I spent yesterday listening to His Holiness and it was probably one of the best days of my life. He does radiate joy, peace and love -- I was prepared for disappointment, because really, no hero is genuine, right? The difference with His Holiness is that he's a hero for his humanity, and not because of other reasons, like so many of our heros, who are presented as flawless, beautiful, unerring demi-gods.
No, His Holiness is simply a human being and arrived at his place of wisdom through a lifetime of hard work. That work has allowed him to develop deep understanding and acceptance for the world and all of us sharing it.
A few moments before he was scheduled to appear, the gymnasium fell silent,the colored lights that were twirling everywhere stopped and no one moved.
I hardly knew how to prepare myself, so I just said let me have a clear mind to understand this great man of peace.
When His Holiness walked onto the stage, I knew my fears that I would somehow be disappointed were groundless. How could I be disappointed?
He walked with a gait that reminded me of my grandmother, only quicker and more steady. Still, there was a sense of age to his step. He smiled constantly as he held the hands and hugged the monks there, bowing to them, as if they were the honored guests and he just an ordinary visitor.
He wore the saffron yellow and burgundy robes of a monk and on his feet, flip flops. They made no noise, however, as he walked around the stage greeting everyone.
I felt warm inside, deeply reassured not only that my hero was genuine, but somehow that the entire world wasn’t such a bad place after all.
In the afternoon a peacebuilding summit took place ... more tomorrow ... but when I left the gymnasium, I walked into a bright, crisp autumn afternoon. Everywhere I looked, I saw joy -- people playing soccer in a field, friends walking together to the Tibetan bazaar that’s set up under the white tents, people carrying their small children. I felt awed by the beauty of everything.