The Dali Lama sees himself as living the life of a simple Buddhist monk. He has what he needs to be who he is. What do we need to be who we are? What do we think having more is going to do for us? Where are we going to draw the line? When will we have enough? What do our aspirations and desires say about us? Who is it that we are trying to be with what we have?
What truly matters to us? What are the important things? What do they say about us? The Dali Lama sees himself as a simple Buddhist monk. How do we see ourselves? Who are we? Who do we wish we were? What is our idea of who we truly ought to be?
What is the image we are projecting with the lives we are living? Is the image we project with our lives different from the one in our heads? How aligned are we, inner and outer? How do we need to change our lives to be in synch with our idea of our ideal self?
With whom can we talk about these things? Where do we go to say who we are, and who we wish we were, and who we think we truly ought to be? Where is the community that enfolds us like a cocoon and allows us to emerge transformed? Who do you know who has ever grown up on her, on his, own? With whom do we take up the task of our own becoming?
Spiritual growth is not a solitary enterprise. We cannot hope to become healed and whole and saved and well on our own. Simple Buddhist monks are surrounded by other simple Buddhist monks. Who surrounds us? How can we hope to be different from those who surround us? Spiritual development requires the right kind of company. We become a self—the self we are—in the presence of other selves. We cannot do it alone, in the woods or a cave. And we can’t do it in the company of the wrong kind of others. A simple Buddhist monk requires a simple Buddhist monastery. The search is as much for ourselves, as for people who will let us be and become who we are. We find the Grail in the eyes of those who love us into being. Do not speed past those who allow you the grace to be and become who you are.
We “let be what is” even as we work to change it. Part of the “what is” is what we have to do to change “what is.” We accept the fact of the unacceptable and the fact of what we have to do to alter it. We do not allow things to be as they are forever. We are here to move things toward what they truly ought to be—to make the world habitable—to become human beings. But we don’t do that with explosives and bulldozers—by force. We do that by listening and looking, by hearing, seeing, and understanding. By being awake, aware, and alive.
Nothing changes how things are like waking up to how things are. Seeing that the emperor has no clothes puts clothes on the emperor. If you want to change the world, see the world. Of course, the caveat here is that seeing the world also changes you. The transformer is transformed through the process of transformation. What? You wanted things to change without being different?
Seeing with the eyes of compassion allows things to be as they are and lays the groundwork for transformation. Compassion and justice are one thing. We cannot be truly compassionate and unjust. We cannot be truly just and uncompassionate. Justice and compassion require the transformation of how things are, but they don’t carry out that transformation unjustly, uncompassionately. The attitude of “In Your Face You S.O.B You” is not going to substantially change things. It takes a different approach to make things truly different.
The Dali Lama may not live to see the end of the Chinese occupation of Tibet, but in his approach to that situation, he has effectively, and beautifully prevented the Chinese from occupying his heart. First the heart, then the world. Over time. It’s the over time business that gives us the most trouble. We think we have to see results now. We think explosions change thing. It’s momentum that changes things, and keeps them changed. How do you create momentum? Slowly. Deliberately. Intentionally. Mindfully, Conscientiously. Over time.