Tag Archives: Dalai Lama

World Kindness Day: Words on Bring Kind

Today might be Friday the 13th but don’t be afraid. It is also World Kindness Day!
It requires no dollar amount. It requires no prep time. It only requires that you notice where you are and who is around you. There is kindness in connecting and in putting action to your words and feelings so we gathered words on kindness from voices of wisdom in history. What is kindness to you?


Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.
-Lao Tzu

Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness.
-Khalil Gibran

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.
-Dalai Lama

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina
or softened the fiber of a free people.
A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wherever there is a human being,
there is an opportunity for a kindness.
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca

You cannot do a kindness too soon,
for you never know how soon it will be too late.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small,
is ever wasted.

To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.

With Compassion: The Act of Loving the World

Compassion is a buzz word we’ve heard more and more in recent days. Is it a home run for marketing campaigns, or is it a real, important attribute that is finally getting the limelight it deserves?

These days, we are honestly in need of a deeper understanding of what it means to love, care, even notice one another. This is why it is so encouraging to see things like Deepak Chopra, Gabby Bernstein and friends leading a global meditation for compassion on July 11th. In honor of his 80th birthday, the Dalai Lama is hosting the Global Compassion Summit to inspire compassionate acts in our global community. These are opportunities to join with others asking the question “what about me? how can I help?” Continue reading

How Gentle Quarrelling Can Save Your Relationship

stock-footage-young-couple-hugging-and-being-affectionate-by-oceanShortly after we were married we went to India and spent our honeymoon in a yoga ashram and a Buddhist monastery. We also had a private meeting with the Dalai Lama at his residence in McLeod Ganj, in the foothills of the Himalayas.

As Ed recalls:

After some thirty minutes of talking with him I was feeling so moved by this gentle and loving man that I didn’t want to leave! I was completely in love with this delightful being. He was so ordinary, sitting between us and holding our hands. Finally, I said to him, ‘I don’t want to leave! I just want to stay here with you!’ I knew he would understand my sincerity and would say yes, how wonderful, I can see you are ready for the teachings. But, instead, he just smiled and said, ‘If we were together all the time we would quarrel!’

So relax, if the Dalai Lama can quarrel, so can we! Inevitably there are going to be times when relationships are not easy, when differences collide, when egos clash, when my needs seem more important than yours, or when your needs are not being met. For relationships create untold problems. Sitting in solitary bliss with our hearts wide open and love pouring out of us towards all beings is relatively easy, but as soon as we come in direct contact with another person everything changes. Our ability to stay open and loving, our selflessness and generosity, all this and more is immediately confronted by someone else’s own wants and needs, by their capacity to accept and love or not.

Relationships are not just an integral part of being alive, they are also the most vital and challenging teacher we can ever have. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said, “If you can make friends with one person, you can make friends with the world.”

Difficulties in relationships show us the many ways our ego-selves try to be right, which can be a cause for either conflict or laughter. Once we were sharing some of our marriage issues with our meditation teacher, and he looked at us quite puzzled. “Why not just laugh?” he suggested. And he was right. Laughter really is the best medicine. When we see the absurdity of two ego’s knocking heads and trying to outwit each other it is very amusing. So often a disagreement is about seeing the same thing in two different ways: one sees a white ceiling, the other sees a flat ceiling, but it’s the same ceiling!

Sometimes, it can be healthy to have a good quarrel, if we can then just let it go and come back to loving. There are bound to be times of flow and times of discord but we don’t need to hold on to either. Difficulties arise because we cling to our own opinion as being the right one, and it’s this holding on, with the ensuing shame, blame and hostile silences, that causes so many problems.

In fact, those people we have a difficult time with are really our teachers. For without an adversary—or those who trigger strong reactions such as annoyance and anger—we would not have the stimulus to develop loving kindness and compassion. So we can actually thank our exasperating relationships for the chance to practice patience. What a gift!

We are not alone here, each one of us—both directly and indirectly—affect each other; everyone and everything is dependent on everything else. As Mother Theresa reminds us: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.”

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See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Edgar Mitchell, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byrone Katie, Jane Fonda, Marianne Williamson, and many others.

Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: www.EdandDebShapiro.com

Originally published January 2012

Creativity as the Path to Peace

"Mr. Hand Poopy" Original Textured Acrylic Painting on Canvas by Four Year Old Jayden 17 May, 2013Sometimes, something is so close to you, you’re unable to see it objectively. While preparing to launch my book Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie, I’m grateful to have had an opportunity to re-examine my personal biography, and revisit some of those significant pieces that have contributed to who I am.

Twelve years ago I was living with a somewhat undiagnosable physical illness that had me weighing in at 89 lbs, suffering from severe and crippling malnutrition, with those around me divided on if I would survive. The consensus was, “this could go either way.” Synchronistically I found Arscura-School for Living Art and embarked on a journey back to health; a journey using “art” as a way to rediscover who I had been to now and who I could become in my future. I confess this candidly in my book — art contributed to saving my life. Literally. Through the art, I arrived at a place of inner knowing and peace, embodied so eloquently in the words of the Dalai Lama: “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”

While organizing an initiative around my book launch, I was introduced to some very important work being done in the world. Work that embodies the hippie values of peace and the arts. Two values that reminded me of my own journey and align perfectly with who I am and what I stand for in world.

First, I was led to the Children’s Peace Theatre, which has been doing inspiring work since 2000, creating a culture of peace among children and youth, using art, theater and music. They instill in their participants a “peace is possible” sensibility and ask us all some interesting questions to reflect on.

As artists, how do we inspire our children and youth to take up the practice of peace? If nothing else, we must remember that art is derived from the freeing up of all boundaries combined with the ability to imagine something new, and the ability to recognize the humanity of others. Who else, therefore, is better suited than the artist to inspire alternatives and alternative ways of thinking?

This powerfully mirrors my personal experience, as the art freed me to transform from the inside out, allowing me to reinvent an unexpected and beautiful future by unleashing my inner artist.

I questioned: Is it possible that creativity expressed through the arts, is a path to peace? It became very clear to me that I do see the arts as an important road to peace. I envisioned a simple idea, “paintbrushes for peace” and imagined what might happen if we offered children or adults a paintbrush and asked them to engage their creativity to ignite new possibilities for the world. It seemed that if we could take the frustration and separation people experience in our current world, which often leads to isolation and violence, and invite them into a community to make art together, we’d foster a sense of belonging and connectedness and through this, some magical new creation would become possible.

Next, I was synchronistically led to ArtHeart, which has been working in the Regent Park community of Toronto for over 20 years, offering free year-round drop-in art programs, art education and art materials for children, youth and adults, also serving up free meals to all participants, true to their philosophy of “no starving artists”.

Their programs use art as a vehicle to address child poverty, homelessness, lack of employment and mental health issues, while helping to develop self-esteem, creativity, life-skills and learning. They continue to foster the arts in a community that can’t otherwise afford access to making art and being creative. ArtHeart remains unique, as it is the only visual arts organization in the community and their successes are sincerely remarkable.

With more and more school arts’ budgets being cut, what ArtHeart offers is invaluable. I believe we need more funds for programs that foster creativity, not less. How is it that we’ve allowed ourselves to create a world where the majority of people do not have access to expressing their creativity through making art?

To see ArtHeart’s amazing work, you can join them at this years’ Nuit Blanche on Oct. 5, a yearly celebration that makes the arts accessible to all, where they are joining forces with The Regent Park School of Music at their home base in the Daniels Spectrum.

Photographer Chase Jarvis’ talk “Creativity is the new literacy” at the World Domination Summit in Portland this July, sparked me. He presented the idea that as human beings we’re all hardwired for both language and creativity. There have been many studies examining creativity, exploring if it is a natural inborn talent, or if we acquire it. I am of the belief, as is Chase, that we are all creative and that it’s often stifled early on in many educational systems. Creativity is at the heart of what it means to be human. He elaborated that the world we live in is facing a “crisis of creativity” with the solutions to all our problems based on human creative potential.

So if creativity is innate to who we are as humans, and the solutions to our world problems can be found in creativity, then engaging our individual creative muscle through art and music could be a viable path to peace.

Then I stumbled upon a recent article by the brilliant Charles Eisenstein called “Bombs, Badguys and the Brink of Peace”, which speaks volumes.

