Several thousand people gathered in Zurich on October 14 to see the Dalai Lama, the highest authority in Tibetan Buddhism. One of them was Sonam, a young Tibetan refugee. swissinfo.ch accompanied Sonam throughout this special day in the company of “His Holiness”.
Sonam fled Tibet, or more precisesly, the Chinese military, three years ago. He crossed the Himalayas into Nepal before moving on to Europe via Thailand and a Gulf country, the name of which he doesn’t know. Today, Sonam lives in a small town in canton Aargau after the Swiss authorities granted him refugee status in 2015.
On October 14, 2016, the Dalai Lama, 81, offered Buddhist wisdom at the Hallenstadion stadium in Oerlikon near Zurich. Sonam, 23, managed to overcome his shyness and work his way through the crowd for a moment of eye contact with the Dalai Lama. A moment that made it “one of the happiest days” of Sonam’s life. To him, the most valuable teaching of Buddism isn’t just to believe and have faith, but “to work on oneself, every day, to become a better person”.
The young man is taking German lessons and hoping he can study to become a nurse. Sonam also wishes to return to Tibet one day.
Pictures: Thomas Kern; Text: Luigi Jorio