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A conversation with the Dalai Lama

The theme of the "conversation"


I think I’ve said before that a lot of good things had come out of the flood for me (excuse the pun).  A couple of weeks ago it was that beautiful quilt.  I pretty much thought that had to be the end of it.  Could there be any more?

The Universe’s answer was: “Yes, there could.”

Our local councillor’s secretary rang me in my capacity as a floodie and asked if I would like to go and see the Dalai Lama!!!!  Well, yes!  I would!

Apparently he had asked to meet with people who had been affected by the flood and each region had been given tickets to this event in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, at the River Stage.

You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find someone who would go with me.  True to the spirit of the gift I wanted to take someone who had been affected by the flood or who had supported me during my own trying time.   I asked several people who variously said they were not interested (???) or were too busy.

My wonderful friend Alice who had housed me during the flood and fed me sustaining and nourishing meals after a day knee deep in mud and washing up liquid uses a walker so I didn’t ask her first up.  But eventually she was the only one left to ask – and she jumped at the chance.  So, walker or not, we were off to see the Dalai.

It was an amazing event.  Really well organised.  The taxi was allowed pretty far into the site so we didn’t have to walk far.  There was an entrance gate really close to our seats and everything was well marked and well set out (including that important facility – the toilet).

Our seats were in about the 6th row, centre front so we had a good view.

That's Alice waving to you.

The event began with an Irish singer who had been invited by the Dalai Lama to come all the way from Ireland to sing at Australian events.  For his second song he invited his cousin to come and play the flute during the chorus – and taught us all to sing a very simple phrase.

The Irish musician who opened the event.

Then the DL came on stage with the compere.  With the DL came a crowd of people – security guards, monks, an interpreter, stage hands, a photographer.  But he wasn’t phased by this hive of distracting activity around him – he spoke to the thousands of people gathered as though he were speaking to just a few – and as though there was nothing else going on.  Remarkable concentration.

Anyway, he stood at the front of the stage and addressed us all.  However, after a minute or so the sun was really annoying him, so he stopped speaking and called for his “handbag” – a red cloth bag – and got out his sun visor – colour co-ordinated with his robes.  We all laughed with him as he put it on.  Then, a few minutes later, he needed his clip on sunnies – he had an eye problem he said – and when he put them on he kind of posed little like a pop star – quite deliberately, and made us all laugh again.

Then he sat down on the couch with the compere ready to ask him questions which had been sent in by the public in the days before the event.  The compere sat on a chair at the end of the couch and a bit lower than the couch, but the DL didn’t like that.  He asked the compere to bring his chair onto the platform level with the couch.  The compere quipped “upgraded to business class”.  But that still wasn’t enough for the DL who then invited the compere to sit on the couch next to him.  “Upgraded to first class” said the compere.

Then onto the questions and answers.  About ten minutes into this, Paul Pisasale, the Mayor of Ipswich showed up and was promptly invited to sit on the couch on the other side of the DL.  For the rest of the conversation Paul’s knee did service as the DL’s arm rest.  It was charming actually to see the DL so free.  It’s not something that blokes usually do, lean on another bloke’s knee or hold his hand but the DL did – without hesitation or self consciousness and it was actually quite lovely to see.

All three on the couch.

The DL had such a good time!  He gestured as he spoke, then rested his hand on Paul’s knee, then grabbed the compere’s hand then gestured again.  It gave the whole affair quite an intimate feel, as though we were present at a small gathering instead of this huge deal.  And I guess that the was whole intention.  Each one of us felt as though we were personally being addressed.

After the questions had been answered there were live questions from the audience.  Which we were all answered with humour and grace.  It doesn’t matter whether I agreed or not, I was just swept away by the humility and wisdom with which the answers came.

Towards the end a lass jumped up to ask a question, even though she didn’t have a mike – she’d been putting her hand up but the compere hadn’t seen her – so she just jumped up!  At first she was choked with emotion and then she finally got her question out – it was about the place of handicapped people in society.  And before he said anything much the DL got off the couch and gestured for the girl to come up to the stage – where he gave her a big long hug – saying “so much emotion”.

After the hug came a few personal words.

I don’t know if it freaked the security people out but the crowd loved it.  It was a very touching moment.  I know he is a human being just like me, but he is also special and I guess I expect that he just doesn’t have time for every little thing.  But he did have time for that one human being who needed him.

It was a wonderful experience to see the Dalai Lama in action.  I’ve only ever seen him in bits and pieces on the telly so I appreciated seeing him in the flesh.

The crowds on the hill.



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1 comment to A Conversation with the Dalai Lama

  • China is protesting because the Dalai Lama is formally meeting President Obama soon. The Chinese don’t want any recognition of Tibet. Why not? Because the Tibetan plateau controls a great deal of China’s water supply. Some big old rivers start up there and run from there down into China, irrigating a lot of it. If the Tibetans shut off those rivers, China would have big trouble on its hands. President Obama, no doubt, is well aware of this. Soon, he’s meeting the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader. Coincidence, I’m sure 🙂

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