Be the lamp

So, where did I leave off? Oh, right,  a 300 mile ride that brought me into Madison, WI, as evening fell. That’s probably the longest stretch of riding I will do until I make the drive from Washington D.C. to Maine. For now, there are many stops along the way, driving 50-200 miles at a time.

I was up very early, for me. Usually, my biochemistry doesn’t allow anything before 8:30 am. Doesn’t matter if I’ve had 8 hours of sleep, taking a flight to Hawaii, or am headed to work at the coffeeshop- an 8am rising will make me groggy all day long. The exception is the Dalai Lama.

Groups of families and individuals clustered around the entranceway into the Coliseum. Many people were wearing beautiful custom dresses.  It felt like I was attending church, until I took my seat on the third tier, in the noseblood section. The coliseum was just too big of a venue for this occasion.  My ticket in was free. A gentlemen clutched a handful of them and serendipitously began handing them out as I walked up.

This was great, as tickets were $55. I was going to go either way. This particular event has never happened in the US. The Dalai Lama was not there just to offer a speech to the public. He was there to teach. I was given 2 books, translated into English, and a pretty bag to carry them around.

First, I was frisked more attentively than any airport security ever has. Very high security! No cameras allowed.


This event coordinated the teachings with a Tenshug. Tenshug is a long established Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It not only strengthens the bond between the spiritual teacher and disciple but also motivates the teacher to live longer. Those who participate in this offering ceremony do so with pure motivation and dedication.  The Dalai Lama just celebrated his 73rd birthday. From a distance, his body is small, and his back bent. As though he has slouched too long. His voice and presence, however, are strong and powerful.

I was deeply affected by this leaders desire to empower, educate and foster his people. I have seen or studied no religion which places so much energy into educating it’s followers how to be better people. Expanding the thought,  a religion which is very firm that there will be non-judgement placed on others.

 “Be a lamp onto yourself” — to examine and test the truth of religious teachings before accepting them.

Buddhism is most concerned with whether an action is helpful, based on good intentions, and freedom from harm. Thus, a specific act can sometimes be either permissible or not permissible, depending upon its context. This differs from the positions taken by Christian faith groups. They often evaluate a specific action itself, based on whether it is good or evil according to a system of morality derived from that group’s interpretation of the Bible.”

I felt many emotions while at the teachings. One was complete awe for the infinite gratitude the Dalai Lamas people have. I watched them prostrate (pray) over and over again. The act of prayer involves stretching down to the ground, completely. Monks sat around his feet in brightly colored robes. From a distance they looked like flowers opening petals. And the stage was so commanding, with its vibrant colors, back drop of Buddha and a 15 foot throne.

We stood everytime the Dalai Lama stood. He read from the texts in Tibetan. This put me to sleep a couple of times. His voice is hypnotic. I would jump awake when the translator began speaking.

Every passage he read from and examined, are topics that have been on my mind. Not that he did it for me, but I was in the right place, indubitably.

Quoted from the books and explored in depth by the Dalai Lama:
the perfection of zeal
“Uprooting its opposite in this way, one should strive to increase one’s zeal with the powers of aspiration, self confidence, delight, letting go, dedication and determination.”

One should apply self-confidence to these three: actions, secondary mental afflictions and ability.

“I alone should do it” expresses self -confidence with regard to action.
***not egotistcal  pride but self confidence says the DL.
This was helpful because I’ve wondered if I had rushed to make this trip, doing it alone as a consequence. People ask why alone? They seem judgemental sometimes-as though another rider would make my sanity legit. I never stopped to think hard about waiting for another. I felt this was the mission and it had to happen right away.

the perfection of meditation
thus, although working for the benefit of others, there is neith conceit nor dismay; and on account of the thirst for the single goal of benefitting others, there is no desire for the result of the maturation of one’s karma.”

***SO, you don’t practice kindness to build credit for yourself. You don’t do it based on any incentive other than to selflessly help others, help improve the world.

Training the mind and compassion.
In which he mentioned that part of pursuing your goals is to know when rest is appropriate.

I mingled about the grounds after the four hours of teaching and met some new friends.

Then I went over to Amy’s house, my host for the night. I met her through It turns out she actually won a raffle prize awhile ago. Neat. i had forgotten.

She seemed very nice from the minute we met. Since my riding pants, my only pants, were destroyed, we went shopping. At Goodwill I found a pair. Not perfect, but roomy with pockets and only $4.

Amy has owned her St. Tropez for just a brief time, but is a confident rider. She showed me around town and took me to a fantastic diner. Walking in, I thought I would only find pancakes and greasy spoons. But they had a wonderful selection of organic veggies, vegetarian, meat and vegan dishes.

It was an early night. I forgot to take a picture of Amy for my collection. I snapped one of her dog, with my camera phone. He looked like my dog’s big brother. Which Daphne says, “Is hard to think of him having any family other than humans.” Because my dog acts like one. But he has a brother in Madison, i tell you.

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