We all have heroes in our lives. One of my heroes is the Dalai Lama. So when the opportunity to attend a meditation session led by the Dalai Lama’s physician came up during my third year in the Peace Corps in Mongolia, I jumped at the chance. It was a wonderful session and afterward I waited until everyone was gone and I was left with only him, my wife and my friend Jim who was helping host the doctor. I had been following the Dalai Lama for over ten years and had always wondered what it would be like to be near him. This was the closest I had ever gotten.
“I have always wanted to talk to the Dalai Lama,” I told the doctor, a little nervous, “and I’ve been thinking about what I would ask him.”
He looked at me with a deep kindness and respect, allowing me to speak and not rushing me.
“I’ve thought about it a lot and what I would like to ask the Dalai Lama is this, ‘How can I help you?’”
He smiled at me. “That is a wonderful question,” he told me, “one of the best.”
Very calmly and with great attention to each word he looked right at me and said, “I’ve known the Dalai Lama for many decades and I think I know what he would say. He would tell you that the best way to help him is to be the best person you can be. Be the very best version of yourself. That’s how you can help him most.”
The world is a complicated place and everywhere we turn the cup of our attention overflows, but this simple wisdom, shared with me years ago, is still some of the very best I’ve heard. Am I being the best person I can be today?
This year I had a chance to publish Questions for the Dalai Lama and one of my favorite quotes from the Dalai Lama is this one:
“Today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are "news"; compassionate activities are so much a part of daily life that they are taken for granted and, therefore, largely ignored.”
I hope you don't ignore those daily activities in your life, the little things that add up and answer the question of whether you are being the best version of yourself or not.
One day I hope to speak to the Dalai Lama and I have a good feeling that it will happen, but in the meantime I'm happy.
I know that what I do, today, right now, matters.