Monday, June 8, 2015

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Arrives in Australia

Leura, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia, 4 June 2015 - The Delhi roads were wet with rain and the air was clearer and cooler than in recent days as His Holiness the Dalai Lama left for the airport yesterday morning to travel to Australia. After a smooth flight to Singapore, he was met on arrival by representatives of the Indian High Commission.

After a short stopover he flew on through the night to Sydney, arriving just before dawn. Again representatives of the Indian High Commission and his hosts ‘Dalai Lama in Australia’ were on hand to receive him as he left the plane. Members of the public greeted him with evident joy as he walked through the airport.

His Holiness gave a brief interview to Waleed Aly, co-host of Network Ten's news and current affairs television program ‘The Project’. Aly congratulated him on completing his 80th year and asked what he does on his birthday.

“Last month I had a party with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala.” His Holiness told him. “They’d made a cake and he taught me how to blow out the candles. But generally for a Buddhist your birthday isn’t that significant. Using your time in a meaningful way is more important.”

When Aly expressed an assumption that His Holiness has already achieved nirvana, he exclaimed:

“No, no, there are higher bodhisattvas who no longer suffer due to their own karma, but I haven’t reached that yet. For instance, I still lose my temper.”

And when Aly pressed him to explain when that happens, His Holiness jokingly replied:

“If you ask a silly question.”

Aly wanted to know what the point of religion is in today’s world and His Holiness told him that religion is an instrument for training our minds and bringing about inner peace. He pointed out that all the major religious traditions talk about love, compassion and forgiveness. He remarked that contrary to some people’s preconceptions, anger and hatred are signs of weakness, whereas inner peace is a sign of strength. He added that belief in God can be a powerful source of inner peace. However, when 1 billion of the 7 billion human beings alive today have no religious belief, the important thing to remember is our common goal is to be good human beings. As social animals we need to express love and affection for each other.

Asked how this applied to those who don’t deserve respect, to extremely violent groups like ISIS or ISIL, His Holiness agreed that the situation is very difficult to handle because such people are already in the grip of extremely negative emotions. But he stressed that we need to accept the need to train future generations in secular ethics and humane values based on our common experiences and scientific findings to prevent the eruption of such emotions in the future. When pressed about whether this meant adopting a course of inaction, His Holiness explained that the trouble with using violence is that it inevitably leads to more violence. He stressed that somehow we need to talk to these people, to ask them why they have such strong anger and fear.

When Aly asked if he would consider giving advice to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, His Holiness laughed and said one of the Prime Minister’s main concerns would be with the economy and that’s something he knows nothing about. But he stressed the urgent need to for economic development to help the poor everywhere, citing the sad news that 2000 people have recently died in the heat wave sweeping India.

“These were poor people; people with no facilities. We have to develop the economy in order to improve the situation for people like that.”

About 200 Tibetans had gathered in the airport lobby to greet His Holiness as emerged. He was given a traditional welcome and offered the ‘Chema Changpu’. He exchanged words and shook hands with many old friends as he made his way to the door. Under a brilliant blue sky he climbed into a car for the hour and a half journey to the Blue Mountains. On arrival in Leura, about 150 Tibetans, many in traditional costume, carrying flags and banners, and others who have come to attend the teachings he is due to give, were gathered to give him a warm welcome.

Tomorrow will see the start of five days of teachings related to Guhyasamaja, beginning with a Vajrabhairava empowerment.

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