Telo Tulku Rinpoche, About the Dalai Lama's Teachings in Riga, 2017
Telo Tulku Rinpoche talks about the Dalai Lama's teachings held in Riga in 2017. The teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama were held in Riga for the 3rd time. What happened was that in 2012 His Holiness the Dalai Lama paid a visit to the Baltic republics and at that time there were some Buddhists from Russia who went to see him and there was a separate audience for the Russian Buddhists. During that time there was a Russian lady who asked His Holiness to come to the Baltic republics more frequently, because many people in Russia could not afford to go to teachings in India and in other European countries and I guess the way she requested this to His Holiness was so emotional and touching that His Holiness compelled that it was necessary to come to one of the Baltic republics more frequently and to give teachings. So, after the audience for the Russian Buddhists the Dalai Lama instructed the representative in London and the representative in Moscow to see if there is a possibility to arrange teachings for Russian Buddhists in one of the Baltic republics. At that time Mr Navang Rabgyal, who was the representative of the Dalai Lama in Russia, Mongolia and CIS countries returned to Russia and he called me and asked me if we would be interested in organising teachings in Riga or maybe in one of the Baltic republics. The reason that they asked us if we would be interested is because we already had experience of organising teachings for Russian Buddhists in India. So, we discussed it and decided that we would like to do it. We decided to do it in Riga only because we had good friends who were willing to take up the responsibility to organise the event in Riga. So, in 2014 we held the first teachings, in 2015 it did not happen, then in 2016 it was held, and again this year, 2017. So, three times we have done it in Riga. The main purpose of it is that for the past 6-7 years we have been organising these teachings for Russian Buddhists in India. For many people from Russia to go to India can be very costly, can be expensive, so it is more economical for our people to go to Riga, which is much closer. In terms of travel it is much easier. That was the main reason of doing it in Riga. It has been very successful from the very beginning. Successful in a sense that many people come from Russia. We don’t do this for profit. We make it as affordable as possible. Ticket costs only cover the expenses of renting the hall, offering lunch to the public and other organisational moments such as logistics, hotel expenses for the entourage members, organisers and so on. The main purpose is for people to have an opportunity to see His Holiness, to receive his blessings, to be in his presence and to gain as much knowledge as they can from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to absorb the wisdom that he shares with us all. I think for many years we have been hoping that the Dalai Lama would be able to visit Russia. Due to many political and other various reasons His Holiness is not able to visit Russia at the moment, but nevertheless we can go and see His Holiness in some neighbouring countries or maybe as far as India, which many people have been doing in the past. But this event in Riga is one of the biggest events for the Russian Buddhists for the past few years. About teachings in 2017. I think everything went well. Of course, many people ask me ‘How do I think the event went?’ I usually tell the people that this is a question we should ask the public, the people who attended the teachings. If they feel happy, satisfied, then, of course, we also feel satisfied. We organise these teachings for the people, for the public and we try to make it as comfortable, as enjoyable for all of them to have a good experience. In this case, at least to those people that I have talked to everybody has given very positive responses and I am sure you have talked to many people as well. I think the overall experience has been wonderful for everybody. This is not the last time that we are doing it. Of course, we will do this again in the future. The hall itself has a capacity of 4,000 people. There was about 3,900 people, if you include the volunteers, the people who were working backstage, altogether it is about 4,000 people. There is no way for us to say from which city or region they came from. Everybody buys their tickets online. Online ticketing service cannot define whether they are from Moscow, Buryatia, Tuva or from any other place. But from Kalmykia which I am also responsible for, we formed groups and we helped people who were interested in going. So, the group that the Khurul organised was about 695 people. Also, there were many Kalmyks who went on their own from Moscow, Saint-Petersburg and other places. I would say there were probably over 700 Kalmyks that have participated. But officially through the Khurul there were 695 people that came.