Auckland, New Zealand, 17 June 2007 (Patrick Gower, The NZ Herald) - As simple as they are powerful, the Dalai Lama's messages of compassion and kindness commanded the attention of 10,000 Aucklanders yesterday.
The exiled Tibetan leader was 'His Holiness' in name only as he stripped off some of his robes because of the heat and in broken English told the audience: 'I just treated you as my own family member.'
He spoke for an hour-and-a-half in the Vector Arena on the benefits of being compassionate as opposed to 'destructive emotions'.
'I often hear billionaires or politicians saying 'I, mine, my, me',' he said, then quipped: 'Those people are at greater risk of heart attacks.'
People should also pay more attention to their inner values and treat society as one family.
The Dalai Lama spoke of the need for a demilitarised world and of the 'marvellous' moves against nuclear weapons by 'President Dange', who Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard corrected to David Lange.
And amid the wisdom there were tales of a small parrot, days off school with his brother and the benefits of a good night's sleep over nightclubbing.
The Green Party is still urging Prime Minister Helen Clark to hold a formal meeting with the Dalai Lama in Wellington tomorrow, although she talked to him in Brisbane last week and has no plans for anything else.
The Dalai Lama, winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, fled into exile in India in 1959 after a failed Tibetan uprising against communist rule.
China, which rules Tibet with military force, regards him as a troublemaker bent on promoting Tibetan independence.
China uses diplomatic pressure to discourage representatives of any government from meeting him or otherwise showing support.
The Greens' foreign affairs spokesman, Keith Locke, said a formal meeting was the only way the Prime Minister could show she was not succumbing to pressure from Beijing.
'It is demeaning to see our Prime Minister being pushed around by the Chinese Government,' he said.
Today, the Dalai Lama will meet Foreign Minister Winston Peters but in Mr Peters' capacity as leader of New Zealand First. He will also meet National's foreign affairs spokesman, Murray McCully, and party leader John Key will 'drop in' during that meeting.