On Wednesday I was really fortunate to be able to go to the Dalai Lama's lecture at the Cannon Center in Memphis. I'd tried to get tickets but couldn't. Or I could, but I wasn't willing to pay $100 for nose-bleed seats. I have tremendous respect for the DL's wisdom and teachings on peace and compassion, but I have a hard time parting with that kind of cash for a lecture. I've always been attracted to various aspects of Buddhism. I'm a decent (enough) Episcopalian, a middling Christian, but a terrible Buddhist. I don't let go of things easily. I forget to be as compassionate as I should be. I'm selfish. But compassion is a goal, and seeing the Dalai Lama in person is, at least for most of us, a once-in-a-lifetime event.
The dreary weather we've been having for the past two weeks had gotten me down, and I'd resigned myself to not seeing the Dalai Lama. I was in the studio, trimming pieces that were really too wet to trim, feeling a tiny bit cheap and a lot sorry for myself. But Gary dear had been talking with our friend Milly Moorhead West, a photographer and former gallery owner for whom we both worked in Oxford, MS. She mentioned that she had two tickets to the lecture, and Gary mentioned that I hadn't been able to get tickets. When she called early Wednesday morning to invite me along, I was overjoyed.
We had an option of orchestra seats, nice and front and center, really expensive primo seats, or press seats along the mezzanine. These were close, but not as "good." Since Milly is a first-rate photographer (and I made more than a few squeals just at the thought of bringing my camera), she (with my full backing!) opted for the mezzanine seats. I am so so glad we did- we got media passes and were 2 of perhaps a dozen people in the building with cameras. Being able to take pictures of the experience was so wonderful.
The Dalai Lama is such an expressive, gestural speaker. He is kind, humorous, modest. He settled in, took off his shoes, made a few jokes, and had the entire audience enthralled. He spoke for an hour, then took questions from the audience for another half-hour. He talked about compassion. He talked about how all of us were created by God. He talked about forgiveness and peace. While he spoke I thought about people and situations in my life that make compassion difficult. While he said that feeling bitterness towards someone else hurts us more than them, I realized that I was only hurting myself by feeling angry and bitter- not them. And that I don't want hurt or bitterness for anyone in my life, including me. One statement made me stop and find a pen. A sharpie and a bank receipt, to be exact. An audience member asked about dealing with job loss, foreclosures, illnesses, wars. "Worry does not help to solve the problem." I am a worrier. Worry is something to hook my mind on- as if I have control of the event/issue/person I worry about. I like control. I am often not in control. Worry "helps" me to feel like I'm in control, except that it doesn't. It makes me lash out, develop ulcers, feel bitter. I taped up my sharpie quote in the kitchen. It is something that I need to remember.
I hope, if you're ever able, that you can go see this wise man speak. I'm so glad that I did.
**If you use this photo, and you may, please credit it back to me. Thank you.**