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VTA Ride to Dalai Lama

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October 12 being my birthday is spent a little differently from others. It has been a long practice with me to renew my existence every birthday by recharging the soul with various sunrise rituals incorporating earth, wind, fire, air and water. Few old friends aware of this practice join me in the practice and we have a special drink of freshly squeezed fruit juices and some home made sweets thereafter.
I was going through the numerous birthday wishes on Facebook that morning when I stumbled across a post announcing the presence of Dalai Lama the next day at my alma mater San Jose State University. Somehow the post seemed to speak to me and I made up my mind to go and see Dalai Lama. He had a sold out audience of over 20,000 the previous day, and the next day’ s event was in a more intimate setting of only 5000, sold out too. I was always fascinated by Dalai Lama and surely would have booked the tickets had I known in advance, but this was unfair, a Facebook post on my birthday announcing his visit after it had already sold out.
Still I decided to give it a try. The next morning I repeated my birthday rituals at sunrise and felt at peace with an inner voice assuring me everything would be fine. Doctors rescheduled surgeries, CPAs postponed audits and divas cancelled manicures to catch a glimpse of the man in saffron, but they already had tickets. I knew there was a ticket
waiting for me too, but did not know where. Traffic downtown during sold out events is a nightmare and drivers sit in their cars looking enviably at youngsters in skateboards whizzing by. Moreover, it is a pain finding adequate parking on weekday mornings within a decent walking distance. I hopped onto a VTA bus early that morning riding on a wing and a prayer. Eventually, I got off at the crowded Fourth Street stop and started the long walk to the Event Center. When I got there at 0915 am the ticket window was closed and a meter maid advised, the window never opened the whole day as a security precaution. The event was to begin at 0930 am, with a mile long queue outside the entrance and I slowly began my walk to the end of the line looking for that “ one extra ticket” . The answer was invariably the same, “ sorry” , “ no” , “ they’ re, sold out” . I decided to enjoy the ambience nonetheless and breathed deeply while looking at the palm trees, crowd and the tranquil monks congregating in their saffron robes in small groups. Finally the line started moving in, it was 0925 am, still no tickets.
I blessed the lucky ones as the end of the queue came in view and was soon to disappear and was getting ready for my long walk back to Fourth Street when a friendly man spoke, “ It is going to be good.” “ Yes” , I replied, “ only if I could get in” . The man in his thirties looked at me smiled and whipped out two tickets out of his pockets after a brief pause and exclaimed, “ Do you need tickets … know anybody else that needs one? The monks from the Geden Center gave them to me for the Amitabha Initiation .” It was a surreal moment, I was dumbstruck, I looked at the Good Samaritan and got behind him in queue as the line moved in. “ I can’ t thank you enough …. Mr. …” I stammered. We shook hands. “ I am Tim Trumpeter a practicing Buddhist. Good Karma must be .. eh,? ” . I gave a sly wink and replied “ Sanjoy Ganguly here, truly delighted to meet you, an enquiring mind.” Tickets in our pocket we were off to see the living ambassador of peace.
Inside, I was ready for another shock. The tickets were only seven rows away from the podium, smack in the middle. Row G, Seat 18! I was seated among the Geden Center’ s other invitees, mostly practicing Buddhists very reverential and friendly souls. We chatted for a while, exchanging views on peace, diligently avoiding topics of war and skipping any mention of Satan. Finally, the moment arrived. ALL RISE! We stood as the Om Mani …. prayer reverberated over the sound system. Dalai Lama walked in, a serene stout and kindly soul of medium height in his saffron robes smiling pleasantly. The junior monks on the podium bowed and watched as Dalai Lama ascended his Yellow Throne. The throne was more like a wooden podium with stairs leading upto it with a bright yellow background embellished with mandala paintings.
Then he spoke in a playful baritone voice as full of wisdom as brimming with mirth. His message was of compassion in humans, tolerance among religions and unity of nations. He was there at the special invitation of six monks from the fledgling Geden Shoeling Center for the Amitabha Permission Initiation to promote Buddhism. He spoke of meditation and conquest of the inner self. I listened transfixed to the simple man with a profound message for the next two hours. Was it my inner voice, Good Karma or telepathy that my VTA ride ended up in seeing Dalai lama? One message I am still trying to decipher is the chuckling monk declaring, “ Drink, but little, little.” Cheers, Dalai Lama, here’ s some freshly squeezed carrot juice to you.

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Aww... looks like it was a

Haresh's picture

Aww... looks like it was a nice experience you had.

I'm an atheist. I haven't read much about Dalai Lama. But, from whatever little I know about him, I admire him.

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