Hobart, Australia, 9 December 2009 (By Alison Andrews, The Examiner) - He travels with all the trappings of royalty. He is treated with the same reverence as the Pope. A pack of bodyguards accompany His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in his travels around the world, often in Australia, most recently in Tasmania, yesterday.
His public appearances are planned with the precision of a military operation - organisation on the grand scale for huge events attended by thousands of people by an army of behind-the-scenes workers, mostly voluntary, there for the thrill of serving the exiled spiritual leader.
Australian international cycling champion Cadel Evans was one of them this time, turning his back on training for a day to travel to Hobart to be master of ceremonies for the two hour-long public lectures by the man he admires as one of the world's great leaders.
But such is the Dalai Lama's charm that despite a reputation as an international leader, the 74-year-old still speaks as a humble man.
While many of the more than 3500 people from around Tasmania sat in slow Hobart traffic jams for more than an hour to get to see him, the Dalai Lama told a pre-event media conference:
"I want to introduce myself to you as just a human being - you and I are the same," he said.
While his arrival in the Derwent Entertainment Centre press room was more tightly guarded than a visit by the Prime Minister, he described a spartan personal existence including five hours a day spent in private meditation.
And there is little in his appearance to tell a different story.
His shoes under the trademark maroon and yellow robes of a Buddhist monk are sturdy, brown, lace-ups.
One brown, well muscled arm is bare except for the international traveller's emblem - old vaccination marks.
Yet looks, even when you are the Dalai Lama, can be deceiving.
The plain-dressed, holy man is as contemporary in his knowledge of world issues as the young people of the 21st century whom he tries to advise:
•On climate change and the Copenhagen summit:
"I think that sometimes national economic issues are the most important so that the global issue sometimes becomes secondary and global responsibilities are lacking," he said. "But I think governments now take more seriously global warming."
He talked of research on his Tibetan homeland that describes it as the world's third polar region because of its potential effect on global warming.
The Dalai Lama said that the rivers that start in its high mountain plateaus provide water for a huge part of the world's population.
There have been predictions that if present conditions continued within 30-40 years, some of the rivers that start in Tibet will run dry.
"So now those major rivers that cover all of Asia from China to Pakistan, which are the basis of human beings' life - it is not just a concern for the local people but for all the people, it is something that needs protection from that (global warming)."
•On his hope for an improved relationship between Tibet and China, the country responsible for his exile more than 50 years ago:
"If we use common sense - Tibet and China have for 1000 years been a neighbour - sometimes very good relations, sometimes very bad relations - this moment, bad relations," he said.
"This bad relations is in nobody's interest so we must stop it.
"Many people particularly writers, intellectuals from both countries very, very eager to find a mutual solution. Chinese Government less willing to find a solution but China is changing, a little bit less arrogant so we will see."
The Dalai Lama says that he is sure he will see Tibet as a free country again in his lifetime.
"But that does depend on how long I live," he added, chuckling.
"If I live just two months then I can't see. If I live 10 years, I think this very possible."
•On his advice to today's young people:
"My generation belong to the 20th century - in that century more than 200 million human beings have been killed, that's a century of bloodshed and violence," he said.
"This century must be the century of peace - it does not mean that there will no longer be problems, that's bound to happen.
"But there will be no solution without dialogue so it must be a century of dialogue.
"It is up to the younger generation."
Denison Labor MHA Lisa Singh was one of a number of people to have a private meeting with the Dalai Lama before the community event.
An excited Ms Singh, a long-time admirer, said afterwards that they had talked about climate change and the Dalai Lama had presented her with a long, cream, Tibetan scarf.
Greens leader Bob Brown introduced the Dalai Lama to an auditorium packed with people.
Senator Brown said that the Dalai Lama came from a land of terrible repression with no freedom, a place where even having his photograph could see a citizen sent to jail.
"He comes from the great plateau of the planet - he won a Nobel Peace Prize which extends beyond peace to his love of this beautiful, blue planet," Senator Brown said.
St Helens District School English and social studies teacher Steven Park led a group of 20 students from the East Coast town to the event. The Dalai Lama and his entourage flew to Melbourne last night to continue his 10-day Australian lecture tour.