Walking the Walk: The Dalai Lama, Abraham, and Sarah

His Holiness the Dalai Lama suddenly walked off the stage.  About to begin an address at the Gwinette Arena outside Atlanta to 4000  people about compassion and secular ethics, he had noticed a particular man  in the first few rows.  With his lapel mike still on he asked indulgence from the audience as he and this man named Richard Moore embraced and exchanged heartfelt greetings and self-deprecating words each elevating the other.  Richard Moore, he went on to say as he unhurriedly made his way back to the podium, was a personal hero to him, a man who lost both his uncle and his eyes to the bullets of  British Soldiers when he was a boy in Derry.  His story of finding peace and reconciliation in the midst of hatred and revenge is indeed incredible and very worth knowing.  However, what was most striking at this moment was the way the Dalai Lama, without pretense or ceremony interrupted the speech he was about to give in order to attend fully to the presence of another person, moving close enough to allow the blind man to perceive his face through touch.   What was most striking was how His Holiness made sure that nothing prevented him from walking the walk.

Within the wellsprings of Jewish wisdom, the significance of walking the walk emerges fromthe very first interaction between G*d and the man and woman who would become the ancestors of the Israelite people.  Having told us nothing of substance about Avram and his wife Sarai ,the Torah states that "YHVH spoke to Avram, saying go forth, yourself, to a land that I will show you"  The Hebrew is both alliterative and open to interpretation. Lech L'cha.  Go toward yourself, go with yourself, Get thee gone.  What all these shades of meaning have in common, however, is similar to what was signified in the actions of the Dalai Lama: Keep walking.

The world is not static and its mysteries are not found simply through contemplation or prayer.  Rather, the world requires action and attention, mindfulness for the sake of mitzva, that is, for the sake of responsibility.  Like Avram and Sarai who would later be called Avraham and Sarah, we must neither be afraid to leave familiar surroundings to find new possibilities nor to invest ourselves in transforming the world around us.  And like the Dalai Lama, we can recognize that no moment or expectation should overshadow the fundamental encounter to see - or touch - the face of another person with humility and respect.