Dalai Lama to have audience with Australia’s homeless

Dharamsala, June 16 (IANS) Globe-trotting exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, who is revered as a spiritual guru in the Orient and the West too, will offer followers in Australia pearls of his wisdom free of cost Monday.

The glbally much loved spiriual guru will visit the Loaves and Fishes Free Restaurant in Ashfield, where Reverend Bill Crews’ Exodus Foundation provides up to 1,000 meals a day to the poor and homeless, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Sunday.

The restaurant’s clients, such as 62-year-old Murray, could not afford to pay up to $721 to attend the Dalai Lama’s speeches at the venue as part of the monk’s Australian visit.

Yet Murray will have his own audience with the Dalai Lama Monday when the Tibetan spiritual leader visits the Exodus Foundation on the grounds of the Ashfield Uniting Church to speak to the homeless and serve them lunch, the newspaper said.

Officials of the Tibetan government-in-exile, which is based in this northern Indian hill station, say the Dalai Lama’s office holds teaching sessions only at the request of followers and devotees.

The spiritual guru’s teachings are free and open to the public in India but outside India a ticket is being charged by the hosts, an aide of the Dalai Lama told IANS.

When the Dalai Lama arrived in Sydney Thursday for his eighth Australian tour, his office was so swamped that it had to turn on the answering machine to say all tickets for the Sydney and Melbourne events were sold out, said the daily.

For the two-day ‘Beyond Religion: the 14th Dalai Lama on the Benefits of Living Ethically’ event at Sydney Entertainment Centre, tickets cost from $337 to $721, and $1,855 for a gold pass to the two-day Melbourne conference next week.

Events held abroad are an important fund-raiser for the Tibetan cause – most of the Dalai Lama’s public talks are in India, where the discourse is free, it said.

The paper quoting the Rev. Crews said it had been a battle to keep the “toffs” away from the event at his foundation.

“They can meet him anywhere. This is for the people who didn’t think they’d ever have a chance,” he said.

Murray, a recovering alcoholic who has been a client of the restaurant (of the Exodus Foundation) since 2000, said he was not daunted by the prospect of meeting the Dalai Lama.

“It’s beautiful that we on earth have someone of such a nature, the guidance and where he’s been and also his teachings,” said the daily quoting Murray.

Murray said the visit was keenly anticipated, adding he had noticed an air of respect that the clientele are showing now they realise the Dalai Lama is coming to see them.

The Dalai Lama’s office here says the Nobel laureate teaches in Tibetan only. Outside India, his teachings are simultaneously translated into English.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese Communist rule in 1959.

Around 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, over 100,000 of them in different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.

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