By Tenzin Monlam
His Holiness the Dalai Lama exchanges greetings with Professor David Clary on his arrival at Oxford, September 13, 2015. Photo: OHHDL
DHARAMSHALA, September 14: The Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived in Oxford on Sunday to start his 9 - day visit to the United Kingdom. The Tibetan leader was welcomed upon his arrival by Magdalen College President Professor David Clary, Chonpel Tsering, Representative of the Dalai Lama to Northern Europe, and professors of the college.
The main event of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s UK tour will be a public talk on ‘Compassion: the Foundation of Well-Being,’ organized by the the Tibet House Trust at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday. His Holiness will take questions from the public at the talk chaired by psychologist and ‘emotional intelligence’ expert Daniel Goleman. His Holiness will also be visiting Oxford and Cambridge to participate in a series of events with scholars, scientists, students and school children, hosted by Lord Rowan Williams at Cambridge.
“This is the second major visit by His Holiness to the UK in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday year. It brings together all of his core commitments - his focus on compassion; promotion of harmony among the world’s major religious traditions and the preservation of Tibet's peaceful Buddhist culture. His interaction with leading thinkers at Oxford and Cambridge highlights His Holiness’ ground-breaking collaboration with scientists and scholars, while his dialogues with young people will inspire a new generation and begin an important conversation about the importance of training in compassion in education,”said Chonphel Tsering, the Tibetan leader’s Representative in the UK.
The Dalai Lama and Lord Rowan Williams will lead a two-day symposium at Cambridge University bringing together scientists, writers, businesspeople, philosophers, young people and others on Wednesday. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams, said, “Our hope is that it will be a genuine conversation around what resources we need to shape humane, compassionate, intelligent responses to the various crises that confront us today. We have devised this event to give the fullest possible opportunity for younger people to join the conversation, and we hope that one outcome will be a continuing engagement between the more senior voices here and the insights and challenges of another generation.”
His Holiness will join a discussion with other eminent speakers on ‘how to create a happier and more caring world,’ organized by Action for Happiness next Monday. Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness, said, "Action for Happiness is honoured to have its Patron, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, with us for a special event about creating a happier world, with leading experts in economics, education, neuroscience and altruism. Our movement is encouraging many tens of thousands of people, from all walks of life, to put His Holiness' universal ideas about happiness, compassion and ethical living into practice in their daily lives.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama will also meet with British Parliamentarians in a meeting convened by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet chaired by Fabian Hamilton MP, who has led two major debates on Tibet in Parliament.
Meanwhile, a coalition of 37 Buddhist organizations based in the UK have dissociated themselves from any form of protests against the Tibetan leader in the UK by the followers of controversial Shugden Deity, who have increasingly used the media limelight attracted by the Dalai Lama towards their advantage by protesting at the venues for the Tibetan leader’s events.
The Tibetan leaders visit to the UK comes at a time when protests by members of the so called
International Shugden community (ISC) follow the Tibetan leader around the world accusing the Tibetan leader of lying or even calling him the "fake Dalai Lama." The New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) founded by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, a former Sera monastery monk known to be one of the most vociferous followers of the deity, is based in London as Tibetans remain concerned that protests by the ISC will be even more intense in the UK.
“Religious harmony is one of His Holiness’s three main lifelong commitments. Consequently, he takes a strong stance when it comes to sectarian intolerance,” said a joint statement issued by the 37 Buddhist organizations.
“We assert that any differences of opinion among Buddhist organizations are better expressed in a peaceful and reasonable manner. We are especially concerned about protestors’ aggressive, misleading and unethical behavior and the confusing image of Tibetan Buddhism this presents to the UK public,” the statement said.
The coalition also accused China of using the controversial deity as a tool to create divide among Tibetans.
Geshe Tashi la, Spiritual Director at Jamyang Buddhist Centre, in a video message, advised Tibetans to show restraint against “misguided” ISC followers. “We Tibetans are traditionally well behaved people and I urged everyone to behave well and refrain from using abusive languages against any provocations or defamation of His Holiness. We can counter them with the truth without resorting to abusive behaviors and language. I also urge everyone to cooporate with the event organizers.”