The Dalai Lama

In 1938 a two year old boy was recognised through a traditional process of discovery as being the reincarnation of all previous Dalai Lamas, the spiritual rulers of Tibet.

Have almost finished the Dalai Lamas autobiography ‘Freedom in Exile.’ It was a fantastic read, especially for someone who loves autobiographies, Buddhism and virtuous figures with whom to aspire. The above quote emphasises his message which runs like a thread throughout the book. With this in mind, I though it would be a nice idea to share a few stories from his life, and a few concepts which come from Buddhism. Here is an overview. 

In 1938 a two year old boy was recognised through a traditional process of discovery as being the reincarnation of all previous Dalai Lamas, the spiritual rulers of Tibet (more about this in a coming blog). Taken away from his parents, he was brought up in Lhasa according to a monastic regimen of rigorous austerity. Which, from the Dalai Lamas own words, he did not like one bit! Aged seven he was enthroned in the 1000 room Potala palace as the supreme leader of a nation the size of Western Europe, with a population of six million people. At the age of fifteen he became head of state. 

With Tibet under threat from the communist Chinese, there followed a traumatic time in trying to hold on onto the freedom of his people whilst having to maintain his Buddhist precepts of peace and non-violence, therefore avoiding any sort of war or conflict.  

Then, in 1959, he was forced into exile- followed by over 100,000 destitute refugees. Since that time, in exile in the Himalayan village of Dharamsala, he has devoted himself to the plight of his people and to promoting world peace through an unwavering policy of non-violence.

He continues to live his life pursuing the Bodhisattva ideal. According to Buddhist thought, a Bodhisattva is someone on the path to Buddhahood who dedicates themselves entirely to helping other sentient beings towards release from suffering. 

Release from Suffering. Isn’t that what we are all trying to achieve? Whether to you that means; finding your next meal, getting away from a poisonous relationship, or removing certain circumstance in life which promote stress and anxiety. I believe there are many ways at doing this, following the Dharma being one of them. The Dalai Lama inspires one to not only remove as much suffering you can from your current life situation, but also to do the same for your loved ones, and by extension all sentient beings. Because if we concentrate on our similarities instead of our differences, we will notice that we are all human beings, consisting of flesh and bone, and that we are all experiencing suffering to some degree. This should bring us closer together, rather than encouraging division. 

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Milarepa 

The life of Milarepa is one of the most beloved stories of the land of Tibetan, and a beautiful example of the contemplative life. By learning about this great Lama one can also glean an introduction into Tibetan Buddhism. It presents the quest for purification and attainment in a single lifetime, tracing the path of a great sinner who became a great Saint. It is also a powerfully evocative narrative, full of magic, miracle, suspense, and humor, while reflecting the religious and social life of medieval Tibet.  

I will share a scene from his life here. One that shows his harsh aesetic lifestyle as well as his sense of humour and compassion for mankind. 

“One night a man came looking for any food or belongings I might have. He scoured the entire  cave but I burst out laughing and said, ‘see if you can find something at night in this place where I can find nothing by day.’ He laughed too and then went away.

About another year had passed when several hunters from Tsa who had failed to catch any game appeared. I was clothed in three cloth sacks tied with a jute rope and resting in meditative equipoise. They prodded me with the ends of their bows and said, ‘is this a man or a ghost? Judging by its looks and its garb, it probably a ghost.’ 

I opened my mouth and said, ‘I am most definitely a man.’ Recognising the gap in my teeth, they asked, ‘are you Topaga?’ ‘I am’ I replied. ‘In that case we request some food for now, which we will not fail to repay later. It was said that you once returned to the village, but that was many years ago. Have you been living here all the while since then?’ 

‘I have indeed,’ I replied. ‘But I have nothing agreeable for you to eat.’ ‘We will take whatever you eat. That will be enough for us.’ ‘Very well then, build a fire and cook some nettles.’ 

When they had built a fire and cooked some nettles they said, ‘now we need some meat or fat to season it.’ ‘If I had meat it fat my food would not have lacked nourishment, but I have not had any for years. For seasoning, use nettles.’ 

‘In that case, we need some barley flour,’ they said. I replied, ‘if I had flour my food would not have lacked substance, but I have not had any for years. For flour, too, use nettles.’ 

‘Well then,’ they added’ ‘we can not do without salt.’ I replied, ‘if I had salt my food would not have lacked flavour, but I have not had any for years. For salt, use nettles.’ 

They said, ‘Definitely, with your food and clothing, you will never improve your appearance or regain your strength. This is not becoming of a man. Even a servant had a full belly and warm clothes. There is no one in the world more miserable or pitiful than you.’ 

