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10 April 2007

The path & the light

I would have thought it is highly unlikely that I'd say I liked an episode of Devils advocate. I do not find Karan Thapar's show or style engaging, though I must admit I haven't seen much of it lately (for the same reason). But I am glad I did not miss the one with Dalai Lama.

A trip to Dharamshala is pending (with any other travel related wishes) but I had the good fortune of very briefly being in the presence of the Dalai Lama when he was invited to a function as a chief guest in Mumbai. Words fail me to describe the experience of merely being near his aura, but there are many who have described their experience of meeting the Dalai Lama so I will let it pass.

During the course of the chat on the show, he was candid and spoke with a clarity and conviction that only a monk can possess. At one stage when his age came up, I was struck by how amazingly young- actually the correct word is "ageless"- clear, healthy and alert he seemed for a seventy one year old.

A week ago on TV I saw a similar socialite who did not show her age, but the phrase that came to mind was "well -preserved" - like an egyptian mummy or pickled fruit.

The Dalai Lama had the glow of polished patina that shines with age and he spoke of his expectations, experiences and the cause of Tibet. It was an enriching and elevating experience. I have just a small request or wish of Karan Thapar and Shekhar Gupta, who had him earlier on his show, Walk the Talk . The Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader and it is also more in sync with Indian tradition, if the session ended with a namaste instead of shaking of hands. Rather than the camaraderie and bonhomie displayed when you shake hands and thank him for being a guest on the show. He plays along even as there is a twinkle in his eye.

Talking of The Dalai Lama, a few words here summarised from Commentaries on The Dhammapada by The Mother come to mind from the chapter, the awakened one (1958);

The best of all paths is the eight-fold path; the best of all truths is the four-fold truth. The four truths are: First,ordinarily life is linked to suffering, it is full of pain. Second, the cause of suffering is ignorance. The third truth is that- there is a way out; and fourth, the way out is the eight-fold path, that consists of training in the eight stages as follows;

1. Correct Vision - This too shall pass.
2. Correct Aspiration - Free from attachments. Kindness always.
3. Correct Speech - Don't speak uselessly. Avoid malovent speech
4. Correct Behaviour - Peaceful, honest.
5. Correct ways of living - Loving kindness to everything that lives in the universe.
6. Correct Effort - Don't make useless efforts for useless things. Conserve your efforts to counquer ignorance and falsehood
7. Correct Vigilance - Cultivate the discipline of awareness
8. Correct Contemplation - Have a few free minutes? Use it to contemplate the meaning of life.

I picked this slim volume of such talks on a visit many years ago to Pondicherry in South India where, among his other thoughts, Sri Aurobindo opined that the most precious gift India has to offer to the world is spirituality. If we lose it, we have nothing else, or very little left.

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