His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting the audience at an interfaith program titled On World Religions: Diversity, Not Dissension in New Delhi on 9 March 2013. (Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL)

Wholeness is a word that comes up for me a lot. The definition of wholeness is the state of forming a complete and harmonious whole; unity. Today I had the opportunity to listen to a question and answer session with His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. For me personally, although not a Buddhist, the Dalai Lama is my role model for Wholeness (Holiness).

I am always so astounded about how much information the Dalai Lama provides for what seem to be quite ‘simple questions’. His Holiness’s answers are patient, considered, detailed and ‘whole’. When asked how he views himself, the Dalai Lama says that he considers that at his core, he is first and foremost a Buddhist monk and secondly the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness clearly admits to the activities that follow as a result of who he knows himself to be and that he spends 80% of his time on spiritual activities and 20% on Tibet as a whole. His Holiness also admits to what he feels are not his strengths, including having a modern education and knowledge of politics and says that he heavily feels the burden of responsibility for someone not so well equipped in these areas.

Imagine if we could all have such clarity about who we are at our core and express that in the world, while at the same time admitting to areas that are not our strengths and being open, transparent and joyful as a result. We often grow up with programming of who we ‘think’ we are meant to be and sometimes this is out of alignment with who we are at our essence. Often this can be as a result of our parents or teachers guidance or as a result of our unconscious beliefs about what we think are our deficits or weaknesses. By not integrating and acknowledging the areas in our life that are not our strengths, we can never really actualise our true potential because all of our energy and focus is on resolving our ‘short falls’ or trying to please others. Imagine if the Dalai Lama had spent all of his time trying to gain academic or political success, to resolve the issues of Tibet, instead of being the Spiritual Leader that he is. How much poorer would the world be?

The end result of trying to be who we are not can result in finding ourselves ‘out of step’ with life, struggling, unhappy, anxious and/or worn out. This can lead to different types of addictions, which are all indicators that we trying to mask the pain and are out of alignment with authentic selves.

Some people are very fortunate in that they just ‘know’ who they are and what they came to this world to do, but I do not believe that this is the case for the majority of people. His Holiness says that even in his dreams he is as Buddhist monk and it made me think about our own dreams and how they can give us insights that may not be possible in our waking day. Writing down dream messages is a great way to gain information from our subconscious, which can lead to much better life choices that support who we truly are. As pointed out by His Holiness, this does not mean not taking the burden of life’s responsibilities seriously, but about living our lives authentically being fully aware of who we are and who we are not. Wholeness therefore, is not about perfection, but about bringing all of us to the table of life with compassion.

When the Dalai Lama was asked what has been his great personal lessons as an individual, he answered, “Regarding religious experience, some understanding of shunya (emptiness: lack of independent self nature) some feeling, some experience and mostly bodhichitta, altruism. It has helped a lot. In some ways, you could say that it has made me into a new person, a new man. I am still progressing. Trying. It gives you inner strength, courage, and it is easier to accept situations. That’s one of the greatest experiences.” [1]

His Holiness was saying it is not that he doesn’t feel, think or experience life as a human being, but that this is only one aspect of his existence and that another aspect is that he is aware that he is also part of the ‘great emptiness’ the connection to Oneness. The irony is that by coming to a ‘sense of self’ it is what enables us to finally ‘lose the self’ so that we can begin to be of service in our most authentic version of us. I take comfort in the fact that the Dalai Lama admits that this is a work in progress and that gives us hope that each new day brings the promise of moving that one step closer to Wholeness.

[1] https://www.dalailama.com/the-dalai-lama/biography-and-daily-life/questions-answers