What the Dalai Lama Doesn’t Understand
Imagine if you got to witness the Dalai Lama’s first visit to the United States.
Here’s a little of what you would have seen, if you could transport yourself back a few decades.
The Dalai Lama was meeting with a group of Buddhist meditation practitioners here in the US. The group included some of that wave of young Americans in the 1960s and 1970s who traveled abroad to places like India and Thailand, who lived and studied in monasteries and ashrams, and who eventually brought the principles and the practice of meditation home with them.
Sharon Salzberg was one of those teachers, and she remains today one of the most compassionate and beloved leaders and writers about the practice. During that first meeting, she asked the Dalai Lama for his advice on how meditation can help her students with their most chronic, persistent problem.
Which was – and is – self-esteem.
How can meditation help people who suffer from problems of self-esteem, and from challenges that are typically associated with it such as depression or an over-reliance on drugs or alcohol?
This was the question Salzberg asked the Dalai Lama. But first the Dalai Lama had a question of his own.
“What is self-esteem?”
The Dalai Lama was speaking through a translator who, as the audience watched, spent many minutes trying to communicate the concept of self-esteem. Clearly the Dalai Lama was finding it hard to get his head around it. Upon hearing it for the first time, he couldn’t quite process the idea that anyone would feel as though their value was “less than,” simply as a human being.
I’ve been thinking about that this week.
One of the world’s most known spiritual leaders operates from this deeply assumed “default” setting that – of course – every one of us is full of value that we would naturally feel for ourselves.
For the Dalai Lama, it was weird that it could be otherwise.
And yet, as Salzberg and others communicated to him at that first meeting, it was and remains a chronic, ongoing problem.
So, what could we do about it?
I’d like to suggest something, and I know it’s going to sound strange and a little woogie-woogie. Bear with me.
What if we assumed that default setting too, as the Dalai Lama does?
What if we went about our days, assuming and recognizing the deep value inside ourselves? Not in an arrogant way. Goodness, not at all. Just in a quiet, inner way that respects our own humanity and our own place in the world.
What if we went about our days with the stability of that as our foundation?
Here’s what I think would happen, pretty quickly: we would recognize the deep value in others too. Because when we recognize it in ourselves, it becomes something familiar. Which means we can more easily recognize it in the people around us too.
Maybe we’d start giving people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe we’d find compassion more easily, for others and for ourselves. Maybe, wordlessly, we’d communicate to each other more often that they have value too.
Yes, I think meditation helps with this. But I think it’s a place you can get to, just as effectively off the cushion also.
Who’s with me?
This Week's Reading:
There's no shortage of wine stories and media inundating our IN Boxes. Here's what has piqued our interest this week.
Vacation Doesn’t Have to Be All About the Food – Bon Appetit.com
Healthyish editor Amanda Shapiro on taking a break from caring about what and where she eats.
What Winemakers Can Learn From Tea Production – The Buyer.net
Winemakers can learn a lot from the care and attention the average tea farmer takes in producing an average crop of tea leaves.
Meet the Tribe!
Our community is only as strong as the company we keep, and here we meet some of the folks who make our profession so dynamic.
Alison Smith Story
President & Co-Founder, Smith Story Wine Cellars (USA)
Years in the Industry:
16 years. After a couple of part-time wine gigs to get my feet wet, I took a full-time position as a wine buyer and marketing manager for K&L Wine Merchants, which was my “MBA” year of sorts in the wine industry. I then started two businesses and a non-profit that allowed me to travel the world and help family owned wineries with sales and marketing, before founding Smith Story Wine Cellars with my husband Eric Story, in 2013.
My Biggest Challenge to Wellness:
I’m a certified workaholic who’s driven by creativity and social interaction, but also tasked with running all facets of the business so getting good rest is my biggest challenge. Both Eric and I are always trying to find a way to take a day off from the business, and so far we are failing. The anxiety of starting a new winery on your own is crushingly brutal.
We split our time between weekends in the Anderson Valley (our tasting room location) and week days in Santa Rosa where we are close to the winery and airports. The constant balance is a mental thing wrapped up in tortilla of exhaustion with a side of nervous anxiety sauce.
How I keep It Together To Stay Well:
In 2010 I participated in a 40-day Baron Baptist Yoga program that created this ah-ha “equanimity moment” of sorts of me. I try my best to focus on equanimity in business dealings and am always working on my emotional intelligence skills.
Also, I think not drinking alcohol everyday has been my best tool in the wellness-toolbox. I’ve found my own way of mediation through giving thanks through prayer in the morning and night. I also have a fun outlet with our dear dog Lord Sandwich allowing me to switch my mind off of the hardcore business hours for some unconditional love, laughter and joy. One day at a time!
You can connect with Alison on Instagram at SmithStoryWines Twitter SmithStoryWines or online at www.smithstorywinecellars.com
Let's Meet Up!
As work life has it, we are traveling over the next few months and would love to see you. Check out details on the Let's Meet Up! page over at A Balanced Glass.
Speaker at The Bâtonnage Discussion Series, in Oakland, March 17 (Rebecca)
Attendee at ProWein in Düsseldorf, March 17 to 19 (Cathy)
Guest Lecturer at the University of Bologna, April 2 to 4 (Cathy)
Attendees at Vinitaly in Verona, April 7 – 10 (Rebecca and Cathy)
Speaker at Bâtonnage Forum in Napa, Saturday May 4 (Rebecca)
Presenter at the London Wine Fair, May 20 to 22 (Cathy)
Attendee at MUST: Fermenting Ideas in Cascais, Portugal, June 26 to 28 (Cathy)
Attendee at Fine Minds 4 Fine Wines in Bordeaux, July 4 to 6 (Cathy)