I’m privileged to have recently attended the 10th annual Happiness and its Causes Conference held at Luna Park in Sydney and am reflecting on what I took away from listening to the two days of inspirational speakers. It was such an exciting conference, a buzz with professionals from a diverse range of fields, all offering insights into the human mind and spirit from their own areas of research or experience.
I’ve asked myself, what were some powerful messages that I could implement in my own daily life to further nourish my spirit? What magic in their presentations inspired me? And what gave me hope for our future? When asking of how to nourish the human spirit, who more inspirational to ask than His Holiness the Dalai Lama the 13th himself, who was our opening speaker.
Before His Holiness came out (waddling and laughing – he is as funny as is reported!) onto the stage, four Buddhist monks sat at the front of the room, filled with over 2000 guests and they chanted. With low, mesmerizing voices the monks settled the energy in the room and it was beautiful and tranquil. My anticipation turned to a quiet reflection as I waited and I wondered when we in Australia have so much to be thankful for, why do so many of us feel so heavy?
The Dalai Lama told a story: he said he was once asked if he ever felt sad or unhappy. He had replied “of course!” and went on to tell us about when his oldest and most revered teacher had suddenly become ill and died. He said he was shocked and ultimately, incredibly sad at the loss of such a mentor. He also then went on to say that he had to look past the sadness, and ‘look from all angles for the reality in this situation. To look objectively. To analyze and use human intelligence.’
By this he meant that he must accept what had happened for exactly what it was and that nothing more could be done. He said he felt very sad, but in order to honour his teacher he must translate that sadness into strength, into more happiness and more enthusiasm to continue the great work of his teacher. He said that once he accepted that this terribly sad event had brought him a great opportunity to fulfill his teacher’s work, it was like ‘a very heavy brick he could leave behind.’
His messages were in essence simple, but it’s often the simple things we forget to focus on. So I’m asking myself today, what heavy brick can I leave behind? What truth must I accept to transform hurt into strength and enthusiasm?
The Dalai Lama said to transform that hurt, we must exercise compassion for others –help, serve, love and give more. This really resonated with me, but I questioned: in this modern world where our roles and responsibilities are so great, so many guests of Golden Door arrive utterly exhausted, always doing the “giving” and never making enough time for self-care. How do we maintain self-care, with compassion for all others running parallel?
In the words of His Holiness “be wise selfish, not foolish selfish”.
When our attention is on the negative; things such as the hurt, the guilt, the shame and fear; that is what we cultivate and is all we can see, hear and feel. Our lack of inner peace can be our ultimate source of unhappiness. Yet when we take the attention away from that lack and focus it into compassion, we transform from what we don’t have into what we are able to give. And in giving to others, we give back to ourselves; cultivating an inner knowing that we have surplus to give more.
I was moved by the candor and sentiment that the Dalai Lama brought with him. I cannot wait to see him return to Australia and have the chance to tap into a little more of his wisdom. Hopefully next year at the Happiness and its Causes conference, where once again the Golden Door will have a stand at the Wellness Show. It was so lovely to catch up with some delightful past guests of Golden Door this year, thanks for dropping by.
By Jaye Hoelscher, Program Manager, Golden Door Health Retreat and Spa Elysia