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Meridian Trust Celebratory Issue; with the Dalai Lama at Glastonbury
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Dalai Lama Birthday/ UK Tour issue

Happy 80th Birthday your Holiness

Message from the Director

Dolma Beresford

Welcome all to our bumper July Newsletter - it has been a busy, to say the least, two weeks since our last communication popped into your inbox.

When we first began our work, 30 years ago, we would have laughed if someone had told us that the events of last weekend in the UK actually happened!  Back then, whilst already a hugely popular figure, the Dalai Lama was far from mainstream as he brought his message of tolerance, nonviolence and compassion to the world.  Moving on, through 3 decades of his tireless work supporting and promoting values that will give us all and our planet, the chance of a better future…..the Dalai Lama has become a world icon.  All this has been in addition to his work, seeking a non-violent solution for the Tibetan situation, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Nonetheless, it was still overwhelming to see 140,000 people of all ages and backgrounds, singing Happy Birthday to His Holiness when he appeared on the Pyramid Stage in Glastonbury.  

Glancing through festival reviews, twitching through Twitter and clicking on Facebook, the one thing that really comes across very strongly is just how much 2015 was the Dalai Lama’s Glastonbury. The whole weekend really did encapsulate just what it is that is so wonderful about this true icon of morality and humanity. Read on and let us tell you all about it and all about our weekend, ‘on tour and filming’, with the Dalai Lama.

H.H. the Dalai Lama at Glastonbury!

 

It was a great privilege to have been asked by the Office of Tibet, London, to continue our 30 year history of filming His Holiness on his UK tours.  This visit was to be extra special, coming as it did, just a week or so before the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. In honour of his life and work, tirelessly promoting peace and tolerance and ensuring that the Tibetan people remain in the global spotlight, the Meridian Trust had also organised a very special Tibetan Film Festival.

We knew that the film crew were going to be working to capacity the entire weekend so recruited a team of happy volunteers to help ensure the weekend went, more or less (!) smoothly.
 "HE is COMING!" ©Mike Wohl, Dalai Lama with Emily Eavis ©Dolma Beresford, Cake with Tracey Seaward and Patti Smith ©Kaska Phuntsok, Dalai Lama and Alan Yentob ©Nick Wall

Addressing the crowds in the Green Fields

 

After many months of rumour, The Glastonbury Free Press finally announced that ‘HE was coming on Sunday'!

The Meridian Trust team had already ‘recc’ed’ the King's Meadow area, the first stop on His Holiness’ tour of Glastonbury and we were ready with the cameras and audio mics as he was introduced to the stage by Sir Alan Yentob, stalwart of the BBC.  While the sun didn’t shine, His Holiness certainly did. The capacity crowd in the King’s meadow fell silent as he spoke to them about the important role that women, as the natural nurturers of life, had to play in promoting peace, kindness and compassion. His main theme, however, as he stood on a modest wooden ‘stage’ in front of the Tibetan flag was about religious intolerance and the ‘unthinkable’ violence now occurring in the Middle East, saying that ‘the worst thing was (the) killing of others in the name of faith’.

Dalai Lama at the Peace Garden, Kings Meadow, Glastonbury. All photos©Nick Wall. Bottom right ©Dolma Beresford
'Strength Through Compassion' – H.H. the Dalai Lama. Public Talk and Q&A chaired by Alan Yentob

...on the panel of the Climate Change Debate

 

From the Green Fields, His Holiness moved on to one of two ‘unscheduled’ spots. The first was hard hitting - a debate on climate change where he was on a panel discussing issues of global warming alongside Katharine Viner (editor of The Guardian) and George Monbiot (Guardian columnist). Praising the Pope’s recent encyclical, the Dalai Lama said that more religious leaders needed to speak out on this issue affecting all humankind, saying it was our ‘duty’ to demonstrate, if necessary, to force change and stating a change was needed, away from nationalistic thinking towards global interests for the environment is THE global issue we have to come together to improve.