We are experiencing today the emergence on a mass scale of ecological consciousness. No longer is the world an arena of struggle from which man emerges triumphant. We now see that the defeat of any species is the defeat of all; that the paving over of one habitat deadens something in all of us. The ecological crisis is teaching us that the good life does not come through winning the war against the Other.

With the recent world reaction to the atrocities in Syria, Eisenstein went on to say,

Translating this awareness into geopolitics, we become less prone to believe that the solution to the problem is to overthrow the bad guy. That, or some lesser version of it – to intimidate, warn, punish, deter, draw a “red line,” etc. – is a perception of a world populated by separate and competing Others. And we are weary of that. We are awakening to the reality that “bad guys” are created by their context, and that that context includes ourselves.

Like Eisenstein, many of us believe we are remembering the necessity of being part of community, reawakening to the value of connectedness, versus the breakdown brought about by separation. We’re entering a new era of understanding, transforming old beliefs to create new paradigms of possibility. If we continue to bring the past into the present, we’re limited to create the same future, denying ourselves the freedom to generate something totally new. Perhaps this is what art and music can bring to the conversation. They are tools to paving a road to peace. They engage and include, rather than isolate and separate. Maybe we’re arriving at that magical tipping point of change. Albert Einstein said it so clearly “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

It feels perfect to end here with words from John Lennon’s timeless song Imagine: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” Here’s to creativity, peace and the arts! What kind of world are you committed to creating?

Visit me at: beverleygolden.com or follow me on twitter: @goldenbeverley

The Coolest Meditator In The World

The Dalai Lama @ The Vancouver Peace SummitHe turned 78 last Saturday and still says he meditates for three hours every day, starting at 4 am. He says he is just a simple monk and that kindness is his religion, calling for love and compassion to promote world peace.

When we met with the Dalai Lama he was standing on his veranda overlooking the beautiful Himalayan Mountain range, smiling and waving for us to come. We went to bow as is the tradition but he lifted us, took our hands, and said: “We are all equal here.”

We really didn’t know what to expect as he walked us into his sitting room. We imagined this spiritual leader to millions would be a serene Buddha-like figure sitting on a throne, yet he sat between us on his couch, still holding our hands, for forty-five minutes. He was the most ordinary person we ever hung out with. The world’s greatest meditator was simple and unassuming, he felt like our best friend, and he laughed a lot.

Ed and Deb Shapiro with the Dalai LamaJust by sitting with the Dalai Lama we realized the effect of his years of meditation, as his very presence emanated all those qualities that meditators seek, such as inner peace, loving kindness, authenticity, and mindful awareness. This is particularly seen in his devotion to ahimsa, non-injury, and his policy of non-violence, which is why he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Research, such as that conducted by neuroscientist Richie Davidson, a friend of the Dalai Lama’s, at Wisconsin University, and shared in our book Be The Change, proves how meditation actually develops the part of our brain that increases compassion and loving kindness. “By training the mind, we can actually change the brain toward greater contentment,” says Dr. Davidson in Be The Change. “There is certainly evidence to show that meditation practices designed to cultivate compassion and loving kindness change the brain in many positive ways.”

However, the mind desires endless entertainment and much prefers being distracted than facing the constant dramas racing around inside it. The idea of sitting still and watching our breath can appear boring, meaningless, even a time-waster, and not at all fun or creative. Yet meditation invites an undoing of what isn’t and a revealing of what is; we don’t become someone else, rather we become more who we really are, which is far from boring! It is about being fully present in this moment, no matter what we are doing: if washing the dishes, then let any thoughts and distractions dissolve into the soap bubbles; when eating, be aware of every bite, taste, and texture.

As the Dalai Lama wrote in the foreword to our book:

I strongly recommend anyone interested in meditation not to simply read what these people have to say, but to try it out. If you like it and its useful to you, keep it up. Treat this book as you would a cookery book. You wouldn’t merely read recipes with approval, you’d try them out. Some you’d like and would use again. Like cookery, meditation only makes sense if you put it into effect.

A regular practice of meditation can produce discernible changes in the brain in a matter of just six to eight weeks. To feel the difference in yourself try the practice below.

