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His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama's Historic Visit to Inverness


Dalai LamaIn June, 2012, the people of the Highlands were honoured with a visit by world spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama.

Apart from actually meeting such a great being, the highlight of the day was undoubtedly seeing the look of utter pleasure and joy on so many faces coming out of that theatre.

His Holiness has clearly already created the change in many people's lives here in the north.

The celebrations were wonderful ...



Bagpipes and 'Auld Lang Syne' have a special place in His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama's heart. For that was some of the first music he heard when, as a very small child, he was taken from his parents' home in a remote part of Tibet and, surrounded by great ceremony, brought to Lhasa, the capital.


Growing up in what, in the West, would be considered rather unusual circumstances, the young Dalai Lama and his brother learned the words to Auld Lang Syne as Scots soldiers had taught it to Tibetans around four decades before. Since that time, His Holiness has always enjoyed listening to the Great Highland bagpipes when he gets the chance as it helps bring back very special memories for him of the country he had to leave, at the age of 24, and has never been able to visit since.


Dalai LamaHis Holiness proved to the audience at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness on June 23 that he still knows all the words to Auld Lang Syne as he joined the young pupils in the platform party in singing a rousing five verses and choruses.


But it was his first experience of the moving aspect of linking hands as that very important part of the message has never happened on any of his previous visits to Britain.


His Holiness shared the secret at Eden Court that it was something he had always wanted to do as it is a symbol of all types of faiths and peoples of all countries being able to come together in friendship. He said he thought it was such a wonderful idea.


With His Holiness leading the singing, it turned out to be probably the highlight of the entire trip when all 1300 members of the audience around the various parts of the theatre rose to their feet and grasped their neighbours' hands.


Dalai LamaEmotion flooded around the auditorium and the singing was so enthusiastic it even managed to drown the sounds of the pipe band whose members had walked down the aisles to join in the performance by lone piper Lewis Barclay.


It's no easy thing to drown out the sound of the great Highland bagpipe but we managed it, such was the warmth of feeling and care for each other that His Holiness generated within us.


His Holiness told us that all human beings want to find happiness but sometimes we look in the wrong places. He said we need to pay more attention to our inner values, for in order to reshape our minds, we need to know more about how the mind and our emotions work.


Too much attention to material values leaves us not much different from animals, dependent on sensory pleasure and unable to employ our intelligence properly. We are prepared by biological factors to develop compassion, but by using our intelligence we can enhance it and extend it to include strangers and even enemies.


Often, some guidance is needed in making those changes and it is probable that that is why there is such an interest in Buddhist teachings on the mind in the West now, especially when so many of us live with such high levels of stress in our lives.


Dalai LamaTraining the mind needs some skill, which is what our Tibetan teachers have such proven experience in providing. And it is something we can all learn and apply to try to make ourselves better people.


Taking control of our minds is one of the main aspects of what we do at Kagyu Samye Dzong Highlands and we are very fortunate here to have direct advice and guidance on that from some of the highest Tibetan lamas alive today. But at the moment we have to travel to Edinburgh, Glasgow or our monastery, Samye Ling, in the Borders to reach those teachers.


The next step here in Inverness is to create a centre where those great teachers can come and provide direct guidance for us in the Highlands on the techniques the Dalai Lama spoke about.


His Holiness has left Inverness with a CD of some Scottish music which can remind him of the visit. 'The Dalai Lama's Welcome to Inverness' was composed specially for him by local musician and broadcaster Bruce MacGregor, for which we are most grateful.


But, KSD Highlands is also hoping His Holiness himself will take on board the message from the final pipe tune played to him in Eden Court - 'Will you no come back again'.


For pictures of His Holiness's visit to Inverness, see http://dalailama.com/gallery and http://www.ewclients.co.uk/dalailama/


Photos on this page of the Dalai Lama's visit to Inverness courtesy of Jeremy Russell/OHHDL and Dylan Drummond

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