01.08.2015 Spirituality

Dear Dalai Lama

Jeremy Ball reflects on the Dalai Lama's influence on individuals and the wider world as he celebrates his 80th birthday

There are not too many people on this rather beautiful planet who did not know that July 6 2015 was the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday. Surely this was the most voluntarily celebrated birthday of any living person and perhaps only Christmas would eclipse it.

I had the great pleasure of spending a week with His Holiness and about 400 other students in the Blue Mountains in June and then a wonderful dreamy day at Uluru, our country's heart. Spending this extended time in His Holiness' presence reminded me why I fell in love with him so many years ago; his presence is totally infectious, cheeky, fun loving yet so focused and deep. His every action and interaction is perfect, saying the right thing in the right moment, exuding love and charm without a hint of ickiness and totally and utterly incorruptible and unflatterable.

Why is this so? Anyone who has been in the presence of His Holiness will tell you that despite constantly referring to himself as a "simple monk", a palpable energy field billows from his physical presence. It radiates each person who comes within a mile, subtly alerting them to the ultimate truth of their own lack of inherent existence, a fact His Holiness has been grounded in since early childhood and deepened though his daily practice.

The Dalai Lama rises at four o'clock each morning and undergoes a rigorous meditational practice that centres on living his life and every waking moment for the benefit of others. In so doing, each moment he is awake further erodes any sense of mental self identification and with it neuroses leave him like rats following the pied piper. And when one comes into the energy field of someone who is so clearly beyond self delusion and free to be their own essential self, it is the most liberating experience possible and with it a delightful mix of humility and hilarity arises.

So I highly recommend a regular dose of the Dalai Lama to soothe all ailments and once your neuroses have subsided to a manageable level you may like to follow his example and put your love into action for the service of other sentient beings.

This June, the Dalai Lama visited Australia for the 10th time, the first visit being in 1982. And in the 33 years since (since 2007 alone there have been six visits so Australia has been spoiled with His Holiness' presence) so many Australian hearts have been touched and opened.

And to mark the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday, Tenpa Dugdak, a Tibetan filmmaker living in exile in Australia and co-author of the beautiful book Our Tibet has created another book entitled Dear Dalai Lama. It is composed of 47 letters of appreciation from some notable (for example, Dr Bob Brown, former leader of the Greens and several current MPs including Melissa Parke, Scott Ludlum and Larissa Waters) and some ordinary Australians (me being one).

There is one particularly touching tribute by Xiaogang Zhang, a Chinese dissident living in Adelaide who was originally brought up to despise His Holiness by the Chinese Communist Party (CPP). Xiaogang left China due to his opposition to the CCP and eventually met His Holiness in Australia and wholeheartedly found the CCP propaganda to be beyond false.

The theme throughout the tributes returns to what a great example His Holiness is and how he has inspired people both to make a greater contribution to society and to enjoy themselves along the way by "widening the circle of friendship". I think this sentiment is encapsulated perfectly by Chris Hooper (whom many NOVA readers will know), whose letter is the last in the book and the final sentence sums it all up: "I've been extremely nourished by Your Holiness' teachings, stories, words, faith and hope for your continued middle way approach, a peaceful warrior, that I have had the honour to listen to, sit before and learn from - each time I am moved to tears - even writing this short piece, has brought tears! The impact you have had on my life has been deeply profound and always deeply moving."

When I first came in touch with His Holiness, I was a trumped up, ego inflated spoilt white boy. I was not calling anyone His Holiness not even the sporting gods of my youth, but very shortly on coming into the Dalai Lama's presence I knew I had been touched by something out of this world that should be in this world a great deal more. Any false vanities melted away in the presence of true nobility and I now only want to speak of or think of His Holiness in the most reverential of terms, a very humbling and liberating experience in itself.

Journalist and author Liz Deep-Jones wrote, "I had the great honour of meeting you in Perth, Australia in 2011 and again in Sydney in 2013. I was immediately struck by your calm nature, childlike qualities and infectious laughter. I was very nervous yet excited to meet you. I'm not religious or a follower of Buddhism but I was overwhelmed by your presence and to my surprise tears rolled down my cheeks. I mumbled, "Tashi Delek". To put me at ease you giggled and said, "Think of me as your friend for I am just a simple monk." You are more than a simple monk to millions across the globe. You are changing lives for the better by leading your life with such great humility and kindness … even to those who are stifling your homeland and your people."

The Dalai Lama who was born to a farming family in a very small and remote part of Tibet has risen to be the living conscience of the world yet has retained the charm and simplicity of the village boy. And I am very happy to report that at 80 years of age the Dalai Lama has more energy than most teenagers. He talked and joked non stop during the recent Australian tour with a schedule that would embarrass most Prime Ministers too. To me it seems that unburdened by the political role he once held for Tibet, the Dalai Lama is now freer to pursue spiritual practice and public engagements for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Long Live the Dalai Lama

You can get your copy of Dear Dalai Lama at www.gleebooks.com.au

You can view some of Tenpa's film work here https://vimeo.com/user35282219

Jeremy Ball

At 26, following a “shamanic intervention”, Jeremy closed his business and left London to visit sacred sites and elders, later creating Transformational Tours and SacredFire.

When not roaming mother earth, you will find Jeremy at home in Byron Bay's hinterland, playing with his children and planning the next adventure. jeremy@transformationaltours.com.au