Weed Pulling Meditation

Find a comfortable and upright place to sit. Take a few deep breaths, then watch the flow of your breath as it enters and leaves.

Now bring your focus to your heart, and as you breathe in feel as if your heart is opening and softening; as you breathe out, release any tension or resistance. Sit here for a few minutes.

Now visualize yourself walking in a beautiful but overgrown garden. All sorts of colorful flowers surround you, but among them are numerous weeds.

You find a place to sit amidst the plants and mindfully begin to remove the weeds. Each one represents a negative aspect of yourself or your life. Name it as you remove it, and watch it leave your mind as you discard it.

The more weeds you remove the lighter you feel, as if a weight is being removed from you. As you do this, the flowers are growing stronger and brighter.

Stay here as long as you like. You may not have time to pull up all the weeds, so before you leave promise that you will be back again to remove some more.

When you are ready, silently repeat three times, “May I be happy, may my mind be like a beautiful garden.” Take a deep breath and let it go. Then fill the rest of your day with kindness and smiles.

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Listen to our weekly LIVE radio show every Tuesday at 8:00pm EST: Going Out Of Your Mind.

Join our Be The Change Meditate e-Conference that will uplift and inspire you. 30 eclectic meditation teachers, including Marianne Williamson, Congressman Tim Ryan, author of Mindful Nation, Sharon Salzberg, Robert Thurman, Gangaji, Joan Borysenko, Seane Corn, neuroscientist Richie Davidson who proves how meditation affects the brain, Roshi Joan Halifax, Tara Stiles, and us, Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of the conference companion book, BE THE CHANGE: How Meditation Can Transform You and The World. Expect your life to never be the same again!

For more information: www.edanddebshapiro.com

photo by: Kris Krug

Where’s the Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘N’ Roll in Our Spiritual Teachings?

I have a bone to pick with spiritual gurus: They’re just such goody two-shoes. Where are the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll?

I mean, is anyone really as saintly as Liz Gilbert makes herself out to be in “Eat, Pray, Love,” avoiding even one torrid Italian love affair? As for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he was raised from a young age to embody compassion and mindfulness, never lashing out in anger or seeking revenge, and he does an excellent job of that. But this isn’t a new story: Jesus resisted every temptation thrown his way some 2,000 years ago.

You might argue, “Hey, these spiritual types aren’t trying to deal with everyday life the way the rest of us are. They get to go live in convents or under a tree in the desert or in a cottage in Bali with no wee ones running around, and devote their entire existence to the pursuit of enlightenment.” But then there are teachers, such as Buddhist psychologist Jack Kornfield and celebrity guru Deepak Chopra, who manage to attain great wisdom while holding down a job and raising kids.

We need spiritual role models, of course. I wouldn’t wish a Jim-and-Tammy-Faye-Bakker-esque humiliation, fraught with dripping spider-legs mascara, upon any one of the aforementioned leaders. However, I do find that their standard of virtue can be set too high for the rest of us.

Plus it makes me wonder: Where’s the fun in a life like that?

Here is where I diverge from many of the modern and ancient masters. I revel — passionately, blissfully and unapologetically — in the “non-spiritual” aspects of my life. I celebrate my wild side with gusto. I enjoy being sloppy with my emotions. I’ve been called loud, obnoxious, and an attention-seeker. At times in my life, unlike Liz Gilbert, I’ve been promiscuous. And I’d argue that it hasn’t done me any harm. Nor have the drugs I’ve consumed at Burning Man. I’ve been known to make quite a mess of things in my personal life, getting divorced and then spending four years as “the human yo-yo” with a guy who couldn’t decide if he adored me or I made him miserable. I’ve plunged into new activities and commitments without thinking through my choices mindfully, as the spiritual gurus would urge. Sometimes, I give things a try just to see what will happen, knowing full well that I might wind up with a broken heart or woefully miniscule paycheck.

This, to me, is what it means to live “the life out loud.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have discovered that the spiritual first-aid kit can prove immensely valuable. In my 20s, I had what appeared to be the textbook near-ideal life: I graduated from Stanford, worked at the prestigious McKinsey & Company, married a dot-com entrepreneur, and then started my writing career. But in my early 30s, trauma, like an earthquake, brought my life tumbling down. My parents got divorced. I separated from my husband of nine years. My father was publicly convicted and put under house arrest for a federal crime.