I replied, ‘Having renounced this life, I am meditating alone in the mountains and devoting myself to achieving this enduring aim. I have sacrificed food, clothing, and conversation and in this life I shall defeat my enemies, the mental afflictions. For this reason reason, there is there is no one in the world more courageous and high-minded than me.’ 

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RAKtivist

Follwing on from my Random acts of Kindness post, I came across an organisation that embodies random acts of kindness and labels its members RAKTIVISTS. 

What is a raktivist?

‘RAKtivist’ is short for ‘Random Acts of Kindness activist’. Think of RAKtivists like kindness ambassadors—and, like all ambassadors, they’re a part of an active, global community.

RAKtivists are everywhere. The student who stops to hold the door open for a teacher with her hands full? They’re a RAKtivist. The commuter who offers their bus seat to an elderly passenger? They’re a RAKtivist too. The parking attendant who leaves a note on someone’s car, complimenting their parking skills? You guessed it. RAKtivist.

 Anyone who believes kindness can change the world, who reminds everyone around them how much love there is in the world, who inspires hope and generosity with their actions as much as their words—they’re a RAKtivist.
I have become more interested in the Dalai Lama recently, for is this man not the spiritual ambassador of compassion and kindness? Just read the opening chapter to his autobiography and will likely share any stories I think you may like in the coming weeks. 

All this happening together, beginning the Dalai Lamas autobiography and receiving an email from RAK informing me that I am officially a raktivist has a sense of synchronicity about it. I will embrace this moment and try and live up to my newest title: RAKTIVIST. 

A recommendation from their email states: “Imagine what the world would be like if thousands of people became RAKtivists and EVERYONE committed just one act of kindness every month. That is why we need your help. This will start a world movement.” 

Just one act every month! Surely we can do better than that. 



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Nike

Many of us are aware of Nike as the famous sports brand. But there is much symbolism that goes into branding, particularly Nike. The Greek Goddess of Victory is the first symbol. The second is their mantra ‘Just do it!’ These two together create many subconscious associations for the consumer and athlete. 

The Goddess 

Nike in ancient Greek religion, was a goddess who personified victory, also known as the Winged Goddess of Victory. Victory in both war, and peaceful competition. Nike was often depicted in ancient Greek vase painting with a variety of attributes including a wreath or sash to crown a victor, and a lyre for the celebration of victory in song. In scenes of the War of the Giants she appears as the charioteer of Zeus. In mosaic art and coins Nike is often shown holding a palm branch as a symbol of victory.

The Nike executives have even said that her presence symbolized victory, and she was said to have presided over some of history’s earliest battles. 

The Mantra 

Just Do It! When you think of successful people in any field, you think of them working hard, aiming high, being productive, staying focussed. They are often people who act, rather than thinking about or planning an action, only to never get round to performing it. For all of us who know what procrastination feels like, imagine an angry drill sergeant screaming at you to, “Just do!” Whatever it was that you were putting off. Things would get done!! 

So these two things together. The mantra and the goddess. It’s plain to see why Nike is such a huge brand. If it’s directors live by their mantra, and have the Goddess of Victory watching over them, is it a surprise to see it sitting atop the sports market? 

Then there are its exemplary athletes, the best of those knew how to get it done, when it needed to get done. Here’s a few that come to mind; Micheal Jordon, Tiger Woods, Roger Federa and Serena Williams. Individuals who epitomised the brand. 

Jordon was renowned for dominating the game and scoring points at crucial moments. Federas ease and balance at navigating his way round the court and hitting winners. Woods’ ability to hold putts when it was required so comfortably is a clear sign of the confidence he had when he was in his prime. I can almost imagine him in his most confident days, having a dialogue with Nike, goddess of victory in his mind. “This ones important”, Woods would say, “must make for the win”. And Nike would reply nonchalantly “Just do it then”!! And vanish into thin air. Serena Williams looks like she is the Greek Goddess of victory when she steps on the court! 

This brings us to an important principle: Comfidence. All of these players in their prime exuded confidence, they knew they would win at certain points in their career, and they did. Nike was looking over them. 

How can this be related to our own lives. Well, if we compete at anything, we should start visualising ourselves winning. Visualising what’s necessary to win. Imagine the goddess Nike is on our side and is willing us to win. Give it a try, it has worked for Nike and their athletes, and it can work for you. Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude. 

