Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Dalai Lama's Koan (Insight LA)

Trudy Goodman (; Amber Larson, Ananda (DBM), A. Wells, Wisdom Quarterly

Decades ago in the 1970s, before the Dalai Lama became famous, his smiling face was on the cover of a newspaper called The Snow Lion.

The quote under it struck me so powerfully that I cut out the cover page and stuck it on the kitchen cupboard.

There it yellowed and tattered over the years and is long gone, but I always remember what he said: “Maybe I am the last Dalai Lama. It’s all right. There’s nothing wrong.

These words shook me, a young Buddhist practitioner. How can it be all right for the Dalai Lama's legacy and tradition to disappear in the slow genocide China is unfolding in Tibet? How to understand what he said, given how much his people rely on his compassionate and courageous leadership?

Hey, what's this, Commandant?
Uttered in the context of Tibet’s tragedy, these words became a koan. “It’s all right. There’s nothing wrong” inspired me through many hard and sad times in my life.

I remember sitting quietly in the meditation hall, tears of grief streaming down my face, simultaneously knowing that deep down, everything’s still okay.

Mysteriously, it is all right, all of it, not the breezy all right of “it’s all good,” which can be a dismissal or denial of reality, but the “all right” of humbly embracing our broken-heartedness with loving awareness.

Then we can discover the “all right” of compassionate presence and act wisely, responding with grace and humor.

Next time you feel that all is lost, try sitting down right in the midst of this grief, rage, or despair. Sitting and walking mindfully in meditation, it’s easier to be with ourselves more kindly and loving.

Through the courage to meet life as it is and drink it in -- straight up -- we embody the compassion of our clear, radiant true nature, deeply knowing: Yes, this heart is aching. And it’s all right. There’s nothing wrong.

Love, Trudy Goodman,
Founder of

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