Friday, August 22, 2008

Dalai Lama: Kindness is My Religion

In mid-July I went to Madison, WI to see the Dalai Lama. It was a week-long event of Buddhist teachings, ending with a Life-Long Celebration in honor of the Dalai Lama's birthday.

I'm not Buddhist and I had a lot of trouble understanding much of what the Dalai Lama and his interpreter said. Nonetheless, my experience was profound. There was something healing about just sitting respectfully before this gentle man who emanates an almost tangible sense of peace. The Dalai Lama was certainly remarkable; and so were the thousands who attended the sessions. There was a collective sense of kindness that made standing in long lines, crying babies, and squeaking chairs -- the sort of things about large groups of people I usually find annoying -- seem totally fine.

As I flew home to San Francisco after the event, I was inspired to write a post but really couldn't articulate a connection between the Dalai Lama and The Job Lounge. Sure, the Dalai Lama had answered a few questions from the audience about career change, but that wasn't what I wanted to talk about. I couldn't put my finger on what I wanted to say so I put off writing this post.

A few days ago I read Penelope Trunk's post, Living up to your potential is BS in which she discusses pressures we put on ourselves and our careers. Here's a short excerpt that struck home for me:
You are who you are, and you should just be you. Have realistic, meaningful goals for your life, like: Be kind. Be engaged. Be optimistic. Be connected. Most people who say they are not living up to their potential are not talking about this most-important stuff.

Then I remembered my favorite quote from the Dalai Lama: Kindness is my religion.

Could it be that simple? I don't know, but maybe if we concentrate more on kindness than ambition, we'll all get along better and fulfill our potential.

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