At about noon yesterday, LB called me and told me she had an extra ticket to go see the Dalai Lama who was in town. She had gotten the ticket from a Tibetan friend of hers who as a small girl had followed the Dalai Lama into exile.
I was asked by another friend who couldnt attend (it was USF students mostly and then Tibetan friends and media) about what my perception was of the Dalai lama in person. Did he have an aura, a presence?
I'm not sure I was in the best position to judge since the event took place in a basketball gymnasium. Thats not the kind of location, at least for me, that usually inspires transcendence. (A counter-example would be a Catholic Mass I attended a couple years ago at the summit of Mt. St-Michel, on a cold foggy french morning shortly after seeing a dead man in Paris. It is in this way that moments are constructed.)
I know he giggled a lot. Having not really heard him speak before, I was unsure of when he was joking or when he was serious. The strongest impression he gave to me was of someone who had achieved some measure of happiness.
There have been some recent articles on the subject of happinness. Also, some recent research seems to suggest that the practice of Buddhism does indeed make you a happier person.
Like most others, I am happiest when I am deeply engaged in the "now", in the present moment, engaged in a task that is stimulating or meaningful. But I cant exist only in the now. I also need to look up and see that the future itself will be full of grand surprises, undiscovered joys.
After the lecture, LB and I went to this great french bakery where I ate a Duck and Prunes sandwich while we chatted briefly about the lecture, about her friend and Tibetans in exile. The small moments did seem more pleasant so maybe his presence did have a calming effect, a lingering radiance.