Nottingham, UK, 27 May 2008 (The Office of Tibet, London) - As scheduled some months back, His Holiness the Dalai Lama this afternoon attended here the civic reception for him hosted by the Nottinghamshire County Council at the County Hall, where officials and local people lined up to accord a warm reception.
Prior to this, to mark his visit, His Holiness was also invited to plant a tree in the Country Hall premises overlooking the River Trent. Responding to the spontaneous and positive response from the public and officials who had gathered around the tree planting area, His Holiness waved his hands and expressed his appreciation and on seeing a local waving the Tibetan flag, spontaneously recalled how during his visit to China and meeting with Chairman Mao in 1954/55, the Chinese strongman had asked him about the Tibetan flag and told how it was important to keep it. "You have the permission of Chairman Mao to fly this flag", said His Holiness, who was followed by press photographers and reporters.
His Holiness devoted two hours each of the morning and afternoon session to the teaching on Je Tsongkhapa's "Praise to the Buddha for His Discourses on Dependent Origination" (tendral toepa). During the teachings, attended mainly by about 5,000 Buddhists from different parts of the UK, Europe and the Americas, His Holiness answered questions from the audience to clarify their doubts or to seek a more pointed response. Answering a question on the controversy surrounding the Shugden worship, His Holiness said the reasons for his discouraging the worship of Shugden is because the practice was degenerating the profound teachings of the Buddha into "spirit worship" as well as coming in the way of his efforts to promote religious harmony and non-sectarianism among the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. His Holiness said he as the teacher has advised his disciples from propitiating the Shugden spirit keeping in view the larger interest and well-being of the Tibetan people.