The Wisdom of the Dalai Lama in Person.


The Young Minds Conference being held at Sydney Town Hall had a lucky guest for the opening session on the 17th of June - His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

I was fortunate to be a part of the fantastic panel that flanked the Dalai Lama, including the moderator Simon Longstaff, and Professors Deborah Harcourt and Carla Rinaldi.

Check out the official conference's blog here...

What a session! The topic was huge, "How to grow a good person".

What a topic indeed...


Justice cannot be done to the morning by recounting a few simple words, but I will do my best!

An unexpected surprise was the Dalai Lama's candour and sense of humour (especially at his own expense - it's awesome to know I'm not the only one who laughs at my own jokes!). It is easy to forget in those simple moments that he is Nobel Laureate and the religious leader of his people.

What did he say?

He talked about the importance of family and the kindness of his mother, who 'never showed an angry face'.

He laughed about life as a young student who was only interested in playing, as all kids are.

He ruminated on the secular nature of ethics and morals...

He took us on a journey of a spiritual man who sees goodness as not being the sole property of those with religion, but of humanity.

This, he stressed.

'We should teach morals and ethics as a curriculum subject!'

His emphasis was profound.

To him, the values of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, respect and the like are not values that we should, as religious folk, be protective of but should share, as they are humanity's values.

Instead, they are secular morals that are based on biological factors that are about keeping humanity going. It was an interesting argument, and one that gives much food for thought.


A profound experience. I've had the blessing of speaking with His Holiness before, however this experience was a little different. Perhaps because I saw his obvious love for children; for their predilection to play, enjoy and be affectionate. We had a number of young people join us on the stage to ask questions; he would hold their hands, laugh with them, get them to sit on his lap...much like any elder gentlemen would treat his own grandchildren perhaps?

Let children be children, let them play and let them love, was his message.

However, don't let us forget that we can learn from children, from their abandonment, for their honest curiosity and humanity. Let us learn from them. Let us focus on secular morals and value them more in society.


Some among us have a wealth of wisdom to share.

The Dalai Lama is one of these men.

Regardless of differences in belief, it is important to reflect on the wisdom shared, relate it back to one's own beliefs and understand the univeral importance of humanity.

There is beauty - flawed and imperfect - but beauty nonetheless, in our collective humanity. For that reminder, I am grateful Alhamdulilah!

Death, Spirituality and Why I Believe.

Spirituality and death are not light topics often spoken of, particularly in Australia.  Deeper questions on life, death, spirituality and meaning are often left untouched outside the circles of philosophy, religion and very close family and friends. Yet they lurk in the shadowy recesses of our minds, buried beneath the busy-ness and the whirlwind of daily life, emerging only when prompted and typically buried soon after.

Death seems to be the one thing that is a certainty, yet it manages to shock us. It is as if we know that it will eventually happen, but don’t believe it when it does, as it forces us to confront our own mortality, our own frailty.

It is fact.  You are going to die. A moving piece written on the NYT puts it well.

we don’t have a choice. You are older at this moment than you’ve ever been before, and it’s the youngest you’re ever going to get. The mortality rate is holding at a scandalous 100 percent. Pretending death can be indefinitely evaded with hot yoga or a gluten-free diet or antioxidants or just by refusing to look is craven denial.

Yet, that is what society does.  We deny it to ourselves.  We imagine that somehow, we will not fall prey to this fatal condition called life.  And yet, we do.  Inevitably.

And inevitably, we become simply another organism that has lived on this earth, and life moves on.  No matter what role we played on this earth – king, pauper, mother, villain – the planet keeps spinning, and eventually, save for a few, even the memory is forgotten.


Paraphrasing from R.Roberts, Islam (for me) is the wonderful belief that this life is not our whole story.

The fundamental belief in Islam, and indeed in many other religions, is that this life is merely a stage in the lives of our soul – that the time on this earth will be judged after we pass on, as we continue into the next life.

This is why death is something we are not taught to fear, but to prepare for.  That doesn’t always make it easier to deal with, but somehow easier accept, and it provides answers to questions no one living can definitely respond to.

I’ve grown into my religion and spirituality as I have aged.  It is a process, just like any thing else, and with this growth has come the realisation that belief in the afterlife changes the perspective and the attitude taken to life as a whole.

For example, people often ask about the difficulty in forgoing things in this world – alcohol, pork and promiscuity are the ones I get asked about the most – and find it difficult to comprehend why anyone would voluntarily put themselves through extra difficulty.  Once you understand that these actions are providing “brownie points” for a level of the game you haven’t reached yet, it begins to make some more sense.

If I have a medical problem, I’ll go to the experts – the doctors.  If I have a question on life, spirituality and what’s next, I live by what the experts in that industry say – the industry of spirituality if you will, is religion.

I don’t always understand the answers I am given, but I have faith. After all, we follow doctor’s orders don’t we?


Here are a two beautiful links that prompted me to write this piece.

Regrets of the dying.

You are going to die.