When I was about to turn thirty, I was given an opportunity to have a private audience with His Holiness. “Hey kid,” my boss said, “I’ve got us a meeting with the Dalai Lama at his place in India.” I was already packed.
In Dharamsala, five of us waited like groupies before a big show. His Holiness burst in, robust and radiant. “So sorry to keep you waiting!” he said.
We spoke of universal consciousness, military actions, and politics. We laughed. We mostly laughed at his bellowing laughs. He abruptly turned to me with a penetrating gaze. Fuzzy eyebrows raised. “You have a question.”
“My generation is at a crossroads,” I said. “And I wonder what message you have for Gen Xers?”
“In the West, you have education. This is good. You have technology. This is good. But you do not educate your people in values of the heart, of compassion. This you must do,” the Dalai Lama said. “It does not matter whether you are Buddhist or Christian. Compassion lives in the heart, beyond religion. Even me, a Buddhist, can say that you do not need Buddhism. All you need is the compassion of the heart. Women know this because peace is implicit in women. You put boys together, they make war. You put women together, they make peace. Women are the leaders of the future.” And then he laughed.
After an hour, his secretary insisted we wrap up. The Dalai Lama moved to the doorway and then hugged each of us gently, like he had all the time in the world. When I pulled back from this holy bear hug, he looked me in the eyes and nodded, as if to say, “I see you, and I’ve got you.” I had never felt so seen and so loved.