Ten Questions for the Dalai Lama
Your wish is my command: applying the law of attraction
By Elizabeth Anne Hill

     My name is Rick Ray. I am a world traveler, writer, and filmmaker. I began my trek around the world over twenty-five years ago and have explored places, such as Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Burma, Viet Nam, Myanmar, and Ethiopia. I have made twelve documentaries about world cultures while studying in detail the environment and traditions of these countries.

I spend so much time abroad that my own country often feels foreign to me. After visiting places like Italy and New Zealand, I wondered why Americans don't get together in the evenings more often to commune over dinner and a glass of wine. I wondered why the poorest places on earth seem to have the most self-sufficient, happy, smiling, and seemingly content people. Why are the rich so stressed out, scattered, and unhappy? Why does monetary wealth not equate to inner wealth?

      These were some of the issues that I often pondered. I had no idea, however, that I would get the chance to pose my questions to one of the wisest men in the world until I received an interesting job offer. An American production company wanted to hire me to shoot a commercial film about the wonders of India.

They didn't promise to pay me much money, but instead offered a rare opportunity—to meet with and interview the Dalai Lama at his home in Dharamsala, India.

I didn't have to think about the job offer for very long because I have always felt a kinship with the Tibetan leader. When other guys my age were worshipping sports heroes, I was idolizing the Dalai Lama.

      Unfortunately, upon arriving in India, I discovered that no one knew anything about the purported interview.

I then realized then that I had nearly six months to figure out on my own how I was going to meet the spiritual leader.

India is a mystical place where anything can happen, so I don't know whether it was magic or fate that led me to an 80-year-old driver named Geeta Ram Ranote. He was quite an interesting character; reminding me of a genie because for every wish I had, he knew a way to make it happen.

     “Geeta Ram, can we film at the Taj Mahal at sunset?”

     “Yes, sir. I will reserve a space for you.”

“Geeta Ram, can we meet the President of India and

interview him?”

“No problem, sir.”

When I told him that I wished to interview the Dalai Lama, he seemed undaunted by my request and suggested that I write to his Holiness to propose a meeting. I admit that I was quite skeptical about writing a letter given my understanding of the Indian postal system. Geeta Ram explained that we would not be sending a letter but an e-mail. He just happened to have the Dalai Lama's e-mail address!

I was doubtful once again, but he took me to a cyber cafe and I sent off my request. I had an irrational fear of ending up in the Dalai Lama's spam filtering system, which couldn't be good Karma, but the electronic address Geeta Ram gave me was the Dalai Lama's actual e-mail. Within a few days I received a response which said that the Dalai Lama was quite busy, but there was an opening in four months time. I was told that I would be granted ten questions and a forty-five minute interview. I was in utter amazement that I had managed to secure a meeting with the man who is thought to be the reincarnation of the living Buddha. It was obvious that the film producers had not attempted to set up an interview.

      As I traveled across India and the Himalaya Mountains, I spent the next ninety days thinking about the questions that I would ask. I had decided to immerse myself in Buddhism by living in a Tibetan monastery in the most remote part of India known as the Nubra Valley. A feeling of extraordinary tranquility pervaded the entire monastery. I felt as though I was on the rooftop of the world and that somehow I had been transported closer to heaven.

After much contemplation, I finally compiled my list of ten questions. But as the day of the meeting drew near, I began to feel unsure about my questions, so I emailed my friends to see what questions they would ask. They weren't much help. They came up with all kinds of silly suggestions like, "What is Richard Gere's phone number," or the clichéd "What is the meaning of life?"

The Dalai Lama is a very practical man, and I had been warned that he doesn't suffer fools easily. His Holiness likes discussions that meet his own interests as well as the interests of his interviewer. If he senses that someone is there to make a point or is insincere, he will immediately cut the interview short.

Eventually the day of the interview arrived, and I felt the pressure mounting. In addition to wondering whether I had chosen the right ten questions, I wrestled with my nervousness and my camera equipment. If I were rejected after such a long personal journey, it would be the most humiliating moment of my life.

As soon as the Dalai Lama entered the room, however, everything changed. It was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. He exuded immense love, warmth, and kindness. He was smiling and kidding around. He grabbed the microphone and clipped it on his robe, doing a mock sound check, all the while giggling mischievously. I was immediately put at ease by his infectious laugh.

He turned to me, smiled, and I began the interview. It lasted for over an hour. We talked about philosophy, politics, history, and religion. We talked about non-violence, truth, faith, and science.

He was so gracious and the experience was magical.

I still do not know how or why I was chosen to interview this great man. I am no one important. But I believe that somehow it was my destiny to make this film and bring the Dalai Lama's timely message of peace to the world.

When I saw the backdrop of the Dalai Lama's life and all that he has been through, it lent much more meaning to his compassion. He claims to be a simple monk, but he has led a life that is anything but simple. For the past forty-nine years he has lived as a refugee from his beloved Tibet because he was driven out by the Chinese waging an ongoing vicious attack on his people and his culture. Yet he expresses no bitterness, only love, kindness, and forgiveness. I could imagine the powerful healing that would take place in the world if other leaders set the same example of patience and wisdom for their own people.

      When asked how the experience has affected me, I say that I am trying to live up to the Dalai Lama's belief that if you live your life truthfully you will have nothing to explain, justify, or defend. I believe that he is a spiritual leader with a higher calling. He is able to laugh at himself and at life. He is a man of profound wisdom, practical lessons, and endearing humor. My greatest wish is that his Holiness will someday grant me another ten questions.