2nd June, 2014
At 8.30am, the two resident lamas, Lama Kelzang Wangdi and Lama Sonam Rabgye, the Chöpon, and Kamalashila Institute staff gathered in the shrine room for a final audience with His Holiness, in order to say goodbye. Everyone had worked so hard to make this visit successful, and it was obvious from His Holiness’ encouraging smiles, that he too greatly appreciated their efforts.
The simple farewell ceremony opened with a short recitation of prayers from the daily liturgy, followed by a mandala offering. Speaking on behalf of everyone, Tobias Roeder described the previous twelve weeks as “the most bumpy and blissful ride we’ve ever had in our lives”, and yet everything had fallen into place in the end. He spoke of His Holiness’ presence in Kamalashila as “a great, great blessing”, and, supported by all those there, made the heartfelt request, “Please come again and again!”
Stefan Storm came forward to offer His Holiness a unique memento from Kamalashila Institute to commemorate the visit–a gold and silver handcrafted watchcase. Wrought by gold and silversmiths in Hamburg, this ‘watch’ had been designed as a mandala of the universe, and not for telling the time. Inside, what would have been the watch face lifted to reveal two gold and silver seeds, symbolising the seeds of Dharma and enlightenment that His Holiness had sown during his short visit.
Speaking in English, His Holiness thanked the staff for the hard work which had made this first leg of his European visit so enjoyable. Then, there was just enough time for everyone to offer a khata, receive His Holiness’ blessing and a small gift, and pose for a group photo with His Holiness on the steps of the stupa.
According to Tibetan custom, high lamas and officials ride in the front seat of a car, so in India His Holiness is used to travelling in the front left-hand side. In Europe and the USA dignitaries ride in the back. Thus, there was a moment of confusion when, out of habit, His Holiness went to get into the front left-hand side of his black Mercedes limousine. In Germany, this is the driver’s seat. Chuckling, he retraced his steps and headed for the back right-hand side.
Winding down the window, so that he could be clearly seen, he smiled warmly and waved, as the car moved off, passing through the gates out on to the road, bearing its precious passenger away.