His Holiness visits Trondheim

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Yesterday I had the great pleasure to take photos of his holiness the Dalai Lama in Trondheim. He was speaking in the city for the first time since 1994, as part of the ISFIT programme. It was an incredible occasion, a great speech and an event I will remember for many years.

The last time the Dalai Lama was invited here by the International Student Festival in Trondheim (ISFIT), the organisers actually flew out to India and camped outside his residence for 10 days in order to make contact and persuade him. His holiness is reported to have answered: “Cancel my other appointments. This is more important.”

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I was invited to the event as part of my work on The List magazine. The event was much over-subscribed as you might imagine. And so there was this great buzz in the room as the largely student-body swayed about the hall looking for chairs, a sense of anticipation ebbing and flowing from one corner to another.

The speech itself was a great success – a soliloquy on the oneness of being, studded with questions from the panel and the floor. The theme of the festival is corruption and so that was at the forefront. The crowd were always going to be on the Dalai Lama’s side from word go, that goes without saying. But there was still something of the revelatory about his musings; which left us so convinced of the moral depravity of those guilty of corruption, that it was hard to see why anyone would bother in the first place!

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It was interesting how he mentioned that in most countries he visited, when he asked the audience how much corruption there was in their country they spread the arms wide in dismay, wheres in Norway the answer was “none, or very little”. That was from the journalist selected to lead the questions, Fredrik Græsvik. I am sorry to say this but that man was a buffoon! Not because of this answer specifically, but from the very first minute he demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of the tone of the afternoon: butting into the Dalai Lama’s spiritual introductory musings, in order to keep to the time schedule. It was not to be the last time he was to be waved away by the more experienced orator.

My parents were here in Trondheim and watching on the live feed. Dad tuned in and immediately noticed that the journalist was standing rather awkwardly whilst the Dalai Lama took questions from the students. His holiness – who had earlier mentioned that he never felt anger, only pity – stopped one of his answers to instruct the journalist to take a seat, kindly waving him down like a small child who has got up in church during a sermon. Which was kind of exactly what happened actually(!).

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The Dalai Lama was also greeted by the mayor, Rita Ottervik, and Isifit president , Marius Jones, who did a fine job of introducing and closing the proceedings. He was of course thanked with the usual selection of Norwegian knitwear. I guess they took him for waffles afterwards…

It was also my birthday yesterday! On the day which is usually then most introvert of the year it was wonderful to be exposed to this sense of oneness. Thank you everyone for your kind messages, for the organisers of ISFIT and thank you to the Dalai Lama for visiting Trondheim.

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