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The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama

By Raghavmodi @raghavmodi
                                                  The Penguin Annual Lecture 2011

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Photo - Penguin India

I had last seen His Holiness The Dalai Lama sometime in the mid 1990s. Our school had finally decided to inaugurate the auditorium, which I paid for almost 12 years, just before I graduated. His Holiness was the chief guest and needless to say it was quite an event. Unfortunately, I don't remember much from his visit then. It probably had to do with the fact that my crush of the time was seated just two seats below me or maybe I was just too immature to appreciate his wisdom, but when the time came to hear him speak now, thanks to the wonderful people at Penguin India, I was not to let go of the chance.

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Photo - Penguin India

Talking about "The Art of Happiness", The Dalai Lama spoke about numerous issues and events that revolve around us in our everyday lives. His spoken words were a great insight into his ideologies, but more so an instrument that made the audience question their own beliefs. He spoke softly, clearly, and slowly enough to let each word seep into the minds of the audience, checking occasionally if his pronunciations were correct. 
Speaking to nearly 1500 members about the problems of the world he categorized the biggest issues as "self-centeredness" and "lack of knowledge" amongst the living. Hearing him talk about "sensory level consciousness", "mental level consciousness", and the "law of causality", the event could easily be mistaken for a physics lecture, but to the people present it was more about understanding the basics of happiness. He also talked about how we need to think hard about positive and negative karma. Although, there is no absolute positive or negative, we need to always question our actions and perform what leads us on a positive path.   

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Photo - Penguin India

What really struck me during the entire event was the aura around The Dalai Lama. There was a certain glow and an almost permanent smile that lingered on his face while talking and later while answering questions of the public. Even though I am not a Buddhist and have never seriously explored it, I could feel certain calmness by just looking at him and hearing him speak.
The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Another pleasantly surprising characteristic of The Dalai Lama was his sense of humor. Whether answering politically sensitive questions or questions of everyday life, he always had a way to make the audience look at the lighter side of life and make them laugh. But, even after being the bearer of all this wisdom there was a slight momentary hint of sadness that flickered on his face when he talked about having to leave his beloved Tibet. His humbleness captured the room as he went about doing his everyday chores (taking his medication/vitamins - I couldn't tell) casually as he answered questions. His presence was such that although he spoke to the entire room, one could feel that he addressed everyone individually. 

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Photo - Penguin India

So did the talk make a difference? Yes. It wasn't life changing, but I do think about what The Dalai Lama said and that brings clarity in me. I know I am not perfect and will never be, but if his words can make me at least think about my actions and my reactions and help me move a step or two towards a better life, towards happiness, then I'd say that the talk was a success.
The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Once again, thank you to the team of The Annual Penguin Lecture 2011 for sending the invites and also a special thanks to Penguin India for letting me use their photographs. 

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