Attending Dalai Lama teachings in India

by Lisa Tully

Sitting in the temple the day before the teachings begin. I have come to claim a spot to sit for the duration of the three days. I have come to take pictures since I won’t be able to later.

I have come to find where the bathrooms are!

What I unexpectedly find is a sense of contentment and calm just being there.

It’s the energy coming from the sacred space itself. I find I’m in a meditative state just sitting on the bench that I’ve found. It’s off to the right of the main teaching hall.

I’ve claimed a piece of it with my name on a scrap piece of paper and some tape offered to me by a kind stranger.

It feels good here.

There are a lot of logistical things that need to happen to attend a teaching (getting yourself to Dharamsala, registering at the security office, reading up on the etiquette, learning what can and can’t go through security), but none of that matters once you arrive.

Because “arrive” is exactly what you do.

You arrive to the present moment. You arrive to an open heart and mind. You arrive to a state of centeredness that you seem to share with the thousands of other people in the room.

It just happens. The first morning I arrive with my radio for the translation and my bowl and mug for the butter tea and lunch of rice and dal. I’m flooded with a sense of happiness.

There is no where I’d rather be.

I arrive early and the people watching is deeply moving. Many do their prostrations and recite the common mantra of “Om Mani Padme Hum” while doing kora around the inner temple.

There is a shift in the crowd as His Holiness begins to make his way through the hall and into the main temple.

Everyone stands, everyone is silent, and everyone gets happier.

He comes around the corner into view. My first glimpse of him he is reaching out to take someone’s hand in greeting.

Tears instantly well up in my eyes. I have no thoughts.

I feel only gratitude and happiness. I remember what a friend once told me: just to see him is to be blessed. I make eye contact with the monk standing beside me. He sees my tears and simply nods as if to say, “Yes, I know.”

I take notes during the teaching. Even though the text is a basic one, some parts feel like advanced Buddhist philosophy to me.

But there is so much patience in his teaching. So much humility as well. At one point he talks about how previous Dalai Lama’s were known to have prophetic visions but that he himself had never had any.

He then jokes:

“I like to say that maybe I don’t have visions like the others, but I’m the most famous Dalai Lama!”

And as he laughs his joy spreads through the crowd like a ripple in a pond for his laughter is so infectious.

Each day as the teaching ends I sit and talk with one of the monks sitting near me. At first I try to process with him, clarify points from the teaching.

He stops me saying:

“Let what comes, come. Don’t force it. You will take away what you were meant to take away.”

After that reminder, we just sit on our bench each day, silently watching everyone file downstairs for lunch. No words are needed beyond “Good-bye” and “See you in the morning.”

Our joint meditation is the perfect end to a profound experience.

Would like to experience this magic yourself? Join us on our next spiritual trip to Dharamsala, India. We will make sure you have a wonderful, safe and profound time in India with the Dalai Lama and his community. Click here for information.


Photos sourced on Pinterest from Xaron White, Wendie Berry and Sema64.