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Backstage with the Dalai Lama

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Have you ever built up such anticipation about an upcoming event that you were left flat at the actual experience? You know what I mean, the movie that was better in the trailers, the dessert that looked luscious in the picture on the menu, but wasn’t worth the calories or the price. I suffered such a disappointment recently. Here’s what happened. . .
Early last month I had an incredible opportunity, to be in the same building with the Dalai Lama. It was something I promised myself I would do if ever I had the chance. I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. In preparation, I did all the normal things, blocked out the date on my calendar, decided what to wear and posted about my excitement on Facebook. Yes, I was ready to have my life changed in a short sixty minutes.
When we arrived that morning, the crowd was gathered outside the doors waiting to go in. We were abuzz with excitement. I had a seat that gave me a view of the backstage area as well as the stage itself. I knew this was a special spot. Chatting happily with people around me and watching preview info on the big screen, I imagined how it would feel when His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama arrived backstage and I was one of the first blessed individuals to see him. I wondered if I’d be able to get a good shot and which chair he’d sit in on the stage. I contemplated which area of my life would be impacted most by his words on that day. Finally, things started to happen backstage; I prepared myself for mystical happenings and my own personal cosmic shift. What followed was not as I had imagined.
It’s true that I was able to see His Holiness backstage, the sliver of him that showed as he sat waiting to go out on stage. “That’s okay”, I told myself, “this is still an intimate view and his words are what will deliver the anticipated transformation”. As he entered the stage, he took the seat with his back to me. “That’s okay”, I told myself, “I can see him and I will still receive the message from his words.” Then it was time for him to speak and, for me, the beginning of sixty minutes of confused struggle.  I was not able to understand what he was saying about 50% of the time. I had paid “too much money”, as my son had said, to sit here fighting against the noise from air vents and other acoustical issues. My spirit told me to relax and trust that what I was meant to receive that day was being taken in, my ego was screaming like an overtired child past her bedtime. The battle between spirit and ego continued throughout the talk with my ego winning way too much of the time.
At the end of his time on stage, His Holiness passed through the curtain and as Cokie Robertson, his partner on stage, was completing with the audience, he poked his head back through the curtain holding it tightly under his chin grinning at the crowd. It was one of those moments that makes people across the globe love him so profoundly, his playful, loving spirit shared in a spontaneous flash.
My seat did give me a view of the post-show backstage. I watched him hug former President Bush & Laura Bush. Those of us who had seats on this far end lingered on the stairs drinking in these final images. Like little children hanging over the banister refusing to go to bed, we just stood there. Sensing there were people above, he turned, looked up and waved. I have no doubt everyone standing there with me felt, just as I did, that he was looking into their eyes. “There”, I thought to myself,” that’s what you paid for. That’s what you get today.” I was grateful for the special moment and still left wondering what had been said that I missed.
Two days later, I awoke with the image of the Dalai Lama’s face floating above the curtain and experienced an internal shift. The energy of his joy, playfulness & connection to humanity had come to make a home in my heart. What I had been unable to learn from his words, I had received from the gift of his humanness. I made a commitment to myself that from this point forward I would experience life in a new way. I would see and capture opportunities to connect with others in the simplest of ways and share joy, unconcerned about seeming silly or not meeting anyone’s expectations. Not in a way that is calculated or planned, just naturally, bringing forward my authentic self. A most perfect lesson backstage with the Dalai Lama.

Blessings & Light,

Photo: Sherry Finney Coffman

“Happiness doesn’t always come from a pursuit.  Sometimes it comes when we least expect it.”

~His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama

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