“In order to be happy we must first possess inner contentment; and inner contentment doesn´t come from having all we want; but rather from wanting and appreciating being grateful for all we have”
– His Holiness the Dalai Lama
There are a few photographs in my portfolio that I am proud of, not because of the technical superiority or quality, but because of the moment it captured, the privilege of being present, and the everlasting imprint on my soul that surpasses everything else. The photograph above is one such moment.
I have told the story before, but I am happy to tell you again about my family´s private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2014. Many expat wives will go on a shopping spree for jewellery before moving away from India for good, knowing full well that the prices and quality will never be found elsewhere around the world. I asked to have an audience with His Holiness instead, wanting to leave India with his blessing. Due to the nature of the work of my former husband at the time, the request for the audience came through quickly and granted without any further complications. On the contrary, it came with a huge surprise.
When we arrived at the meeting point, a hotel close to the New Delhi International Airport since His Holiness had just landed the night before from an extended speaking engagement in the Scandinavian countries, we were ushered through the usual security protocol, which is at par with any other head of state or the Pope. As we sat and waited, I wondered where the other visitors were, since audiences with the Dalai Lama are always in groups and the total audience takes about three minutes or so. A few minutes later His Holiness´Chief of Staff came around to usher us into the next room, and only then did I realize that we had been granted a private audience, and were completely on our own!
In the greater perspective of things 30 minutes is a drop in the ocean of time, but 30 minutes with the Dalai Lama is a lifetime gift that no diamond or emerald can ever top. We were blessed individually, each receiving the traditional Tibetan white silk scarf that welcomes and blesses a guest of honour, and had individual talks with His Holiness. My Asian appearance threw His Holiness off initially and he asked me point blank whether I was Tibetan, very amused at the story I told him about being mistaken for a member of the Tibetan Parliament during a photography assignment.
Today is Thanksgiving in the USA and although it is not my holiday, I give thanks for the moments, places and people who have shaped my life, character, and soul. Good or bad, the experiences have been all be opportunities to learn more about God, the world, and myself.
Generosity of the soul, Faith and Gratitude will always be my guiding principles on which I act, react, and choose. It all boils down to those precious first lessons: say please, thank you, and always share what you have.