I have a ticket to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak tomorrow in NYC at the Cathedral of St. John. A few friends and I jumped at the chance to see him speak, and we’ll hopefully have enough time to eat dinner at Blossoms, a vegan restaurant.

I’ve been waiting patiently for several years to hear the Dalai Lama speak. I was disappointed to have missed him the last time he spoke in this area at Rutgers Stadium. A friend of mine went to see him there, and the experience she describes sounds incredible. Rutgers Stadium holds just over 50,000 people, and you can imagine that even with this peaceful crowd, the buzz of voices was quite loud. Kate described how as soon as he set foot on stage, the entire stadium went silent. Not quiet… silent. And the focused energy of all those people combined with his energy was enough to give you goosebumps and a chill up your spine.

From the bits of speeches I’ve heard and things I’ve read, I understand that Tenzin Gyatso is a funny man with a keen sense of humor. With his smiling eyes and peaceful manner, he reminds me of Pope John Paul II, another person I would have liked to hear speak. In fact, many of our great holy masters have been leaving us and moving on to the next part of their journeys. Because of this, I’ve been trying to hear as many of them speak as I can. I’m sorry I didn’t know about Sri Swami Satchidananda soon enough to hear him speak before he passed on in 2002. You might know him as the Swami who spoke at Woodstock, but I know him as the founder of Integral Yoga and from his translation and commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a book that has – and is continuing to – change my life. I’ve been fortunate to hear Sri Dharma Mittra speak twice, so I’ve been blessed there. I attempted to hear Reverend Jaganath Carrera, a disciple of Satchidananda, speak, but he has been suffering from an illness and unfortunately wasn’t able to attend in person. We listened to a recorded talk instead, which was very interesting and I hope to someday see him in person. I have also been blessed to hear a wonderful talk by Lama Dvora, a brilliant woman and buddhist teacher, and would like to hear her speak again someday.

To me, these people are the real deal. I can only hope that their disciples are able to fully live the teachings and pass on the message to their students in a clear and truthful way. I haven’t heard any of the newer yoga masters speak yet, and I will admit to a probably ignorant bias. The great men and women I wrote about above don’t have huge marketing machines pushing yoga mats, meditation cushions, clothes and videos. Most of them have small yoga studios, not franchises, and many speak for nothing more than a small donation (as little as $5 or $10!). They’re there to spread the dharma, not become rich. It’s my own issue and I hope to be proven wrong, but wealth and selfless service just don’t add up in my book.

So, as I’m trying to live in the present moment and not think too much about the future, I’ve gotta admit that I’m looking forward to my day tomorrow and hope that it meets or exceeds expectation. But then… whatever is meant to happen will happen and I’ll take it as it comes.