He professes and practises love, compassion and the pursuit of happiness through making others happy. For the Dalai Lama, his life is his message, says Jamuna Rangachari
There is the Dalai Lama. And then there are other spiritual masters. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is undoubtedly the most popular spiritual guru of our times. His name is synonymous with spiritual values such as love and compassion. Popular culture resounds with references to him whenever anyone wishes to conjure up a saint, such as,"Well, I am no Dalai Lama".
Across the world, regardless of which religion or philosophy is practised, his visits generate a huge wave of euphoria, and he can rank film stars such as Richard Gere, writers like Daniel Goleman, scientists like Richard Dawson and sundry intellectuals among his disciples.
Established in his remote seat in McLeodgang, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, the Dalai Lama, in many ways, is the spiritual nerve centre of the world. In the wake of his own popularity, Buddhism has become the most popular religion in the world, particularly in the West. How did the obscure head of an obscure country like Tibet come to wield such tremendous power?
Only one who has personally seen and met the man can answer that question. His tremendous authenticity, cordiality and goodness are palpable. They enable him to make an instant connect with anyone, be it a peasant in Himachal Pradesh, a socialite in New York, or a film star in Los Angeles. By being hugely human, he summons up the humanity in all of us. That, however, is not all. When China annexed Tibet and made him as well as the Tibetan people refugees in India, he refused to take an aggressive stand to win back his nation. A follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he abides by non-violence and uses instead the Buddhist principles of compassion, non-reactivity and love to liase with China. He may not have won back his country but he has certainly prevented more bloodshed, trauma and angst into an already traumatised world. This stance earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
Ultimately, it is his huge spiritual stature that has won him the world's love and respect. While accepting the Nobel Prize, he said, “I believe the prize is a recognition of the true value of altruism, love, compassion and non-violence which I try to practice, in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha and the great sages of India and Tibet.”
Unifying the world
Central to his charisma is his capacity to unify. By affirming over and over again that
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