Sunday, 17 June 2012

In Which I Miss the Dalai Lama's Visit

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tensing Gyatzo, visited my home town of Leeds, in the north of England, yesterday. He was addressing a business conference, not at all my field, but I would very much have liked to hear him speak. I've heard him interviewed on the radio, and he seems to be a wonderful person. As spiritual leader of Thibet, in exile, he comes from a country whose sovereignty is disputed. China claims the mountainous nation is merely a province of greater China, but most Thibetans would seem to disagree. 
When I have heard the Dalai Lama speak, I have never heard him attack China, or call for revolution.   
( "I am not seeking separation from China. I am committed to my middle-way approach whereby Tibet remains within the People's Republic of China enjoying a high degree of self-rule or autonomy. I firmly believe that this is of mutual benefit both to the Tibetans as well as to the Chinese. We Tibetans will be able to develop Tibet with China's assistance, while at the same time preserving our own unique culture, including spirituality, and our delicate environment. By amicably resolving the Tibetan issue, China will be able to contribute to her own unity and stability").
Why then does China seem to fear and hate him so much?

The ludicrous antics of the People's Republic in recent days included a threat by China to remove its Olympic team from Leeds, where the team is to train and acclimatise, if Leeds City Council allowed the visit to go ahead. The council replied that the visit was not organised by the council, but by a business association, and that the council had no authority in British law to intefere. Which was a bit of weaselly distancing by our representatives. I'd have liked to see our city council turn out in force to honour him, with the mayor in full regalia.
I'd have liked them to say "Go ahead, then, pull your athletes out, and good luck in trying to find another world class training facility at such a late juncture", and I'd hope other cities would find themselves all fully booked, and unable to help, when the Chinese delegation asked for rooms, tracks, gymnasia, olympic sized swimming pools...

The chinese themselves said, at the time of the Beijing olympics that the olympics should be held separate from politics.

"His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet.  At the age of two the child, who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.  The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet.  Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity. "

"When a questioner asked how His Holiness himself remains so calm, he replied that even when he receives heart-breaking news from Tibet, he remembers the advice of the 8th century Indian Buddhist master Shantideva. He counselled that in the face of hardship it helps to analyse whether there is anything to be done and if there is, there is no need to worry. Instead, employ your energy in pursuit of the solution. On the other hand, if there is nothing to be done, worrying won’t help." 

I'm not religious, but if I were forced to choose one, it would probably be Buddhism, not that I have the temperament or self discipline to follow the way.
And of all the world leaders and political/religious persons I've ever heard speak, this is the man whose humble nature, and total lack of self aggrandisement I most admire.


  1. So true. I have always admired his teachings and quiet demeanor too.

    As near as I can figure out the anger of Communist Red China, it is because he, like the Catholic Pope, is not only the head of a religion, but a head of a political state. In order to be head of a state, there must be a state, you see. While he has offered to be satisfied with a Hong Kong-like autonomy for Tibet, he has never renounced his title as head of state of an independent country called Tibet. Therein lies the craw-sticker from what I can make of the situation. China did not much like Chiang Kai-Shek either, as I recall, or the U.S. in general until we betrayed our friends in Taiwan. Nixon-Kissinger scum sucking, as I recall. But I wish this gentle man could just be left in peace.

  2. If I were one of those people who actually have a bucket list written, I would say that hearing the Dalai Lama speak, in person, would definitely be in my top 5 things I want to do before I kick that bucket.



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