Lisa Tully from Spiritual Backpackers on learning from Tibetan Lamas in Dharamsala

Should we be building a financial portfolio or a detachment portfolio?

Whilst living with tantric Lamas in India I found myself in prime position to experience them walk their talk. If you have read anything at all on Tibetan Buddhism you will know we are consistently reminded that one of their key principles for finding happiness is through detachment. So I had the opportunity to be a ‘samasaric fly’ on a monastic wall to observe this incredibly difficult principle being put into action. Many things happened to this effect during the duration of my stay but one situation in particular stands out the most for me. On a deliciously lazy Sunday afternoon I was sitting in the midday sun out on the balcony with my dear friend Lama Tashi and a sweet Tibetan school kid called Tenzin. This balcony was situated at the back of a restaurant and underneath us was the kitchen. Lama Tashi was the monk in charge of running the restaurant and hotel at this particular time. As we gazed out over the rolling Himalayan foothills of Dharamsala, with prayer flags flapping in the wind sending their auspicious intentions skywards, a big black stream of smoke ominously comes out from the kitchen windows below. My initial reaction was one of panic, as true to form my highly trained Western sympathetic nervous system jumps straight into ‘flight or flight’ mode. Both my Tibetan counterparts on the other hand had a totally different reaction, a gutful of hearty laughter directly proceeded by ‘Haha kitchen, kitchen!’ Now language barriers did get in the way from time to time during my stay but in that moment I had found a universal language that helped me understand this principle of detachment with no need for translation, it was the universal language of laughter. I then waited perched on the edge of my seat, to see what we would do next. Well we carried on as normal of course and let the lads in the kitchen deal with their own creation. Neither Lama Tashi nor Tenzin felt any need to get involved so what gave me the right to even assume I needed to? This simple act of instant detachment, all done so effortlessly was one of my biggest learning’s. It has left me with such a deep longing for this kind of authentic freedom that it is fuelling my intentions to go back and study with these monks so this ‘samsaric fly’ can attempt to master the art of detachment in this brief lifetime.

So why am I telling you all of this? This morning I was asked the question “Lisa what are your plans for when you are an older woman?”. At first I didn’t know what to say for two reasons. The first was because I honestly don’t plan that far ahead as I like to keep the pages of my story unwritten and secondly because I could sense the question came from a material place with perhaps a flavour of childbearing pressures in there. It was one of those moments when someone asks you the biggest question they have for themselves. After a few minutes, once I had made a concerted effort to mentally swim through all the societal expectancies that this question was laden with, I got to a place of wonderful clarity. I replied “My plans for when I am an older woman are to be happy”. And what happened after that was an instantaneous connecting of the dots, for I saw that my intention to go to India and learn precious Tibetan mind tricks would play a big part in me achieving that. So I no longer saw it as ‘the thing that I will do next’, but instead saw it as an investment in my future well-being and happiness. We all spend so much of our time running around worrying about things like our careers, our mortgages, our bank accounts, our pensions and at times rightly so. But the question I want to ask all of you now is what investments are you making today for your happiness pension of tomorrow? What are you doing to ensure that no matter what happens in the future you will find and maintain inner peace, freedom and happiness despite the dramas of everyday samsaric life?

With love
Lisa

To find about more about Spiritual Backpackers and their fantastic trips to India to visit the Dalai Lama visit their website here.