Mindful Living

When I met The Dalai Lama

When I met The Dalai Lama Vidya Sury

That I am a huge fan of The Dalai Lama shouldn’t be a surprise. I have all his books, I love to watch his videos and most of all, I adore his message to the world.

Of course we all yearn to see in person the people we love. I have a long wishlist of people I can’t wait to meet! Then how did the meeting with the Dalai Lama come about?

Here’s the story! (and about time, too, eh?)

During last year’s A to Z Challenge, I took the revolutionary decision to actually go with a theme.  My obvious choice was “Letters to my Son” what with him just finishing his 12th Grade and being on the threshold of an undergrad program. He was about to begin a new phase in his life and I thought it would be fun to write him letters.

It was!

As we walked on our terrace together, I would discuss the next day’s topic – and it just added to the happiness.  If you are wondering why I discussed the topics with him – well – he just wanted to be sure I didn’t share anything that he didn’t want me to share.  Teenagers are cautious like that – and I thought that was fair enough. I reassured him I was going to do nothing of the sort and explained the format I planned to use.

So, when it came to the letter D, I told him I chose “Dream“. As we walked and chatted, he asked me what was the one thing I dreamed of. “Meet the Dalai Lama” I answered. Then we laughed our heads off and carried on.

Who knew that the Universe was busy taking notes? That was April 4, 2015.

The following week, my husband Sury got an email inviting him to conduct the “viva” for a research student in Chandigarh. Since this was probably the only time my son would actually have a few days off before he got busy with the next academic year, we decided to make it a family trip. Sury would have probably made it a one-day trip, but once we all decided to go, it had to be at least 5 days. We planned to arrive at the institute, wait for Sury to finish his work, have lunch and hire a cab to go on our trip.

Decision made, we did the homework to make an itinerary.

We had many options – and I chose Dharamsala.

Shimla, Manali, etc. are lovely but in summer they’re awfully crowded. Dharamsala seemed like a great idea.

Can you see me grinning? No? Please imagine it, then!

Yes, Dharamsala. Very close to Macleodganj, where His Holiness The Dalai Lama lives.

Oh, I was only helping the Universe along.

I was excited. So I knew the Dalai Lama lived in McLeodganj, which is 10 kilometers from Dharamsala, up the hill.

Did I have even a remote chance of meeting him?

Going by the reactions I got from all the people I thought could help me, it was a big No. They discouraged me, saying he travels a lot and one has to make an appointment several months ahead.

Well, you know me. Never say die.

I checked out his oficial website and it turned out that he was going to be in town the week we planned to visit. I had absolutely nothing to lose by emailing them, right?.

Prepared for anything, I sent that email.

Imagine my delight when, two days later, I received a reply from his secretary! He regretted that they would not be able to grant me an exclusive interview – but if I wished I could meet him for 5 minutes and have a photograph with him!

After whooping with joy and barely able to feel my fingers from excitement, I instantly wrote back saying yes, yes, yes!

What is funny is, we booked our tickets for the trip just a week before and left on April 26. We spent 28, 29, 30 in Dharamsala. Our appointment with the Dalai Lama was on April 29 at 8 am.

I had to reconfirm the day before, as advised.  And yes, we were expected!

When I met The Dalai Lama Vidya Sury 3

Love these prayer wheels!

We were there well in time at the office to fill out a form. A small group was waiting with us.

Then it was our turn to go through the security check. We were not allowed to carry anything inside. We left our phones, bags and cameras with one of the staff. A couple of guards ushered us through the gate, from where we trekked half way up the hill to his lovely bungalow. There was a beautiful waiting room, tastefully decorated and we had a wonderful time looking around it.  With us were two groups – one from Malaysia and one from Bhutan. Then two more people arrived.

I can still visualize the fresh early morning sun, the sounds of babies in the air, while the adults whispered to each other.

We saw some people carrying yellow scarves and asked the security guard what that was. In about five minutes,  after talking on his walkie talkie, he produced three white silk scarves and gave us one each. So we didn’t know what to do with them, but decided to wait and see what the others did.

A few minutes short of 9 am, we approached the Dalai Lama’s house and stood there, in groups, admiring the simple bungalow surrounded by rows upon rows of potted flowering plants. Very pretty sight. The security guards waited patiently on the fringe, while the Dalai Lama’s secretary met each one of us. He shook hands with us, and addressed me by name. I felt like a celebrity!

I shyly told him we’d like a photo with the Dalai Lama – and he assured us there was a photographer waiting to do just that.

