His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, came to Mexico City to give conferences on a goodwill visit and was programmed to give an ecumenical mass with Archbishop Norbeto Rivera of the Catholic Church and highest presiding rabbi in Mexico.
The mass was held in Catedral Metropolitan, a tremendous remnant of the Spanish Conquest, which was built the cathedral on top of an Aztec pyramid, the ultimate fuck-you from a people who, in their role of conqueror, did not understand the beauty of the culture they were extinguishing. I do not deny the beauty of Catedral, which has two of the largest pipe organs in the Americas (one from France and the other from Italy and which I’ve been lucky enough to see in action in a special evening concert) and their efforts to save the slowly sinking structure (the original pyramid was built on an island in the middle of a lake which the Spaniards drained and made landfill) but it still feels a tad bittersweet.
That mass was one of the few times I had ever seen the cathedral doors closed and locked, as the ceremony was private. Lots of people were milling around in the front patio of the building, many who were local participants of the Casa Tibet, dressed in full garb. I waited with the rest and decided to give up and run some errands.
The Catedral’s back entrance sat right on a street called Republica de Guatemala, which continued onto my street, Tacuba. I was returning to my house when I saw a white Suburban stuck in traffic. There were several saffron-colored robed men inside. The service must have ended and they must have left from the back.
“Oh,” I thought, “they must be a part of the Dalai Lama’s entourage!”
There was an elderly gentleman with glasses who sat in the passenger seat. I looked at him and he smiled.
I smiled back. What a pleasant guy.
The next day, I went to work and my co-worker, Joel was talking about the Dalai Lama.
“Yeah, wherever he goes, he always gets a white Surburban to drive him around.”
It was right then that it clicked.
It was the Dalai Lama who smiled at me.
I had stupidly thought that being the high-profile person that he is, he was always going to have security about him. In Buddhism, however, the belief is that you cannot change destiny and that if it is going to happen, it will happen. Therefore, there is no point preventing the inevitable.
He wasn’t going to stop living.
And as I think back to that moment in time when a man I don’t know performed the simplest of actions, I realize there was no preventing that particular moment from happening when it did and that I was to be the recipient. I know this because it still affects me and it reminds me that happiness is fleeting. That you have to let it sit in your hand for as long it deems necessary and that when the wind comes, it will fly away.