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His Holiness the Dalai was with us again on 18th April. Like many people who have been fortunate enough to experience his teachings in person, I was looking forward to a wonderful experience. To come together with thousands of fellow practitioners, to receive the blessings of His Holiness, his presence and his wonderful teachings, lifts our lives and practice for months to come.

When he visited Ireland last in 2011, it was wonderful to see him at the City West Hotel lecture hall. Like thousands of others, I tried to get tickets for his visit to Limerick, but they sold out in a very short time. However I was able to listen to His Holiness via the University of Limerick’s website (it is now on His Holiness’ own site). His Holiness spoke for about an hour and a half in English about life, about compassion, and about his commitment to help all sentient beings.

He introduced us to Richard Moore, who founded the Children in Crossfire organisation. Richard invited His Holiness to Ireland in 2007, and again in April 2011. Richard Moore had lost his sight to a rubber bullet as a child. There with him was also the man who had fired the bullet, Charles Inness. The two men are now good friends. Richard had sought out the soldier who had blinded him, in order to forgive him and to befriend him. This amazing story inspires all who hear it.

The former soldier accepts that Richard was an innocent victim. Richard came to understand that Charles carried his own burden of guilt in consequence of his actions. Richard and Charles communicated on a regular basis and made a remarkable connection. In 2010 they were invited to India by the Dalai Lama. They travelled together across the country to meet the Dalai Lama at Dharamsala, his place of residence in exile from Tibet, which has been under Beijing’s control since the Chinese invasion of 1951.

The Dalai Lama agreed to become patron of the charity, remarking to Richard that ‘it is my hope the spirit of forgiveness and compassion you have revealed can be passed on from generation to generation.’ In 2007- the first meeting with Richard and Charles in Derry – the Dalai Lama said ‘Compassion is the radicalism of our time.’ On that day as people emerged from the Children in Crossfire conference they almost seemed shocked by the compassion they had witnessed. Many remarked ‘now we have seen everything.’ Coming from Northern Ireland and having lived through the Troubles and its bitterness I would have to agree with this statement.

We are greatly indebted to the Dalai Lama for coming repeatedly to Ireland North and South during the Troubles. In 2005 he spent three days in the North. He took part in a series of events including opening the Mediation Northern Ireland’s Headquarters.He also visited Corrymeela Community for Peace and Reconciliation in Co. Antrim. We are truly fortunate that this Noble Peace Laureate, now in his late seventies, took the time once again to visit Northern Ireland.

Richard reportedly said about the Dalai Lama’s second visit to Richard’s own home city.‘We know that His Holiness is looking forward to returning to Northern Ireland, and we hope to make his visit special,’ he says. Proceeds of the event, where the Dalai Lama addresses the crowd, will go to Children in Crossfire. If you would like to listen to the wonderful talk by His Holiness “The Power of Forgiveness” from 2011, you can see it here.