Historic Meeting With Dalai Lama
Such is his charisma, that when the Dalai Lama enters a room everyone backs away to the wall.
We were told this at Westminster Abbey while awaiting the arrival of His Holiness. But we were assured that he would put us all at our ease. It would not be like a royal occasion; but more like a church fete.
For me this event was the fulfilment of a dream. My greatest wish had been to re-create the meeting of a member of the Manning family and Tibet’s spiritual leader.
200 years ago Thomas Manning of Diss travelled to Lhasa to become the first European to meet the Dalai Lama; and the last for a further century.
In 2011 Diss Museum commemorated the Manning family, rectors of Diss for 138 years, on the bi-centenary of Thomas’ journey. Now his great-great nephew Robert (82) was going to repeat history.
His Holiness was charismatic, funny and humble, being especially loving towards a little boy and an old lady. While someone else was talking, the great man tiptoed over to the lad and gave him a sweet.
The people there all had historical connections with Tibet. One girl was the grand-daughter of Mallory the lost Everest climber of the 1930s.
The Dalai Lama gave a speech about compassion and then met us in small groups. Robert and I were first. I explained our connections and introduced Mr. Manning.
Thomas had taken gifts, including a bottle of lavendar water which his servant dropped. So I took a plastic bottle from Boots to replace it. His Holiness enjoyed the joke, as did everyone in the room.
I was looking forward to hearing about all the other connections; but everyone went all quiet and English so we couldn’t hear them.
But this was a great day for Robert and the Manning family, for Diss, the museum and for myself.