Tibetan Nobel Laureate receives warm, colourful welcome in Scottish capital
Edinburgh, 2 June: The visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama here today at the Scottish capital was marked by the historic Time for Reflection address this afternoon at the parliament and warm reception given by the public and school children who lined the streets waving flowers, scarves and the multi-coloured Tibetan flags.
The Tibetan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who is accompanied by his London Office of Tibet-based representative, Mrs. Kesang Y. Takla, was welcomed at the hotel this morning by the Lord Provost (Mayor) Lesley Hinds who presented him with the traditional Scottish scarf. His Holiness, whose arrival in the capital marked the end of a successful visit to Glasgow offered the city’s elected chief executive officer with a white silk scarf symbolising the
Tibetan way of greeting.
Speaking in the Scottish parliament His Holiness who received a standing ovation said that the Time for Reflection themes – wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity – were important components of a democratic institution. He said the autonomy enjoyed by the Scottish parliament was a model from which the Tibetans can learn something. The parliament proceedings were broadcast live for viewers all over the world on the Scottish Parliament website:www.scottishparliamentlive.com Scotsman newspaper reported today that whose involved with the parliament live website were “getting excited at the prospect of their biggest webcast audience ever today, when the Dalai Lama addresses the MSPs.”
In the parliament His Holiness also attended a luncheon reception hosted by the parliament’s Presiding Officer (Speaker) George Reid. Those who attended the lunch included the Deputy Presiding Officer, the First Minister Jack McConnell, Representatives of the various political parties and religious leaders.
Parliament officials indicated how His Holiness’ visit was having a positive impact and general mood of the people and members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs) who were all very excited about the Tibetan leader’s visit.
“There is a great interest here in the parliament to hear the Dalai Lama. The interest is genuine. Normally when a foreign dignitary visits the parliament we have difficulty filling up the seats in the visitor’s gallery. But with the Dalai Lama coming here we received many requests for tickets. So it is very positive,” Margaret Neal, Assistant Secretary at the Scottish Parliament, told this writer with a wide smile.
Across the street outside the City Chambers (Town Hall), His Holiness came in contact with more people who had lined up to welcome him. Also present was a small group of Chinese carrying banners that said, “China One Family”. His Holiness took by surprise especially the Chinese when he got off the car to shake hands with them and assured that he was fully committed to his Middle Way Approach to resolve the issue of Tibet with China. He literally disarmed the few Chinese protestors with his humane spontaneity and smile.
In his address at the City Chambers to MSPs and invited guests that included foreign consuls, religious leaders and the media, His Holiness reiterated his life’s three commitments: promotion of human values, promotion of religious harmony, and the Tibet issue. The former two would be a life-time passion whereas the latter would enable him to retire when the time came for him and Tibetans in exile to return to Tibet with a certain degree of freedom. Answering a question from an MSP he said that looking from a wider perspective he was optimistic about Tibet’s future as more and more Chinese people, especially businessmen, intellectuals and students were not only showing interest in the Tibetan Buddhist culture but also supporting his Middle Way Approach as a practical solution in resolving the issue of Tibet in the interest of both the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
Later speaking to a group of students and teachers from different schools introduced by the Presiding Officer, His Holiness told them that modern education’s focus on just academic achievement and not on the human good heart was a mistake. He said warm-heartedness is a good quality that would ensure a meaningful, sensible and happy life not only for oneself but also to one’s neighbours. Throughout the day His Holiness’ motorcade was lead and followed by police escort and there were armed police presence at the hotel and all venues he was engaged to visit.
At the City Art Centre that is hosting an exhibition on photos depicting the story of the past, present and the future vision of Tibet as well as the Tibetan monastic art of sand mandala making and a nomadic tent, His Holiness was received by leaders of Scotland’s religious communities and again by the Lord Provost. They patiently viewed the Tibetan exhibition while the local press photographers and TV crews struggled for the best position to film His Holiness to meet the deadline of their respective paper or programme while the Tibetan flag fluttered atop the City Art Centre.
Earlier in the day His Holiness also jointly met with officers of the Scottish Cross Party Group for Tibet and representatives of Tibet support groups and NGOs such as Amnesty International. He was apparently pleased to learn that support for the just cause of Tibet has the backing from all the political parties as well as from various humanitarian groups. The last leg of the Tibetan spiritual and temporal leader’s visit at the invitation of the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association is to be concluded tomorrow with a trip to Dunfermline where he is to interact with hundreds of children to whom he will be speaking about peace and answering questions relating to Tibet and the Dalai Lama. The day’s programme is to end with a sold out public talk at the Edinburgh Usher Hall with a welcome address from the Lord Provost. The public and media enthusiasm at His Holiness’ visit to the capital was evident from the unexpected turnout at each of the venues on his itinerary. The public applauded and the press photographers aimed their cameras at every spontaneous move that His Holiness took, be it waving at the crowds or shaking hands with school children.
“Today I was pleased to see that more people came to the streets and the City Centre, more than I had expected to greet His Holiness. It was a great joy to also see Tibet flags flying out of the windows of private homes. I hope that that the feel-good experience that His Holiness has brought to the city will last for sometime,” says Victor Spence of the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association who in consultation with the Office of Tibet, London, has been preparing
for this visit for quite some time.
Report Courtesy – OoT, London