Recently I had the opportunity to hear His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama speak in Dallas as part of the Hart Global Leaders Forum at SMU. The Dalai Lama, renowned spiritual leader of Tibet and a Nobel laureate, received an honorary degree and delivered a special lecture to an auditorium full of school children, college students and local business leaders. The Dalai Lama overall was a funny yet poignant man who truly embodied the spirit of humility for which he is most well known.
The Dalai Lama’s lecture was well-received by the audience and focused on the tenants of his service and his thoughts/perceptions of some of the most pressing human rights issues facing our society today. He was quick to point to the younger children in the auditorium and tell them that they will soon have to get serious to face the issues that our generation has left them with after which he pointed to the college students and advised them to not make the issues worse. He truly believes that democracy is the pathway forward and he applauds the US for sustaining our democratic way of government and defending it so fervently.
What was most interesting to me was the last few questions His Holiness took from the young school children at the end of his lecture. The first student asked the Dalai Lama what is favourite place in the world is seeing as he has been to so many places. Instead of picking an exact location His Holiness explained to the child that while he has traveled the world many times and has seen so many interesting places (some hot, some cold, some windy, some wet, some friendly, some not-so-much) he truly feels most at home wherever he is at that very moment in time and has no connection, physical or otherwise, to a specific location. He further explained that he feels love and warmth from the people around him and the receptions he receives and as such he does not view a place by its geography but rather by its people. He told the student that simply being in the same place as him made him feel special and blessed and hoped that his message would carry forward with the student throughout the rest of their life.
The last question came from another student who asked how he became the Dalai Lama and if he truly felt he was. The Dalai Lama replied with a story around how the Dalai Lama is selected and the vetting criteria and ended by saying “you know, I think overall I was just lucky to have picked the right toys!” With cheers and laughs from the audience the Dalai Lama took his bows, presented his gifts and headed off stage back to the airport.
I think the lessons from the Dalai Lama are spot-on: (1) be happy where you are (2) find happiness in the people, not places or things and (3) pick the right toys (with a little bit of luck to guide you along). I’m so happy I got the opportunity to meet The Dalai Lama and hear an incredible lecture from a very special man.