When my soul was no more than dog crap smashed on the bottom of my shoe, I prescribed myself spiritual medicine. I dragged myself to yoga for daily 90-minute doses of salvation. Unable to sleep without Xanax, I found meditation an equally intoxicating way to calm my mind. I read spiritual books offering advice on how to be comfortable with uncertainty. I journaled obsessively.

These days, I’m a self-confessed yogaholic who freaks out when she has to go a week without a bowl of kale. I meditate regularly. Sometimes. At least I intend to meditate regularly. I believe in seeing a psychotherapist, life coach, energy healer, or chakra aligner in order to come to terms with your past. It’s all good stuff.

But I guess you could say I’m the Bad Girl of the Spiritual Club. If there were a summer camp where we all met up — me, His Holiness, Liz, Jack, and Deepak — to impart great teachings about egolessness and tactics for freeing others from their monkey-minds, I’d be the one caught smoking a joint in the bathroom on lunch break.

What about you?


Originally published April 2011.

photo by: andriux-uk

What The Buddha Might Say To Bill Gates

Bill Gates by Tristan Nitot“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.” – Buddha

Bill Gates is a rare breed. He defies what most billionaires appear to be: trapped in the hoarding of money with a large dose of poverty mind. While most people are obsessed with getting money, Gates wants to give it away.

By the time he was 32, Gates was a billionaire. In May this year he was declared the richest man in the world with a net worth of over $72 billion. He stopped working at Microsoft five years ago in order to focus on using that money to make the world a better place. He and his wife founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with investor Warren Buffet. The primary aims of the foundation are to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty. To begin, Gates is committed to ending polio by 2018, with tuberculosis and malaria to follow.

Although, obviously, few of us have money to spare like Gates or Buffet, and it is easy to applaud them while feeling useless ourselves, it doesn’t mean we can’t give or help another in need, using whatever means we have.

“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity.” – Buddha

We were in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, in northern India, attending the Dalai Lama’s teachings. It was crowded, cold, and very uncomfortable sitting close together on mats on a concrete floor. Deb was longing to go back to our hotel room so she could meditate quietly on her own when the Dalai Lama started talking about the dangers of solitary peace. He spoke of how tempting it can be to want to be on our own, but how easily this can disengage us from the reality around us. That it is vital to be in communication, engaged in giving, sharing and caring for each other.

Wise spiritual teachers from all traditions have taught how the path of service is the most important of all, as it means we are less self-obsessed; through caring for others we can step out of indulgence and into big-heartedness, releasing any sense of separateness.

“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” – Buddha

The generosity Gates is sharing is not the stuff many rich people are made of. It can be very difficult to give when you have so much, as it incites tremendous fear of loss. We only have to look at the upper 1% of this country to see how greed and selfishness rule the day, as they hide their money in offshore accounts, avoid paying fair taxes, and have little time for the poor or needy.

When we feel uncomfortable with generosity we get stuck in our limitations and fear. When we appreciate the joy of kindness our life is transformed. We can both give and receive. Such ego-less moments are exquisite!

We may think we have little to offer but whether it is a few pennies or a whole bankroll, a cup of tea or a banquet is irrelevant—it is the act of giving itself that is important. Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” In other words, although life changes are inevitable we can initiate personal change so that we rise to the challenge and become a bigger and better person as a result. As Mahatma Gandhi also said, “Almost anything we do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that we do it.”

“Be generous. Give to those you love; give to those who love you, give to the fortunate, give to the unfortunate — yes, give especially to those you don’t want to give. You will receive abundance for your giving. The more you give, the more you will have!” – W. Clement Stone

As one of our teachers, Sri Swami Satchidananda taught: “Who is the most selfish person? It is the one who is most selfless! Why? Because by being selfless, you will always retain your happiness. A selfish person can never be really happy. So to be happier, be more selfless!”

I slept and dreamt that life was joy

I awoke and saw that life was service

I acted and behold, service was joy. 

