Saturday, 9 June 2007

A blessed afternoon with Dalai Lama

I still could not believe my luck today as I saw His Holiness Dalai Lama crossing the stage to the microphone and greeting the audience. I mean, last January I was watching a video about Tibet and Dalai Lama and was thinking of how lucky I would be if I could meet him.
And this afternoon in the chilly Melbourne afternoon I saw him. A beautiful soul who becomes the very symbol of peace and hope for this planet. A great leader of a great nation that is not officially recognized by the United Nations (heh…) but continues to strive for a better fate and life of Tibet and the Tibetans. Not only that; he also relentlessly works for a better world by spreading messages of love and peace. A beacon of hope and love that always reminds us that peace and happiness is found within, and you cannot make a peaceful world unless you are in peace with yourself.

Topic of the day in the MC Labour Park, Princess Park Stadium was ‘Universal Responsibility’. Now, as my blog space is limited, I can only spoil myself with a summary of His Holiness’ point of thoughts in this very blessed public speech attended by at least 10,000 people, which I believe were not only local Melbournians. I should first say that Dalai Lama asked us to see him as a human being, not as Dalai Lama. For him, we are also fellow human beings, not people from different cultural, religious, or geographical backgrounds. Then, and only then we can begin our dialogs and understanding.
I think it’s rather impossible for me to see him ‘just’ as a human being; but I understand what he meant. And that only made me love him more.

On global warming and over population

I do not deliberately put this section upfront because I am an environmentalist and an ecologist, but because His Holiness did address this matter first hand. Dalai Lama said that humanity now faces one challenge: over population. Over population and unsustainable life style leads to global warming, a really serious challenge to humanity; beyond the reach of individual capacity to deal with it alone. Global warming is a common threat and also common interest of the entire planet, and hence humankind has to develop a great sense of responsibility and concern in general. In essence, this global warming is our own creation, and we have to address it ourselves.

By and by, see my review on Global Climate Change and Spirituality here (Global Warming is also a Spiritual Issue).

On Compassion

In this century, the concept of ‘we’ and ‘they’ is irrelevant. If the rest of the world is in peace, you will get peace. If other parts of the world are in trouble, you eventually will get trouble. In that sense, anger, fear, hatred and jealousy are obstacles for one world.

Compassion can bring people together. Without even touching matters of religion, next life, heaven (or hell for that matter), we need what Dalai Lama called ‘warm-heartedness’. Compassions and concerns towards other people’s welfare are what the world needs now. But there is a difference between real compassion and biased/limited compassion. Biased/limited compassion is based on others’ attitudes to you. That is a love and hate relationship, and it is not healthy. Limited compassion brings more fear, frustration, anger, hatred and jealousy.
Real compassion, on the other hand, is not biased. It does not consider the attitude of the person we give our compassion to; but rather on their rights to achieve happiness. Unbiased compassion can extend to your enemy, without any reasons. Unlimited compassion brings inner strength, self confidence, reducing fear, jealousy and frustration.
It is also important to note Dalai Lama’s comment on religion. One can be a good person without religion. But without warm-heartedness, without compassion, one cannot be a happy person, for he/she will not have any sense of concerns at all. Then, without warm-heartedness and compassion, one will have a sense of insecurity, loneliness, and helplessness. Eventually, drugs and alcohol will be the outlet.

On global responsibility

Sense of global responsibility is based on infinite compassion that is trained through awareness or reasoning. The seed of the training is compassion. It should be noted that even Buddha said that the faith of a sentient being completely depends on their own actions. We ourselves created our problems. The methods to overcome the problems must come from us, not from God.

The concept of ‘we/they’, ‘black/white’ etc are no longer relevant. It was so in the ancient times, but not now. If your neighbour is destroyed, you will be destroyed. Compiling weapons is a waste, a useless action. In this regard, Dalai Lama suggested that we should aim for demilitarised world. It is not possible to achieve it now; but we should start it in mind. We should aim for internal and external disarmament.

