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Profile of the Dalai Lama

  The Dalai Lama:  Profile

This article from the BBC website gives a brief outline of the Dalai Lama

We thought you might enjoy reading it.  

In March 1959, as Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising in Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled into India.

Then a young man in his mid-20s, the future must have seemed bleak. With few countries prepared to respond to China's actions, he faced a difficult task to protect Tibetans and their traditions. Yet despite 50 years in exile, the reach of Tibet's spiritual leader has extended far beyond his community and he is now recognised as one of the world's leading religious figures. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his consistent opposition to the use of violence in his quest for Tibetan self-rule.

 Child leader

The 14th Dalai Lama was born on 6 July 1935, in a small village just outside the current boundaries of Tibet. His parents, who named him Lhamo Dhondub, were farmers with several other children. When he was two years old, a search party of Buddhist officials recognised him as the reincarnation of the 13 previous Dalai Lamas and he was enthroned before he turned four. He was educated at a monastery and went on to achieve the Geshe Lharampa Degree, a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy.

It would be natural to compare him with Mahatma Gandhi, one of this century's greatest protagonists of peace”

But in 1950, when he was 15, the troops of Mao Tse-tung's newly-installed Communist government marched into Tibet. As soldiers poured into the country, the Dalai Lama - his title means Ocean of Wisdom - assumed full power as head of state. In May 1951, China drew up a 17-point agreement legitimising Tibet's incorporation into China. When Tibetans took to the streets in 1959 demanding an end to Chinese rule, troops crushed the revolt and thousands of protesters were killed. The Dalai Lama fled to India on foot and settled in Dharamsala, in the north of the country, which is now home to the Tibetan government-in-exile. He was followed into exile by about 80,000 Tibetans, most of whom settled in the same area.

'Middle way'

In exile, the Dalai Lama began the task of trying to preserve the culture of the Tibetan people and publicise their plight on the world stage. He appealed to the United Nations and persuaded the General Assembly to adopt resolutions in 1959, 1961 and 1965 calling for the protection of the Tibetan people.

He has met political and religious leaders throughout the world and visited the late Pope John Paul II on several occasions.

The Dalai Lama has advocated a "middle way" to resolve the status of Tibet - genuine self-rule for Tibet within China.

In 1987, amid protests in Lhasa against the large-scale relocation of Han Chinese into Tibet, the Dalai Lama proposed a five-point plan, in which he called for the establishment of Tibet as a zone of peace. But he did not move from his stance of peaceful resistance and in 1989 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The committee praised his policy of non-violence, which it called "all the more remarkable when it is considered in relation to the sufferings inflicted on the Tibetan people".

New challenges

Despite their disagreements, the Dalai Lama has continued to seek dialogue with Beijing. Talks between the two sides broke down in 1993 and there were no more for nearly a decade. Discussions resumed in 2002 and have continued intermittently but with no apparent progress.

In March 2011, the Dalai Lama said that he planned to hand his political responsibilities to an elected representative, saying such a move was in the best interests of the Tibetan people."My desire to devolve authority has nothing to do with a wish to shirk responsibility," he said. "It is to benefit Tibetans in the long run. It is not because I feel disheartened." "Tibetans have placed such faith and trust in me that as one among them I am committed to playing my part in the just cause of Tibet”.

A poem for 2020

Be patient

to all that is unsolved

in your heart ….

Try to love the questions


Do not now seek the answers

which cannot be given

because you would not be able

to live them,

and the point is to live everything.

Live the questions now.

Perhaps you will then


Without noticing it

Live along some distant day

Into the answers.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Letters to a Young Poet 1934

Keeping calm at Christmas

 I am writing this on the day of the general election. For once the news isn’t dominated by politics and that is such a relief after the last few weeks.

In the build up to Christmas we can start to get very anxious about getting everything done: food shopping, present buying, writing Christmas cards and so on. Often, we can feel pressurised by the media and by adverts to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas, and it is all to easy to fall into the trap of spending too much money and buying too much stuff.

The shops are only closed for one day, Christmas Day itself, but you would think they were going to be closed for days on end the way we can stock up on food and spend lots of money.

I still send Christmas cards to friends and family, particularly to those people I won’t see, or live a long way away from.  I have friends up North who I have known for a very long time but don’t see them from one year to the next. I do, however, like to send them a card and always like it when I get cards from them.

A few years ago, my family decided that we would only buy Christmas presents for those members of the family under 21. We have a big family and it was beginning to get far too expensive buying for everyone.

This year I heard about a tradition started in the US which I really think is an excellent idea. I think it is especially for parents and grandparents. It is the four-present rule, and this is how it works:

You buy for each child:

Something you want and something you need

Something to wear and something to read.

I think this is a wonderful idea and will perhaps save a lot of money. I have known people get into debt trying to buy far too many presents for their children and grandchildren. A friend spends over £300.00 on each of her children at Christmas!

