I saw something this morning on CBS Sunday Morning that made me want to write this blog. They did a special on the Dalai Lama and showed him with other important people in many different situations. They mentioned how his country was taken from him in 1959 and he had to flee. After such an important life and having inspired so many people, I was sad to hear what they said at the end of the show. According to the reporter, the Dalai Lama said that with all the politics, maybe there doesn't need to be a next Dalai Lama.
I believe that people need to be able to worship whatever God in whatever way their culture or religion teaches them or in the way they discover on their own later in life. Worship is private and brings us a certain comfort level. No matter what your faith is, there is most likely a leader of that faith. For example, for the Catholics, the Pope is such an important figure as head of their religion that people look to him in areas other than religion. Most religions or beliefs have a head figure, and the people who practice that religion are INSPIRED by the leader to practice their faith. I was raised a Catholic by a Father who was a strict Catholic (he went to Mass every day) and a Mother who was Catholic until later in life when she decided to learn about other religions ie. Unitarian, Buddhism, etc. I went to Catholic grade school and high school and a Jesuit College. Since I have been out of the Catholic social network, I have discovered other ways of worship that bring me peace. I have chanted SGI 'Nam Myoho Renge Kyo', the Tibetan 'Om Mani Peme Hum' and the Sanskrit 'Om Namaya Shivaya'. I don't follow any of them religiously; I chant for my spirituality and my peace, and it does help me in stressful times. I have a friend who I've spoken to recently (who I knew in college) and she now has a Buddhist room set up in her home and it brings her peace.
I still have friends who are Catholic (one has even read the Vatican Papers) and last time I was in Denver I saw the 'Cat'lic Girls'. I attended Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral when I lived in NYC. But my personal, private practices of spirituality these days seem to be more Buddhist. I chant for peace. I chant that those who are in charge of our world make good, intelligent decisions. I chant for my material well-being to return. And when I need inspiration, I look at people like the Dalai Lama who is really a leader for Buddhists and others seeking spiritual inspiration. We need our leaders; they are more important than heads of countries and heads of companies, who each have their own agenda. I cried when Nelson Mandela died, not only for me but for the millions of people to whom he was a leader. Leaders are universal, above companies and countries. They are important because they can influence our behavior, and not only spiritually. There is a picture of the Dalai Lama on the refrigerator and every time I look at it I smile. In turn, think of how many people I can have a positive influence on if I smile let alone the influence on my day. Knowing how much he has been through, and that he still has a shining smile influences me every time I look at that picture.
Yes, Dalai Lama, we need you and we need your successor. If you asked the Catholics, they would say the same about the Pope. Please stay for the benefit of all Beings!
I consider myself to be just one among 7 billion human beings. If I were to think of myself as different from others, or as something special, it would create a barrier between us. What makes us the same is that we all want to lead happy lives and gather friends around us. And friendship is based on trust, honesty and openness.
HH Dalai Lama today on Facebook