outside to wait.
Standing in the car park with a few hundred invited people I’m struck by the different faces in the crowd. Old and young, female and male, hippies and business types, all chatting away loudly as they patiently waited.
30 minutes go by…40 mins…then we see the first of the security cars and federal police guarding HHDL arrive.
A deep silence fell over the crowd. It’s hard to describe it. Reminded me of swimming under water. That feeling of being in an open vast space that is still, silent and therefore calm.
He Had Curry & So Did I
I won’t bore you with the details of the lunch itself other than to say we both had vegetable curry and white fluffy rice. And yes, it was delicious.
And to be clear I wasn’t the only one at the lunch I was there with about 12 others from the philosophy department. Mostly professors and academics – with myself and a Tibetan nun representing the monastic community.
Where Does His Energy Come From?
Now you could be forgiven for asking, why am I telling you all this? So I’ll cut to the point of this article. I’ve personally met the Dalai Lama on several occasions – once during his visit to Tasmania, and once at his private residence in India when I was there researching my PhD. And on both occasions I was floored by the sheer energy of the man.
He literally goes from one meeting to the next. From a press conference, to a private meeting, to a public talk with thousands, to a meeting with a handful of local Tibetans, walking from one room to the next, connecting, communicating with people in an almost endless stream of faces. And it’s all such a joy for him.
Imagine from the time you woke in the morning until your head hit the pillow in the evening there were people wanting a piece of you – sometimes quite literally. I know for me that would be draining. Yet for HHDL this never seems like a “task” he has to complete. You never see him looked bored or disinterested. At the time he was in his 70’s. Amazing!
So where does his energy come from?
An Action Plan
The topic of energy interests me deeply. It’s something I’m actively looking into. And there’s now science and research emerging that appears to show the close link between the breath and energy.
This is, of course, something the wisdom traditions have known for thousands of years. But while I can say without a doubt that energy is closely linked to how we breathe, the details are still foggy for me. This I plan to change. Interestingly breathing and in particular breath meditation is something I’ve been taught by a Tibetan lama how to do.
Breathing meditation can appear simple. Almost like it’s just too simple to do anything of real benefit, and it’s therefore easy to dismiss.
But we also know it’s the deep subtle work that can shift perspectives the most and should therefore not be overlooked simply because it’s simple or easy.
I plan to run a series of experiments on breath work in the coming months and I will report back with results when they come in.