The Dalai Lama Taught Me That Believers Should Question

Posted by Shatakshi Gawade in Inspiration
February 10, 2017

It is easy to believe someone who accept that they don’t know the answer to a question and answer the rest candidly with great humour. This is something that the 14th Dalai Lama did multiple times during a public talk in New Delhi’s Talkatora stadium, with a large dollops of practical advice. As the talk proceeded, he kept bursting into laughter at his own witty observations and funny stories, with the audience joining in with genuine mirth.

I had been wound tight in my expectation of a serious, revealing and profound session. There was pin-drop silence in the 3000-strong crowd when the Dalai Lama, born as Lhamo Thondup, entered. As everyone stood motionless, one man stepped into the aisle and prostrated at least 10 times. The performers on stage, the comperes, the organisers, all approached him in adoration and touched his feet, reverently holding the hand that he offered.

After this the Dalai Lama settled on the dais and enthusiastically gestured and smiled at all the audience in the Talkatora stadium in New Delhi. I picked up the playfulness and warmth, that pervaded his interaction.

There is ample truth in the fact that one sees what one wants to. I heard him stress on environmental concerns, education, compassion and particularly on dialogue. That a Tibetan leader, though tremendously wise, was asked to speak on reviving Indian wisdom in contemporary India, struck me as ironic. Anyway, it was the 82-year-old religious and political leader’s stories and realistic answers on life matters that were the focus of the two-hour-long session.

The Dalai Lama addresses Global Buddhist Congregation in Delhi
Photo Credits: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

“We are biologically equipped with karuna (compassion),” he said. Babies, new beings without any biases, respond most easily to compassion, he shared; as do animals like dogs and cats. The moment he pointed out these simple facts, I saw the power of compassion, and empathy, with a reaffirmed belief. To add to this, scientists have found that it’s compassion that keeps the immune system healthy while stress makes it weak.

The Dalai Lama spoke passionately about how education is the key, but modern education coupled with the brain is equivalent to a source of trouble

True, for so many reasons and an important one, that I wholeheartedly agree with. The Dalai Lama pointed out that the existing education is only about material value. The education system leads us to work that contributes to this superficial mentality, which ultimately contributes to a life which is only about chasing more; a bigger house, a fancier car, a variety of clothes.

The Nobel Laureate candidly shared his lifestyle and routine with the rapt audience – he wakes up at 3 in the morning, sleeps at 6, meditates for 4-5 hours, has a 16-year-old cat, and reads voraciously. For me, the best part of his lifestyle is his incessant analysis and investigation into what is read and believed. “Even the Buddha said ‘Don’t accept what I preach because of devotion. You must experiment with and question my teachings’,” he shared. “For this,” he continued, “You need different, even contradictory, views. One can practice analytical meditation,” he recommended.

A friend shared that he has lived and experienced what the Dalai Lama was talking about, increasing my belief in him. I believe him when he says, “I love to smile,” and that it’s important to impart positivity and joy to everyone you meet. I believe him when he says that the mind must be trained for happiness. I believe his belief that there will be no need to kill or bully if your interest becomes my interest. And I also believe him when he says, “It is the time for reconciliation. And so, we must make this the Century of Dialogue.”

I had gone in to listen to an international leader, I came out a believer keen to investigate and share happiness.

The full talk can be found here.