On September 20 at the Haven, the Gabriola Ecumenical Society and the Friends of the Library co-hosted Victor Chan from the Dalai Lama Centre in Vancouver. He gave a talk about his long and enlightening association with the Dalai Lama whom he met in India in 1972. He told of travels and meetings in the years since, often highlighted with humour and personal insights, which have resulted in two books co-authored with the Dalai Lama, and the founding of an education centre in Vancouver http://dalailamacenter.org/
He told us about the Dalai Lama’s “secrets” for a long and healthy life, starting with looking after the body as well as the mind. We heard how the celebrated 79 year old carries a toothbrush in his robes and will take it out and use it regularly wherever he is. He gets up very early, meditates for 2 hours, takes a walk, uses a treadmill, and goes to bed early, after a little more meditation. He subscribes to the life of a simple monk as much as his busy life allows.
The Dalai Lama says it is more important to meditate regularly rather than worry about how much. Meditate every day but don’t get too serious or obsessive about it.
Don’t worry about a problem. If you can solve it now, better to do so, then there is nothing to worry about.
He believes that meditation practice increases our compassion which will spread out to others. We become kinder and happier. Victor said that the Dalai Lama’s fundamental world view is that the purpose of life is to be happy. He encourages us to be selfish by focusing our effort on developing our own capacity for compassion for ourselves, because if we can’t be kind to ourselves, it is hard to be kind to others. We heard how once in India, when the Dalai Lama was very sick and in great pain, and very agitated, he noticed a boy on crutches scavenging for food. He immediately felt great compassion for the boy, and his own pain started to subside. His mind became more peaceful and he was more able to tolerate his suffering.
On being asked about the Dalai Lama Centre in Vancouver, Victor explained that its purpose is to focus on education of the heart by teaching qualities like empathy, altruism, kindness, and essentially how to get along with others. The centre is working to incorporate these teachings into the public education system. He said that already 3000 B.C. teachers have been trained in mindfulness meditation. In October 2014, the Dalai Lama will be making his next visit to Vancouver where he will visit a school, meet with educators, and give Buddhist teachings.
Submitted by Gillian Elcock