The Australian Government announced on May 21, 2002 (Australian time) that senior officials would be meeting the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama’s current Australia visit attracted public attention due to reports that Prime Minister John Howard avoided meeting him.
Australian daily The Age quotes a spokeswoman from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, as saying that senior officials from the Australia-China human rights dialogue delegation will be meeting the Dalai Lama. The meeting is being termed “official” and comes after intense public denunciation of government leaders for not meeting with the Dalai Lama.
“The delegation is appointed by the government to discuss human rights concerns with China. The president of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Alice Tay, heads the delegation and will preside over the meeting,” The Age says.
Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama has proved to be popular among the Australian public, according to media reports.
Radio Australia reported on May 20, 2002 (text follows this report) that in just two public events the Dalai Lama has received broad appeal to his message on coping with modern life.
On May 23, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to give a major interview to Radio Australia. “In the first one-on-one interview he’ll give during his stay, the Dalai Lama of Tibet will speak to Radio Australia journalist Tricia Fitzgerald of the Asia Pacific program in Melbourne,” according to a statement from the Radio.
Listeners across Asia, the Pacific and beyond can hear the interview on Radio Australia at 10:05, 11:05 and 23:00 Universal Time (UT) on May 22, 2002 and at 01:00 UT on May 23. The interview can also be heard across Australia on ABC’s Radio National network, following the 8pm news on May 22, and on ABC NewsRadio at 9:35pm AEST.
Transcript of Radio Australia’s May 20, 2002 report on the Dalai Lama:
KERRY O’BRIEN: As the spiritual leader of a remote Asian nation, the Dalai Lama certainly casts a long shadow.
In just two public events in Australia so far, some 30,000 people have flocked to hear the word of the revered head of the Tibetan Buddhist faith.
And while controversy surrounds his role as an activist for Tibet’s political future, his advice on how to cope with the pressures of modern life certainly has broad appeal.
The advice is given with humility and humor, and if the question’s too hard, a candid acknowledgment that he doesn’t have an answer for everything.
Mick Bunworth reports.
MICK BUNWORTH: Their faces a picture of serene concentration — exiled Tibetan Gyuto monks practice in Sydney for a concert to be attended by their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
800 kilometres south, and similar reverence can be found in the middle of a bustling Melbourne shopping center.
This sand Mandala is a visual representation of the Dalai Lama’s innermost qualities — compassion, love, wisdom, charity, morality.
For Australia’s 200,000 practicing Buddhists and the many thousands more who choose to embrace his message, a visit from the Dalai Lama is something to celebrate.
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA: As far as religious faith, I’m not sort of asking anybody should be believer.
Non-believer, no interest at all in religion, absolutely all right.
You can be — still, you can be a compassionate person, you can be a sensible person, a happy person.
DR ALAN MOLLOY, TOUR DIRECTOR: Sometimes when I look into his eyes, as I’ve had the opportunity to, it’s almost you swim in compassion, swim in his love and his kindness.
MICK BUNWORTH: Melbourne GP Dr Alan Molloy is the tour director.
Recently he spent up to 30 hours a week in a voluntary capacity to organize the Dalai Lama’s visit.
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA: Firstly, I’m not come here for promotional visit.
I always advise the non-Buddhist countries’ people, like America or Europe, I’m always telling them it is far better, safer, to follow your own tradition, rather than you pursue Buddhism.
DR ALAN MOLLOY: I haven’t abandoned Christianity or Catholicism. I understand its essence better now, much more deeply. Buddhism isn’t even so much a religion. Some people would say it’s an atheist religion. We don’t believe in a God.We don’t have a theology of God. It’s more a science of the mind.
MICK BUNWORTH: A self-described Catholic Buddhist, Dr Molloy balances the demands of running a medical practice with life at the Buddhist Tara Institute in suburban Melbourne.
His work and that of hundreds of other volunteers means that many of the Dalai Lama’s talks in Melbourne, Geelong, Canberra and Sydney will be free.
For the Melbourne GP, it’s an easy sacrifice to make because he is a believer.
The Dalai Lama’s teachings ease suffering.
He knows because he’s seen it first-hand.
DR ALAN MOLLOY: I’ve worked in refugee camps in India where people die of tuberculosis, leprosy, pneumonia, meningitis.
That’s their suffering.
But, in actuality, they have good, happy minds. In our society, where does the suffering come from? We don’t have those diseases, but we suffer.Why are people unhappier?
MICK BUNWORTH: At the Dalai Lama’s first public speaking engagement on a wet, cold Melbourne afternoon, they came in their thousands.
They soon spilled over into an outside area where they were still able to see the Dalai Lama on a large screen.
He opened his talk on happiness in a material world with his trademark humor.
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA: I want make clear I have nothing to offer to you.
MICK BUNWORTH: But clearly many felt he did have something to offer.
So what was it?
FEMALE VOX POP: Dalai Lama is a beautiful person, and I’ve read a little bit about him.
MALE VOX POP: I’m not so much interested in exactly what he’s got to say, but more the experience of being in his presence.
I felt good and quite peaceful.
MALE VOX POP: We do think the Dalai Lama is somebody who has a lot of good opinions on how a situation can be resolved in a non-violent way.
So it’s encouraging to see that he can get so much attention.
MICK BUNWORTH: But where does that message of non-violence fit in a Western world frightened by the acts of September 11?
The Dalai Lama’s answer is disarmingly honest.
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA: These terrorist acts, now these things, the immediate sort of answer, the immediate sort of method to stop — – the solution — is very complicated.
I don’t know.
MICK BUNWORTH: Today it was secondary school students’ turn to seek answers on everything from Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers to the Dalai Lama’s own history.
STUDENT: How did you become the Dalai Lama?
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA: I come from sky, then become Dalai Lama. Now, I always telling people — some people call me ‘God King’.
Some people call me ‘living Buddha’.
The real one is just another human being.
MICK BUNWORTH: But as he continues on his tour and is bombarded with even more questions, we wonder does the Dalai Lama ever have questions of his own?
And if so, who would you direct that question to and what would the question be?
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA: I don’t know.