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Lions Roar : September 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2013 34 With his prostrations done, he walked to a treadmill tucked away by the window. He hung his prayer beads on the handlebar next to a draped towel and began to pace rapidly on the moving belt. Almost immediately, he closed his eyes as he surrendered to the machine’s rhythm and meditated as he exercised. It was a much faster version of walking meditation. After showering, the Dalai Lama took me up to the roof of the residence. The surrounding mountains were still dark, their barely discernable outlines untouched by the sun. Tiny tendrils of smoke curled from unseen chimneys and then dissipated in the chilly air. Further down the Kangra Valley, a sprinkling of lights from the Indian towns could be seen in the distance. It was so early the birds had not yet begun their songs. The Dalai Lama stared into the distance, absorbing the quiet, allowing all of his senses to experience the tranquil majesty of the surroundings. He was very present, undistracted by my being next to him. As I watched him, standing perfectly still, one hand lightly resting on the green metal railing, I was touched by the ineffable grace of the moment. It was chilly and we didn’t stay long on the roof. After we returned to his room, the Dalai Lama immediately went into meditation. He sat on a cushion behind his desk, a circular, gold- painted mahogany panel at his back. He glasses were off, and the entirety of his visage, the embodiment of a life lived to the fullest, was on display. There were dark pouches beneath his eyes, and deep fissures ran down the sides of his face to his chin. His face effortlessly projected gravitas and wisdom. As the Dalai Lama meditated, his body swayed slightly from time to time, like a metronome. His eyes were partly closed but I could see occasional fluttering of the eyeballs within their sockets. At times they would roll upward for a couple of beats and I could see the white expanse of his eyes. His hands rested on his lap, fingers click- ing his prayer beads rhythmically. I was uncomfortable, sensing my intrusion into something that was extraordinarily private. I had no doubt the Dalai Lama was in a deep and special place. He would tell me later that his meditating mind was not as quies- cent as, say, that of a Zen monk. It was actively shaping his moti- vation for the day, occupied with how to deepen his compassion. He aspires to be kind to everyone and to help relieve suffering in whatever way he can. Rational analysis at this time allows him to strengthen and ascertain an important insight: that by being com- passionate to others, he himself benefits by having peace of mind. After four hours, it was time to take my leave. He grasped my hand firmly and led me to one of the cabinets, where he picked out a small grey stone carving of an Indian monastery with an ornate central tower atop a two-story podium. Four smaller towers anchored the four directions. “Temple in Bodh Gaya. For you,” the Dalai Lama said. PHOTOSBYDONFARBER The face of wisdom and compassion: the Dalai Lama in meditation.