How to meet Dalai Lama

I was in Rishikesh when the annual Mooji wave hit everyone in Rishikesh. If like me (from a year ago) you don’t know who’s Mooji, then let me add, he is a Jamaican spiritual teacher based out of Portugal. He visits Rishikesh for a month every year.

With him comes the wave of his followers from across the world, a lot from Brazil (I’m guessing owing to the language).

The hostel was full, not just ours but the ones around our hostel as well, streets were lined with posters in all shapes and sizes of Mooji staring you in the eye, the air was abuzz with ‘Are you coming to the Satsang?’.

There was absolutely no missing it. Not even if you tried.

I was not on an active spiritual path back then. I was a happy, ‘largely at peace with life’ girl who was just trying to get some writing done back then. So, even though I was not crippled with excitement, it seemed rather strange to miss out on this experience people from around the world were coming together for. Fear of missing out, you see.

This is how I ended up in the first Satsang of Sri Mooji. I didn’t go to the following ones even though I was in Rishikesh for no other reason but – I had no questions in life that wouldn’t let me sleep. 

It was this experience that led to a realization though – even though I hadn’t been seeking a spiritual journey, spirituality had found its way in my life and was an important thread. I hadn’t paid much attention to it. From the ghats of Varanasi to the birthplace of Buddha, from Kasar Devi temple to the Jyotirlinga in Rishikesh, religion and spirituality hopped on with me.

Acknowledging this presence didn’t feel enough so I embraced it. I was looking for my next destination and it occurred to me, why not see the Dalai Lama. A spiritual leader I have grown up seeing, hearing, and reading about. Maybe he would answer questions, I’m not asking yet?

But how do you meet the Dalai Lama? I knew he lives in India but can I just visit?

Where does the Dalai Lama Stay?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is known to live in Dharamshala (Northern part of India in the foothills of the Himalayas) but he travels for teachings and spends a good amount of time in Bodh Gaya (Bihar) as well.

How can you meet him?

I hope you didn’t think you can meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama in person? (Like I imagined back then). He does some regular sessions that range from 3-5 days. these teachings/talks are open to anyone basis the registration (on the spot). The details of these sessions are here – https://www.dalailama.com/

On the home page of this website, click on the menu named – Schedule (https://www.dalailama.com/schedule) to get the details of upcoming sessions and plan your travel accordingly.

In my case, he had a session coming up in a few days in Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh, and I decided to join in.

In spite of deciding to stay away from cold (especially after the 10-day hike in Nepal through the blizzard), I walked right into it and guess what? couldn’t leave for a month because it is just so beautiful.

How to register for the teachings and costs?

As a tradition, all the teachings are free of cost unless specifically mentioned.

But registration for these events is no joke, my dear friend. The registrations happen at the Branch Security Office in McLeod Ganj, Bhagsunath Road. This is in the main monastery. Trust me on this, the venue would be least of your concerns. The entire universe would be walking in this direction to get registered if like me you’re going there on the last day of registration.

Registrations open a few days before the teachings and end a day before the teachings begin (Although in my case, it was open on the first day as well).

What is it about registration that you should be afraid of?

It’s a madhouse. Those monks and saffron-clad nuns aren’t that peace-loving when it comes to the – the Holiness. The queue was easily over 100 m. This is when people were not following an order. As we got nearer to the registration table and clock was ticking 1 pm, people started losing patience and everyone was pushing everyone around. I distinctly remember standing with barely any footing. I was upright because there was no place to fall.

  • Registration Timings:

Official timings are 9 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm. But people start lining up from early morning. I would say go at around 7 am. Also, do consider there can be local holidays so if you can keep a buffer day, try that.

  • Documents needed:

Any ID proof is good. For foreigners, it’s a passport.

  • Cost:

The registration cost is Rs. 10.

Open area with lot of monks overlooking snow clad mountains

Part of the monastery

Teachings:

Okay, so the difficult part is over. Now is the time to go with an open mind and take the learnings. 

  • What to carry?

No phone, camera, lighters are allowed. It would be best to carry a mat, a bowl for tea and food, and some snacks.

Each day during the session, butter tea is shared around and later food is served. Even if you don’t intend to eat, I would recommend you stay and see how all those people who were pouncing on you the other day are now ensuring you get food and tea and share whatever they bring as well.

  • Language of teachings:

The teachings that I went to were in Tibetan so I had to buy a radio (easily available in local stores for Rs. 300) that I used in order to listen to live translations in English. The teachings are broadcasted in English and a few international languages.

Additional Tip:

The Dalai Lama sits on the first floor in the inner sanctum so not everyone can see him directly as the entire monastery is occupied. You will have to come 2 hours before time to get a good spot. However, there are televisions installed so you can see him on the screen comfortably from almost anywhere in the monastery and wait for him to enter or leave to see him in real.

 

This is how I was able to listen to him speak and see him every morning for three days.

A year on, I do remember some of the simple lessons Dalai Lama spoke about especially the one around choosing to eat meat when it’s about survival. But what remains etched in my memory is that entire experience of being one among the hundreds who had their eyes fixed on one man and one man alone – His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The congregation was my true experience stronger than my quest of how to meet Dalai Lama.

Have you been driven to a place for the spiritual experience it offered?


Manisha Singh

In 2016, out of sheer hopelessness towards life, I quit my corporate job. The idea was to find happiness again. On this quest I went to Brazil and from there started my year-long journey in Latin America. A journey that was no short of a dream from soaking sun on the beaches of Brazil to witnessing calving glaciers of Argentina, from trekking to Machu Picchu to swimming in Mexican sink holes. And, life has never been mundane ever since. I continued traveling full time thereafter primarily in India stopping every now and then to find paid work.

8 Comments

amar · October 23, 2020 at 05:46

Nice work

smanek · September 23, 2020 at 00:09

Thanks for sharing this informative post with beautiful pictures.

    Manisha Singh · September 23, 2020 at 20:18

    Thank you so much for the encouraging words 🙂

Monkey's Tale · June 24, 2020 at 01:23

We went to one of his 3 day teachings in McLeod Ganj a couple of years ago. We loved sitting with all of the Tibetans on the main floor during his talks and also stand with them as walked by.The Dalai Lama is very inspiring. We’re not Buddhist, but his messages are important for everyone. We picked up our tickets at the international counter which sounds like it was more orderly than the regular counter.

    Manisha Singh · June 24, 2020 at 17:00

    I quite enjoyed the whole process as well.
    I’m not sure about the international counter. I was with two people I had met on the bus from Rishikesh. One was Belgian and one Turkish. They both were standing in queue with me and we went through the same process of surviving the crowd. At some point the is different for men and women but it was still next to each other (It was barely a queue at this point).

Passport Overused · June 23, 2020 at 18:05

Great post 😁

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