Archive for May, 2008

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet is currently in England on a tour. This week end, he is giving teachings in Nottingham. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend these teachings, however, I was able to attend his talk at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 23rd May 2008.
I arrived at South Kensington Tube station at about 13:15, plenty of time to find my seat. As I walked up Exhibition road, I suddenly noticed that I was surrounded by people dressed in robes, shaved heads and mala’s swinging from their wrists and necks. It was clear I was getting close to the Hall. As I came out onto Kensington Gore, I noticed three groups. On the park side of the street, a pro China group were lofting banners professing the clamour of being part of China. On the opposite site, making more noise with a megaphone, a Pro Dorje Shugden, A deity banned by His Holiness, were calling for religious freedom. Finally, back on the park side, A pro Tibet group made their presence known with simple waving of Tibetan flags. As I walked round the Royal Albert Hall, Numerous camera crews grabbed people from the crowds to interview.
As 13:45 approached, the time the doors would open, I made my way round to my door. A Police barrier stopped me from going too far. As I waited, a group of four Tibetan Dancers walked out from the stage door in full Tibetan dress. As they stood looking anxious, several cars pulled up. Before I realised what happened, people were cheering, waving flags and cameras poised. Suddenly, His Holiness emerged from the car beaming his trade mark smile. He went up to a group of supporters, shook their hands and laughed. He eventually walked slowly in to the stage door, guided by his aids and plain clothes security. Meanwhile, the dancers performed a traditional dance for His Holiness. An unexpected but welcome surprise. I showed my ticket to the Police Officer on the gate and walked up to the door.
As I walked through the door, my bag was searched and cleared. I followed the signs down stairs to door C to find my seat. As I emerged onto the Arena floor, I was greeted with the magnificent view of The Royal Albert Hall. The Victorian walls towered above me, glowing warmly in the stage lights. The ‘roof’ consisted of large circular discs, suspended from the glass top of the Hall. I over heard one of the technicians explain that they were designed to reflect the sound down to the hall, and bounce the noise from the street back out. Very clever. Hanging above the stage were two large screen TV’s displaying pictures and stats of the Tibetan plight. As I found my seat, a canvas bag was waiting for me filled with a program, with a timeline of His Holiness’ life and several other leaflets asking for support.
Soon after 14:30, the lights dimmed and we were welcomed by the Chief Executive of the Tibet Society, the organisation who planned the talk. After which, we were treated to some traditional Tibetan dancing and singing. Finally, we all stood for the Tibetan national Anthem. After a short interval, the moment we had all waited for, His Holiness appeared on stage. An almighty cheer rang out from the crowd, almost drowning out the thunderous applause. He took a seat on the plush white chair laid out for him on the stage. As he started to remove his shoes, some one in the rafters of the hall shouted loud and clear “we love you!”. Everyone laughed, and His Holiness, without looking up from his shoes, waved a thank you.His Holiness and his translator
His talk was an uplifting one, explaining how we can be happy by not being selfish. At one point, he mentioned the well known Mantra “Om Mani Peme Hum” and turned it in to “Om Mani”, and finally in to “Money, Money, Money”. This just demonstrated his point. His speech could be summarised in one sentence he used to complete his talk:

“The 20th Century was one of war and bloodshed. Let us make the 21st Century the century of dialogue. Then there will be a real possibility of peace”

He left much as he entered, with a smile and a wave, and suddenly, the rather surreal experience of seeing His Holiness was over. As I made my way home on the train, his message ringing in my ears, I felt energized and determined to continue my practice of Buddhism. I think this happens to most who meet him. It was a wonderful experience, and look forward to seeing him again soon.


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