"I am inspired by His Holiness' wisdom and humbleness", says Nottinghamshire County Chairman

Office of Tibet, May 28, 2008

NOTTINGHAM, UK -- As scheduled some months back, His Holiness the Dalai Lama this afternoon attended here the civic reception for him hosted by the Nottinghamshire County Council at the County Hall, where officials and local people lined up to accord a warm reception.

<< His Holiness the Dalai Lama on way to the civic reception being greeted by local people and officials who had lined up the road. (Photo by Georgina Cranston/Office of Tibet, London)

Speaking at the official function attended by senior government officials, staff and invited guests, the Chairman of the Nottinghamshire County Council Joan Taylor said it was a privilege and honour for them to receive the Tibetan Nobel Peace Laureate at the County Hall.

"His Holiness needs no introduction, but it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge his extraordinary attitude and strides to achieve world peace and harmony", Councillor Taylor said, adding that she is "deeply moved and inspired by his wisdom, his humbleness, his humour and his simplicity".

Prior to this, to mark his visit, His Holiness was also invited to plant a tree in the Country Hall premises overlooking the River Trent. Responding to the spontaneous and positive response from the public and officials who had gathered around the tree planting area, His Holiness waved his hands and expressed his appreciation and on seeing a local waving the Tibetan flag, spontaneously recalled how during his visit to China and meeting with Chairman Mao in 1954/55, the Chinese strongman had asked him about the Tibetan flag and told how it was important to keep it. "You have the permission of Chairman Mao to fly this flag", said His Holiness, who was followed by press photographers and reporters.

His Holiness in his remarks made before receiving from the Chairman of the Nottinghamshire County Council the especially designed glassware gift said he appreciated the warm civic reception given to him. He said he was enjoying the natural surroundings of Nottingham city and was pleased to hear sweet sounds of birds chirping. Then to yet another delight of the city staff and others, His Holiness said one reason why the organisers of his visit had chosen Nottingham as the venue of his public talks and teachings is because it was comparatively "cheaper" than several over cities and this had apparently been helpful to many people coming to hear him.

His Holiness devoted two hours each of the morning and afternoon session to the teaching on Je Tsongkhapa's "Praise to the Buddha for His Discourses on Dependent Origination" (tendral toepa). During the teachings, attended mainly by about 5,000 Buddhists from different parts of the UK, Europe and the Americas, His Holiness answered questions from the audience to clarify their doubts or to seek a more pointed response. Answering a question on the controversy surrounding the Shugden worship, His Holiness said the reasons for his discouraging the worship of Shugden is because the practice was degenerating the profound teachings of the Buddha into "spirit worship" as well as coming in the way of his efforts to promote religious harmony and non-sectarianism among the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. His Holiness said he as the teacher has advised his disciples from propitiating the Shugden spirit keeping in view the larger interest and well-being of the Tibetan people.

"We Tibetans are passing through a difficult period. But as someone who supports freedom and democracy, I cannot ban anything. So whether they listen or not it is up to them", His Holiness said.

This evening His Holiness gave an audience to about 700 Mongolians that the Mongolian Embassy had arranged through the London Office of Tibet. The Counsellor of the Mongolian Embassy thanked His Holiness for sparing some time for the UK-based Mongolian and the Chairman of the Mongolian Community made a milk offering in accordance to the Mongolian tradition.

His Holiness recalled to the Mongolian audience the age-old historical and religious ties that the people of Mongolia and Tibet had enjoyed. He also said how the Tibetans despite being refugees are still trying to help the Mongolians in imparting knowledge about Buddhism, which had suffered in Mongolia because of their having to live under Russian Communist regime for a long time.

"Mere recitation of mantras is not enough. You must study the Buddhist philosophy and form discussion groups. Buddhism itself is very intelligent and based on logic but due to lack of understanding it may become like blind faith", His Holiness said, adding that the Buddhist concept of "inter-dependence" can also be used in enhancing one's professional field.

According to Mr. Tsering Tashi, the London-based Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the warmth with which the local people, officials and others have been responding to His Holiness' presence and talks in Nottingham is most encouraging and speaks volumes of how much the Tibetan spiritual and temporal leader is regarded wherever he goes.

"Each time His Holiness enters the auditorium stage at the start of the public talk and teachings and upon leaving, the people have been giving His Holiness standing ovation apparently as a mark of their show of respect and appreciation for his presence and wisdom shared", said Mr. Tsering Tashi, who is also accompanying His Holiness during the Nottingham leg of the visit programme.

On Thursday morning His Holiness will leave for Oxford, where he has been invited to give the keynote address at a seminar on Christian and Buddhist prayers and meditation and a public talk on the wider understanding of Buddhism, besides other engagements.

Yesterday, His Holiness gave an audience to Nottingham City Councillors and officials of the Nottingham Arena, where the five-day public talks and the teachings that began on 24 May are being held. The Chairman of the Nottingham City Council and the Executive Director of the Nottingham Arena thanked His Holiness for agreeing to come to the city and through his visit putting the city on the international map and for generating an atmosphere of spirituality and peace.