...ending with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday

The Meridian Trust crew then took their spot on the Pyramid Stage in time for the Dalai Lama’s third and final appearance of the day: a truly memorable experience as the legendary New York protest singer, Patti Smith led a crowd of 140,000 in a rendition of Happy Birthday.  A truly unique moment, helping to mark out this very special 80th birthday celebration as truly the highlight of Glastonbury 2015 - the year that two iconic institutions with the heart and will to change our world for the better came together in one very large field on a farm in Somerset. A weekend we will never forget.
Meeting with the Office of Tibet in washington DC. From Left: Mike Wohl, Lobsang Nyandak, Geoff Jukes, Dolma Beresford, Rinchen Dharlo
Dolma Beresford at the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Pyramid Stage, Top ©Kaska Phuntsok, (Group of three) Dalai Lama and Patti Smith ©Nick Wall,Tracey Seward and Dalai Lama ©Nick Wall, bottom right ©Kaska Phuntsok,

Tibet Film Festival - in the Green Fields; Spritual Home of Glastonbury.

 

It was a sunny Tuesday evening when the first arrivals of Team Meridian pitched up in the Buddha Fields. After 'making camp' for the coming few days, the crew and volunteers made quick work of erecting the Unidome - aka screening venue for our Tibet Film Festival.  

Over the next two days new arrivals swelled our number and the festival ‘duty rota’ was rapidly filled, making short shrift of division of labour.  For this we were most grateful: the response to our ‘call for film submissions’ had been wonderful and it was only due to our fantastic volunteers that we were able to show films, almost back to back for the entire festival period.

Friday’s headliner was the delightful and uplifting, quasi documentary, The Cup (Director: Khyentse Norbu). Reviewed by The New York Post as ‘an amazingly original and exhilarating film’, the story revolves around a young novice monk’s quest to find a TV, on which he and his friends can view the World Cup Final.  There was a special moment for the volunteer crew, when a mother arrived with her son, on Saturday evening, specially to see The Cup.  Under the strap of ‘Buddhism is their philosophy, soccer their religion’, well we could think of no more lovely way to introduce a young child to the joy of Buddhist wisdom.

The Road to Peace (Directed by Leon Stuparich) had a very special place in our weekend for the screening was just a small part of a much larger event; the heroic fundraising efforts of the Road for Peace pilgrims, as they walked the entire way from South London peace garden, in Lambeth to Glastonbury Tor. The event was organised by renowned Tibetan Buddhist and champion of ‘universal wisdom education’ Alison Murdoch, alongside the makers of 'Road to Peace'. During their long walk,  Leon and co-walker Will Gethen kept us updated on progress. We were  humbled to see this happy, weary band of pilgrims rounding off each night with a film screening, raising funds for victims of the Nepalese earthquake. 

A special mention for Digital Dharma, the amazing story of an unlikely hero of the Tibetan people, Mr E Gene Smith; a humble Mormon from Utah who spent more than 5 decades working tirelessly to preserve the literary treasures of the fast disappearing culture of Tibet and preserve its early lessons for all mankind. We were proud to be showing this wonderful documentary while the Dalai Lama was actually ‘on-site’ at Glastonbury on Sunday morning.

It was the work and dedication of E Gene Smith that propelled classical scholars from all over the world to come together to save and preserve these treasures from the pinnacle of classical Asian culture,for future generations.  It was our pleasure to be working the Digital Dharma team to make this screening happen.

Finally our thanks to all the wonderful filmmakers, producers and distributors who came together in support of this very special weekend of film.

Glastonbury - a volunteer's eye view 

Chris Kenyon, Michael Eavis (founder of the Glastonbury Festival) and Janet Millar

Janet Millar is a new Trustee and was part of the volunteer crew at our Tibet Film Festival. Here is her story.

Chris, my husband, and I have been going to Glasto for several decades but we have never experienced a Glastonbury Festival like this one.It was wonderful to be in the Unidome for a start and, as it was on the main artery to the Sacred Space, we were THE place to come to ask about His Holiness. I must confess to being secretly delighted; in the odd position of being ‘in the know’.

By Friday there was a shift in our responses about his visit, from vague to specific. Great to be able to experience first hand the excitement of festival goers and to hear the stories about how crucial the visit was to certain individuals: we heard repeatedly that it was because of His Holiness that they had come to Glastonbury this year.We ran beside the motorcade laughing and waving at His Holiness, much to the surprise of the minimal security staff. It felt a sufficiently bonkers thing to do.

