On October 22, 2010, the 14th Dalai Lama visited Toronto, Ontario, and delivered his lecture, “Human Approaches to World Peace” at the Rogers Center. This was his farewell presentation before going into retirement (which he hasn’t). Rick Beneteau, co-founder of Modern Day Mastery, was in attendance. This is what he experienced:

His maroon robes and unique stride were instantly recognizable as he made his way to center stage. The amplified sounds, as he fidgeted to hook up the tiny lapel microphone, echoed throughout the cavernous environs before he gently settled into the large white chair surrounded by red and yellow flowers. He finally squinted upward at the bank of powerful spotlights before donning his trademark matching maroon tennis visor and sunglasses, exclaiming with his infectious smile, “It’s bright!”

14th Dalai LamaExpecting something a little more earth shattering in this rock star’s first utterance, the crowd of 15,000 laughed heartily. I could now scratch this off my bucket list. The humble and witty Dalai Lama was about to inspire me.

His lecture was entitled “Human Approaches to World Peace.” I wasn’t sure what wisdom Tenzing Gyatso would share about how we humans could create a more peaceful world, but I was pleasantly surprised when he said, “Peace will not drop from the sky.” His childlike chuckle put an exclamation mark to the point! He concluded the thought, “Through prayers, sometimes we have to wait years and years.”

He was speaking directly to my heart. My deep belief for decades has been that although a group of well-intentioned people holding hands and singing “kumbaya” at a predetermined time in order to attract world peace is wonderful, it’s going to take a lot more dedicated and focused action to make world peace a realistic prospect in our lifetime, and that of our children.

He began with, “Now, in order to create a happy century, a peaceful century… we must promote the concept of dialogue.”

The Tibetan spiritual leader then became adamant about educating the little children of our planet in the ways of peaceful co-existence. Amen!

He was just as emphatic in his directive to women to come to the fore and take up the cause of peace. I was thinking he might admit that if women ruled this world that there wouldn’t be a need for all of us to be together this day in this huge arena. But he didn’t.

His most profound plea was to the youth to take direct action to create change. He even walked to the front of the stage and peered into the first few rows to acknowledge the high percentage of youth in attendance. Now he was singing to my heart!

On a lighter note, His Holiness delivered a double-edged message, first about living a vegetarian lifestyle. With his forefinger arched firmly against his row of front teeth he said, “Look at our teeth. Quite close to rabbits’ and sheep’s teeth (vegetarians), not tiger’s.” He then put a powerful twist on this subtle hint, “We are social animals. Each individual future rests on community.”

Speaking through his permanent, kind smile, he later offered, “We should create some visions (on) how to build a healthy world.” He called for “human warm heartedness” to the applause of many Tibetans in the heavily multicultural Toronto audience, who were proudly waving flags, stating that the peacemaker is one who possesses a “constant calm mind.”

He concluded the lecture with the phrase, “Therefore, the meaning of human approach is more compassion, and genuinely consider others as brother and sister.”

His Holiness then took questions from the audience submitted prior to the event.

When the interesting question was posed if the next Dalia Lama could be a woman he was quick to quip, “If a female reincarnation is more useful — why not?” He went on to suggest there were two advantages to a female Dalai Lama. One is that “biologically, females are more sensitive about others’ pain.” The other, he chuckled, is that she would be more attractive.

This set up perfectly that he was ready for a permanent break from his job. “I’m looking forward to complete retirement,” he said, his infectious laughter preparing us for the punch line: “If I have human rights, I should have the right to retire.” Indeed!

Never to be forgotten by this ardent admirer were his last sentences:  “I’m not the best Dalai Lama out of 14 — but also not the worst Dalai Lama. Also, a quite popular Dalai Lama. Being a popular Dalai Lama, is good, nice.”

Finally, his last two words, “That’s it”!

During the ensuing thunderous standing ovation he unhooked his mic, making his way stage left. Just prior to disappearing into the drapes, the 14th Dalai Lama turned and with hands together bowed slowly and deeply to his audience a final time. I’m sure almost everyone was like me, feeling fulfilled and tearing up after being in the presence of greatness, not knowing when or if we would see him again.

I ask, how could you not love and admire the exiled Christ-like icon, who was once quoted as saying, “I’m an optimist. I think I will return to Tibet with a Chinese passport.”?

© Rick Beneteau

Rick Beneteau Rick Beneteau is co-founder of Modern Day Mastery.
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