Rabindranath Tagore

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Join our Be The Change Meditate e-Conference that will uplift and inspire you. 30 eclectic meditation teachers, including Marianne Williamson, Congressman Tim Ryan, author of Mindful Nation, Sharon Salzberg, Robert Thurman, Gangaji, Joan Borysenko, Seane Corn, neuroscientist Richie Davidson who proves how meditation affects the brain, Roshi Joan Halifax, Tara Stiles, and us, Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of the conference companion book, BE THE CHANGE: How Meditation Can Transform You and The World. Expect your life to never be the same again!

For more information: www.edanddebshapiro.com

Homelessness: Love, Sex, Companionship

“Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities.
For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”

– His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Ethics for the New Millennium

In the above quotation, His Holiness points out the importance of having positive relationships with other people. Among the positive ways we may relate to others is through love, intimacy and companionship.

But, do homeless people have these relationships? I asked homeless people about this topic and I thank them for their responses that follow.

Anonymous, 49 years old:

“We all need all three of these – love, sex and companionship. But, getting one of the above works for the moment.”

Darleen, 44 years old:

“You’ve got your topic wrong. Companionship should be first, then love then sex. That’s the right order.

Recently, somebody parked his van near me and asked me to go with him. I said, ‘No.’ Then he hit me upside the head and he left. I was dazed. I took off. I didn’t report the violence to the police because I have a warrant.”

Josh, 19 years old:

“I’m a gang member. And I lost my best friend to a gang shoot-out eight days ago in South East San Diego. He was 19 years old and he was like my brother. The people who killed him were from another South East San Diego gang.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the beach and talking to two gentlemen who were older, in their 20’s. It turned out that these two gentlemen were from the gang that killed my friend.

When I found this out, I wasn’t sure what to do – should I show them love or hate them. I chose to be neutral to them – that was the choice I made.

I try to look at the positives of life. I just hope that anybody who losses a friend or family member due to non-natural causes can open their eyes and learn from the tragedy that it’s all about your decision whether you choose to hate or love.”

Vido, 30 years old:

“Companionship – you find people in the same state as you are in so you tend to congregate.

I really wouldn’t call the homeless people I hang out with, “friends.” I wouldn’t put my life in their hands and vice versa. But, at the same time, we look out for one another. See this stuff here [pointing to backpacks and blankets on the ground] – no one is going to touch it because there is always someone looking after it.

As far as making friends, people are always coming and going. There’s no time to make friends and keep in touch. It’s not like you’re going to develop a lifelong friendship.”

Adam, 29 years old:

“I think love and companionship are one and the same for me. The qualities you expect when you love someone are the same qualities you want in a companion. And it’s when you would do anything for someone. When your very existence depends upon the reaction of the other person. That’s what I believe.”

Roy, 41 years old:

“My wife, Diana, and I started seeing each other in New York when we were kids. We were together for 22 years. Diana served as an E-6 in the Navy, but she received an honorable discharge because she had breast cancer.

Five months ago, I came to San Diego to bury Diana in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. She was 31 years old. I love her very much and I miss her.

I’m homeless now because I don’t want to go back to our home in New York and smell her clothes.

I haven’t sought counseling because there’s been so much death in my family and I’ve always handled it on my own. [However,] I’ve been feeling kind of reckless since losing my wife and because of my health issues. I have Stage 4 colon cancer and pancreatic and lung lymphomas.”

Codi, 18 years old:

“When you’re on the street, love is hard to find. But I figure that love is not found, it comes in time.

But, if you do find love out here, the bond will be stronger than most because it’s not just about the sex when things are said and done. It’s whether they will be there by your side when no one else will and whether they will sleep next to you in a ditch.”

Grace, 53 years old:

“Since I’ve been living this lifestyle, I’ve been celibate for five years. When I first started living this lifestyle, there was something inside me that wanted companionship – mostly because I was afraid to travel by myself.

But within six months of me living a traveling lifestyle, I went with a backpack to Thailand, India and Nepal. I realized that if I could do that alone, I could do anything alone!

After several months back in the United States, I got very sick and ended up in the hospital in Ashland, Oregon. When I got out of the hospital, people who would not have been attractive to me before were suddenly attractive because I was in a place of weakness and I wanted someone there for me.

