01.01.2012 Spirituality

Take a Pledge

Jeremy Ball asks what better guide can we have in these turbulent times than His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

As we enter the fabled year 2012, whether it's just another arbitrary click on the wheel of time or an opening in consciousness, it marks another opportunity to be of service - service to something beyond your own personal needs of survival and self appreciation. And as we slide into this New Year, a great man of our times, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, sits in the auspicious place of Bodh Gaya - Buddhism's Jerusalem, not where the great master was born or passed over but where the Buddha "woke up" to blaze a path to nirvana for all of us to follow. The Dalai Lama will be teaching the Kalachakra (the wheel of time) to likely 200,000 people who will have travelled from all over the world to sit at his feet and receive his blessings.

His Holiness is fast becoming perhaps the most famous person in the world and easily the most universally respected. He is, in one contradictory embodiment, the essence of holiness and ordinariness; a perfect reflection of reality, both wave and particle in the same instant. If you were one of the many Australians wise and fortunate enough to attend a public talk during the Dalai Lama's 2011 tour of Australia, you will have experienced this contradiction - one moment expressing the most profound teachings in the simplest of language with such feeling to bring tears to the eyes of 12,000 strangers (as was the case in Perth), and the next, candidly laughing at his own toilet habits or poking fun at his own lack of realisation.

As you are drawn towards his light heartedness and "hugs charisma", it is worth reminding yourself that you are in the presence of possibly the greatest current sacred warrior, one who has faced incredible turmoil and change. His nation has faced and continues to face immense persecution and yet remains resolute and seemingly untainted by such pressures. The Dalai Lama does honour to the archetype of the good king.

Since the age of 14 when he was enthroned as the spiritual and temporal leader of his nation of six million people who were facing invasion and genocide at the hands of the world's most populace nation and the world's largest army, the Dalai Lama has been walking the path of the sacred warrior with aplomb. He is an example to each of us of how to stay resolute in the face of oppression and to fearlessly tread the path of the just, whether that stance is supported or not.

But more, much more than being a martyr, the Dalai Lama has shown us how to confront our persecutors, even our enemies, and engage with them without malice. If we stoop to malice or anger or hate, whether in our actions or our thoughts, the work of the sacred warrior has failed and the "dark side" has won. This isn't to say we don't feel the darker emotions, but rather than act from them, we see them for what they are and revert to acting from a place sourced by the higher attributes. Nor does it mean limply folding in the face of conflict into a gooey ball of false compassion to let injustice win the day.

Rather than defeat our enemies, our role as sacred warriors is to engage our enemies and those whose minds have been deceived by their propaganda to return their hearts and minds to alignment with good values.

I have often been touched by the stories of the Dalai Lama's compassion to the Chinese and not just friendly Chinese people or students, but to many of their leaders. I have often heard him speak in favourable terms of Chairman Mao, a man whose leadership consigned more people to the grave than Hitler and Pol Pot combined. Chairman Mao, who forced Chinese people to reduce the size of families, did his bit by having only 10 children with four wives.

Wicked rulers place rules over their subjects that don't apply to themselves, while the good and just of heart demand the highest standards of themselves and encourage rather than force this over others.

There can be no better example of this than His Holiness who rises at 3am each day to exercise his spirit, mind and body so that he may be of greater service to those around him and source his actions from a place of wisdom and compassion. His Holiness, who is now 76 years old and relinquishing his leadership role with the Tibetan Government in exile, continues to work tirelessly for the liberation of his people who still face relentless persecution in Tibet.

But more than that, he has become a world teacher, moulded and shaped by reality; one who is resolute in holding the highest values in his heart even in the face of the toughest oppression.

I often turn to this quote by His Holiness for strength and encouragement:

Never give up
No matter what is going on
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
Is spent on developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Develop the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But to everyone
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up
Tenzin Gyatso, XIV Dalai Lama

Whatever your path or your cause, I pray that compassion and strength walk beside you and through you so that you neither falter in the face of oppression nor bring hate into the world, but rather open the hearts of your comrades and enemies alike.

And I encourage you, as we enter this New Year of 2012, to take a pledge for one cause, just one cause, whether to give $10 a week to feed a starving family or sponsor a child to school or volunteer some hours with in your community. Whatever draws your heart, make a pledge to help something outside yourself, something greater than yourself and with that pledge, the spirit of all the great sacred warriors will join with you, so you may do something useful and of lasting value in the world. And when you face challenges or boredom, remember the words of His Holiness and keep going, for you are in service to the Divine and your contribution, while seemingly small, is very significant.

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