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Web of Stories offers you the chance to listen to some of the greatest people of our time telling their life stories.

Too Far to Go (Part 1)

Walter Lassally


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In the presence of the Dalaï Lama

Jean-Claude Carrière - Film-maker

When we went to India... with my second wife who is a scholar, a doctor in Chinese studies, a specialist in the history of the religions of Medieval Central Asia, we went from Delhi to Dharamsala, to spend three weeks with the Dalaï Lama, the first time. It was very hard work... in February so it was very cold, in the North of India... very difficult, sometimes working until 2 or 3am with his assistants. There were tapes to transcribe, we had to understand them, copy them… When we made it back to Delhi, people were asking, 'But where have you been on holiday?' because we looked so peaceful, as if cleansed from everything. I don't know... I think that through his presence... the Dalaï Lama is someone who does not own anything, and because of that he is not possessed by anything either. I mean... he owns a pair of shoes, one or two robes, and that's it. He doesn't speak about himself, he speaks about his people, and about humanity, but asking him about how he feels would make no sense. He keeps repeating 'substantially'... and that is very restful. He is the only head of state to not possess anything or defend anything personal, even if he is in exile, but I think that's the direction one ought to look towards in order to understand the secret of that peaceful feeling he spreads, not only to us but to many people who have met him and his circle. We simply feel so well when we are with him. We'd spend about three hours every afternoon, on the same couch. He'd sit at the head with my wife and two of his assistants, one for political issues and the other one for religious issues. Someone would bringing in tea and then a bit later, very quietly, he'd put his moccasins back on meaning the interview was almost over and that it was time for us to leave and come back the next day, but it was all done in a very charming way.