Peaceful world does not mean ‘no more problems’. Methods to address those problems should be found through dialogs, as opposed to force. This century is the century of dialog, and we have to include media people to educate the public on the importance of peace.

On Tibet’s fate as a nation

From the local point of view, Dalai Lama admitted that Tibet is almost hopeless. Yet, from the global level, there is hope. There are changes in China; its leaders shift from prioritising economy to harmony. In short, Chinese leaders are now more realistic, many Chinese show interests in Tibetan culture, and there is hope for better harmony. However, yesterday His Holiness also expressed his concerns that if China does not allow autonomy for Tibet, the Tibetan culture will finish in 15 years. See this link for more information.

On John Howard (sigh…) and Australian politicians

His Holiness Dalai Lama said he did not care if Australian leaders would not pay him homage. He understood that China is an important part of Australia’s foreign economy, and hence did not find it a problem if John Howard would not meet him in this visit. ‘I hear some say there is a possibility and some say there is no possibility – I don't care,’ he said, as quoted by

I personally feel sorry for those Australian politicians who hesitate to see His Holiness, for it is such a loss to let such a great figure as Dalai Lama pass your path and not greeting him or touching his simple robe in gratitude. But… it’s their problems, not mine. I remember that my friends in Townsville asked me to hug him for them, and honestly, I really really want to do that! Touching his feet, at least…

On suicide bombers and general image of Islam

I was particularly interested in Dalai Lama’s comment on this particular question. His Holiness answered by stating that even Buddha had some mischievous disciples. It is quite natural for any religions to have ‘mischievous’ people in the system.
After 9/11, when the whole world of Islam was considered militant, His Holiness stood up and defended Islam. He said that it was wrong to generalize all Moslems as bad due to the actions of suicide bombers. Imperfection like this also happens in other religions; Christian, Hindu, even Buddhism. And, he added with a chuckle, ‘Who knows? Perhaps Heaven might not be perfect either!’ That's rather hilarious, aye?

By the way, before Dalai Lama’s speech began, the committee (which I am sure consists mostly on volunteers) had played a very nice video presentation, featuring interfaith peace among several religions, including Islam, Christian, Hindu and Buddhism. The video interviewed youth leaders from several religions, and I am especially interested with a scarf-covered young lady from a Middle East country (I apologise for missing her country of origin), as she talked of peace and understanding with apparent loving kindness in her eyes. She basically said that after knowing more people from different faiths, dialogs were unavoidable. She then gradually came to the understanding that religions are mostly different in the way of expressing their beliefs, hence, in words. But as we go deeper into the meaning, all religions are the same. Hence, living together in diversity of religion and culture is not an impossible thing and we should strive for it in the spirit fo peace and harmony.

On the fate of indigenous Aborigines in Australia

Dalai Lama did not comment a lot on the fate of indigenous Australians, except that the Aborigines have been living in rather imbalance situations compared to the rest of Australians here. However, His Holiness did visit an Aboriginal community in Bendigo during the inauguration of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion near the Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery at Myers Flat, north-west of Bendigo yesterday. There, Dalai Lama was greeted by the elders with an ancient cleansing ceremony, much older than Buddhism itself. Click here for the detailed news. It was said that a woman shed her tears as His Holiness walked in front of her. I can understand her. I myself cried when I caught a glimpse of His Holiness entering the podium at least 200 meters away from me this afternoon.

Next stop for me is Geelong for the White Tara Empowerment. That is on Monday, 11 June. Meanwhile, I shall see the ‘Miss Saigon’ musical performance tomorrow afternoon. My first musical theater, so I am pretty much excited as well.


nadia said...

Hey nice coverage of Dalai Lama's words.

Ive been a buddhist for more than 10 years and its only recently that i discovered how much peace and happiness buddhism and in particular, Dalai lama's words can bring me.

Nadia (the person with the red hair you met on June 9th) ^^

Icha said...

Hi you! Nice to see you again! And yes, Dalai Lama is a very amazing person, is he not? I am so blessed to finally meet him, well, catch a glimpse of him!

I still have the Geelong speech to be uploaded, I will let you know once I post it.