At exactly 9 am, The Dalai Lama strode out of his house, smiling, eyes twinkling mischievously yet exuding kindness. What a presence!

I felt all choked as I watched him mingle with the first group from Bhutan, kissing the babies and the very elderly. After a couple of minutes, the group arranged itself around him and got their photograph taken.

I don’t mind confessing my heart was thudding in excitement!

Next, was the group from Malaysia.

Then, it was our turn.

We approached him, the white silk scarf around our neck. He patted my cheek and said “You came from Bangalore to meet me?” in his rather cute accent. I answered that I loved his message to the world. He then cuddled Vidur – it was a funny sight, as Vidur is kind of tall. He tickled his beard, patted his cheek. Then he turned to Sury to say something.

By this time the photographer got ready and as we faced the camera, The Dalai Lama said “Give me your hand – I want to hold your hand”

When I met The Dalai Lama Vidya Sury 3

Wow! What a firm yet gentle grip he has – it was so comforting and peaceful to stand there in that moment. A moment I will cherish all my life! Well, I also got a hug.. I loved it because he just extended his arm and pulled me close…and saying “come again”,  he bid us “bye bye” and it was time for us to move on. We got three photos – in fact, as promised, the people at the photo office in the complex emailed me the photos later that evening.

As we walked away, we were stopped by one of his staff members, who gave us a couple of sachets… and we walked down the hill in a daze.

I swear I was walking on air – walking on sunshine!

We returned to reality and went to collect our stuff.

What can I say? I felt blessed and happy!

Almost exactly one year after meeting the Dalai Lama – it still feels like yesterday. All I have to do is close my eyes to hear his gentle laughter and the pressure of his hand holding mine. The hug was divine too!

We kept marveling over our experience as we visited various places around Macleodganj. I had my fill of Buddha temples and monasteries.  Loved this huge prayer wheel in one of them!

When I met The Dalai Lama Vidya Sury 3

By the way, the offering at the temples in The Dalai Lama temple complex consisted of chocolates, juices, biscuits, cookies, chips packets and all sorts of yummy eats. I loved that!

If you are wondering what this experience has to do with my mindful living series, here’s what I have to say:

Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment, right?  Well, I thought of a moment that would be a wonderful present.  (yes, absolutely okay to tweak that definition!) Here’s what I did:

  • I thought of what I wanted with a clear and happy mind. I  mean, my son asked me what I dreamed of – and it wasn’t hard to answer.
  • I said it aloud, so Universe could listen.
  • I fully expected the Universe to take action. I didn’t stress over it.
  • I smiled at the Universe because I had given it my signal.
  • I just imagined the Universe getting its goggles on, revving up its engines and getting ready to deliver my dream to me.

It did.

So, quiet your mind. Expect good things. Go ahead and dream. And don’t be very surprised if it comes true.

(I know I jumped to W in the A to Z Challenge with this post – please bear with me. I am lagging behind a little thanks to travel and other interruptions – but I know I’ll catch up. Sometimes it is fun not to go in the right order!)

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Yolanda Renee
    April 27, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    This was a wonderful W post. I love it! Such a unique experience. Thank you for sharing. I agree it’s important to express your dreams to the world and open yourself to their fulfillment!
    There’s nothing wrong with combining a few letters either, but as far as the challenge goes, you’re caught up! No more worries!
    Yolanda Renee recently posted…W – WRITINGMy Profile

  • Reply
    Kala Ravi
    April 27, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    Dear Vidya, that was so amazing! Good things do happen to good people! Your narration was so wonderful, it kept me pumped in anticipation. The photograph and meeting his Holiness must have indeed been worth it! Even I had goosebumps reading this. The Universe does listen! Stay blessed!
    Kala Ravi recently posted…Window treatment: CurtainsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Nicola
    April 28, 2016 at 12:16 am

    What a heart-warming post, Vidya. Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful experience. I love the quote about happiness too. The Dalai Lama must have passed on some of his spirit through his touch. That’s why you still feel his hand when you close your eyes.

    And thank you for saying: “So, quiet your mind. Expect good things. Go ahead and dream. And don’t be very surprised if it comes true.” I will try to do that.

    Big hug!
    Nicola recently posted…W is for Writing Wheel and WindowsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Darla M Sands
    April 28, 2016 at 12:57 am

    I love this story, and imagining your conversations with your son about last years challenge. ~grin~ I’m so happy you got to experience this meeting! Be well.
    Darla M Sands recently posted…W is for Tom WaitsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Jemima Pett
    April 28, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Vidya, this is so wonderful. And it is a complete exposition of Mindfulness – your capturing of the moment not only for yourself, but your words, excitement, the sights and sounds, the very air filled my mind and I tingle still as I joined you in your experience. I am so pleased for you — and grateful to have been allowed to emotionally hold hands with the Dalai Lama through you.

