Sunday, 17 June 2012

In Which I Miss the Dalai Lama's Visit

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tensing Gyatzo, visited my home town of Leeds, in the north of England, yesterday. He was addressing a business conference, not at all my field, but I would very much have liked to hear him speak. I've heard him interviewed on the radio, and he seems to be a wonderful person. As spiritual leader of Thibet, in exile, he comes from a country whose sovereignty is disputed. China claims the mountainous nation is merely a province of greater China, but most Thibetans would seem to disagree. 
When I have heard the Dalai Lama speak, I have never heard him attack China, or call for revolution.   
( "I am not seeking separation from China. I am committed to my middle-way approach whereby Tibet remains within the People's Republic of China enjoying a high degree of self-rule or autonomy. I firmly believe that this is of mutual benefit both to the Tibetans as well as to the Chinese. We Tibetans will be able to develop Tibet with China's assistance, while at the same time preserving our own unique culture, including spirituality, and our delicate environment. By amicably resolving the Tibetan issue, China will be able to contribute to her own unity and stability").
Why then does China seem to fear and hate him so much?

The ludicrous antics of the People's Republic in recent days included a threat by China to remove its Olympic team from Leeds, where the team is to train and acclimatise, if Leeds City Council allowed the visit to go ahead. The council replied that the visit was not organised by the council, but by a business association, and that the council had no authority in British law to intefere. Which was a bit of weaselly distancing by our representatives. I'd have liked to see our city council turn out in force to honour him, with the mayor in full regalia.
I'd have liked them to say "Go ahead, then, pull your athletes out, and good luck in trying to find another world class training facility at such a late juncture", and I'd hope other cities would find themselves all fully booked, and unable to help, when the Chinese delegation asked for rooms, tracks, gymnasia, olympic sized swimming pools...

The chinese themselves said, at the time of the Beijing olympics that the olympics should be held separate from politics.

"His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet.  At the age of two the child, who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.  The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet.  Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity. "

"When a questioner asked how His Holiness himself remains so calm, he replied that even when he receives heart-breaking news from Tibet, he remembers the advice of the 8th century Indian Buddhist master Shantideva. He counselled that in the face of hardship it helps to analyse whether there is anything to be done and if there is, there is no need to worry. Instead, employ your energy in pursuit of the solution. On the other hand, if there is nothing to be done, worrying won’t help." 

I'm not religious, but if I were forced to choose one, it would probably be Buddhism, not that I have the temperament or self discipline to follow the way.
And of all the world leaders and political/religious persons I've ever heard speak, this is the man whose humble nature, and total lack of self aggrandisement I most admire.

The Happy Train

I feel for this child.
Somebody says "Smile!" "You're having a great time!" "Be Happy" "Look, everybody else is having fun!" "Isn't this fun?!"
Let me be the judge of that, get the f***ing camera out of my face.
Sometimes I am this child. For instance, a few weeks ago, I was totally and utterly exhausted, far from home, and, when I should have opted for an early night, I agreed to go out with my cousin and her husband, to a pub where a band he knew was playing. Now, at one end of the pub, far from the music, there were comfortable leather sofas, and dim lights. Oh no. They wanted to be out in front of the band. And dancing.
I do not dance. It's not naturally wired into me, nor did I ever take lessons, so I don't dance. Really. I just don't. Now there's a breed of women out there who seem to think that all men are, in fact, pre-wired for dancing, and just need to let their hair down. 
I had my beer, told the others that I was fine, just needed to sit down, on a hard old church-pew, by a big old table, facing the ear-bleedingly loud speaker-stacks, and snooze.
But Helen's pal seemed to find that an affront, and kept coming over to try get me to dance with her.
I said no thank you, and no offence, but I'm not available, to this woman I'd never met before, and had no interest in knowing better. Pulling at my arm, wheedling, cajoling, hectoring. 
And me refusing. Face set like the child above, some people just don't see the signs. The dog's ears lie down... the hackles rise. The teeth show. Keep petting the nice doggy, tug at it's ears and end up getting reconstructive surgery. 
I think Helen, from a distance, could see the warning signs. The sullen glare, the clenched jaw. She came and pried her friend's fingers off my arm, just in time. I told her I was done, would sleep on the table, amidst the noise, if her friend could just be kept away. 
It was easier, I think, for them to call a taxi for me. Great taxi. The guy had no idea of the address I gave him. Luckily I remembered the name of the park nearby, that I'd walked in that morning. If he got me to the gates, I could backtrack from there. Despite that, I gave him a tip. Appreciated it, the taxi like a lifeboat. Or a rescue helicopter.