Do not lose hope, urges Dalai Lama
Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has urged Irish people not to be discouraged or lose hope as they struggle to cope with the financial crisis.
In his first visit to Ireland in 20 years the exiled Nobel peace laureate spoke to a sold-out conference of 2,000 people on the first leg of a two-day trip.
With the country reeling from its worst recession and facing the costliest banking crisis in history, the 76-year-old said money would not make people happy.
"The ultimate source of happiness, peace of mind, cannot be produced by money," he said.
"Billionaires, they are, I notice, very unhappy people. Very powerful, but deep inside, too much anxiety, too much stress.
"So where I go, I always say ... the ultimate source of happiness and successful life is within ourselves."
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, addressed the Possibilities civic summit organised through the Children in Crossfire charity, established by his friend Richard Moore.
Blinded by a British soldier in the North aged 10, Mr Moore said the purpose of the conference was to create a sense of community for people facing the despair of financial ruin.
The Dalai Lama, describing Mr Moore as his hero, clutched his hands warmly throughout the public event.
"There's no one on this planet that would inspire people more, I believe, than His Holiness," Mr Moore said.
Dressed in his traditional red Buddhist robes, the Dalai Lama said he had an emotional connection with Ireland as the country supported his initiative to raise the political plight of Tibet at the United Nations in 1959.
He fled his country that year after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, and now lives in India.
The Dalai Lama said he did not know much about "money matters", but said friends had told him the global recession was caused by short-sightedness and too much greed.
People who rely solely on money, he said, suffer greatly, and he suggested a happy family life filled with love and affection would bring inner peace.
Asked if people should forgive reckless bankers, he said forgiveness did not mean one should forget.
The Dalai Lama said people should criticise, but not allow anger to come into their thoughts.
"Once anger comes into your mind - biased," he said. "So your criticism will not be genuine."
The Dalai Lama also addressed emigration, with 1,000 people estimated to be leaving Ireland every week, the vast majority looking for work abroad.
He said with self confidence, hard work and determination, the country's battered economy would prosper again.
The 2,000-strong crowd at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin gave him a standing ovation as he began his at times humorous and cheeky speech, none of which was scripted.
More than 1,200 tickets for the event sold out within five days of going on sale on February 1. The remaining 800 tickets were sold cheaply or given away to youth and community groups throughout the country.
As he clasped Mr Moore's hands, the Dalai Lama urged people to be warm hearted and compassionate, which he said was good for the health.
He opened the floor to questions, with the first from an 11-year-old girl who wondered what advice he would have for Irish people at this time.
"I want to tell you (there is) no need (to be) discouraged, or hopelessness," he said.
He talked about how he had lost his freedom and his country, but said he had no reason to feel demoralised or discouraged, suggesting the experience had made him stronger.
"The tragedy transformed more inner strength," he said.
The crowd also gave a standing ovation as he stepped down from the stage, greeting well-wishers and supporters as he went.
Former President and ex-United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson was also among the speakers, along with performances from Irish musicians, theatre from schoolchildren at Scoil Eoghan in Moville, Co Donegal, and other acts.
The exiled spiritual leader later travelled to Kildare, where he was greeted with music by local schoolchildren as part of a visit organised by nuns of the Brigidine Sisters.
He was presented with the Brigid Flame, in recognition of his work for peace and his lifelong commitment to non-violence, along with other gifts before addressing a crowd of up to 700 people at St Brigid's Parish Church and holding a private reflection.
The Dalai Lama formally announced earlier this month that he plans to step down as Tibet's head of state and make way for his elected replacement.
The Chinese government had long considered him to be a dangerous separatist, with a senior Communist Party official describing him as a "wolf in monk's robes".
Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet.
Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have chosen to be reborn to serve humanity.
The Nobel laureate will visit the University of Limerick in the west of the country tomorrow, where he will deliver another sold-out public address to about 3,100 people.