    You have made me so happy today. Tomorrow I have to have extensive dental surgery – now I can hold your experience in my mind and relax as it takes place outside me!

    Thank you, my friend.
    Jemima Pett recently posted…W is for Windemere #atozchallengeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Rima Reyka
    April 28, 2016 at 4:59 am

    You are indeed very lucky! That’s been my dream too. I went there but he wasn’t around. Even if he was there, he wouldn’t be able to meet up. I’m not giving up though. That dream still hides in the corner of my heart, which I hope the Universe will hear it too… Nevertheless, I already felt so grateful just being able to go there and saw the place in real 🙂
    Rima Reyka recently posted…5D4N Itinerary to Central Vietnam – Day 4: Angsana – Banyan Tree – Lang Co ResortMy Profile

  • Reply
    Susan Dunlevie
    April 28, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    LOVE this, Vidya! It’s a miracle, right? An law of attraction, etc. etc.

    Thanks so much.
    Sue

  • Reply
    Debbie D
    April 28, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    How wonderful that you got to meet someone who means so much to you, Vidya! You and the Universe work well together. 🙂 Beautiful photo as well. As for the A to Z, you should do whatever works for you. Another blogger started at Z and is going backwards. Cheers!
    Debbie D recently posted…X is for X-BREEDS | #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Joy
    April 28, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    I love this so much!! I do see you grinning and I am grinning with you!! Thank you for this wonderful reminder that when our heart whispers, clearly and strongly, Universe responds!!
    Joy recently posted…Grace in the Morning Sun: Holding Space for Disappointment While Sharing Gratitude for “Goodness”, Love and LightMy Profile

  • Reply
    Barbara
    April 28, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    What a lovely present from the Universe, with a little help …. Bear hugs, dear Vidya, and thanks for sending sunshine and grins!

  • Reply
    Susan Scott
    April 28, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    O wow Vidya! I am almost speechless with joy at this wonderful post! I can feel the happiness and joy and calm all at the same time. Thank you for sharing you, your family and the Dalai Lama with us! And reminding us that what we put out into the Universe will be heard!

  • Reply
    My Inner Chick
    April 29, 2016 at 3:36 am

    ***The Dalai Lama said “Give me your hand – I want to hold your hand”***

    OOoo, my heart. What a moving, beautiful post.

    Can you hear my heart pounding, darling?

    Love you more than the end of April. xxxxxxxxxxxx

  • Reply
    Arti
    April 29, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Hey Vidya. Loved your story:) So glad you found your ‘W’.
    When our bus pulled into Mcleodganj station at 6 am, last May, we had no clue we’d be holding His Holiness’ hands three hours later.
    Who said something about the Universe and notes?
    You family pictures looks divine. And your grin — Subhan Allah!
    Will send you the link of a post of mine on Mcleodgunj, if you’d like—to rekindle memories.
    hugs and love.xx
    Arti recently posted…W is for Wedding day, Walks and Wall artMy Profile

  • Reply
    Dahlia
    April 29, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Your joy shone through this post and not just the picture – your are indeed blessed.
    Dahlia recently posted…Y = YajnaMy Profile

  • Reply
    C L McKenzie
    April 29, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    How wonderful that the universe listened and took action. Whenever I see this man, I feel such a sense of peace. I can only imagine how it felt in his presence.

  • Reply
    Kathy McKendry
    April 30, 2016 at 12:08 am

    This is such a beautiful story! He is a wonderful light in this world, I would love to meet him as well. This is really what I needed to read today. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Reply
    Kathryn Trask
    April 30, 2016 at 3:01 am

    Really enjoyed reading this post and learning about your dream come true. What a marvellous experience and a really awesome photo.
    Kathryn Trask recently posted…Yesterday! A Salute to it.My Profile

  • Reply
    Mars
    April 30, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    What a wonderful W post, so glad I popped in to see how you were getting on 🙂

    Fabulous memory and what an experience, thank you for sharing the story with us.

    Mars xx
    Mars recently posted…Z is for ZigZag RazorMy Profile

  • Reply
    matheikal
    April 30, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    It’s very costly to be Dalai Lama. It costs much to India. too. 🙂

  • Reply
    SUNITA SRIRAM
    May 4, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    I am getting goosebumps…Vidya…lovely…

  • Reply
    SUNITA SRIRAM
    May 4, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    And did you collect my smile????:)

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