I think anyone who has attended one of his teachings, knows that his teachings have a very interesting quality to them.

When he walks in, he calls everyone his “brothers and sisters,” and looks at the crowd like he’s looking at everyone individually. It’s amazing how he can connect with thousands of people and make everyone feel like he’s personally talking to them.

When I was living in the US, one of my co-workers and friends was a retired Navy guy. Bill was a pretty heavily built guy who was very loud and outspoken. One day he saw that I was reading a book on Buddhism. He commented that a few years ago, his daughter surprised him with tickets to the Dalai Lama and took him to the public teachings.

He admittedly says he’s not a religious person, and says he describes himself as a person that “folks in church don’t want around.”

I’m not really sure what that means, but he said during the teachings, he was really touched by His Holiness’ talks on compassion. He found himself agreeing with everything HH was saying and was shocked at how cold the world had become. He found himself crying in the middle of the teachings.

I think its very interesting that even a tough ex-military guy could find himself breaking into tears. Whenever he saw me, he’d yell out across the room that I was his spiritual brother.


Margaret: The Tea and Cookies Lady

I’ll be heading to see His Holiness in Copenhagen in a few days, and whenever I go see his HH, I think about my friend Margaret from Seattle.

When Margaret had come to our Dharma center, she was pretty new to the whole thing, but had a lot of enthusiasm. She was showing up on a lot of nights and would bring tea and cookies for us to eat after our meditations. I found myself helping her a lot, giving her one of my Buddha statues and other items to help her start her own altar.

At the time I was taking care of the center’s library, and she was always complaining that we didn’t have any prayer books available to borrow. One day I decided to order some online, and quietly snuck them into the library. She found them and then asked to borrow them. After a two weeks, she insisted on buying them. I would have given them to her for free, but it’s impossible trying to argue with her.

A few weeks later, she came with all these photos of the Dalai Lama.

Apparently, she was sending checks to India through the mail to support HH, and in return, they sent her a bunch of his photos. I have no idea how she dared to do it because Indian mail takes forever to send things, assuming it doesn’t get lost or stolen.

She came proudly into the center and put them all over the place. She was constantly talking about his HH and for someone who had never been to his teachings or was fairly new, had a lot of faith and devotion for him.

It was really something interesting.

“Sorry to say this over email…”

His HH was giving a teaching in California, and I was certain that Margaret was heading down to see him. I hadn’t seen her in 4 weeks, but I sent her an email saying that I hoped her trip would go well. I went to the teaching, and when I got back, I got an email from her sister.

Apparently, Margaret had died a few weeks before getting a chance to finally see HH. Her sister went through her stuff, and found the tickets still sitting somewhere in her apartment.

I sent an email to His Holiness and explained what happened, and one his assistants kindly replied that HH would keep her in his prayers and that they would include her in the morning prayers that the monks at Namgyal Monastery do every morning.

Usually when I can’t make a decision about whether I should go to a teaching or retreat, I usually take death and impermanence into consideration. Usually the thought of death is what tips the scales and gets me to go somewhere. I try not to take these opportunites for granted.

I’m sure when I’m sitting during the teachings, I’ll probably remember Margaret and her longing to connect with the Dalai Lama.

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