Some years ago, I was in conversation with a religious man who asked me, "What does the word holy mean to you?"
After much thought, I answered. Then, I asked him, "Do you know any person or persons who, in your mind, is holy?"
"I know one man," he answered. "The Dalai Lama."
I never forgot our conversation.
Yesterday, after a delicious Sunday brunch in our apartment with family and friends, we sat down in the den to watch a movie. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and our apartment was aglow with sunshine, laughter and a moving flick, Seven Years in Tibet, starring Brad Pitt.
For those of you have not seen the movie, it is the biographical war drama of a young, German, unmarried father with a baby son who runs away from his responsibilities and goes mountaineering in British India, to what is now Pakistan.
World War II begins, and he is imprisoned. Then, he escapes and winds up in the city of Lhasa, Tibet the home of the Dalai Lama. He becomes absorbed into an unfamiliar way of life. He meets the current 14th Dalai Lama, a young boy at the time, who convinces him to return to Austria and his son. The dialogue between the young man and the boy reminded me that relationships can open our minds to a better and more meaningful life, our spiritual side.
I savored this movie every bit as much as I did the movie, Life of Pi. I watched Life of Pi with my four boy grands. I took them to see it after I had already seen it because I wanted to introduce the boys to the young Pi as he explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age, surviving 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a life boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
I recommend to you, dear readers, who are moms, aunties and grandmothers, to spend a Saturday or Sunday with your kids, make a fresh batch of popcorn and watch these movies because, hopefully, the character traits of the 14th Dalai Lama, as a young boy, and the young Pi will affect their human spirits. It is powerful for our grands to be exposed to these youngsters who see the importance of meaningful spirituality with their family, friends, nature and the world around them.
Then, serve them a dinner of pizza and a large salad with chocolate sundaes around the kitchen or dining room table and talk about the lessons they learned.
If you live far away from your grands, send them the movies with a personal letter.
It is very hard for adults to explain spirituality to their children or their grands. Some of us don't understand how this wonderful and peaceful quality works within one's self.
In my opinion, the best teacher to explain the true meaning of spirituality is the 14th Dalai Lama.
The 14th Dalai Lama's commitment to promoting positive values include forgiveness, self-discipline, tolerance, compassion and contentment. He is a spiritual leader like no other and he highlights the importance of happiness and peace.
Here are some of his quotes that you can share with your grands and children...
1. "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions."
2. "This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy of kindness."
3. "In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision."
4. "Compassion naturally creates a positive atmosphere, and as a result you feel peaceful and content."
5. "Someone else's action should not determine your response."