Last Sunday my youngest daughter, Meg, and I went to Darling Harbour in Sydney to spend the afternoon listening to His Holiness, The Dalai Lama.
I have had a lifelong interest in him (and also have a couple of his books which I had never really read all of for one reason or other) so I was really keen to go and see him. That my darling daught had bought me a ticket and was excited to be spending the day with her mum just made it so much more to look forward to.
We drove in to the city, chatting most of the way and having a good catch up . . . however it turns out that Meg is a very nervous passenger. The traffic was not too bad but, due to the difference in the shape of our respective cars, Meg kept thinking I was going to run up the back of people when, in fact, I knew I had heaps of room. Oh well, in the end she just decided to look out the side window and this was a relief for both of us!
On the way to our final destination we had to stop in and pick up some studio-type photos which we had recently sat for (my eldest daughter came along as well on the day of the shoot). I had decided that I wanted a nice professional pic of both of my beautiful girls and me as this was something I had never done. Anyway, long story short - we picked them up and continued on our way (with Meg madly looking out the window and hyperventilating with stress).
We got to the city, had a lovely lunch and then headed for the Ent Cent. I was getting pretty excited by this stage - OMG I was going to be in the same room as the Dalai Lama and I couldn't wait.
We took our seats, waited for the auditorium to fill (holds 10,000 people) and eventually he walked on stage. To see this tiny man shuffling across the stage in his monk's robes made me feel so humble (I even got a bit teary). Here was the man who had touched so many people with his words and deeds and I was in his presence.
As he started to talk it was apparent that he was pretty hard to understand with his Tibetan accent. Oh, he knew what he wanted to say but his accent just meant that I had to focus on every. single. word. I know that I missed some of the things he said - not because I was distracted because I was concentrating harder on what he was saying than probably anyone that I had listened to for ages but because this is how it was meant to be . . .
If he had spoken perfect english I wonder if I would have worked so hard to stay focused? A friend once told me that the trick to really listening to someone (even if the person you are trying to listen to does sound somewhat boring) is to listen to the last two words that they said and to be able to remember them. Now how you know what the last two words are going to be is the trick! You have to listen hard and take in what is being said - every. single. word.
Anyway, what I heard was that I should "be kind" - above all else. To everyone and especially myself. That holding anger hurts me more than the person I am angry at. How anger is the forerunner to fear and that fear is the emotion which can make us strike out and hurt others (and thereby hurt ourselves).
It seems so simple yet some days it is just overwhelmingly hard to just "be kind" - either to myself or to others.
I need to practice positive self-talk in my head and acknowledge the good person I am and the nice things I do (funny how it seems easier to be able to say to someone else "well done", "that was a nice thing to do" etc. yet not be able to say the same things to yourself). Every day I try not to say negative things about others (still happens but less and less) because I end up feeling bad - who am I to judge someone else? I have not walked in their shoes, I don't know how life is for them . . .
So I have decided to try and use what His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, told me last Sunday - to put into my life every day a bit more kindness. A bit more understanding. A bit more love. Less hate. Less anger. Less criticism. Reach out with kindness to others on my journey.
And I know that by teaching myself this lesson of kindness that I can pass this on to my beloved daughters and granddaughters and that this is a family heirloom that we all can share.