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Dalai Lama urges journalists to travel to Tibet

June 8, 2009

The Copenhagen Post
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Tibetan holy man visited Copenhagen to teach people how to be happy and
remind journalists of their duty
Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, held a press conference at
the Hotel D’Angleterre on Saturday morning and called for the media to do
more to expose the conditions of Tibetan people. Before an assembly of
around 60 journalists and photographers in one of the chandelier-hung
conference rooms at the plush five star hotel, the Dalai Lama began in
characteristically modest fashion saying that he was ‘merely one of the 6
billion human beings on the planet.’

The occasion for his visit was a sold-out two day mass seminar on Buddhist
teachings being held at the Bella Center. The visit went ahead under the
context of being non-political, despite protestations from China, for whom
the Dalai Lama remains a thorn in their side 50 years after the invasion of
Tibet. In the event, a meeting did take place the previous day between the
holy man and Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, but the Dalai Lama
maintained that it was simply a friendly meeting stating that to turn down
the invitation would have been ‘rude’. This didn’t prevent several pointed
questions from journalists, attempting to draw him into commenting on
alleged irregularities in the PM’s expense account. ‘We are probably all
hypocrites if we examine ourselves,’ was all he would say.

But the Dalai Lama, whose real name is Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe
Tenzin Gyatso, was in high spirits and looked to be in good health for his
73 years. Using the press conference to get across his message of compassion
and religious harmony, the world’s most famous Rolex wearer at one stage
removed his watch and kissed it, saying ‘I love you’, and feigning
disappointment that it was unable to return his affection. ‘You see,’ he
joked ‘even animals can show compassion but a gold watch can’t.’

Directing his focus onto the journalists before him he spoke about the
importance of a free press and criticised China’s policy of censoring and
controlling the news. He urged journalists to travel to Tibet on tourist
visas and report on the situation of the people living there. ‘If you can’t
afford to get there you could go to the bank and take a loan out. Then you
can buy some artefacts in Tibet and sell them for a profit when you get back
here,’ he joked.

In a similarly jokey fashion he said that journalists ‘should have long
noses - like elephants – so they can smell people’s behinds.’ But the point
he was making was a serious one and he singled out a Chinese journalist from
the Chinese People’s Daily, who squirmed uncomfortably in his seat as the
Dalai Lama asked him a question in Mandarin. He also urged journalists not
to ‘promote the negative side of people’ saying that ‘human potential is of
far more importance than what people have done’ and that we ‘may as well
give up now if we just want to focus on the negative’.

One of the main messages of the Nobel laureate’s visit was to promote
religious harmony. Despite being the spiritual leader of a branch of
Buddhism, the Dalai Lama claimed that ‘a variety of religions are needed in
just the way a variety of philosophies are needed’. ‘All religions are the
same at their core and their one aim is to bring happiness to society’.

As the press conference drew to an end and various functionaries tapped
their watches to remind ‘His Holiness’ that time was pressing (‘I’m wasting
time again’) there was time for one more anecdote. ‘A friend in New York
asked me why the Chinese portray me as a demon. I thought about it for a
while and then said “It’s probably something to do with these horns”.’

And with that Tibet’s spiritual leader was whisked from the room and led
into a car waiting outside to take him to the Bella Center.
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