Trudy Goodman

From Trudy

The Dalai Lama’s Koan

Decades ago in the ’70s the Dalai Lama’s smiling face was on the cover of a newspaper called “The Snow Lion.” The quote under his photo struck me so powerfully that I cut out the cover page and stuck it on a kitchen cupboard where it yellowed and tattered over the years. That piece of paper is long gone, but I always remember what he said: “Maybe I am the last Dalai Lama. It’s all right. There’s nothing wrong.”

His words shook me, a young practitioner. How can it be all right for his legacy and tradition to disappear in the slow genocide unfolding in Tibet? How to understand what the Dalai Lama said, given how much his people rely on his compassionate and courageous leadership?

Uttered in the context of Tibet’s tragedy, those words became a koan – “It’s all right. There’s nothing wrong.” – inspired me through many sad, hard times in my life. I remember sitting quietly in the meditation hall, tears of grief streaming down my face, simultaneously knowing that deep down, it’s still OK. Mysteriously, it is all right. Not the breezy “all right” of “it’s all good,” which can be a dismissal or denial, but the “all right” of humbly embracing our broken-heartedness with loving awareness. Then we can discover the “all right” of compassionate presence – and act, responding with grace.

Next time you feel that all is lost, try sitting down right in the midst of your grief, rage or despair. Sitting and walking mindfully in meditation, it’s easier to be with ourselves more lovingly. Through the courage to meet life as it is and drink it in – straight up! – we embody the compassion of our clear, radiant true nature. Deeply knowing: yes, this heart is aching. And it’s all right. There’s nothing wrong.