Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, 15 June 2011 (By Tsering Kyinzom Dhongdue) – His Holiness the Dalai Lama spent the day at Chenrezig Institute, one of the first Buddhist centres in the western world. He admired the centre’s serene location, and later wandered through the green surroundings.
The highlight of his visit was the inauguration of Garden of Enlightenment, an ornamental garden with eight stupas depicting the Eight Great Deeds of Buddha’s life. Over 3500 people flocked to the Buddhist centre, nestled in the foothills of the Sunshine Coast hinterland in Queensland, to see and hear His Holiness.
A group of Aboriginal dancers from the Gubbi Gubbi tribe, the traditional owners of the land, greeted His Holiness with a Welcome to Country performance. The topic for today’s talk was “Developing Compassion for Self and Others”. Around 400 students from the local school attended the ceremony, and had earlier workshopped on questions to ask the Dalai Lama.
Time and again during his current tour to Australia, His Holiness has showed his prowess as an unparalleled thought leader as he tackled questions from the public with great clarity and insight. One asked him what his greatest achievement in life was. Much to every one’s surprise, His Holiness answered, “My refugee status is my greatest achievement.” He reinforced his remark by sharing his positive experiences and the contributions he was able to make to humanity as a result of his life in exile.
Member of Parliament and a parliamentary friend of Tibet Mr Peter Slipper and Sunshine Coast mayor Mr Bob Abbott also attended the ceremony.
Earlier in the day, His Holiness spoke to the centre’s 500 monks, nuns and lay members in its renovated gompa. He said, “Although Australia is not a traditionally Buddhist country, many here have found answers to some of their lives’ fundamental questions through Buddhism. Your genuine faith in your religion is tested by your knowledge”. A strong advocate of the Nalanda tradition of Buddha dharma, His Holiness drew attention to the excessive use of rituals in Buddhist practice and advised followers of Buddhism to study more and understand the essence of Buddha’s teachings.
Tibetan musician and Queensland local Tenzin Choegyal played his music at the new, lush garden during the lunch break. A number of Tibet-related stalls added to a festive atmosphere in this remote corner of Australia.