Think about the Dalai Lama. Picture him in your head.
Now, what did you see?
The flowing red and orange robes? The familiar smile and spectacles? The astonishing aura?
Such images are entrenched, it’s true, but did anyone see the laptop?
No, us neither.
Not until earlier this week, that is, when, here in our studio, we discovered something surprising.
That finding? That the Dalai Lama is on Twitter.
The Tibetan spiritual leader means a great deal to us here in Saunderstown, ranking amongst the most influential and inspirational figures both in our work and in our lives.
The Dalai Lama is someone we associate with a great many things.
Micro blogging is not one of them.
Not until now, that is.
You see, although our connective quest is being conducted using the latest in social networking services, Twitter is a resource that we’re still getting to grips with.
To its critics – and, although it is so popular, detractors are not in short stock – it is little more than an outlet for the inane.
The Dalai Lama has proved otherwise.
Take this recent Tweet, for example.
“The more contact we have with one another and the more we come to understand each other’s values, the greater will be our mutual respect.”
The most profound wisdom in less than 140 characters. This is connection 21st-Century style.
There’s not room enough on this blog to explain our devotion to the Dalai Lama in full, but reading through his latest Twitter teachings, one simple fact stands out.
The words might be a little different to our own, but the underlying message is the same.
The conclusion is clear: We are all connected.
“The more we feel concern for others and seek their well-being, the more friends we will have and the more welcome we will feel,” he wrote last month.
This month, the Dalai Lama has been doing just that, visiting Ishinomaki, the area most devastated during the tsunami that struck Japan earlier this year.
Meeting people. Showing concern. Ensuring their well-being.
Reaching out. Finding friends. Seeking welcome.
In short, making connections. It’s what the Dalai Lama does best.
It’s something he has been doing for a long time, the interesting aspect in all this being the modern methods that are these days being employed to aid his connective quest.
It’s not just a well-subscribed Twitter account (3,015,367 followers and counting) either.
The Dalai Lama also has a wonderful website that brims with wisdom and a Facebook page that shows more than two million ‘likes’.
Using the latter resource in recent days, he posted a message that struck a chord here in our studio.
“Human beings are not intrinsically selfish,” he wrote, underlining the importance of avoiding isolation. “We achieve happiness, prosperity and progress through social interaction. Therefore, having a kind and helpful attitude contributes to our own and others’ happiness.”
You see, there it is again, that underlying message that drives us and our efforts, that mantra that has inspired each OM to have ever left our studio.
You might wonder why we’re telling you all this.
First and foremost, it’s just a terrific tale, one that began last February, in the United States, when the Dalai Lama met Evan Williams, one of Twitter’s founders.
“Met the Dalai Lama in LA today,” Mr Williams tweeted, his message, at first, interpreted as an attempted joke. “Pitched him on using Twitter. He just laughed.”
The following day, however, an account was up and running, the Dalai Lama active ever since.
That leads us to our main point, which is this: In reaching out, in spreading his message, in making connections, the Dalai Lama is using all tools available to him, leaving no stone unturned.
This is, in itself, a lesson for us to learn, and an example that needs to be followed.
Here in Saunderstown, we’ll continue to publish our blog and our own rather-wonderful website, and we’ll continue to use our Facebook presence to spread the word and to touch more and more lives.
Our Twitter following is unlikely to ever reach three million, although with your help, there is the scope for us to continue our growth.
That in mind, we’re off to do a little tweeting right now.
Because after all, if it’s good enough for the Dalai Lama, it’s good enough for us.
We are all connected.