In 2007 I attended the Sydney Happiness Conference in Sydney, personally struggling at 53 to understand how to deal with unexpected rampant bullying. Professionally in schools, between men and women, in relationships and stressed families, in local, state, national and international politics, in government departments and workplaces… so many people were being challenged, so many kids distressed and suicidal. On day One I asked a question of ‘The Art of Happiness’ co-author, Howard Cutler, and he looked at me helplessly: “I don’t know. Even His Holiness gets bullied every day, by leaders, media, and China.”
I then watched speakers being bullied in front of 6000 ‘Happiness’ people: notably Barbara Pocock, and even His Holiness the Dalai Lama! A lot happened at this Conference. But I also saw something else: whenever the Tibetans came on, there was an immediate glow, an uplift, which we all felt.
A long-time teacher, I realised I had done relatively little for the Tibetans, apart from love them. “We thank you for your love, we thank you for your admiration, but we really need your action.” His Holiness’ words hit me like a brick. Then Venerable Robina Courtin (Liberation Prison Project) strode across the stage, and I knew immediately that she would help. Later, speaking privately for two minutes with Robina, the deal was sealed: I was up in Dharamsala within months. This three-month timely visit during a freezing Himalayan winter led me to write a report to the Australian PM, Kevin Rudd, which he received before he went to Beijing, and spoke up for Tibet.
My soul journey had begun. To work in India, and spend time and quality years with the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan community (since 2009) has been a great gift, the benefits of which can never be erased.