It was a fantastic experience, being in McLeod Ganj last week and personally receiving blessings from His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. McLeod Ganj is a suburb of Dharamshala, located in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India. The Tibetan Government-in-exile is headquartered in this district. As anticipated, the experience was beyond words. However, another incident that took place during my stay in McLeod Ganj turned out to be life-changing, and I would love to share it with you all.
When I was in McLeod Ganj, I decided to attend the 3-day teaching that was scheduled to be taken by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. However, to attend those teachings, we were required to get an entry pass issued from the temple office situated in the main market of McLeod Ganj. The next day around 8:00 AM, when I reached the office, I saw more than 100 people waiting in the queue. Though I had anticipated a big crowd, still seeing such numbers, and in the early hours of the morning took me by surprise. As I stood in the line waiting for my turn, to my horror, I saw another queue starting to build on the other side of the office.
Now, with the two queues on either side, it was inevitable for the situation to turn chaotic. Very soon, people on both sides started jostling each other. Also, the registration process was extremely slow. The fatigue and frustration of standing for hours with no food and water finally overtook many, resulting in cursing and scuffling. People on both sides started to push through to enter the office.
As the situation worsened with no sign of relief, I noticed the old lady who was standing right behind me stepping out of the queue. She walked up to a fruit vendor who had opened his shop but was sitting helplessly on the side with no chance of any business. His shop was completely blocked by the people standing in the queue. The old lady purchased a few kilos of oranges and apples from the shopkeeper. I could see a sigh of relief on the shopkeeper’s face as he made his first-morning sale.
The lady then requested him to help her carry the fruits as she walked up to every person in the queue. Without saying much, she started to distribute the oranges and apples among the people. Such an altruistic display of compassion and kindness took everyone by surprise and it brought back a smile on those tense faces. I was thunderstruck by the power of compassion on display as I observed a total shift in the energies all around. A few more people including myself stepped up and volunteered to sponsor tea and biscuits for everyone. What was pure hell a few minutes back, transformed into heavenly bliss of camaraderie amongst all.
I realized that without developing and demonstrating compassion in our thoughts, words, or actions, the learnings from the texts or teachings remain theoretical and ineffective. A random act of compassion can turn around any situation and defines the essence of ‘Being Human’. No wonder, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of compassion in all his teachings. It is love and compassion that fuels an altruistic aspiration for enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings or Bodhicitta – a Mind of Enlightenment. Such an altruistic mind is a prerequisite to comprehending and cognizing reality to become a Bodhisattva or a Jeevan Mukta (enlightened while living).