What missing the Dalai Lama’s birthday taught me…

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.”- Alan Watts

When things don’t go according to plan do you tend to fall apart at the seams or carry on regardless? Life is something we will never be able to control and I have a tale to tell that demonstrates there is real beauty in that.  So whatever your natural reaction is to the unexpected I feel this story will either help you relax into life or keep on keeping on!

I had forgotten the Dalai Lama’s birthday would fall on my most recent trip to Dharamsala just after another one of our spiritual tours in India. The monks reminded me as they chatted happily about the day off it would bring from their monastic duties.  And I started to wonder would His Holiness be there?

I had been to celebrations before in his temple where Tibetan men, women and children displayed their abilities in that soft, somewhat sensual traditional Tibetan dance.  Where movements at times are so subtle they can seem like a last minute decision that wasn’t quite followed through.  Wonderful costumes that mimick a life once lived in the peace and serenity of a free ‘Land of the Snows’, a free Tibet.

Children are crucial in the exiled world of Dharamsala for one day they could be the generation that rebuilds Tibet.  The cultural knowledge they absorb could be the future seeds that are planted back into the ground so the forests of religious freedom can grow and prosper once again.By asking around the monastic community I found out a few days before that the Dalai Lama would be present.  And that this was a big celebration due to His Holiness being awarded the Templeton Prize for which he received a sum of £1.1 million that he immediately donated to charity.

My friendships with my Tibetan family are becoming ever more the sweeter, the deeper, the truer. Through difficult times, through exhuberant times, through monotonous times we have stayed strong.  So the opportunity to celebrate this wonderful day with them resulted in me happily extending my stay in Mother India.

I would say the festivities began the night before.  Chilling out with the monks in their monastery we stayed up late sipping chai and cracking jokes that found existence on the precipice of our broken ‘Tibetlish’.  Now their day usually begins  at 6am with the hope shattering resonances of a morning gong so naturally they were looking forward the sleeping in the following morning.  However at about 10.15pm, just before the gates are locked and I have to leave or sleep it out in their living room, Lama Buga received a phone call.

It was his friends in Tibet requesting a puja (Buddhist prayers) the following day.  My dear friend Lama Buga is named such because he has a deep seated loyalty that I currently find very rare in my Western world.  He also happens to be the puja manager so needless to say the word went out that everyone had to be up at the usual 6am for a brief spell of work.  One lama didn’t get the message and despite his ‘holiday’ protests that morning, he was promptly hauled out of bed by the commited monks, for a holiday in exile is yet another nightmare day in Chinese occupied Tibet.

I on the other hand, when all this was going on, was resolutely sleeping it in which interestingly was the first and last time this happened during this trip to India.  After I had finally woken up and was deliriously charging about my hotel room I received a phonecall from Lama Buga declaring “puja finish” which I knew to mean “come on let’s go!” When I made it to the monastery they were waiting at the entrance for me as they watched a rainbow of traditional Tibetan chubas float by.  Children dressed in special outfits that used to be the norm. Women looking like oriental goddesses that make us Westerners look so so plain.  It did make me wonder why did equal rights have to mean equal dress codes?

A young niece of Lama Lobo’s showed up and was being fussed over by her mother as the finishing touches of her ethnic outfit were perfected.  Hers was a rare style of chuba so the attention she was drawing was a plenty.  Many thumbs up from the monks as they tried to convey to me the uniqueness of it accompanied by a “Chuba good!” from Lama Buga.

So alas with the impromptu puja, my lateness, the dress rehearsal and a habitual cup of chai en route we were very late arriving at the big event.  Crowds had already solidly filled out the small space and I found myself stuck between them and an unceasing stream of new arrivals.   I could see absolutely nothing and due to memories of Kalachakra 2012 being close to the surface of my mind I decided to leave for fear of being stuck in a crimson wave of Tibetans.  Those folks are a lot tougher than me!

Lama Buga who is not a big fan of crowds either was only delighted to accompany me.  As he skillfully weaved his way out a few feet ahead of me he turned around a one stage, pointed into a car ‘squashing’ by us and shouts “Karmapa!”.  The Karmapa, who could be described as being similar in ability to the Dalai Lama for he too is a high level bodishattva or reincarnated Tibetan master, was right there.  And to have him pass closely by like that you can be sure his rays were shining right where we needed them to.

And in that moment I had a realisation.  I had been lucky enough to visit the Dalai Lama in India three times on this trip and perhaps my uncharacteristic tardiness that morning was the work of a higher intelligience orchestrating what I really needed in that moment.  For what the Dalai Lama brings in compassion and openess I would say the Karmapa matches in wisdom and wrathfulness.  All much needed qualities for the world we live in today!  Don’t you agree?

So in your life if things don’t go to plan or how you wanted them to, I say let it go for really there is no wrong.  There is a higher plan mapped out which we agreed to before we came down to earth, its our soul contract.  And if you take the time to reflect back and join the dots that got you to where you are today you may find that the times were everything fell apart did so so that the right path could come together.

All the best


Author biography: Lisa runs spiritual tours to Dharamsala, India which she hosts with two Tibetan monks Lama Buga & Lama Kalden.  They will show you an ancient culture from the inside out as well as taking you to attend public teachings by the Dalai Lama & learn meditation.  For more information or to get in touch visit www.spiritualquestadventures.com.