Never mind that I had to get up early on a weekend morning.
Never mind that I had to park a few blocks away to get to the venue so I would not have to search for a parking spot.
Never mind the fact that I waited in a line stretching to another state on a bridge for 2 hours to get through security.
Never mind that I did not have time to eat a breakfast or for that matter lunch today.
Never mind that it was so hot I was a sweaty mess by the time the event actually started.
Never mind any of those things from today.
They do not matter, for I had the great fortune of being in attendance today as the Dalai Lama spoke to an audience of thousands in Louisville.
Once I was able to see him and hear his message, any of the above frustrations was gone from my memory. His Holiness had a simple message; we are all capable of compassion. It is our “default setting” as one of the speakers, Dr. Doty stated in his remarks. Sometimes it is our circumstance, our ego, our bias or our environment that clouds this default nature within us.
Regardless, we are all capable of compassion by seeing ourselves in others. Even for wrongdoers, we can show them compassion by separating the wrongdoer from their action. It is a world of compassion, of tolerance, of humanity that we are looking to create “as man has matured” and we have expanded our scope with small acts of kindness. Though compassion makes for a good slogan, this goes beyond words; this compassion in us begins by taking action.
This compassion and kindness towards others is what I experienced in line waiting for this event. In my 28 years in Kentucky, I had never seen a more diverse group of people gathering for an event. There were people of many different nations, languages, religions, dress all gathered for one single purpose. The air amongst the crowd was of understanding, of tolerance, of compassion.
In particular, the individuals around me were amazing. There was the young mother from my hometown of Bowling Green, KY who had offered to both her sons the opportunity to see the Dalai Lama speak, and her 8 year old choosing to come with her.
Then there was the mother and son duo who had flown from Texas to Louisville for the sole purpose of seeing the Dalai Lama speak.
For me, it was an honor to hear the Dalai Lama speak. He exuded a sense of calmness, peace, and serenity. I enjoyed listening to every word he spoke and watching every action he made in greeting every person he came across. You could tell the audience felt the same way. As he spoke the entire audience hung on his every word. He captured and sustained their attention the way he captured mine.
As we all left at the end of the event, the serenity and peace of his presence stayed with us. His compassion inspired you, regardless of faith, to be a better human being, full of compassion, caring and tolerance. “Compassion begins here [points to his heart]”. I truly believe this was a great start to experience this compassion.