My highlight was to watch him in the small venue of the Guardian Climate debate. His candid remarks and lack of pomposity disarmed and charmed the other speakers.

Yes, this was the year that His Holiness came to Glastonbury. I never need to go again.

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The Dalai Lama meets the people of Aldershot

Meeting with the Office of Tibet in washington DC. From Left: Mike Wohl, Lobsang Nyandak, Geoff Jukes, Dolma Beresford, Rinchen Dharlo
Lincoln Memorial
Dolma Beresford at the Lincoln Memorial

On Sunday evening we said goodbye to our team of volunteers and the film crew headed to Hampshire for our next assignment the following morning.  Monday was to be another busy day for His Holiness as he responded once again, to a personal invitation from the people of Aldershot.  The morning marked a first, as he officially opened the first Buddhist Community Centre in the UK. Sitting in Aldershot High Street. The plan to open Buddhist Centre in Aldershot,came about not only to cater for current needs of the local population (Hampshire is home to more  Buddhists than anywher else in the UK, with a significant Nepalese population) but also to address the ever growing interest in Buddhist thought and wisdom amongst the general population.  

Damar Ghale, spokesperson for the Buddhist Community Centre UK, spoke of their deep appreciation and respect for His Holiness the Dalai Lama adding ‘There is a large Nepalese community in Aldershot and they share the Tibetan and Himalayan people's reverence for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Increasingly, people across the UK are becoming more interested in Buddhism. Our centre in Aldershot has strengthened our sense of community and brought people together whatever their background and culture - just as H.H. the Dalai Lama brings people across the globe together with his message of peace and tolerance, and oneness of humanity.’

This was a good summing up of the day for the opening ceremony was attended by faith leader representing all religions that make up the population of Rushmore borough, Aldershot. It set the tone for the remainder of the visit, as the Dalai Lama then headed over to the ESS football stadium in Aldershot, to speak on ‘Buddhism in the 21st Century’.

After setting ourselves up, it was time for lights, camera and action as we captured the atmosphere of the capacity crowd, bathed in sunshine to listen to a thought provoking talk on the benefit that a non sectarian Buddhist attitude could bring to humankind, helping us to solve the challenges we currently face.

To start the event,  there was a moving minute’s silence for all the victims and of the recent Nepalese earthquake;  this must have been most poignant for the people of Nepal both in the stadium and across the UK.

An appropriately intimate end to the most wonderful of weekends.

Over the next few days, we will be editing and uploading sections of content of H.H. the Dalai Lama’s UK visit, June 2015. We look forward to sharing this with you as  today he celebrates his 80th birthday, still tirelessly sharing the message of hope, peace and compassion for his Tibetan people and for us all.

Songs for Tibet II - Thank You to the Dalai Lama

Join with Kate Bush, Sting, Elbow, Lorde and the team; giving a 'thank you' gift to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan people and future generations around the globe.

Back in 2008 Meridian’s Founding Trustee Geoff Jukes (Music manager to Kate Bush, Underworld and Bob Geldof) worked closely with Mike Wohl and Rupert Hine (English musician, songwriter and record producer) to produce the ‘Songs for Tibet’ album. Released at the same time as the Beijing Olympics, this marked a critical point in history with the potential loss of one of the world’s great cultural treasures. As a show of solidarity with the Dalai Lama and Tibet, 20 artists came together to release this historic double album which went straight to No.1 Rock Album on iTunes in the United States, France, Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands.

To celebrate the life and work of the Dalai Lama in this, his 80th year, the team have released Songs for TIbet 2. This time, Lorde, Elbow and Of Monsters and Men have all joined with original contributors (Sting, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush) on another extended play of new mixes and previously unreleased material.  The aim is to raise money for the many peace, compassion and interfaith causes promoted by the Dalai Lama, both for Tibetans and all humankind.   Due to be released on July 6th, we invite to go to view The Art of Peace Foundation  where you will learn more details of this great souvenir in honour of an icon of our time and of the Tibetan population who, in terms of spiritual awakenings, have given us so much at just the time it is needed.