 So, let’s all have a wonderful time but not over stretch ourselves financially.

The Magnolia Tree

 The Magnolia Tree

It’s shedding leaves as autumn starts,

Letting go of the old to rest awhile.

The leaves are scattered by the wind,

They fall in my garden and drift on the breeze.

Leaves falling, tree naked and bare, standing tall and proud

Life goes on, forever changing and renewing,

Look at the trees and how easily they let go

Preparing for the new life to come in spring

What can we learn from the falling leaves?

Can we start again, let go of the old and rejoice in renewal?

Always the hope of renewal,

That things will get better.

Letting go of what no longer serves you,

Look forward to spring and new life.


Highly Sensitive People

Highly Sensitive People

On Saturday I went to a talk at the Isbourne on Highly Sensitive People. The talk was given by mel Collins – see her bio below.

Mel talked about the defining characteristics of highly Sensitive People. I was interested to discover if I fitted into this category and also went out of interest in the subject. 15-20% of the population are in this category so a not insubstantial number.

These are some of the traits of HSP:

1.       Has difficulty letting go of negative thoughts and emotions

2.       Can experience physical symptoms such as stress or headaches when something unpleasant happens

3.       Often feels tense or anxious

4.       Fears rejection

5.       Worries about what others are thinking

6.       Self-conscious

7.       Feels uncomfortable in large crowded rooms, busy public places

8.       Feel judged by others

9.       Feels uncomfortable when exposed to bright lights, loud noises, strong smells

10.   Easily startled by sudden noises

11.   Dislikes and avoids violent and scary films, Tv shows

Elaine Aron in her book ‘The highly Sensitive Person’

Describes HSP’s as those who:
have a keen imagination; are labelled too shy or too sensitive; who perform poorly when being observed even though they are usually competent; have vivid dreams; for whom time alone each day is essential;
and find they are quickly overwhelmed by noise and confusion, crowded parties, hectic office life………….
this is the book to help them understand themselves and how best to cope in various situations.

Highly sensitive people are often very bright and creative but many suffer from low self esteem. They are not ‘neurotics’ as they have been labelled for so long. However, high sensitivity can lead them to cease to engage with the outside world.

 ‘Mel Collins is a qualified psychotherapeutic counsellor, spiritual healer and reiki master who runs regular workshops, courses and talks. Before her work as a counsellor, increasingly specialising in HSP, she worked in Her Majesty's Prison Service for two years counselling substance misuse prisoners, then eight years as a Prison Governor. Being innately sensitive in a challenging prison setting has given her an incredible learning experience and teaching base. She appeared on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 in March 2018 and she has since received widespread interest in her work from both consumers and the press alike, including BBC Radio 5. For more information, go to’

Buy her book and see reviews here:

It was a useful talk, I discovered I do have many of the traits of HSP. I am particularly affected by bright lights, loud noises and strong smells. I struggle in crowded situations where people are talking loudly. However, as I have grown older I notice I have let go of a lot of the negative characteristics I had when younger, and cope much better with my thoughts and feeling. I believe meditation has helped enormously in this.

 Are you a HSP?


The hero's Journey

The Hero’s journey

This week I attended a talk at the Isbourne Centre given by Will Gethin on The Hero’s Journey.

I have known Will for a long time, and we worked together at the Isbourne for a while. Will was employed to do PR for the centre and also to promote the guest speaker programme. Some of the speakers include: Brandon Bays, Byron Katie, and Peter Owen Jones.

His talk last night was about the hero’s journey made famous by Joseph Campbell. 'Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls' Joseph Campbell. 

There are 12 steps in the journey – the journey begins when the hero receives a call to action which presents a challenge to his usual existence. At first there is normally resistance to the call (we’ve all been there!).

The resistance can be challenged by meeting a mentor, someone helps the hero overcome his doubts and fears and feel encouraged to begin his journey.

There are a series of tests and challenges on the way which our hero needs to overcome. By the way, I am using he/him but the journey also applies to women.

The hero now has to confront his biggest fears and darkest moments and come through the challenges, and being rewarded with new found confidence.

The hero now begins to work his way back, feeling empowered by his experiences and ready share with others the rewards of his journey.  and

YouTube vlog on silence


Whenever I tell friends I am going on a silent retreat most of them react by saying ‘I couldn’t do that’.

The idea of silence can be daunting, and I think for some people quite frightening. To be alone with your thoughts with no opportunity to chat with others about your day, the latest news, gossip etc.

We are social beings and most people enjoy a good chat. We can talk about our problems with friends and perhaps gain some insight and wisdom. So, why, then would anyone want to spend several days in complete silence?

We live in a noisy, 24/7 world, under pressure to respond almost instantly to texts and emails, to keep up to date with our Facebook postings, and join other social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn. There is a 24-hour news cycle with constant updates so that we can know what is going on anywhere in the world by looking at Google or at an app on our Smartphone.

