Oxford, UK, 30 May 2008 (The Office of Tibet, London) - The warmth and respect with which His Holiness the Dalai Lama was received yesterday upon his arrival and programme that took place at the Blackfriars was also evident this morning in Oxford’s premier Sheldonian Theatre or auditorium that was attended by a capacity filled audience of 1200 people ranging from eminent university professors to students and general public who had reserved their seats months in advance.
The Tibetan Nobel Peace Laureate’s 20-31 May visit to Oxford is at the invitation of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies and the Blackfriars Hall of Oxford University. His Holiness’ entrance in the Sheldonian Theatre was greeted with applause and a dignified silence thereafter after he waved all to take their seats.
'Your Holiness, it is an extraordinary honour to welcome you here today. You have achieved a special, perhaps a unique, position in the world. People are longing for someone they can admire and respect, not just for a particular skill or quality, but for their character and behaviour. At the same time, nowadays most people also do not want to be talked down to. You manage to combine wisdom with humility, to think deeply but to speak simply. Despite all your troubles, you can still convey optimism, and even make us believe in the possibility of peace', Prof. Richard Gombrich, Chairman of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, said in his welcome remarks, prior to inviting His Holiness to speak.
His Holiness in his public talk on, 'Why it is important that the Buddhist Tradition be more widely understood and how this can be achieved?', said although all the major religious traditions of the world have the same potential and seed of compassion we need different approaches because of different mental dispositions.
'We should study objectively and meet with genuine practitioners of other faiths and religious to get a sense of their practice', His Holiness said, adding that it is unfortunate to see that at times religious institutes or centres are more concerned about their own survival than focusing on the real essence of the teachings.
His Holiness explained his two main commitments in life, namely, promotion of basic human values and promotion of religious harmony.
Answering a question from Oxford University’s lecturer in Buddhist studies, His Holiness said that in the past he had said that his religion is Compassion or kindness.
'Loving kindness is compassion. I mean it has universal value, no need for monasteries or churches. Even animals appreciate kindness', His Holiness said. Among other dignitaries, the public talk was also attended by the Mayor of Oxford, who also took part in the special meeting audience with His Holiness prior to the talk.
Later in the day, His Holiness gave an audience to 240 descendants of 40 British diplomats, officials, military personnel and travellers who were in Tibet before the country’s annexation by China in 1950. Five members of this group, ranging from 50 to 80 years, who had the good fortune of having actually lived in Tibet when it was a free country, greeted His Holiness on stage at a centrally located educational house. Also present were descendants of three of the four British representatives who were at the installation of the current Dalai Lama in 1940