There is a myth surrounding the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhists, who has been living in exile in India for more than 60 years. They say that his aura extends to more than three km. I can vouch for that claim, myself. I have caught myself smiling to myself even when I think of him. I have had the good fortune to attend some conferences and events that his organisations, The Mind and Life Institute and the Foundation for Universal Responsibility organised in the capital. It gave me the opportunity to see him from a close distance and come directly within the ambit of his soothing and cheerful aura. I felt incredibly good and blessed to be around such a magnetic personality. Even as he walks into the conference hall or auditorium, people’s faces light up with joy. Such is the magic of his aura.

He is always laughing, his eyes twinkling merrily. When on stage or on the dais, he cracks jokes non-stop, putting his audience at ease. As a spiritual leader he knows the value of laughter. It is good for both body and soul. Laughter can indeed alter one’s mind and even change the way one thinks. It can get rid of stress and bring down your BP. It even has the power to make you get well and rid you of illness. It is so powerful that Rhonda Byrne in The Secret writes about people who have even cured themselves of cancer after watching comedy films nonstop for a few weeks. Laughter has the power to manufacture endorphins, the feel-good hormones in your body.  

Most gurus are solemn and they never seem to laugh, although their faces are calm and serene. But not so, our Dalai Lama. He can create a stir with his good-natured vibes and jokes. In one programme I attended, the 14th Dalai Lama complained good-naturedly that he was suffering from a cold. He said that he won’t speak much because so many things were coming out of his nose! His spontaneous laughter is like a viral infection that you want to catch. You feel so drawn to this laughing bodhisattva, that when one returns home after attending one of his events, one automatically tries to live life adding meditation and introspection to one’s daily agenda.

The Dalai Lama has been living in Dharamshala in exile for six decades. Yet, he doesn’t ever seem to vent out anger against the Chinese. When he received a silk scarf at the end of the event I had attended, his eyes lit up and he said merrily, “From China, no?” pointing to his scarf. It seems he only wishes the Chinese well. It makes me wonder whether we should follow the Dalai Lama’s example and be equally forgiving in these present times with the Chinese. That’s something to think about, right?

The Dalai Lama usually has a bagful of jokes and he is always ready to recount several little incidents that make one laugh out loud. He also offers practical tips that make his messages of peace and meditation somehow easier to take in. He even jokes with the audience, immediately putting them at ease. In between discussions about samadhi, meditation and complicated concepts such as shunya, he can declare nonchalantly, “I just don’t have time for meditation and I am too lazy to practice it!”

Once, on stage with Swami Ramdev, he had playfully tugged at the Swami’s beard to check if it were “real” — that too at a public function! On another occasion, when people asked him whether prayers work, he said that prayer seems to be woefully inadequate to deal with the serious issues of the world! To another question on the ease with which one could develop inner peace of mind, he said, chuckling, to the crowd: “It is not going to come from the sky or from medicine. You have to develop this within yourself!” With your sadhana, of course.

The Dalai Lama endears himself to the crowd by laughing a lot — and mostly at himself, never at others. That’s a lesson in itself to his followers.