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Random Acts of Kindness


This morning I bumped into a good friend of mine who subscribes and reads my blog regularly. After greeting one another his first question was; ‘have you done a random act of kindness yet today?’ Referring to yesterday’s blog post. I scanned back through my morning and realised that I had yet to perform a random act of kindness. This got us talking about the act itself, the most important thing, for thinking about being kind, and helping/serving/assisting someone is completely different than actually performing a random act of kindness.

He then mentioned an act of kindness towards one of his children over the weekend. This act, although kind and loving, was not random. Our loved ones; children, spouse, siblings, parents are all a part of our life, a part of our world, and by loving and serving these people in our lives, we are, by doing so, enriching our own lives at the same time. We should go out of our way to help and assist our parents, especially if they have difficulty. It is our duty to be kind and loving to those who are kind and love us. 

So, then who can benefit from our random acts of kindness? I would say those who have little karma with ourselves. Strangers. Individuals whom we have never set eyes on before, or people we see occasionally and are familiar enough to nod at, or greet with good morning.

Kindness is being open, open to the needs of others. Meanness, selfishness and cruelty is to forget about others and only think of ourselves. These are the only reasons my friend and I could come up with for not being able to perform an act of kindness when the need presented itself. “I’ve got somewhere to be, no time, I’m sorry”. This could be a reason for not being able to help. The main one though, is the fact that many of us are not actively seeking opportunities to help others. 

Look around. Is there someone to help or assist in your immediate environment? What about the space just outside where you are? Ques of people lining up to get help? Probably not. Most of us want to feel strong and independent, and won’t ask for help when we need it, but will instead struggle on, alone. This is why it helps to remain attentive if you are seeking opportunities to practice a random act of kindness! 

Looking back to the previous post which sparked this thought process and activism we find two quotes, one from the Dalai Lama, and one from Morgan Freeman. 

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” 
How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.

To add an exclamation point to the quotes, I will share one from Mahatma Gandhi; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” If I want to see and experience a more kind, considerate, loving world, then I must become more kind and considerate. Simples. 

My request to you, who have made it this far. Become an activist in random acts of kindness. Leave home in the morning with the goal to randomly help one individual, however small it may seem. See how it makes you feel, how grateful your receiver of kindness is at interacting with a kind friendly face willing to help. Then, if you feel the effort was not too great, try and help one more person. If you continue to feel good and enjoy being of service to other people, why would you stop? 

Looking over my last post on kindness, and the content of this post, makes me feel at times that I am just preaching. Be happy, be positive, be kind! 

Anyone who this post resonates with. If you feel happy and inspired after reading this. Looking forward to tomorrow and another opportunity. An opportunity for a random act of kindness, or two, or three…….. And better still, if you see someone who needs help, who needs assistance, who needs kindness, and you act on it, please share it somehow. Either here on WordPress, or if you come across the link on Twitter or Facebook. And after you have shared the link, share a recent random act of kindness. 

I will begin. Today, two people asked me for directions, and I helped them to find the right direction. I had a nice positive chat with my friend, the one mentioned above, which inspired me to write this post and think about being more kind throughout the day. This in turn intensified and caused me to text my dad a reconciling text message. 

The night is young. There are many more people to help! 😀 be an activist. Let me know. 

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Kindness 


My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” 

― Dalai Lama XIV

Just imagine the whole world adopting this religion! What a world it would become. But we can start with ourselves right now. One random act of kindness at a time. When was the last time you performed a random act of kindness? Have you ever? Try today, and see what an amazing feeling it brings with it. Let me know how you get on.

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Popular Zen Story

The Theif who became a Disciple.

I am re-sharing this story as it continues to be popular four years after the first time I shared it. People search and read this post, even when I am quiet and inactive on the blog. Enjoy, and remember that through free will, you can control your mind and emotions. 

This Zen story beautifully shows that one has a choice to react to circumstances however one wishes. This is not easy and takes much practice and effort, but if one wishes to be less irritable, angry or miserable, make it your aim, keep it constantly in mind, and see what comes. On to the story, but before you begin reading, ask yourself how you would react if a stranger came into your house demanding your possessions or your life!?

One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered demanding either his money or his life. Shichiri told him “don’t disturb me, you can find the money in the draw”. A little while afterward he stopped and called, “don’t take it all, I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow”. The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. “Thank a person when you receive a gift,” Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off. A few days afterwards the man was caught and confessed, among others, this offence against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness he said, “This man is no thief, at least not as far as i’m concerned. I gave him the money and he thanked me for it.” After he had finished his prison term, the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple.

Keep your aim in mind throughout this coming week, whatever it is you would like to increase or reduce. Know that anything is possible. 

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