For me the opportunity to get away from this has become really important. I work from home, so my work computer is in my home office. I have been to lots of different places on retreat and have come to appreciate deep silence while on away. Just getting away from home and the office gives me an opportunity to recharge my batteries and reconnect with my spirituality.

Helen has just created a blog on silence:


On our YouTube channel Helen has posted a vlog on using positive affirmations:

As Helen explains positive affirmations can be very useful to change our mindset. We can often grumble and mutter away to ourselves in a negative way. We all do it, we can grumble about the weather, the lack of any decent programmes on TV, the deterioration of the clothes in Mark and Spencer (this is one of mine, but I don’t think I’m alone!), and if I dare mention it: Brexit!!

Using positive affirmations can help to change your life for the better. One of mine is ‘I am happy, healthy, wealthy and wise’ – it’s a work in progress, but it does help me feel much more positive about every area of my life.

You can use cards as Helen suggests too, the pack she recommends by Louise Hay can be found here:

Give affirmations a go and notice the changes happening in your life.




In August I went on a silent retreat, something I do at least once a year. This year I was particularly pleased to be going so I could get away from the news!

I went to St Bueno’s in North Wales. It is a spirituality centre set in the most beautiful grounds and with amazing views of the Welsh countryside. It is a haven of peace in a noisy world.

Your time there is spent in silence. Everyone moves into silence on their first evening there and remains in silence until breakfast on their final morning.

Once a day you have the opportunity to meet with a spiritual director for half an hour. This is the only time when you speak, it would otherwise be a bit pointless if you just looked at one another!

My spiritual director this year was quite young, and at first, I wondered if she had the experience to be doing the job. I was proved wrong and it showed me I was being ageist! She was encouraging and enthusiastic and I came away from the sessions feeling happy with my retreat.

I took a book with me ‘A Book of Silence’ by Sara Maitland. It is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it to you. She looks at the history of silence and also delves into her own desire for more and more silence.

When I told a friend I was taking a book on silence with me on a silent retreat she was flabbergasted and wanted to know why I wasn’t taking a novel with me. however, I really enjoyed the book and found out a lot about the history of silence and the power it can have in our lives.

I also switched off my mobile phone while I was there and found that it was so restful not to be in contact with the rest of the world. I spent a lot of time in the grounds and walking in the beautiful countryside. Being out in the gardens and walking in the country was therapeutic as was stroking the lovely little black cat that lives on the site.

The retreat provided me with some peace and quiet to recharge my batteries. I came away feeling thoroughly refreshed.

Success - what does it mean?

Success – what does it mean?

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows’. Buddha

I became a teacher because I believed that I had a vocation to teach. I studied history at university with the intention of becoming a History teacher when I graduated. I was fortunate to get the first job I applied for, so my teaching career took off successfully. For a long time, I enjoyed my job and was successful. I was promoted several times and was soon running a big department. I also saw my students do well in exams. Before I was 30, I had been appointed as a Senior Teacher – now called Assistant Deputy Head.

However, in 1997, my world fell apart and all my success in my career began to seem totally pointless. The first chapter of my book tells the story of how difficult that year of my life was. I lost my head teacher, who was also my mentor and a close friend. Very soon after his sudden death lost my Mum and reeling from these losses had to then try and cope with the breakdown of my marriage.

I turned to alcohol to try and get me through the day and noticed I was drinking more and more.

I was rescued by meditation. I met someone who was a regular meditator and speaking to him led me to view my life differently. I went and learned how to meditate properly and will be forever indebted to him for the priceless gift he gave me.

Once started on a daily meditation practice my outlook on life began to change. Firstly, I started to drink less and noticed that I became a nicer person! Meditation helps me to be less reactive, so I think first instead of saying the first thing that comes into my head. It made me less irritable and much more patient. However, the thing that changed most and ultimately had the biggest effect on me was that I began to question my ‘successful’ career. I was successful but at what cost?

I went to work, came home, did more work, went to bed and then got up and did it all again the next day. I was permanently exhausted and too tired to have any life outside of work. If you know any teachers, you will be familiar with this story.

Meditation gives you a chance to step back and look at things more clearly, it gives perspective. What is the point of success if you are unhappy?

So learning to meditate helped me reflect on what was important to me. I realised that my successful career in teaching left me drained and exhausted and didn’t make me happy.

Training as a therapist and meditation teacher transformed my life. I began to feel that what I was doing had real benefits both for the people I worked with and for myself. I began to feel fulfilled by my work and at the end of a working day feel as though I had made a real contribution in the world. I began to feel happy. My vocation to teach has remained steadily with me throughout, I am just a different type of teacher now. One who is happy and inspired by her work.

 As the Dalai Lama says: ‘Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions’.

We all have within us the capacity to be happy and to share that happiness with others.

‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared’ Buddha

Meditation, the stress solution  Mary Pearson 

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