Our Ladakh summer program has come to a close and the group departed Delhi early this morning. They arrived in Seattle on August 7th at 1:10pm. One of the highlights from the trip was a very special experience we have never had before in 18 years of running programs in Himalayas – a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama!
Just before we had left the US for India, the Dalai Lama announced he would be hosting a three-day teaching in the Zanskar Valley during the time we would be there. A good friend of ours, Geshe Yonten, was the Zanskari translator for the event and said he could arrange the meeting with the Dalai Lama. We were a little apprehensive at first to accept this gracious offer.The Dalai Lama’s time is very limited and we wondered if it would be better spent with local Zanskaris. Geshe Yonten thought the cross-cultural programs and water projects that we are doing in Stongdey are important and said it would only be a brief visit. So we agreed and had the incredible honor of a private audience with the Dalai Lama.
He started by asking us what we had learned in Zanskar and then talked about the importance of compassion and unity in creating a more peaceful 21st century. He said that America is the leader of the world and was founded on great principles of democracy, liberty, human rights, and freedom. However, he thought the current America first agenda has it wrong. While we need to represent our citizens a first priority, as a global leader, we also need to represent the world, especially with global warming. He emphasized the oneness of humanity and said it is false that the different regions are not dependent upon one another. He closed by challenging all of us, and particularly the younger generation, to work to the best of our abilities towards contributing to humanity and creating a better world.
It was a special moment for all of us and one that we hope to live hope to his challenge.