01.07.2010 Spirituality

Hero of the Heart

On July 6, the world marks the 75th birthday of our most loved and esteemed living spiritual leader. Jeremy Ball urges us to stop and reflect on our own lives on that day.

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet - it is an honour for me to type those words and conjure in my mind the being this name represents. Soon His Holiness will be marking his 75th birthday. In the three quarters of a century since his birth, the Dalai Lama has been transported from his simple hamlet in Eastern Tibet to the country's capital, then to India and now to a place of prominence in world society where my guess is the average man in the street holds His Holiness as the world spiritual and ethical leader.

The Dalai Lama's face is one of the most recognisable in the world and I am sure if there were ever a popular election for World President His Holiness would be atop many people's list.

So what is the appeal of His Holiness? I recently read a quote by Maya Angelou, the great American inspirational writer. She said that in the years to come, people would not remember you for what you said or what you did, but for how you made them feel. This as much as anything encapsulates the appeal of the Dalai Lama.

People from all walks of life flock to hear him speak and to be in his presence, and apart from delivering specific Buddhist teachings to ardent students, His Holiness speaks in simple terms as if addressing dear friends without a hint of arrogance or condescension. I have had the privilege of hearing the Dalai Lama talk on a few dozen occasions and I am always left feeling special and acknowledged (albeit that I am among a crowd of several thousand) as if His Holiness is speaking only to me. And I have heard this same sentiment echoed by many other people, some of whom don't consider themselves to be remotely spiritual.

His Holiness will often be called to speak on topics such as global warming and how to achieve peace in our world. Rather than waffle on in "grand speak", he brings the talk down to the simplest of levels of love and affection between humans, one being to another. Spirituality is suddenly very accessible and real, for while it is great to know about the chakras and their significance, it is greater still to know about the pain or joy in your neighbour's heart.

In the West, we have read about many saintly beings through the Bible and other texts, yet these people are of long ago and are almost myth or fable. Very few people have risen to prominence in our world today through peace and spiritual purity; our recent history is marked by leaders who have mainly used violence or force to bring themselves to prominence or to keep their nation alive.

Our focus for the past several hundred years has been on nation building and what we have called peace has merely been the absence of war through threat of violence or temporary victory and crushing of the enemy, until more hate arises. Here, in daily contact, we have access to a true hero of the heart who before our very eyes has met the angriest of oppressors with patience, compassion and forgiveness. In these times of the disintegration of nation states, when we realise that violence, even if in support of a grand idea, is still violence and penetrates the world with that vibration, here we have a man who radiates healing and peace.

His Holiness will turn 75 on July 6, a tender nurturing Cancerian. I feel sure to the Dalai Lama the day will be just as empty of significance as any other. But for us, students on the path of virtue, it is of great moment. Even if you read this once the day has already passed, mark it with a few moments of reflection as to how you would leave your thumbprint on the world.

Will it be a blaze of ego seeking significance at any cost, a superior career proving to yourself and others you are the best? It's not that significance or achievement are lacking in virtue, but obsession with them will cause yourself and others harm. I think the greatest way to mark His Holiness' birthday, and any day, is to show understanding and kindness to your neighbours. Let this ripple through the world like a grand Mexican wave.

Australia, a country of a little over 20 million people, has played host to His Holiness on many occasions and the Dalai Lama will once again return to Australia in June 2011 for a tour taking in several cities. Be sure to take your friends and family to see him.

The Dalai Lama's 75th year is also his 51st year in exile since fleeing Tibet at the insistence of his countrymen to safeguard his life. His Holiness has grown in this past half a century from a spiritual leader to six million Tibetan people to the ethical leader of many of the world's six billion. Yet he is still unable to return to or visit his beloved Tibet. What has been Tibet's loss has surely been the world's gain. I pray that one day the suffering of the people of Tibet will end and their offering to the world will be returned with gratitude.

His Holiness' actions and decisions are not based around what is best for him, but rather for the world at large. In fact, I am sure His Holiness would see that what is best for him is what is best for the world at large, being one and the same phenomenon.

I remember attending a teaching in Amarawati, India in January 2006. Security was high and rumours swept among the crowd that Chinese secret police and spies may make an attempt upon his life and both the Dalai Lama's personal bodyguard and the Indian army were determined not to let any such incident happen. I was among a crowd of around 100,000 attending the teaching and I remember His Holiness break the flow of his teaching for a few moments to point something out in the crowd and then return to his teaching. Apparently a man at the back of the huge crowd had a weapon and was planning on assassinating His Holiness. This incredible being is so aware that he knew the man's motivations without him coming anywhere near him. His Holiness later said in regard to the extensive security arrangements: "I cannot be killed, I have benefited too many people in too many lives, it is not possible.

"We all same human being, different colour, different race, different nationalities, different religion. Doesn't matter, we all same human being. In fact entire six billion human beings are same, mentally, emotionally, physically same....You want happy life, you want your successful life. The reality, your successful life, your happy life rely on others. Therefore you have to take care of others."

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