Ithaca, New York is home to the Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies. The Monastery is also the North American Seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It was founded in 1992 and they are currently in the process of constructing His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s Library and Museum on the grounds, which will hold the writings, teachings, and artifacts of all 14 Dalai Lamas.

About six years I was in Ithaca, walking around, unaware of all of this. I was having a fussy day, feeling stuck, and frustrated with how conventional my life was becoming. I was feeling disconnected from my authentic self and my spirituality.

I walked out a door into the bright Summer sunshine and my jaw dropped as His Holiness the Dalai Lama strolled past me, surrounded by several monks. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to study his face to be sure. I just couldn’t believe that could happen. No one just randomly sees the Dalai Lama on a walk. But it was him.

My jaw dropped as His Holiness the Dalai Lama strolled past me.

As I stood there stunned, one of the monks walking beside him leaned forward and looked at me. His face was warm and sweet. With a huge grin, we gave me an enthusiastic wave and a loud friendly “HELLO!”. The kind most people reserve for loved ones they haven’t seen in ages. My stunned look immediately fell away and was replaced with an euphoric smile as I waved back and said “Hi!”, surprised by my own minimalist response.

I watched as they continued on, enjoying the weather, chatting, and taking in the natural beauty. I sat on a nearby bench for a while digesting what was obviously a sign from the Universe.

I thought about how quickly my mood altered when the monk acknowledged me so kindly. I was infused with warmth and forgot about my fussy feelings. When they first entered my site line I had a twinge of feeling as though I didn’t have the right to be near them. Like I was intruding somehow and they were above me in social status and enlightenment level. I wondered if I should bow or do something equally ridiculous.

You are loved and supported by the Universe.

But when the monk greeted me as an equal and so casually, I had a deep inner knowing that spirituality and enlightenment is equally accessible to everyone. Human, animal, plant, crystal, child, adult, male, female…none of the societal compartmentalizations exist with the universal conciousness. We truly are all one. And that is precisely how he treated me.

Just moments before I was feeling inferior, immobile, and negative self-talking myself, and then the Universe said, “No. That’s not true. That’s what society told you about you.”

I share this story with you, to share that lesson. You aren’t what society has told you you are. You are loved and supported by the Universe and have access to the same level of spiritual enlightenment as everyone else.


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