Behind the Scenes - Glastonbury; two years in the planning.

The Dalai Lama, Tracey Seaward and Geoff Jukes, Dharamsala, India, April 2014. Tracey and Geoff invited His Holiness to Glastonbury. Thubten Samdup visiting Glastonbury festival 2013.

The success of the ‘Songs for Tibet 1’ album, both in terms of sales and in raising awareness of the situation in Tibet, gave Geoff and Mike the impetus to think about other ways of getting media attention for the Tibetans. Knowing that the Dalai Lama would be turning 80 in 2015, they decided that this would be a good time to plan another event. In April 2013 they pulled the old crew together from the Songs for Tibet project. Geoff also invited his new friend, Tracey Seaward, having met her when the band he manages, Underworld, wrote the music for the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony, produced by Tracey.  The outcome of the meeting was that they would record another Songs for Tibet album and try and do a series of concerts around the world on the Dalai Lama’s Birthday, with Tracey suggesting that Glastonbury would be good to approach. Both Geoff and Rupert (Hine) were hugely enthusiastic and excited by the idea whilst Mike, stateside, went on to see if Woodstock, in the US would be interested.

After a flurry of meetings Geoff, Tracey and Mike found themselves talking with the Dalai Lama’s representatives in the USA and London, pitching their idea to invite the Dalai Lama to Woodstock and Glastonbury. There was special gratitude felt towards Thubten Samdup, the then Dalai Lama’s representative in London. He immediately recognised this as the perfect platform via which the Dalai Lama could deliver his message of peace and compassion to a younger audience - a small word of insight here, it was Thubten who shocked all by the inspired booking of Russell Brand, as compere for the Dalai Lama’s youth event, ‘Be the Change’ in Manchester in 2012: a very insightful and lovely man.

As 2013 rolled on, things became a bit more uncertain, as (in spite of a very positive meeting at Worthy farm, with Thubten, Geoff, Tracey, Emily Eavis and Nick Dewey), there was concern from the Office of Tibet in India as to the packed schedule already pencilled in for His Holiness - in the weeks leading up to his 80th birthday.  

Here in the UK we all have grown up with Glastonbury, as part of our youthful DNA, but it was up to Tracey and Geoff to go to India in April 2014 and finally have a meeting with His Holiness, presenting their ‘Dalai Lama across two continents - musical celebration’ plan to him. At the time it was the long established Glastonbury on which the Tibetan’s decided to focus. Needless to say, His Holiness was delighted, intrigued and...agreed.   

By December 2014 an outline schedule was in place and Nick and Emily (Eavis) who, knowing she was a long time supporter of Tibet and the Dalai Lama, invited Patti Smith to introduce His Holiness to Glastonbury on the Pyramid stage. She happily agreed…the rest, as they say, is history!

Geoff Jukes - Project Manager
Manager of musicians, songwriters and producers, including Rupert Hine, The Fixx, Camel and Penguin Café Orchestra in former times. Currently representing Bob Geldof, Kate Bush and Underworld. Project manager on  Songs for Tibet albums. Founding Trustee, The Meridian Trust, Tibetan Film and Video Archive. Co-founder, First Director, Jamyang Tibetan Buddhist Centre, London. Trustee Land of Joy Retreat Centre and Tara Hospice Care, UK.

Tracey Seaward - Producer
Tracey is a long-time film producer who most recently worked as co-producer on Steven Spielberg’s WAR HORSE and producer for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Her film credits include award winning films THE QUEEN, EASTERN PROMISES and THE CONSTANT GARDENER. From producing the award winning film THE QUEEN to bringing the Queen and James Bond together for the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony,Tracey has been instrumental in producing many interesting projects around the globe.Tracey was awarded ‘Producer of the Year 2012’ at the Women in Film & TV Awards. Her latest film PHILOMENA will be released later in 2013.

Michael Wohl - Executive Director
Founder of several multinational firms as a social entrepreneur, including the fields of manufacturing, environmental finance, media and music. Project developer and executive producer on both 'Songs for Tibet' albums.

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