That was an eye-opening experience for me. I realized that that place of weakness was the place from which I entered every relationship I had ever had. I decided that I did not want to be with anyone until I could heal myself or whatever was in me that was broken. So if I have a relationship again, I want it to come from strength. And I want someone who will bring something to my life. I haven’t met anyone like that yet.

Of course, at 53 years old, living in a vehicle and traveling, I’m not sure how great my odds are of finding someone worthy. Now, I have a dog. He’s a great companion.”

I look forward to your comments.

Thank you,

photo by: mattwi1s0n

Happy 77th Birthday to His Holiness the Dalai Lama!

Today, June 6, 2012 marks the 77th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. From refugees to the likes of Richard Gere, people around the world have followed and celebrated this spiritual, humanitarian icon. And today, thousands worldwide wish him a happy birthday and many happy returns.

The 14th Dalai Lama is perhaps best known for being the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet. His official leadership in the region was short-lived – he’s been in exile since 1959. But the Dalai Lama has become a force for humanitarian rights (especially those of the Tibetan people under the Chinese government), interfaith dialogue, and international diplomacy. Anyone skeptical of the selection process of incumbent Dalai Lamas just needs to take one look at this man’s list of achievements and beliefs, spend five minutes in his presence, watch as thousands of people around the world cry, cheer, and celebrate his life…We’re dealing with an extraordinary human being.

I don’t know about you, but it’s strange for me to think of someone like the Dalai Lama having a birthday. He’s one of those timeless, larger-than-life figures who I assume has always and will always be around. Today reminds me that His Holiness is more than an icon, more than a statement on human rights. He is a man, albeit a remarkable one. He has had an immense impact on the world in his 77 years on this planet. I know millions worldwide (including Deepak Chopra!) join me in wishing him many more years in this journey of learning, teaching, and spreading love in all corners of the globe.

The True Meaning of Life: In One Word

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve probably asked yourself this question time and time again. It’s a timeless question indeed — and something we’ve all been trying to figure out in this big, wacky, wonderful world.

What is the true meaning of life?

No matter what job title you hold, how many zeroes you have in your paycheck or where you came from, I know the TRUE MEANING OF LIFE can be summed up in one word: SERVICE.

Don’t believe me? Ask the 14th Dalai Lama himself. I was inspired to write this post after a stranger (who happens to be a Bay Area meditation teacher) gave me this lovely card. It was given to him during a visit from the Dalai Lama. So I wanted to share this gift with you:

I framed it and keep it in my apartment as a reminder that even though life is an intricate, complex layer of experiences, the meaning of life and key to joy is through giving back and serving others. I used to think being a TV reporter in a big news market and for PBS would bring me joy. I had it all figured out. I would go to a small market, medium market and then large market, uncover injustices as a journalist and make good money etc… etc… etc.

All of my dreams manifested, however, I still found myself feeling empty. My soul was still not satisfied. I was hungry for something else.

I believe we are all brought here on Earth for a reason. As a child, I remember praying to God and asking, “Please use me, use my life to make a difference, to help others.” As a student at the University of San Francisco, on the long Muni bus rides to my internships, I’d ask myself, “What am I supposed to do with my life? Why am I here? Am I on the right track?”

I felt like the Santiago, the little shepherd boy in Paulo Coehlo‘s, The Alchemist (one of my favorite books) who was searching for the treasure in the Egyptian pyramids that would bring him happiness. I too, was searching for that “treasure,” only to become disillusioned after I found it.

After many personal and professional twists and turns, I’ve finally found the joy that I was searching for through serving others via my nonprofit, Go Inspire Go (GIG). I believe we all have a power, some sort of talent that comes naturally to us. But it isn’t just about discovering this gift and keeping it to yourself.

As I’ve experienced, the true joy comes from giving it away. I am grateful to use my power of connecting with people and telling their stories to spark civic engagement and ultimately change. Service is the meaning of life and what will ultimately bring you joy.

Our hope is that the stories on GIG’s YouTube channel will help you “Discover and use your power to help others.” Along this journey, I’ve met incredible people from all walks of life — the true treasures in my life. I’d love your feedback on how these stories made you feel and what you will do to make someone else’s life better.

As you will witness from our stories, it doesn’t take much effort, just a small action. What can you do to serve others? Onward!

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