Monday, June 24, 2013

Dalai Lama Reveals Earthy Sense of Humour During Adelaide Visit

THE Dalai Lama has revealed his earthy sense of humour in an exchange with MC Dorinda Hafner during his sold-out session at the Adelaide Convention Centre today.

After his 40 minute address, where he urged educators to teach a code of secular ethics to develop a sense of compassion and concern for the well-being of others, the session moved to a less formal tone.

Before the question and answer session with the crowd of more than 5000, Hafner explained her concept of personal wealth - silver in her hair, gold in her teeth and a body full of natural gas.

This elicited peals of laughter from His Holiness. "I too," he said. "Especially on a plane. And then, you look around...." Peering left and right, he leaned aside and raised one buttock from his chair. It brought the house down.

Earlier in the day, His Holiness struck a more serious note at a private session with invited guests.

It was beyond his capacity to tell Australia's politicians how to achieve both compassion and wisdom.

He also said that we need to work out how to judge whether asylum seekers are genuine refugees, and to show the needy compassion.

He was asked whether he had any advice for the nation's leaders.

"I think ex-politicians should talk more to those young… politicians," he said as he sat between Greens elder Bob Brown and SA Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

"I do not want to focus on some special message or special thing. That I think is beyond my capacity," he said.

His Holiness covered a broad range of topics from vegetarianism to overpopulation to religion to whether we should start using desalination to green the deserts, and he also spoke at length on asylum seekers.

He said it was a "complicated" situation, that compassion had to be practical and that "you have to act according to circumstance".

"Some really face persecution in their country… so you must act," he said.

"Some are not in that serious a situation but they hear Australia is a good place for making money.

"So you have to judge."

After the session His Holiness addressed a packed Adelaide Town Hall, told a range of anecdotes, chuckled endlessly, and donned an Akubra he was given by SA Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

His Holiness also is holding a public talk this afternoon at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Yesterday, dozens of followers lined Adelaide Airport, awaiting his arrival from Melbourne just before 3pm, before hundreds crowded the Tibetan Buddhist Institute at Flinders Park to hear him speak. At the airport, His Holiness was welcomed with traditional milk and roasted barley, then he individually greeted the 60-odd followers who had waited patiently in line.

Among them were Kate Durham, Wangyal Phendytsang and their smiling baby son Tashi, whom the Dalai Lama blessed.

Ms Durham said it was a divine moment to meet the Dalai Lama and for her son to be blessed.

"They (children) are the future so it's very important to be blessed and for Tashi to see the Dalai Lama," she said.

"His teachings are very, very divine. It's important to have people like His Holiness in our world because he can teach us to become better people."

Beau Beaumont travelled from Christies Beach to see the Dalai Lama arrive and said it was well worth it.

"My heart was racing and I welled up," he said. "The feeling of his hand touching my hand was an out-of-world experience. He is someone who I idolise and is my inspiration."

At the Tibetan Buddhist Institute, hundreds heard him give a speech that was punctuated by his familiar laugh.

Institute member Grant Cameron said it was a special moment.

"I saw the Dalai Lama when he came in 1992 and that was one of the reasons I became a Buddhist," he said. "To have His Holiness turn up at the centre ... it's just a remarkable day."

The Dalai Lama used his speech to champion the need for broader education.

"He was saying the centre shouldn't just be about teaching Buddhism and practising it, it should be a centre for education of the community as a whole," Mr Cameron said.

"He talks about tolerance, he talks about kindness, he talks about compassion ... In a world that seems to be getting angrier and more violent, that message to me seems more relevant than it ever has."

The Dalai Lama's talk today, on prosperity, health and friendship, will break a crowd record for the Adelaide Convention Centre.

He has already spoken in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Dalai Lama is visiting Adelaide for the first time in 21 years.

Follower Kate Durham was among the crowd who turned out to see the Dalai Lama.

"It's a very divine moment," she said. "It means a lot."

The Dalai Lama is in Adelaide for a sold-out public talk at the Convention Centre tomorrow afternoon.


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