It probably seems that we've been gadding about a lot recently, and don't really live a frugal life in Wiltshire at all. Although the shoestring part of Everyday Life On A Shoestring still pertains, life has been anything but mundane and everyday. May/June 2012 has seen the convergence of two special family birthdays involving the numbers 4, 7, and 0 (twice), (Happy Birthday today Mum!) and also the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the UK. All of these things have necessitated trips north of the M4, a rare occurrence for us (honest)!
Unlike Mum and Sister, the Dalai Lama didn't specifically request that I go to Manchester to see him, so it wasn't truly a necessity, but for me, it was too good an opportunity to miss. All three events, the birthdays and the DL's Manchester visit, are the kind of thing that make all the scrimping and saving, the eating pasta with ketchup, and the Ebaying worthwhile.
And if anyone inspires me to live a simpler, greener way of life, it is the Dalai Lama.
One of the themes of his visit to the UK has been about inspiring young people to be the change in this Century; it is their generation that can bring about greater peace in the world and take better care of the planet. To this end, his talk on Saturday was aimed at young people, and Russell Brand (who has been very supportive of the Tibetan cause) was MC. (I wasn't the only one to be surprised at this pairing! But having seen the pair in action, I think it was a very shrewd move on the organisers' part; you might even call it 'skilful means' (a Buddhist concept that I think involves adopting an unusual stance in order to get the message across). Not only did the involvement of Brand generate far more publicity than the event might otherwise have garnered and give it a distinctly informal flavour, but it demanded that we set aside our judgements and preconceptions (which for most of us will have been media-fed), and see him as 'just another human brother or sister' (to quote the Dalai Lama). The DL exhorted us to be honest and open, and Russell Brand is certainly extremely honest and open about his demons, and from what I have read he is confronting them, and using meditation to help him in this.)
Where on earth do I begin! I've seen him on TV, watched DVDs, and read some of his books, but I was still not prepared for the humble Dalai Lama's sheer humanity, humour and wisdom. How refreshing to listen to someone who has celebrity status but none of the trappings - no voice coaching, no special body language, no personal dresser, no special effects, no audio visual aids. I could write at length, but instead I give you, in true blog style and in no particular order, my favourite Dalai Lama 'things' from the weekend:
- We are all human brothers and sisters. The other labels we give ourselves are pretty meaningless.
- Your negative emotions will end up damaging yourself rather than others, so cultivate positive emotions and optimism.
- Violence always has unintended consequences.
- Condemn the action not the person.
- NEVER give up hope!
- Be honest and truthful!
- Be sceptical.
- Pay attention to and cultivate inner values such as compassion and warm-heartedness.
- We have created these economic and environmental difficulties, so logically, we can also create solutions.
- Moral ethics must be included in modern education.
- This planet is our only home, so we must take care of it and all do our bit. Little things matter. The Dalai Lama (like me!) showers rather than baths, turns lights off and takes other small actions when he is staying in hotels. Ecology should become a daily habit!
- A materialistic way of life has little value, and with problems such as obesity we are seeing that a luxurious lifestyle doesn't equate with a healthy lifestyle.
- The DL goes to bed at 7pm and wakes at 3.30am, like clockwork, even when he travels, which is more than can be said of his bowels! ("Too much information!" said Russell.)
- That Dalai Lama chuckle!
- The Dalai Lama's warmth. He hugged, held hands or pressed foreheads with all those he shared the stage with, and in the case of Russell Brand, tugged his beard! When he leaves the stage, he leaves slowly and mindfully, greeting all the sound engineers and security staff.
On the way home, we shared our train carriage with someone who'd been there and bought the T shirt, which quoted the Dalai Lama:
Be kind, whenever possible
It is always possible
on one side, and:
Remember that NOT getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck
I don't think everyday life will get this exciting for ELOAS for quite some time, so normal service will resume, no more gadding about for a while, just gardening, knitting, pasta and ketchup, all with a warm heart.