The Dalai Lama: The Lamp for Our Path

Jan Willis reflects on why the world needs His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his message of compassion, peace, and joyfulness more than ever.

Jan Willis
1 August 2017
the 14th Dalai Lama
Photo by Thomas Imo / Alamy Stock Photo.

Some people’s very presence in the world gives hope, solace, and courage to the rest of us. Their life and being is a gift to us all. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is such a person.

Though his country was invaded by the Chinese Liberation Army in 1950 and he has witnessed firsthand the attempted destruction of his people and their culture, he is not bitter. Rather, he forgives. This remarkable ability to forgive and to remain without bitterness is striking to all who meet him. His abiding compassion, peace, and joyfulness are hallmarks of the man.

He shows us that the end of suffering is possible.

One of His Holiness’s predecessors, the great sage Atisha, titled his famed work A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is assuredly such a lamp. He is a principal exemplar of his Buddhist faith—a nonviolent man in a violent world, a peacemaker in a world of war, a joyful heart in the midst of sorrow. He shows us that the end of suffering is possible.

In a world like ours where craving, strife, bitterness and greed seem constant and inevitable conditions, His Holiness’ embodiment of peace and compassion changes everything. His joyful fearlessness is a lighthouse’s strong beam cutting through the dense fog of ignorance. How fortunate we are to be able to glimpse his light in the world.

Anne Waldman

Jan Willis

Jan Willis is a Professor of Religion Emerita at Wesleyan University as well as a visiting professor at Agnes Scott College. She has studied with Tibetan Buddhists in India, Nepal, Switzerland, and the U.S. for five decades, and has taught courses in Buddhism almost as long. Her work has explored meditation, hagiography, women and Buddhism, and Buddhism and race; her most recent book is Dharma Matters: Women, Race, and Tantra.