The Parliament ended yesterday. I feel a little sadness and a great and deep satisfaction. This was truly a momentous event for me. I was able to see the Dalai Lama, first as he enter the Hilton hotel where we were webcasting our interviews, and later when he spoke to the whole Parliament. I happened to be standing in the lobby of the hotel when I noticed the staff lining up. I said to a friend, "There must be someone important arriving." I got out my camera and in walks the Dalai Lama. I had expected an Aura, but in fact he is a charming man who is rather approachable. I watched as he greeted various people and one of his monks stepped aside to let me get a better shot. He has a beautiful smile and a gracious way about him. I was excited, but not awestruck.
I was actually more moved by meeting and hearing Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji. He has a presence about him and a warmth that exudes from his eyes. This picture was taken in the same lobby, but yesterday we were able to webcast him, and I ran the camera and spoke with him personally. He has an energy and a wisdom that is impressive. I began to feel that this must have been what it was like to listen to Jesus when he spoke. There was joy and urgency in his teaching. There was simplicity and depth. He spoke of finding the truth of mind and heart that is already within each of us, and living from that truth. - Nothing earth-shaking, and yet the way he spoke conveyed a power. He told a tale of his own overcoming fear as a child of 9 when he was sent into the woods for a year to be initiated with nothing more than a simple mantra (no worries) and an image of god (one of thousands of images of the unimaginable God of Hinduism). He too was clearly a man, but a man who embodied the wisdom mind he taught. I told him of my desire to bring meditation into the schools, and he told me "first bring peace from within yourself, then they will hear you."
I also met a Buddhist monk from Bangladesh who is a member of the indigenous Chakma people who are being wiped out by the government of Bangladesh. He showed me some art work which expressed his experiences of destruction and loss. We heard a number of similar stories of indigenous peoples around the world that are being or have been displaced and their religions eliminated in the name of "progress", by "more enlightened religions like Christianity and Islam.
It will take me a while to integrate what I ahve experienced here. But I am convinced that I need to continue to learn and to act. The Dalai Lama spoke of the value of conversation but the greater value of action. The new leader of the Counsel for the Parliament of the World's Religions announced the beginnings of a new way of connecting and mobilizing. www.peacenext.org - I suggest you check out that website. Through it, those of us who attended this Parliament can keep in contact with those we have met here, and you can find out more about how you can join in the journey that is ahead and upon us to bring the change we need to have on this Planet.
The theme of this Parliament was "Hearing Each Other - Healing The Earth" - The Parliament is over, but the work has just begun.