Wisdom #1 – 1983
The Foundation first invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Europe in 1979. The invitation was repeated in 1980 and again in 1981 at a private interview in Dharamsala between the FPMT directors and representatives and His Holiness. This time, His Holiness accorded the Foundation the great honor of accepting the invitation.
Later that year, at a meeting between His Holiness and Lama Yeshe, it was agreed that he would visit three of the Foundation’s European centers – Centro Nagarjuna in Spain, Vajra Yogini Institut in France and Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa in Italy.
Less than a year before the visit, FPMT director Jacie Keeley set in motion the daunting task of preparing for this auspicious event. This was no ordinary visitor. The Dalai Lama is a leader of Buddhists worldwide, revered as the manifestation of the Buddha of Compassion (Chenrezig), and the respected political head of a half million exiled Tibetans. A spiritual and temporal king, no less.
Throughout the coming months, Jacie worked closely with Tsering Dorjee of the Office of Tibet in Switzerland, liaising between him and FPMT center directors Harvey Horrocks in Italy, Alberto Vinoly and François Camus in Spain and Elisabeth Drukier in France, ensuring that all requests and requirements were passed on and carried out.
In the early months of 1982 Jacie prepared an extensive set of guidelines for the FPMT hosts, covering all matters of the coming tour from the appropriate menus for His Holiness to the intricacies of protocol and national security. As September neared, she joined Tsering Dorjee on a pre-tour of the venues for His Holiness’ visit and embarked alone on another, final, pre-tour shortly before the tour commenced.
The center directors and their teams of hundreds of dedicated students worked tirelessly to prepare for His Holiness and the influx of the expected thousands of people.
For months on end before and during the tour they labored for love as cooks, gardeners, child minders, builders, carpenters, electricians, public relations officers, printers, secretaries, journalists, chauffeurs, photographers. And security guards: fifteen FPMT students, men and women, traveled with His Holiness’ party throughout Spain, France and Italy and worked around the clock as a volunteer security force. They were organized by Paula de Wys Koolkin who worked closely with government and police security at all venues to ensure the safety of His Holiness.
The financial responsibility for the tour lay with the FPMT, both the centers and the students. The $200,000 bill – for travel and accommodation expenses of the official entourage, the preparations at the centers, internal travel requirements, public relations and printing costs – was born by the centers themselves who, in turn, relied upon the hundreds of people who paid and donated and loaned in order to make His Holiness’ tour a reality.
Donations also made possible the production (in four languages) of 20,000 color booklets about His Holiness. These were given away by the Foundation throughout the duration of the tour.
As Jacie Keeley said in her report of the tour to His Holiness’ office, “The gratitude and appreciation we hold in our hearts for His Holiness the Dalai Lama is beyond words. His Holiness is the root of our inspirations and the height of our aspirations, both as individuals and as a group working to build the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. We dedicate the success of His Holiness’ 1982 tour to the fulfillment of his wishes. We pray that our capacity to bring benefit to all increases and that we continually please His Holiness. We hope that the conditions arise so that we may directly serve His Holiness again in the future.”Tags: fpmt history, his holiness the dalai lama, jacie keeley