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excerpt from interview with the Dalai Lama - click on Dutch flag for source text

Translated for IFA

The Dalai Lama in Belgium

The cramped smile on his face speaks volumes. Would he please, after the interview, pose in front of a colourful - and, it has to be said, rather abominable - mural, they ask him. For a moment he seems on the verge of moving but then he shakes his head and replies that the painting is in truth too ugly to pose in front of. He continues to tell a tale of how he was once telling a Japanese friend about tasteless paintings such as this one and "that friend later had to spend the night in a room with monstrous illustrations like it." (laughs) "He didn't sleep a wink." The security guards and his entourage stand around him waiting, shepherding him along in every way short of tugging on his sleeve. "Your holiness, it is time to go," he is told softly but decisively. The Dalai Lama is in his element this day. His programme includes among other things an interview with yours truly and a busily attended colloquium with proponents from the Catholic Church, the Islam and Judaism. A jack in the box, someone from security calls him, as he, despite their rules, jumps out of the guarded car for what looks like a rain dance, or just to say hello to some passers by. Day two of the Tibetan leader's seven-day visit to Belgium passes with serenity and integrity, like the man himself.

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama (Mongolian for Ocean of Wisdom), was recognised at the age of three as the reincarnation of his predecessor and the earthly incarnation of Chenresig, the bodhisattva of compassion. At the young age of four he was crowned in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to be the leader of his people. At the age of six he was a monk, enjoying a high-level education with the aim to help his people through difficult periods of political conflict. On 17 March 1959 this most eminent authority in the Buddhist world and the head of state of Tibet left his beloved country in an attempt to prevent mass murder. To no avail. The first prime minister of India, Pandit Nehru, gave him and 80,000 other Tibetans political asylum and a place to live in Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama still resides.

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