Your Holiness, Vice Chancellor, Honoured Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen…I am delighted to welcome you to this magnificent Cathedral for this very special University occasion.
It is with great pleasure that in this, the Year of Faith and in the centenary year of this great Cathedral we welcome one of the most respected religious leaders in the world, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has made a special journey to Liverpool to accept an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
This is also the highlight of our Roscoe Lectures, a series of public talks presented by the University’s Foundation for Citizenship. Using the platform of the Roscoe lectures we celebrate our good citizens award scheme, in which we seek to recognise the countless ways that the young people of Merseyside embody the positive aspects of the human spirit.
The young people we have honoured over the past six years, many of whom are here with us today, have demonstrated compassion and thought for others through so many acts of kindness. Those young people remind us of a strength of spirit and a belief in doing the right thing – not because there are trophies to be won or people to impress – but because they possess a sense of goodness and integrity.
Our guest speaker today truly embodies the qualities that we celebrate in our young citizens and it is my privilege to now present the citation for the Fellowship of this University….
The life of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is a remarkable story of courage and compassion set against enormous tests of will and faith.
His holiness the Dalai Lama has lived in exile since 1959, but he is still considered by many to be both the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people.
It was after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1935, that the Regent of Tibet travelled to a sacred lake southeast of Lhasa and saw a vision of a monastery where the new Dalai Lama would be found.
A mission was despatched and found the monastery, where nearby a small boy recognized a rosary from the previous Dalai Lama. The boy was also able to correctly guess the names of the two monks in the mission and passed other tests suggesting that he was truly the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama.
And so it was that in 1937, at the age of just two years old, Lhamo Dhondrub from the rural village of Takster in the northeast of Tibet was recognized, in accordance with Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lamas are the manifestations of the Bhuddas of Compassion, who reincarnate to serve the people. The literal translation of Dalai Lama means Ocean of Wisdom and Tibetans normally refer to His Holiness as Yeshin Norbu, the Wish-fulfilling Gem, or simply, Kundun, meaning The Presence.
His holiness was installed in 1940, taking the full name, Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso. After years of intense training and education, in 1950, at the age of 15, His Holiness was named head of state at a time when Tibet became the focus of conflict and turmoil.
Despite repeated attempts to bring peace in his homeland, the Dalai Lama was forced into exile just nine years after becoming its head of state.
Since his first visit to the west in the early 1970s, His Holiness has become known as a scholar and a man of peace. He has gained many international awards for his distinguished writings in Buddhist philosophy and in the service of freedom and peace.
During his travels abroad, His Holiness has spoken strongly for better understanding and respect among the different faiths of the world, imparting the message of universal responsibility, love, compassion and kindness.
He has founded more than 200 monasteries, most of them in India, to preserve Tibetan Buddhism, founded a Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts and an Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies.
In 1989, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for advocating “peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect, in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.”
A true beacon of hope and compassion in a world often torn apart by political and religious ideology, the Dalai Lama is a man of non-violence and, throughout his long resistance in exile, he has remained true to his principles.
His Holiness often says, “I am just a simple Buddhist monk – no more, nor less.”
He follows the life of Buddhist monk, living in a small cottage in Dharamsala, India, rising at dawn to meditate and pursuing an ongoing schedule of meetings, private audiences, religious teachings and ceremonies. He concludes each day with further prayer before retiring. In explaining his greatest sources of inspiration, he often cites a favourite verse, found in the writings of the renowned eighth century Buddhist Saint Shantideva:
For as long as space enduresAnd for as long as living beings remain,Until then may I too abideTo dispel the misery of the world.
At Liverpool John Moores University we use the words ‘dream, plan and achieve’ to describe our ethos and these simple words are drawn from a philosophy shared by our distinguished guest today who, with his quiet dignity, is a moral and spiritual example to us all.
Thus, Vice Chancellor, in recognition of his global standing as a spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prizewinner, I present to you Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, for admission to the honour of Fellow of this University.