by Kat Barton
The sun was shinning and the air was cool and crisp as we boarded the shuttle bus headed to see the Dalai Lama speak at Western Connecticut State University.
Cailee Harvey, age nine was ready. She watched movie Kundun the night before for a second time and to make the shuttle ride more fun we played “Dalai Lama Trivia.” She knew he was the 14th Dalai Lama, and that he was born in Tibet and that he fled as a teenager to live in India, she knew more about the Dalai Lama then a lot of people. She was ready. But she had a burning question, “ Could a girl be a Dalai Lama?”
We stood in line to see the sand mandala. We waited patiently to pass through security and filed into the auditorium.
The stage was set with a very special carved chair and draped with a cloth. Buddhist Monks were seated to the side. Their smiling faces made it easy for Cailee to walk over and shake hands with each of them. Later they would start the program with their mesmerizing chanting.
When the talk was over and all of the questions were answered. Cailee still didn’t have an answer to her question. Determined we set off in search of an answer. Many of the Monks were still in the audience and we found a smiling face to ask.
“So far all boys but yes a girl could be a Dalai Lama, but so far all boys,” the Monk replied with a chuckle.
Riding the shuttle back we talked about what His Holiness said.
“He was hard to understand,” said Cailee. But with just a little bit of help she was able to rattle off a few key points she needed for her presentation to her fourth grade class at Gainfield Elementary School in Southbury.
“We are all the same. And there was the mind thing – use your mind for imagination and meditation. Don’t just pray on it – do something,” she quipped.
“ Be nice…don’t lie and education, learn about others,” said Cailee.
When asked what was her favorite part, “ The sand mandala, it looks so hard to do – a picture drawn in sand and then when they are done they sweep it away,” she said as she looked out the window at the traffic jam on Route 84.