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"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

A fumbling Dalai Lama shows us the spiritual frontier

May 26, 2009

Robert V. Thompson
The Examiner (Denver, USA)
May 24, 2009

HIs Holiness The Dalai Lama tells a story on
himself. A number of years ago he was slated to
give a talk in Tokyo. He sat on the platform
awaiting his turn. The host gave a beautiful and
extravagant speech about the gorgeous arrangement
of flowers on the table that were to be given to
the guest of honor. When the speech concluded,
The Dalai Lama assuming that he was the guest of
honor, got out of his chair and walked across the
platform in the direction of the flowers—when he
heard the speaker say the flowers were intended
for somebody else he returned to his chair, embarrassed and blushing.

Few would deny that His Holiness the Dalai
Lama  is someone who’s pretty good at being a
spiritual being on a human journey. Many people
believe he is a fully enlightened being, a
Buddha. But when asked who he really is, he
always answers the same way, “I am just a simple
monk”. And he says this so authentically and with
such sincerity that there’s little doubt he really means it.

We are spiritual beings on a human journey and to
understand this means that we don’t know always
know when to get up, when to sit down, how to get
to where we want to go or what we will find along the way.

Many people believe an enlightened spiritual
being can walk on water, has a bag supernatural
tricks, doesn’t have difficulties or pain and
especially doesn’t have worries. A truly
enlightened spiritual being always knows how to
do the right thing at the right time in the right way.

It’s true that the human journey takes us from
place to place and person to person and sometimes
we go with the flow, sometimes we resist.

Life causes us to change our location -- we move
from here to there but the deeper question is
what happens in us when circumstances change.

There is the story of the Zen Master who stood
before his students. As he was about to deliver
his sermon he opened his mouth—but before a word
came out, a bird just outside the window began to sing.

The Zen master stood silently until the bird
stopped singing. Ah, the Zen Master said, the sermon has just been delivered.

The song of transformation begins as the heart opens.

The spiritual frontier awaits us in the inner space of the heart.

Wherever my heart closes is my spiritual
frontier. Wherever your heart closes is your
spiritual frontier. We happen upon our spiritual
frontier at the darndest times and with the most
surprising people. We never know when the heart
will close. But we all know what it feels like
when the heart closes—walls itself off—armors
itself against an experience or some other
person. Keeping our distance, we push back
inside—but when we do this we back away from the
borders of our own spiritual frontier.

Nobody ever really changes unless there is a
change of heart. Brother David Stendl-Rast
writes, "When we reach our innermost heart, we
reach a realm where we are not only intimately at
home with ourselves, but intimately united with
others, all others. The heart is never a lonely
place. It is the realm where solitude and
togetherness coincide. Our own experience proves
this, does it not? Can one ever say, “Now I am
truly together with myself, yet I remain
alienated from others? Or could one say, “I am
truly together with others, or even just with one
other person I love, yet I remain alienated from
myself?" Unthinkable! The moment we are one with
ourselves, we are one with all others.  We have overcome alienation.

The spiritual frontier is within us. When we
choose to enter this spiritual frontier we become
more than we are by waking up to who we are already.

* Robert V. Thompson is an Examiner from Chicago.
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