Today the Dalai Lama dropped into Christchurch on his way to Australia for a planned visit. He said it was meeting Hillary all those years ago that gave him the chance to become friends with many New Zealanders. He said that when friends are in trouble, you try to help them and that is why he is here.
It could almost be said that it was a hard ask. How do you comfort people who have lost so much? But he spoke of using intelligence to find positivity. He spoke of how the feeling of loss for those left behind is real and strong but that there was a need to hold onto something precious and somehow find a positive way forward.
He said that often in these circumstances some people did not like the word death being used but that death this was not a taboo word. He said that life has a start and an end and we all experience both. It’s just that some experience the end earlier than others. He said that we need to be aware of that and be prepared for it, and that if we did that we could enjoy our lives.
He also spoke about how the earthquake was not caused but just happened and this was also part of life. In terms of how to move forward positively, he urged everyone to think of others around them – around the world – and invoked the disasters in Japan and Haiti.
When asked what was the best way to rebuild Christchurch, he said “I don’t know, that is up to you, I’m leaving tomorrow!” The crowd happily laughed.
The crowd was put at 5000 and it would have been all that. It started with the Dalai Lama personally meeting and offering condolences to those who had lost someone. And he then received a Maori welcome including a hongi.
Before he spoke he was introduced by a Tibetan member of the local community.
I expected the Dalai Lama to sit at his chair and talk but he came up to the lectern and stood and spoke for about 30 minutes. Admittedly sometimes it was hard to follow some words but he did warm into it. His language assistant did an amazing job, following every word and instantly offering the correct English word when needed. We were then treated to a Buddhist Mantra which ended with “that’s the end just a short one!” The crowd was buoyed by these sporadic humorous interludes which underscored his message of positivity.
There was then a presentation of gifts from 2 schools, one local and one from Wanaka. Aspiring School in Wanaka has been studying Tibet and presented a book of poems and some edible Lotus flowers. In one of many spontaneous acts, the Dalai Lama opened the box and handfed the 2 pupils a petal each. He then had one himself before hand feeding Bishop Victoria and the Iwi representative. He then spoke at length to the pupils about how they had the role of taking the world into this century, that the time of us older people was over and of the responsibility they, as new guardians, held.
That was just so amazing to witness and once again summed up the reason he was here, to give us hope by looking positively to the future. After presenting the pupils with a white scarf each it was time for the Hongi and the second girl was praised for being well endowed for this – she had a very large nose! A most interesting comment but given by the Dalai Lama in his spirit of positivity it should be a wonderful memory for the rest of this pupils life.
And for that the Dalai Lama’s gets a positive “like” from me. It was an honour to be able to participate and directly receive his message of positivity for Christchurch.