Today starts a series of teachings by the His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and Buddhists around the world. He is guided by three major commitments: the promotion of basic human values in the interest of human happiness, the fostering of inter-religious harmony and the welfare of the Tibetan people, focusing on the survival of Tibetan identity, culture and religion.
I was lucky enough to be gifted tickets to his teachings in Manchester and today watched him inspire young people, including my daughter, packed into the M.E.N. Arena on free entry, the start of his tour aiming to spread the 76-year-old Buddhist’s teachings of peace and understanding. With such an incredible presence, compered by the controversial but more recently spiritually-awakened Russell Brand it was sheer educational entertainment. Brand greeted the Dalai Lama and after walking hand in hand to centrestage to greet the young crowd His Holiness the Dalai Lama, smiling and chuckling, stopped for cameras, tugging Brand’s beard. The comedian responded: “Not really a lot I can do in a situation like this….”
The Dalai Lama described Brand’s introduction as “completely informal”, saying he did not like formality, he “prefered heart to heart”and later commended Brand by saying: “I think your openness transfers wonderfully.”
Tomorrow, “HH” as Brand respectfully calls him, will teach on the “Eight Verses of Training the Mind” and other Buddhist doctrines. Live webcasts can be viewed at www.dalailama2012uk.org/webcast.html
Amongst many inspiring words were ..”vision, warm-heartedness and determination are necessary” and that “dialogue was the key to avoid violent conflicts”. He continued to the young people: “At the age of 16 I lost my freedom. At the age of 24 I lost my own country. During these 50 or 60 years I have faced a lot of problems but I never give up hope. Hope based on truth, hope based on reason.”
His Holinees described himself on the basic level of a human being, “next I am Tibetan, next I am Tibetan Monk, next I am Dalai Lama” but his emphasis was on dialogue on the basic human level for the promotion of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. “All human beings are the same. We all want happy life”.
His Holiness’ has a responsibility to act as the free spokesperson of the Tibetans in their struggle for justice. As far as this third commitment is concerned, it will cease to exist once a mutually beneficial solution is reached between the Tibetans and Chinese, or till his last breath. Speaking in Leeds yesterday provoked an outcry from the Chinese who threatened to pull their Olympic team from training in the area. I can’t help but hate the Chinese regime for what they’re doing to Tibet, but perhaps my mind will be enlightened by the end of Monday, thanks to the generosity of Jonathan, who donated the tickets.
Tashi sent me more photos of their local and majestic Mount Kailash, for Buddhists, the navel of the universe. We still hope to send more and more volunteers to help Tashi’s school and promote cultural education for all. Get in touch for further details, or look around the FaceBook Page.