I was given the rare opportunity to travel to Strasbourg in order to see the Dalai Lama. We set off from Bath with a fresh and early start and took the train to London Paddington Station. From there, we were driven in a small van accompanying six other fellow Mongolians on a long eight-hour journey. During that time, I got to meet everyone, and it was lovely to talk to new people. We arrived late at night, and everyone was tired and weary, and we quickly settled into a sweet French hotel, itching to lay my head down and sleep.
The next morning, I was thoroughly excited, we were going to head over to the Zenith, a large pinkish-orange building where they were holding the Dalai Lama’s first talk. When we arrived, the sheer amount of people there was baffling! We had to wait in line for a considerable amount of time, when we got in we wasted no time, hurrying to find the best seats.
It was jam packed and in the end, we had to sit right at the top, so seeing the Dalai Lama was quite difficult, we were also given little devices that translated what his holiness was saying, since he was speaking in Tibetan. He talked about how Buddha became enlightened, and some of the different types of ways to become enlightened, as well as suffering and our attachment to material objects. It was quite interesting to listen to and opened my mind up to a lot of ideas. Since travelling in a group of eight other Mongolians, we got to meet the five Mongolian monks that were specially invited! They were a very good humoured group, and we decided to take them all out to dinner.
As we cruised about trying to find somewhere to eat, we had a lovely warm meal, and then realised we had accidently entered Germany!
The next day I had hoped the queue to enter the Zenith would be shorter and we could get in quickly, but I was wrong. it had been pouring with rain and it was horribly cold, and we waited half an hour or more for a ticket, but the wait was worth it! Good fortune had come upon us, when four new tickets became available! They were extremely good ones too, right up close to the Dalai Lama. We made our way to our wonderful new seats, and eagerly awaited his arrival.
The second talk was the one I found the most interesting, and this time he was speaking in English, so it became much easier for me to fully absorb everything he was saying. He was a very calm and happy man, occasionally making a small joke or laughing about something, which really lightened the mood. He talked about happiness, he said “Everyone has the right to achieve happiness” and that nearly every living thing wants to achieve happiness, humans, animals, plants and even insects. He then carried on to talk about peace, saying he thought everyone was a great big giant family, and for us all to be peaceful every individual has to contribute, and we all have the capacity to change things for the better.
But one thing he said really struck me, “Negative behaviour is the source of failure” I really reflected on this, I thought of all the times I had said I can’t do it or am terrible at this, and saying that never really got me anywhere, I had failed. But whenever I had hoped for the best and convinced myself I could do something, or at least I would try, I always gained something from it, even if it was small. I then realised I should do this more often with everything I do, it meant I could grow instead of forever being stuck in the ground.
Overall, the trip was really inspiring, and the fact I could see him so closely was really something. We were even allowed to ask questions, but the queue was so long I never got to ask mine. As everyone was leaving, some of the monks gave away the flowers around the area the Dalai Lama was sitting and I immediately seized the chance, collecting five plant pots!
Jessica, Year 10